This is the beginning of a story that evolved while I was co-ordinating “Contact with Kids” on Outback Radio 2WEB.
I saw a truck. I saw a man Drive off to work, On the streets of Bourke.
The beginning is Fact. The time is the Present. The people are real. The end — you imagine it — is Fiction.
Everyone knew Rowdy’s truck. It was a small flat-nosed truck with a crate on the back. High up on top of the cab sat two wooden kennels. Rowdy’s dogs stuck their heads out and barked down at The town dogs as the truck chugged down, the street. Painted on the kennels in large nearly neat letters, was “Rowdy. Odd Jobs. Rubbish Removed. Lawn Mowing. Firewood” and his telephone number.
Rowdy’s truck was red. It was once a bright red but now it was a dark, dusty rusty-red with grey blotches. It shuddered and coughed when it started In the morning. It rattled and squeaked and backfired. It groaned, it bumped and jumped slowly around the town. Rowdy’s truck was getting old and tired.
Nearly everyone knew Rowdy. Rowdy always wore old grey greasy overalls. He was tall and thin. He never said very much and then only in a soft squeaky voice from somewhere inside his beard. Rowdy loved the tiny ginger-haired librarian with the big round orange glasses and long flowing skirts.
Nobody ever tried to steal anything from Rowdy’s truck because of Fred. When he was small Fred lived in the glove box. As he grew Fred camped under the seat In the dust and lost things. Sometimes he coiled himself up on the passenger seat to soak up the sun. Fred lived in Rowdy’s truck for years. He guarded Rowdy’s tucker box, scaring the daylights out of anyone who even looked inside the truck.
But, soon everyone missed Rowdy’s truck. They saw Rowdy riding an old yellow motor bike that had a nasty stutter and blew blue smoke all over the road. The tiny ginger-haired librarian clung on behind, trailing her skirts in The thin blue clouds. The old red truck stayed in the shed. It wouldn’t go. Rowdy tried everything he knew but the truck just whined.
Fred slept through it all, only waking up at night to catch a slow mouse or two that crept into the truck to explore.
Dust settled on the outside. Spider-web curtains hung in the windows. A willy-wagtail built a nest on one of the kennels and a little black hen scratched up a nest on the back. The front tyre went flat. Rowdy’s truck looked sadder than ever.
What will become of Rowdy’s truck? This is the typical regeneration story. With the help of Stan the Man, the Bourke Firemen and the Town band, Rowdy’s truck returns in a new guise to please the old people. Can you imagine it?
Peter Dargin © 1996