Two Men, Waiting

‘Woah, is that new?’ Stu asked, sidling up to my ute, fingers hooked into his toolbelt.

         ‘Sure is,’ I said, adjusting my own belt. ‘Right off the lot!’

         ‘No way,’ Stu whistled, stepping back to admire the car. ‘How much did that cost ya?’

         ‘Too much, according to the missus,’ I joked, and he cracked up.

         ‘Struth,’ he chuckled, wiping a tear from his eye.

         The building site was beginning to clear for the day, other tradies in high-vis filtering out and getting into their own respective utes.

         ‘So, uh,’ Stu said, a little too loudly, ‘what’s that, a standard ute tray?’

         ‘Uh, nah,’ I replied, flicking my eyes around nervously, ‘it’s actually from a place that does custom ute trays in the Melbourne CBD.’

         ‘Oh, uh… nice,’ he replied, stretching out an arm to lean awkwardly against the canopy, but pulling back once his skin touched the hot metal.

         The ute next to us in the unofficial parking lot revved to life and peeled away, kicking up a cloud of dust that hung in the air. We started to cough, avoiding eye contact. Stu waved a hand in front of his face to clear the dirt, then noticed a light film of it had appeared on my ute canopy. He reached out to brush it off, and retracted his hand straight away.

         ‘Still hot?’ I asked.

         ‘What the hell is that, steel?’ he whispered, sucked his palm to cool it down.

         ‘Just an aluminium ute canopy,’ I said, nodding at the last few tradies wandering to their cars. ‘Completely standard custom feature.’

         We stood in the silence for a couple more minutes, until we looked around and–

         ‘We’re alone?’

         ‘Thank god,’ Stu muttered, as I threw open my back door and pulled out two camping chairs.

Stu was already busy dragging out the tray table hidden in the ute bed and setting up two teacups next to his thermos. I brought out a plate of scones that my wife had made and set them next to the tea.

         ‘So,’ Stu said, as soon as we got settled. ‘Could you believe what Mike was wearing today?’

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