Will Dower was the driver so his eyes were on the road while Ricky May was free to scan the passing roadside for eateries.
On the old highway not far north of Newcastle, on the way to a gig at Port Macquarie, there it was. Not a Macca’s with the super quick efficient drive through, but a traditional greasy spoon with its black and onion stained hot plate, sweaty and overweight ethnic (apologies to dear Helen Zerephos. I will get to you eventually) and the delicious smell of charred beef and toasting rolls.
Rick had seen the sign from afar, or maybe he had been there before, but he gave Will plenty of notice to pull over and was out before the engine stopped.
Rick leaned back in the window.
“How many ‘burgers can you eat?”
“OK,” said Ricky, hurrying through the plastic stripped doorway as Will unfolded himself from behind the wheel to stretch his legs.
Time passed and Rick was still inside. So, presuming the place must have been busy, Will decided to add coffee to his order and pushed his way through the plastic into smoky gloom. When his eyes had accustomed themselves to the lack of light, what there was of it, struggling from a single fluorescent tube trough twenty years of accumulated fat and fluff, only to be absorbed by dark and mysteriously stained décor, he saw the hot plate completely covered with bacon, meat patties, onion rings and eggs, all cheerfully sizzling and sputtering. Then a glance at the bun toaster, fully loaded, confirmed his suspicion of a busy time.
Musicians are very aware of sound but there was none. He turned to see who else was waiting but all he saw were old wooden fold-up chairs and Formica topped tables, adorned by salt and pepper shakers placed either side of the ubiquitous plastic flowers in an assortment of fly spotted empty sauce bottles. There were no people. He double checked but not a soul was in sight so he continued on to reach Rick’s side as the first of the completed burgers was being stacked with beetroot, tomato, lettuce and lashings of tomato sauce.
“How many did you order?”
Rick looked around sharply.
“You only wanted one, didn’t you?”
“Yes, one’s fine, why?”
“That’s OK then,” Rick said with obvious relief.
“I only ordered a dozen!”