They say legends are born, not made and it’s only a matter of time before their true potential is revealed. This is one of those stories.
One Saturday night, three housemates tumbled out of the pub under the heady influence of fermented hops and headed down the hill. The way they saw it, going home was considered “downhill” despite the obvious rise to the concrete landscape.
At the last corner before turning into their street was a service station. Sitting at the perimeter of the service station lights was a silver caravan, a relic of the 1950s. It had converted into a makeshift kitchen, resting on a pile of besa blocks. It had the rounded form, like someone had flattened an oval, yellowed lace in the rear window. The door side had been converted into a servery hatch with a Formica bench top, now cracked and rusted along the metal coping. Fly screens came half way down the wide open window allowing the passing of food and money. A roller screen kept the daylight at bay.
The proprietor, Mr G, never spoke, or when he did, it was little mumbles. He could take a dozen orders in his head and knew who ordered the double meat, half meat, chilli sauce or extra tabouli on their kebab.
The trio, Andy, Stuart and James caught the aroma of the kebab caravan and followed their nostrils, leaning against the bench top and soaking in the delicious aroma.
Mr G. nodded and took their orders while the lads fell to the philosophy of the kebab.
“A kebab isn’t a kebab unless you end up wearing some of it on your shirt or jeans,” said Stuart and there was murmured assent.
“I prefer the kick you get from chilli sauce,” James said, his mouth beginning to salivate.
“It’s the perfect meal of meat and vegetables,” Andy intoned as the three wise guys watched their late night feast being prepared.
Shortly after, three kebabs were delivered, wrapped in foil and garnished with a serviette.
“You always need more than one serviette, I reckon,” said Andy as they began the drunken stagger home, peeling the foil back from their midnight snack. “We should get Mr G. to put some more out.”
Walking and eating are not actions easily mastered, doubly so when intoxicated and trying to eat a kebab. Somehow the trio managed the short walk home and finished their midnight feast at the kitchen table, licking sauce-laden fingers and mopping stray strands of onion from their chins.
“Right, I’m off to bed. Night fellas,” said Andy.
James and Stuart raised their hands in recognition but were not too far behind in heading for the horizontal.
The horror began in the breaking dawn of Sunday morning. James was the first.
He woke up feeling the effects of a late night kebab and a few too many beers. The queasiness of his stomach he put down to the night before. Suddenly he felt his stomach lurch. Vaulting from his bed he bounded into the hallway and sprinted the short distance to the bathroom. Kneeling before the porcelain god, he embraced it in a pose of worshipful adoration and presented his offering. His stomach muscles heaved in violent protest, venting the contents in a technicolour stream.
Each spasmodic episode racked his body until he saw stars. His fingers fumbled for the button before successfully washing away his sins. As the bowl emptied he spat to clean out his mouth. He was shocked by its ferocity. His gut rumbled in turbulent fury and he spewed again.
Resting his head against the coolness of the tiles he surmised it was simply the results of last night’s drinking and the service station kebab on the way home.
“Out of the way,” said Stuart as he rushed into the bathroom, covering his mouth with his hand. James’ and Stuart’s legs became tangled as Stuart occupied the space where James had been. James scrambled out of the way while Stuart chundered into the bowl.
“What the frig is going on?” asked Andy rubbing his eyes while scratching his crotch. “How hung over are you?”
“This is no hangover. This has got to be something worse.” James washed his face in the sink before holding his stomach.
“Food poisoning, perhaps,” said Andy.
Over the next hour, Stuart and James tagged each other in and out of the bathroom. There was one unfortunate crossover and James was forced to use the sink. Andy watched the scene like a UN observer, choosing not to get involved, while the other two wondered when Andy would be struck down.
James and Stuart sat on the lounge under blankets with grey, clammy faces. Each had a container, be it a bucket or an Esky positioned at his feet. The pungent stench of vomit permeated the house, puncturing the force field of air freshener.
“I have hurled so much my stomach just hurts,” said James. “There is absolutely nothing left.”
“My girlfriend makes me do Pilates with her and I thought it made my stomach sore. I will never complain again.”
Stuart leaned forward and dry-retched into the Esky. Low moans echoed.
“Here you are boys,” said Andy, from the front door. “I’ve brought you some relief.” He passed a bottle of Gatorade to each weakly offered hand.
“Take it easy. Little sips, little sips or you’ll be throwing it all up again.”
“I can’t believe you’re not affected by this,” said James.
Andy shrugged. “Guess I’m just tougher than a service station kebab.”
And thus, a legend was born. But like every superhero, Andy’s hubris would be his undoing, but that’s a story for another time.