road-house – Stephen House

i stop at a road-house
fill up my car with petrol and go inside
to the tingle of a door-bell

i pay a green haired woman for petrol
and order a strong black coffee
looks like you need an extra shot in it mate she says and laughs
an old woman in a pink cardigan sitting on a lounge chair
echoes you need an extra shot in it mate and laughs

the road-house feels like a home

a chubby bald bloke in ripped jeans enters
to the tingle of the door-bell
stained t-shirt covering half his belly
hi fatty the women say together
hi ladies fatty replies
he orders fish and chips

green hair goes out the back of the shop
calls i’ll nip down the river and catch you a cod
old woman echoes nip down the river and catch him a cod
both women laugh
i laugh and fatty laughs

old woman throws me and fatty a tooth gap grin
fatty says hi to me and i say hi to him

green hair comes out with my strong black coffee
i take it and turn to leave
fatty and the two women say bye to me
i say bye to them and exit the road-house
to the tingle of the door-bell

i pat a skinny black dog with three legs

get in my car and drive along an empty road
not sure how far i’ll travel today
or where i’ll sleep tonight

i stop the car
drink the strong black coffee on the side of the empty road
and think about driving back to the road-house

to ask the two women if they knew fatty
how the dog lost his fourth leg
if there are cod in the nearby river
and if the road-house is their home

Stephen HouseStephen House has won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writers Guild), Rhonda Jancovic Poetry Award for Social Justice & Goolwa Poetry Cup. He’s been shortlisted for: Overland Fair Australia Fiction Prize, Patrick White, Queensland Premier’s Drama and Greenroom acting Awards, and many poetry prizes. He’s received literature residencies to Canada, Ireland & India. His work is published & performed often.