Tom turned out to be my contact at the Kimberley Camping Store. He seemed to be in charge. He remembered the order.
‘Yep. Really! They don’t fit?
Oh yeah, I did Vinnie a good deal with those stretchers. They were cheaper than the small ones.’
‘But they don’t fit Tom.’
I gave a brief summary of the Vinnie conversation minus the tirade. Tom sounded understanding so I calmed the storm building in me and asked him to check what stretchers they had in stock and their dimensions.
‘What'll we do Tom? Can we do a straight exchange? Only slept on once or twice Tom. Good as new.’
‘If you give them a wipe down I’ll put them back on the racks and sell ‘em no questions asked.’
Tom was also happy to give me some prices and sizes of inflatables as our other possible option.
‘Put the stretchers and a couple of air beds aside will you Tom? We’ll sort it out on Friday.’
‘It’s all sorted’ I told the team.
‘Are we getting inflatables?’ Andrea asked pointedly.
‘Well … no. Probably not.’
‘Why not? That’s what we want.’ She went on.
I took another in a long line of deep breaths, tucked my frustration away behind my sunglasses and told her:
‘Vinnie said! But we can buy one ourselves to fit the small tent.’ I added.
‘Why? That’s not our problem. He should pay for that.’
The terrier in Andrea wasn’t going to let this go easily. She had Vinnie gripped tightly in her terrier teeth and didn’t seem to notice that Vinnie had me in his.
I started to shake a little. My jaw muscles were locked tight with tension. My eyeballs were fixed like concrete.
‘CAN WE JUST DO WHAT WE NEED TO DO TO MAKE THIS HOLIDAY WORK.! I AM MERELY THE MESSENGER.’
Said one word at a time through firmly gritted teeth.