The last but one instalment of the very long Kimberley story. You'll need to go to posts back in September to get the other instalments.
Back at the till Tom was busy with another customer. One of his offsiders stepped in. We told him the stretcher story.
‘We’re returning four stretchers and taking two in exchange. Vinnie will pay for the stretchers, we’ll pay for the rest’ we insisted.
Tom was called over. ‘We can’t put used stretchers back on the shelf to sell as new.’ He directed this information at Denis and I. ‘Tom said it’s be okay.' we smiled innocently.
‘What the f…k is this about?’ This time Tom got the spray from his, by now, beetroot faced boss. ‘You and me. In the office. Later.’ He began punching the keys of the register seeing Tom’s face in every letter and number.
‘Sorry’ I mouthed to Tom.
‘I don’t want to cause trouble but if we’d had the right sized stretchers in the first place…’ I sensed that this piece of advice was not helping me or Tom. I shut up. Tom fell silent. Beetroot face continued wrestling with the register, calculating a refund on the maxi stretchers, adding in the cost of the two replacements, and then punching in the mattress, the spout, sleeping bag cover, mantles and strap.
We watched as the pressure valve inside his head crept slowly towards its limit.
‘There’s nothing to pay’
Denis and I stared at him, looked at each other and didn’t argue. He’d charged everything to Vinnie and it had evened out. Four maxi stretchers equalled two mini stretchers, an inflatable double mattress and a counter full of other stuff. Amazing. I was tempted to ask to see the docket but something in Denis’ eyes caused me to pause. The thrill of an imminent explosion was enticing but…
‘Okay’ we chorused.
Denis and I, aware that Vinnie was about to receive a fax in his Brisbane office, took the opportunity to quietly load up and exit.
‘Let’s pick up the girls and get out of town.’ 'Out of mobile range.'