Aussie Tucker by Kim Robyn Smith

by Oct 11, 2020 | Featured Stories, Writers in Residence

Aussie Tucker

‘We’re Bogged? Here on the side of Moorooduc Road?’
‘Yes, Jodie, that’s what I said!’ Brett ran his hand through his thick hair.
They stared at the food van.
‘We can’t just leave it here!’ Jodie cried. ‘We’ll get in so much trouble if we don’t arrive at the Briars.’
Brett frowned. ‘Well, I don’t think we’re gonna make it to the Food and Wine Festival. We have less than an hour to be set up and ready to go. They won’t let us in if we’re late.’
‘We’ll get sacked!’ Jodie said. ‘And I was so looking forward to the live bands!’
‘Mmm,’ Brett said. ‘Yeh, I know. Our boss has forked out the fees and this food will go to waste.’ He scratched his head.
Jodie huffed. ‘Did you really need to pull over to look at that paper map? You should have google maps on your phone.’
Brett sighed. ‘It’s a pre-paid. Basic. And you shouldn’t have left yours at home.’
Jodie glared at him like he’d just drowned kittens.
The road was coated in the wet remnants of the early morning deluge.
Cars sped by on the slippery surface. Oblivious to their plight.
Brett circled the van and crouched to inspect each sunken tyre. A splash of mud landed on his cream slacks as he stepped in a puddle. He stood up and faced Jodie. ‘Let’s pile some of the food in the car. Maybe we can do a joint effort with another stall.’
Jodie swung the aluminium door open and stepped inside without unfolding the metal steps as the van’s undercarriage was practically sitting on the ground. The midday sun streamed in as she raised the roller window.
Brett removed some cheese slices and lettuce from the fridge.
As he gathered up bags of bread rolls, a woman with three small girls appeared at the van window. Each daughter wore a pink hair ribbon. ‘Are you open for take-away yet?’
Brett and Jodie exchanged synchronised eyebrows raises.
Jodie shrugged.
‘Why the hell not? ’ Brett said quietly behind closed teeth.
‘Pardon?’ the woman said.
Brett flashed her his telly commercial style smile. ‘Err, yeah. Give us twenty minutes or so. We’re just starting everything up.’
Jodie sat a menu board on the counter.
‘I’ll take five sausages in bread. And…umm… two chicken burgers and three, no make that four Aussie beef pies.’
Jodie swiped the offered credit card.
‘I’ll wait in the car with my starving hubby.’ The woman walked back to her vehicle. The little girls trailed behind.
Jodie wrestled her apron over her head. She adjusted it so that the AUSSIE TUCKER logo was clearly displayed.
Two more cars pulled up. Families strolled towards the van. More orders were taken.
Brett loaded the hot plate with snags and burgers as a queue formed along the roadside. He gave Jodie a satisfied nod. The day was panning out well without competition.
Jodie racked though the fridge in searched of a lemon to add to a fish burger. ‘What the…Oh, no!’
‘No chit-chat.’
‘But…’
‘What?’ Brett said.
Jodie sidled up to him as he flipped meat on the sizzling hotplate.
‘We’re out of sausages and burgers,’ she said.
‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Brett’s bright and cheery mood flicked to dark and stormy.
‘All that’s left are those meat substitute things,’ Jodie said with hand over her mouth.
Brett wiped his brow. ‘Give ‘em here.’
‘But what if customers don’t want them.’
‘Shut up and keep taking snag and burger orders.’
The line grew. Brett and Jodie kept serving. Their deceit disguised with plastered smiles.
Dusk approached. The crowd dwindled. They agreed that it was time to call it a day.
As the pack up commenced, a car grinded to a halt on the loose gravel.
Jodie watched the large man hop out of his HiLux. She wondered if those broad shoulders would struggle passing through a doorway. She was memorised by his impressive arms. Muscles bulged from what appeared to be the result of a serious commitment to the gym.
He ordered a burger and suggested that they might have been better to attend the event down at the Briars.
‘That was the plan,’ Jodie said. ‘But as you can see…’
The man nodded.
‘We’re at the Mornington Market next week, Jodie said. ‘At the Racecourse, I think.’
‘Yeh, I know it,’ the man groaned. ‘The missus drags me along to it every month. Lots of great food. But too much crafty crap and smelly candles.’
‘Here’s your burger,’ Brett smiled as he passed the wrapped food across the counter.
The man thanked them and headed back towards his tough ute. A red dragon covered his back. The conspicuous tattoo peeked out from the sides of his singlet.
He stopped.
He inspected the burger’s filling.
‘Everything alright, mate?’ Brett asked.
The man spun around.
‘This burger…’
Jodie nudged Brett. This customer wasn’t fooled by the fake meat.
‘No beetroot,’ he said. ‘Not an Aussie burger without the beetroot.’
‘We ran out. I’m really sorry,’ Brett said as he let out a held breath. ‘ I’ll make you an extra one. On the house.’
‘Naw, no need. I’ll catch you next week.’
‘Come and hang with us. Get your freebie then,’ Brett said.
‘Oh, do you want a tow out of the bog?’ the man said.
‘That’d be great!’ Jodie and Brett cheered.