Two sets of hands,Two sets of legs, but only one set belongs to one of the other Larrikins...
You could say these two are right larrikins, but they’re still not the Clever Mick or Sparky of this story...
Up to now, I must admit, their escapades had been relegated to a more harmless Runyon scale. I’m sure most of you will have heard of, or read, or even seen Damon Runyon classics like Guys and Dolls. You haven’t?
Think then John Travolta in Get Shorty, or Danny de Vito, or heaven help us the hapless mob of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World...
When the emergency call came through Clever and Sparky were already well on the way. What do you mean, ‘what do I mean’?
They’d already downed a few, emptied a few cans, sampled the local beer and what have you. There was a gleam in their eye accompanied by the reckless desire to continue imbibing.
This I might add in the early mid morning following what should have been a full and long night shift at the establishment that helped pay their household bills.
Don’t get me wrong here. Both Clever Mick and Sparky were highly thought of by their respective bosses, absolute whizz kids at their jobs. In time they would actually become top bosses themselves, but that unbelievable future, at this stage is still in the realms of make believe.
But to get back to the Custard Caper.
Then came the call, the phone call. Obviously being the clever little detectives you all are, you’ve placed the time frame in the era of mobile phones. Barely in that era I might add.
The gist of the phone call? The driver who usually delivered the three course Meals on Wheels to Dun Roaming and it’s satellite towns had done himself an injury, could they take over, just for today until a replacement was found?
‘No worries’, said Clever, ‘I’ve got my mate with me, we’ll do it standing on our head.’
Of course the Meals on Wheels supervisor didn’t realise Clever Mick was speaking literally.
They arrived in the company truck, I did mention this was a work day, a normal work day that up to that point had been conducted in a fairly normal routine manner. Albeit of course, by now they should really have been clocking off. It had after all been a hard days night and not all of it working.
Anyway all the Meals on Wheels gear was duly loaded on the back, together with a list of where to go, which old dear was to get which meal, the idiosyncrasies of some, special needs of others. A piece of cake observed Sparky.
They did Dun Roaming first, the customers all knew them. ‘G’day Mick, how ya doing Sparky? Fish biting?’...all that chitchat. Soup Bowls, meat and three veg, bowl of custard, names crossed off the list, on to the next address.
The next community was much the same, only a few, all eagerly waiting their main meal of the day.
Then came the 15 minute drive to the last satellite town.
By now they’ve worked up a fresh thirst. The esky in the back seat is empty, but there’s a pub at the next town so no worries, replacement supply in sight.
Going through the S bends they’re in a jovial mood, the radio’s on, they’re singing country and western, when suddenly, out of the bush darts a little wallaby.
Clever hits the brakes, does a little swerve, the wallaby hops away safe and sound, but in the back of the truck the meals on wheels, unknown to the two volunteers, are now sloshing about in an interesting and murky mix, leaving a trail of containers and equipment behind.
When they finally reach their next delivery, Clever takes one look in the back of the truck and is understandably speechless.
‘Crikey’. Sparky looks at the mess. He probably used a few other Aussie euphemisms but I’m too lady like to put them in print.
Clever Mick is suitably wide eyed by now, but heavily in denial mode.
‘Gee, it’s not too bad Sparks. All we have to do is shovel the stuff back into the containers and no one will know any different’.
‘You think so?’ Sparky’s not too sure. Of the two, he may have been the more clear headed.
‘Trust me. Quick, get a move on before someone drives past.’
Somehow, slurpy soup is separated from trembling custard, an approximation of meat and three veg replaced on dishes. They stand back, looking with pride on their handiwork.
‘Um Mick’... Sparky is busy counting and recounting meals against recipients and slowly realising all doesn’t quite equate.
Clever does a finger count, and biting his nails, has to agree.
Thirteen into eight. They’re short five meals.
Clever Mick’s mind is darting each and every way. An executive decision is needed. Like the Sword of Damocles, he delivers his edict. (Haven’t read your bible lately? Think imminent disaster.)
‘So some of them go on a diet. Its only for one day. We’ll give a couple soup and custard and the others can have the meat and veg stuff. They won’t know the difference.’
The end result looks unspeakably like an unkempt dogs dinner. But the deed is done, deliveries swiftly made with a low degree of eye contact and the two make a swift, dry return back to Dun Roaming.
If any of the meals recipients made a complaint, Clever and Sparky never heard a dickey.
Come on, you know what that means, dickey bird, not a word!
Passersby in the interim must have wondered though, at the mess of cardboard boxes and containers strewn along the S bends.
One eagle eye in particular was a local oyster farmer on his way home from a mornings work out on the bay, who couldn’t quite believe the treasure trove he stopped to collect, knives and forks and spoons festooned along the highway.
He dined out on that story for ever more, which is more than the old timers did on that last lap of Sparky and Clever Mick's delivery route.
Okay! I surrender. While I won’t reveal their true identity, I will admit this final snapshot is much akin to the Larrikins of Dun Roaming.
...and no, the rather tall fishy character in the middle is neither Clever nor Sparky.
And there ends yet another tall tale, and true from the make believe but totally believable community of Dun Roaming.
The Loveable Larrikins, many years later, continue to amuse and scare me to death, sometimes both at the same time and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Robyn Mortimer ©2011