About Bob

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs

Bob lived by his wits which wasn't always satisfactory.

About Bob

Perched on a hill, basking in the summer sun, there’s a new subdivision that overlooks the city and because of its location they’ve built flash houses that attract people who’ve made their wealth by hoodwinking the less fortunate of the city below. What would they think if they knew about Bob?

On that very site Bob Brown assembled scraps of timber and roofing iron to build a hut amongst the gorse. It was far from flash, even for the times, there was no water and no dunny, he distributed his turds freely among the gorse bushes that surrounded him. There was a track winding up the ridge, roughly where the new road is now, but why anyone needed access up the track, other than Bob, hasn’t been told… of course there were yarns about lovers going up there, but gorse is a prickly bush, which surely would take the shine off any amorous endeavours any lovers might have planned!

Bob was a squatter, the land wasn’t his, he worked on the theory that if he was kicked off, he’d easily walk away because his hut hadn’t cost him anything other than a little sweat. At the time it was beyond the suburbs, so nobody was around to pot him, and the lovers’ minds would be elsewhere, that’s for certain. He made sure he didn’t annoy the dairy cocky down on the flat, the only house on the road that led to the gorse track. Mind you the cocky’s dog barked when he heard Bob on his nightly prowls, like when he walked past carrying a stick of timber or a sheet of iron that he’d pilfered from a building site, but he found that if he stood still for a while, the dog would soon settle down again.

A job at the milk treatment factory provided him with more money than he’d had in his life, but he didn’t really work, and he knew it. He cooked a breakfast for the early dairy staff using the boss’s missus’ kitchen… and food, it gave her time to get her kids ready for school, so she didn’t cause a fuss. He fried everything, but it wasn’t the breakfasts that left him with yellow stains down the front of his shirt. On his walk to or from the dairy, he’d visit a henhouse or two on the way. Most properties had a henhouse in those days. He only ever took two eggs and when he arrived home in the evening he boiled some water and poached the eggs and had them on toast. Somehow he always managed to slop some down his front! Maybe it was because his fork was missing a prong?

Claude Gallop was the delivery man for Boon’s Bakery and while he was carrying the trays of bread or buns into the shop on the corner of Valley Road, Bob always managed to swipe a loaf or some sticky buns. It was early-morning dark so Bob relied on his stealth to do the thieving and although he was good at it and assured himself that old Claude didn’t even know, he did. Claude might have been slow a-foot, but he was alert as a tax department clerk. Claude used to sell a loaf to the odd early-bird while on his rounds and to save him stepping up into the back of the van, he had an old rake handle with a nail driven through the end. He used it to spike a loaf and drag it towards himself. Sometimes Bob used it too.

On a winter’s morning, Claude made sure that his bread was loaded near the back of the cab, far away from the rear doors. Absentmindedly he left his rake with its nail-in-it behind at the depot. He rushed carrying the first tray into the Valley Road store, and on returning for the second tray, he noticed it didn’t have any loaves missing, so he quietly placed it on the doorstep and returned to the van. As he walked back to it he noticed the springs go down a little and he knew Bob had climbed inside to retrieve a loaf. Claude was more nimble than Bob would have given him credit, he had both doors closed and secured before you could say, ‘Currant bun!’.

The corner of Valley Road almost meets Hackthorn Road, which climbs, winding up the Port Hills to the Sign of the Takahe and further, at the very top is the Sign of the Kiwi. From there, the road descends down to the milky green Lyttleton Harbour, which geologically is a sunken volcanic crater. Claude wasn’t thinking about the crater, but he headed up Hackthorn Road aiming for the Sign of the Kiwi. He ignored the raps on the rear doors and Bob’s calling out and he wondered if the bread might suck up some of Bob’s stink, but he figured he could always return to the depot to resupply. Eventually, Bob sat on the floor and had eaten, as far as he could tell in the pitch black, four of the half dozen buns he had found. He figured Claude would stop sometime.

Claude stopped at the Sign of the Kiwi, and let Bob out. He was angry, but Claude was in his cab with the door locked and window up. Without a word… or a glance, he drove off with Bob shaking his fist at him. Bob faced a five or six hour walk home, which would be enough to finish is boots, something he was annoyed about for weeks to come! Although the excursion made Claude over an hour late, Bob hadn’t made an undue mess of the bread, which pleased him to some extent, so after he’d finished his delivery run and swept out the van, he drove back to the bottom of Hackthorn Road and waited.

‘I’ll give you a lift the rest of the way home… if you want.’ He said to Bob when he finally reached him. ‘If you want bread… or buns, help me carry the trays into the shop, and I’ll give you some, but I don’t like pinching and I don’t like being taken for a fool! Agreed?’

Bob nodded agreement, and climbed in.


Submitted: April 04, 2021

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