The Neptune’s Daughter, pride of the Pelham Cruise Line eased it’s bulk along the dock of Station Pier in Port Phillip Bay, straining the ropes that pulled taught sounding with pain against the steel riveted to wood and cement. Large and white, the floating city could accommodate in luxurious comfort over 3500 passengers, and 500 crew and personnel, featuring three swimming pools, waterslides, parasailing, seven theme restaurants, and three large casinos.
The un-boarding process was tedious and slow as the overweight-sunburned people queued up sheep-like in cheap tee shirts and bad panama hats, to depart for the day into the streets and shops of Melbourne. Driven by a primal urge to invade and consume.
Jason Stachowski known as “Stash” to the other members of the hospitality crew smiled false and thin as he repeated like a mantra “Watch your step… enjoy your time ashore… watch your step… enjoy your…”
The boat would be docked here in Melbourne for two days of shore excursions and shopping, and Stash had secured shore leave, by trading the last two night shifts with Pascal, the Haitian that he shared a berth with. He now had two free days in port.
The Burning Bush Festival was this weekend and Stash had secured a two-day pass through an online ticket reseller for the inflated price of five hundred Euro. It was more than he had wanted to spend, but he was here, and it was the largest concert of the year. The five-day festival featured the biggest bands from all over the world; U2, the Chili Peppers, Cold Play, Snoop Dogg and dozen’s of others.
He had hooked up with Petr and Olga, two of the wait staff who originated from Sweden, who also had shore leave and tickets for the festival. The three of them would meet up with Petr’s friend Roscoe who had jumped ship on a previous trip to Sydney almost a year earlier, and was now living with an Aboriginal girl named Kimba.
Officially his day ended at 2:30 when the last shore party had been safely disembarked. He gingerly helped an elderly overweight woman onto the ramp that descended at a minimal angle of decline, his fingers sinking into the warm and plump flesh of her elbow. He waved as she turned and made her way down, and then rubbed his moist hand on the front of his pants as he went to his berth.
He quickly checked his bag to make sure he had the essentials; toothbrush, condoms, a change of underwear, swimsuit, an extra tee shirt and a sticky ball of wax stuck between two fat joints, he had bought off of Elias, a Jamaican bartender in the casino. The phone on the desk pinged the arrival of a text from Petr.
“Yo… Stsh P up pace… we on dock…”
“G2G… 2 min!:)” he replied.
Petr was all right; he tried too hard, awkwardly using phrases in a European way. Olga was drop dead hot. Tall, thin, white hot blonde, with a lot of ink, and a small silver ring in her left nostril. Stash loved to watch her as she waited tables in the large dinning room, taking orders and flirting for tips. On occasion she had caught him starring, leaving him red faced and flustered.
He had made Petr’s acquaintance first, thinking maybe Olga was Petr’s girlfriend or sister, of which she was neither. Stash enjoyed walking the ship, discovering new holds and nooks. On this particular evening he pushed open a heavy door that swung out onto a small lower deck looking out off of the starboard. The cool air rushed in as the door opened, carrying the sweet acrid smell of clove cigarette that made its ghostly trail from the glowing red ember at the tip of her fingers.
She stood at the rail, watching the moons broken reflection on the surface of the black rippling water. He moved next too her silently. Without turning her head she acknowledged him.
“Halloo you…” she said in her best English.
“uh… Hi” Stash replied nervously.
She turned and leaned up against the rail, with her elbows resting behind her, the cigarette dangled hot and loose from between her fingers. Her small breasts strained against the baby blue shirt that featured a smiling giraffe and the words “Deep Throat.” Her flat stomach was exposed and the small gemstone snug in the small cleft that was her belly button accented the yellows and oranges of the short linen skirt she wore.
He stood silent, searching for words. “Uh… I have seen you with Petr…”
She starred at him and took a drag, inhaling deeply and exhaling through her nose.
“Petr… you are friends? He is your boyfriend?”
“Petr… Yes… is my friend.” Her mouth was wide and thin and opened to expose bright white, but slightly crooked lower teeth. Stash immediately regretted asking that question, he had been wondering about this ever since he had first seen them together.
“Do you like smoke?” She pulled the cigarettes from the waist of her skirt, extending one from the wrinkled pack. He accepted with a smile and waited while she fumbled with the lighter, admiring her long ring adorned fingers.
“It’s a beautiful night…” he smiled nervously, coughing slightly from the thick smoke. He said the only thing he could think of… “la bella luna…”
Now he sat on the sticky white leather in the backseat of the metallic green 1973 Cadillac El Dorado, sandwiched between Petr and Olga. With the top down, the sun beat on their heads with a heavy heat, and the hot air rushed violently through the hair of the passengers.
Petr’s head bobbed sideways and the wet mass of hair fell on Stash’s shoulder.
“Dude!” Stash exclaimed as he nudged the sleeping head off, and watched as it slumped against the window.
They had left the docks over four hours ago, after stowing their bags in the enormous trunk, which closed only when Roscoe sat heavy on it to make the latch take.
“Let’s go mates! A burning bush waits for no man… or woman.” He said as he slapped Kimba on the behind, which she by some otherworldly physics squeezed into a pair of skimpy cut off jeans. She giggled and Roscoe slid across the hood and jumped the door to rest behind the wheel.
Stash wore his mirrored Magnum Force Cop glasses, and secretly watched as Olga leaned her head against the window, the lips of her own reflection kissing her sweetly on the mouth. He followed the contour of her mouth down the line of her chin, sliding over the porcelain slope of her neck to the small breasts that bounced lightly with every pothole and bump.
“Hey Fuckos!” Roscoe called back to anyone who was listening.
“Got to make a pit stop…right! Got me a gut full o piss and roo what’s beaten down the door.” He laughed, as he jerked the wheel to exit the highway, rocking the car and its passengers. Kimba lifted her head from Roscoe’s lab, where she had been sleeping, looked over the edge of the seat and smiled at Stash, and mouthed the word “Hi.”
A kilometer later the car screeched to a violent, diagonal halt, taking up two spaces in the lot that butted up against the service station and pavilion of fast food restaurants. Roscoe and Kimba hopped over the doors and raced to bathrooms. Stash nudged Petr who didn’t’ want to wake up, so he looked at Olga, who was just waking up.
“You want to get out and stretch?” He asked her. She smiled, nodded, and tried the door, which was locked.
She turned with a helpless look in her bright blue eyes. “How you open?”
He leaned towards her, reaching across her personal space, to pull up on the small metal locking nub that poked it’s small head from the inside of the door. He breathed in the sweet floral scent that filled the air around her body, as he fumbled with the lock.
She watched him as he leaned across her, his shoulder accidentally touching her breast as he pulled on the stuck lock nub with both hands, until eventually with a springy pop it moved.
He pulled the door handle and the heavy door swung out spilling wrappers and other garbage onto the hot black tar of the parking lot. He smiled and said “Ladies first…”
The hot smell of food and grease moved across his nostrils on the weak desert breeze that struggled to span the lot. Stash was feeling hungry and decided to explore the offerings of the decrepit food truck sitting in desperate wait for hungry patrons.
A large brown circle with a bushy moustache and a huge hungry grin danced motionless, squirting what looked like ketchup from a red bottle, all over its face. Next to the jolly fellow were the words “Eat Me!” in bright red. Across the top of the trucks side panel and above the dancing character the sign read The Pie Hole, best meat pies down under.
Staash had never heard of a meat pie, but since it was fairly self-explanatory, and he was hungry he decided to have a look.
“Hey… any of you hungry?” he asked.
But there was no response.
Kimba had stretched out across the metallic green hood of the car, sunning her dark mocha skin. Her black curls fell long over the quarter panel opposite of her bright pink toenails that stretched to the sky.
Roscoe and Petr ran fingers across the wrinkled and creased road map, searching for a bearing or a marker to give them direction.
“I told you… I told you we were lost.” Petr ran his hands through his hair.
“Were not lost mate… I just don’t know where we are…” He lifted the map off the hood, turning over, holding up toward the sun, folding and unfolding.
“I think we missed a turn a couple clicks back… the M33, or maybe 24.”
Olga was nowhere to be found, so Stash ventured forth alone.
The truck was not in good condition. Rusted and dented, it had seen some hard miles. At the front of the truck was a large sliding door with a window, and at the rear was a metal awning that swung up on a hinge, propped in place by an old broomstick, where patrons could place their orders.
A thin wiry man in a greasy, stained tee shirt emblazoned with the mustachioed dancing meat pie, stood to greet Stash as he approached.
“G’day mate… what can I do for ya?”
He was thin, sinewy, with brown leathery skin. His broad grin revealed more empty spaces than teeth, and his eyes seemed to look in opposite directions.
Stash contemplated turning on his heel and walking away, but the menu caught his eye. Steak and potato, Steak and kidney, Veg pie, Chicken veg, Shepherd’s, Scotch Pie, Hare Pie, Pork Pie, Flipper Pie and on and on.
“Uh… I don’t know… what’s good?”
“What is good? What is good mate? They’re all good. But my favorite… well that would be…” He ran long boney finger across the list of offerings on the wall stopping at Hare Pie. He laughed, quite amused with his little joke
“I never had a meat pie.”
In faux astonishment he smacked the sides of his weathered face. “That my friend is a bloody travesty, a genuine miscarriage of justice.” He paused and ducked below the counter.
“But I have just the thing to make you right, with the universe and the Queen himself.”
His fingers strummed the four strings of the baritone ukulele like a world-class flamenco, and he broke into song.
“Meat pies and tomato sauce”
“Same thing for the second course”
“From Brisbane to Melbourne”
“They all endorse”
“Meat pies and tomato sauce!”
The performance ended in a frantic four-finger flamenco crescendo and an exaggerated bow to the audience of one.
“So what’ll it be?” His grin was large and toothy, though several of his teeth were missing and most others were discolored.
Stash settled on a pie of steak and potato and he watched as the man applied his pie craft, slicing the top of the pie off with a long dark blade, flipping it onto the counter. Using a ladle he stirred a large silver pot, charred black on its base and scooped with an audible plop, a steaming pile of green. Without pause he spun a red squirt bottle in the air, and squeezed out a long spiral, and with the knife, flipped the resting pie top back into place and slid it onto the counter.
Stash had crossed the parking lot, smelling the hot steaming pie, but hesitant to take a taste. “Oy!” yelled Roscoe, as Stash approached.
“You’re a brave one… eating one of those road kill turnovers.”
“It smells good…” Stash offered.
“Sure if you like eating Skippy.”
“It’s not peanut butter… it’s steak and potato.” Stash took a bite, and the hot green peas and ketchup ran down the side of his mouth. The crust was buttery and flaky, and filled with salty brown gravy.
Roscoe laughed. “Who the fuck is this guy? Skippy…” he said questioningly.
“Skippy… Skippy the mother-fucking bush kangaroo?”
Kimba, still spread across the hood of the Cadillac, watched Stash as he listened to Roscoe explain whom Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was. She motioned him over, with a slow sexy finger that stopped at her lips. “Can I taste your pie Staaaaash?”
Her long brown finger, tipped in bright pink circled the light brown flaky crust of the meat pie. With an almost inaudible sigh, and release she plunged her finger through the crust, breaking it, flaky and light. Twisting it slowly, her bright blue eyes looked deeply into his. Pulling her hand back, she laid the brown and bloody red finger to her lips, rubbing it slowly across her pink, before plunging it deep, between her lips.
“Mmmmm… oh that’s so good…” she purred at Stash who stood motionless, feeling his erection pressing against his pants.
A warm hand touched his shoulder, and he jumped with a startle.
“Please to try?” He turned pie in hand and looked into her beautiful blue eyes.
He squeaked out a nervous “Sure” and presented her the pie.
Holding his hands and carefully cradling the warm pie, she slowly spread her lips showing small white teeth as she bit deeply into the pastry.
“Mmmm, yes… delicious…” As she talked small bits of crumb fell to her chin, and a small red dot of tomato sauce tipped her elegant nose.
“Uh… you have…” Awkwardly he motioned with his hands, but she failed to understand. Using his pinky, he deftly removed the red sauce from her face, and showed her the red tip of his finger.
She smiled, took his little finger, and sucked it clean.
Stash gulped, speechless, as Roscoe crumpled the map up and tossed it into the front seat.
“Alright… let’s go, two by two an all that shit… I can smell bush, burning bush… and my nose is never wrong.”
“I met a strange lady, she made me nervous.
She took me in and made me breakfast…”
Colin Hay and Ron Strykert.