Sunday, August 2, 2009

Taking out the trash

Tamping down loose soil with the back of a shovel firms up the ground but often it’s not enough to stop a corpse suddenly sitting bolt up in the grave as if Gabriele’s horn had summonsed the dead.

When rigor mortis sets in about three hours after death, the muscles in the body begin to stiffen, so I’ve barely got time to hop back to the service station to pour myself a steadying Campari and Soda before heads and torsos start popping up through the topsoil.

Of course, I could bury them deeper but, frankly, I’ve got a business to run. And, thank you for asking, the Dunroamin Service Station & Quik-e-Mart are doing quite nicely. Ever since leaving St Leonards in late July, I’ve managed to shrug off the stress of big city living. You may have seen the news stories about how the riff raff were moving into the Lower North Shore: flirty-eyed bail jumpers with too tight jeans, non-slip lipstick, moisturised skin and frosted highlights in their hair – and, let me tell you, the Ogilvy women were just as bad.

For 20 years, I’d owned a sweet little petrol outlet on Pacific Highway – at that spot where St Leonards leaves behind the hustling bustle of Crows Nest. There was a touch of the exotic about the area, almost as if the highway was winding its way north to the fabled ports of Aden and Goa rather than Artarmon and Gordon. Because most of my customers were wearing hats and driving Volvos, I used to call it “The Old Spice Route”.

Then the corporate gypsies rattled over the Harbour Bridge, flogging their hand-carved wooden pegs, “lucky” heather and slightly used Thought Leadership programs – so I left. But I’ve got my life back. All it takes is a no-nonsense approach to bad manners. If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s rudeness. Take last week, for example. There I was polishing my bowser when a large silver Porsche SUV slid to a halt over my right toecap. Leaping from the vehicle, the driver rushed towards me. He was kitted out in a black sleeveless T-shirt, camouflage shorts and brand new topsiders. “I hope you haven’t damaged my tyre,” he yelled.

Tugging at my shoe, I managed to extract it and, with as much dignity as possible, I limped around to the front of the car. As I lifted back the windscreen wipers, the driver reached out, grabbing my right wrist. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked.

“I’m about to clean your windows,” I said, with my brightest smile. “I’m full service, you know.”

“I don’t give a damn if you’re Mary Friggin’ MacKillop. Get your hands off my car.”

I’m not a Catholic but I’m willing to take offence on the Church’s behalf. After all, Pope Benedict seemed a nice enough chap when he visited Sydney, although he could butch up his image by ditching the red slippers. I like a priest to look as if he could tear out the Devil’s heart with bare hands not give Satan a good perm and blow dry.

Leaving the driver to fill his own tank, I went around the back of the Quik-e-Mart to the shed where I keep my shovel. With its long handle and 18 inch industrial gauge blue steel blade, it’s practical and stylish. Just as I turned the corner with the shovel at waist height, the driver’s “wife” slid out of the passenger’s seat and clip-clopped across the forecourt in high heels and little else. “Oooh, I do like a man with a big one,” she said, eyeing off my implement.

Now if there’s another thing I can’t stand, it’s a woman with a potty mouth.

Whack! She toppled sideways like a felled ox, thumping into the Porsche before sliding to the ground.

“Hey!” the man screamed at her. “Don’t get blood on the Cayenne.”

I lifted my shovel above my head.

He looked worried. “Careful … this T-shirt is Armani.”

“Yes, but only Emporio Armani.” Thott! He joined her on the concrete.

Piling them into a wheelbarrow, I trundled the pair across the road into the forest. In a peaceful clearing, I struggled with the old problem of just how to place them in the grave. If I put the woman in first – face up – and lay the man atop her – face down – it would appear they were bonking for eternity. If I put him on the bottom face up and her lying on top of him, also face up, I’m certain they’d be in a position condemned by both the Bible and the Talmud. So, as usual, I opted for her on bottom facing towards the sky and him lying on top, also looking upwards. In some ways, they appeared to be on a tandem bicycle, peddling to the After World.

Back at the service station, a police car was parked diagonally, blocking the Porsche’s exit. Inside the Quik-e-Mart, a young constable leant into the glass-doored cooler, handing cans of Coca-Cola back to an older officer.

“That’ll be $26.50,” I called out, after a quick calculation which included my standard discount for public servants in uniform.

“Let’s just say,” sneered the officer with his arms full of cans, “this is your donation to the Policemen’s Bundy & Coke Party.”

Now … if there’s yet another thing I won’t put up with, it’s bullying.

# # #

© Greg Flynn 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment