‘Hey, my name is Zach, have you just arrived?’
I look like a schoolgirl that just had her first kiss. Eyes wide open. ‘I’m Tess,’ i say with a hesitation in my voice as if i’m not sure my name is really Tess. I pull my sleeves over my hands and answer his question, we’ve been here for three days now.
‘Oh, are you here with your girlfriends on a road trip?’ Pointing at our Defender with a tent installed on top. He’s good at being casual, I say to myself while he strokes his hair with one hand.
‘Me and my friends are surfing. We’re here for the swell at four in the morning.’
‘Yeah, yeah, I saw you this morning. You’re a pretty mean surfer,’ he folds his arms and nods, he must mean what he says. I shrug.
‘Me and some friends,’ he points at some tents in the distance, with some guys barbecuing in front, fumes reaching high, ‘we always come out here every year. The waves break perfectly on the banks and it’s still a bit of a secret spot,’ I nod, ‘hey, if you want come and join us tonight for some food and drinks and a good talk.’ He smiles and looks at me in my eyes, I can’t say no now.
‘You have scored,’ says Levine when I return, arms crossed and a smug smile on his face.
‘I have scored you some barbecue buddy’s,’ I defend myself.
‘Wow, good meat for all of us than.’
‘That guy is too pretty for me.’
‘That guy us totally into you!’
‘That guy couldn’t be more out of my league.’
‘That guy couldn’t be more of the smitten kitten.’
‘You couldn’t be more wrong.’
‘You couldn’t be more deceived.’
‘Well, corpses of dead animals will reveal all tonight.’
‘You just very effectively ruined barbecue night for me.’
‘You just found out,’ Macy jumps in.
‘They were the best minutes of the day.’
‘What’s up,’ Max sits down on the grass barefoot.
‘Tess just scored us a free barbecue.’
‘Awesome. Show me the meat.’
Macy and I shake our heads. Men and their meats.
We bring the salads and the veggies. ‘See, they don’t look surprised,’ I say to our men who didn’t agree on our plant-plan.
‘We have veggies. Check this out.’ The 7ach points his bright green eyes at me and starts stringing peppers, pieces of tomato and zucchini on a stick. I take my place beside him; this feels good.
‘No, baby,’ says Max, ‘just give me the heat and the meat and I am a happy man.’
‘Well, then I am about to make you the happiest man alive,’ a spike haired guy whom they apparently refer to as Elvis grabs a giant piece of steak from the table and starts rubbing it with yummy smelling spices.
‘Shut up,’ says Macy, ‘these spices tickle your taste buts.’
‘We can use them,’ I say. Zach hands me some, I take a whiff and I feel like I’m spice high. So we take some more and spread ‘m around like holiday spirit. Team Elvis now accepts the challenge and picks up slaps of meat and holds them on high, they count, one, two, three; spices fly through the air in all colours, ochre yellow, dark brown, earth red, cinnamon brown, sunset orange, soil black, delicious cream. Now, we grab our veggies and start swaying them in the rainbow of smells, picking up all the flavours and colours on the way, until our tomatoes become edible paintings.
Elvis stretches his arms and cracks his neck, ‘Okay, we got one more card to play men, this one is for all the real man,’ and all the men at the other end of the table start banging on their chest like gorillas. The herbs on their arms are jumping off in a fright. Then they slap the meat on the table making it come off the ground and pressing all the colours and smells into the meat so it can never leave. We nod. We’re impressed. But not stupid.
We pick up the knives, all of them. Like ninja’s we strike and chop up everything that’s comes in our way, meat, veggies, herbs, anything; until it looks like a Brazilian Carnival that’s about to hit the heat. Max puts an arm on Elvis’s shoulder, ‘this actually looks delicious.’ ‘These guys practice the art of deception. They make us eat veggies.’ The people who have been witnessing our show from a distance are clapping.
Zach puts an arm around my neck and kisses my head. ‘Good teamwork,’ he says. And we stretch our teamwork to our neighbours by handing out our spicy ratatouille to our audience and they love it. People bring in more food and we mash-up anything they give. Zach and I came up with a seven-step-system: sprinkle, spread, rub, slab, turn, chop and burn. ‘You two are working this,’ a red-haired lady shouts.
We slice and smoke until there is nothing left and we crash into our seats with a humpf. Levine is checking me. I raise my eyebrows. ‘I seem to have been outstripped by cutie green eyes right next to you,’ he whispers. ‘No, baby, I’ll never stop loving you.’
‘I would believe you if I didn’t know you this well.’
‘What? I mean it.’
‘Yes, you and your irony.’ He clunks our wineglasses together. ‘So tell me Zach, you seem like a regular here, how many times have you been here before?’
‘Seven,’ I say out loud.
‘Seriously?’ Zach starts counting his fingers. ‘For real?’
‘That was awesome,’ cries Elvis swinging his tattoos in the motion.
‘You always come here with these butchers?’
‘No, I come here with my wife and children too,’ he says without a blush. I start chortle and clunk my glass to Levine’s this time.
‘Them dirty ghosts. Well at least I’m still…’
‘…no, you will always be my number one.’
‘Here’s to good food and good times and perfect waves.’