© Merv Webster
Author: Merv Webster
SOMETHING FOR OUR STEVIE
My name is Rowdy Rawlins and I run a Roadhouse, folks
and bias isn’t my concern when hiring girls or blokes.
But Stevie had Downs Syndrome and it played heaps on my mind
that serving in a Diner might be tough for that lad’s kind.
The lass from Social Services said, “Mr Rawlins, Sir,
young Stevie is reliable, to this I can concur.
He may have smooth face features and be thick tongued in his speech,
a little short and dumpy, but this job’s within his reach.”
The Truckers weren’t concern to me as most I must confess,
ignored who brought their tucker out: in fact could not care less.
So long as it was edible and plenty on their plate,
they’d chat and drink their coffee and would then head interstate.
It was the four-wheeled college kids and all the yuppie snobs,
as well as white-shirt workers with their fancy paying jobs,
who came in here quite regular that might put on a show:
so … hell … I’d have to watch him, for the first two weeks or so.
I didn’t need to worry as, within the first few days,
young Stevie had the staff wrapped ‘round his finger any-ways.
The truckies, who were regulars, adopted the young lad
and made him truck-stop mascot and that really made me glad.
He loved to laugh and please folk, but he fiercely did his job,
which helped me to stop worrying about the other mob.
The salt and pepper shakers were aligned and all in place
and not a breadcrumb, or a spill, was left that you could trace.
In fact I had to ask him if he might just slow things down
and let the folk first leave the place before he went to town.
He lingered in the background and his frame moved to and fro
and Stevie scanned the Diner for a table right to go.
In time we learnt our Stevie lived just down the road a-ways,
and shared the public housing with his widowed mum these days.
Disabled and on benefits from cancer surgery,
his mum used Stevie’s pay packet to keep them family.
Then Stevie never showed one day: the first time in three years.
Apparently his heart was crook, which left the staff in tears.
The road stop was a gloomy place without our Stevie there
and how we waited anxiously and slipped in the odd prayer.
A ripple of excitement then revived the place to life
when word came that our Stevie had survived the surgeon’s knife.
Old Frannie, the head waitress and a grandmother of five
let out a war-whoop when she heard and danced a little jive.
Joe Ringer and two truckie mates were somewhat mystified
and wondered what old Fran was on and watched-on goggled eyed.
Fran blushed and smoothed her apron and revealed young Stevie’s plight
and three big, rough necked truckies held back tears of sheer delight.
They wondered where the lad had been: they’d missed him sure enough
and guessed that Stevie’s mother would be doing things real tough.
The boys had just walked out the place when two more mates turned up
and asked Fran ‘bout the words upon the napkin ‘neath the cup.
Fran went to clear the table down and as she did she cried
Just ... something for our Stevie … said the words and wrapt inside
were three new twenty-dollar notes and both the men quizzed Fran
what did it mean … the words and notes? Fran’s story then began.
Those trucking men left napkins too, with notes and words inside
and three months later Stevie rang. The tears were hard to hide.
“I’m ready Mr Rawlins sir, to start my job again!”
He rang five times that day, I think, repeating that refrain.
When Stevie came to work next day, I took him and his mum
inside to shout them breakfast, but I gave young Steve the drum.
“You’ll have to clear the table first!” Which seemed a bit unkind,
but when he saw the napkins … well, it blew his little mind.
Beneath the plates and saucers were white napkins ev’rywhere
with ... something for our Stevie ... from us folk who really care.
Truck companies and drivers all donated in some way
and all the staff and Diner guests were moved to tears that day.
While everybody partied and expressed sincere delight,
none noticed Stevie’s absence - he had disappeared from sight.
But Stevie hadn’t ventured far - just down an aisle or two -
engaged in clearing tables … as our Stevie liked to do.
©Bush Poet and Balladeer