Just Deserts

Sidey’s theme for last weekend was “sunshine”….

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It appeared on the horizon, a funnel above the shimmering water. As it got nearer, however, it emerged through the water, which was a mere mirage in the sun-baked haze, and the funnel revealed itself to be the head of a camel.

I suppose that’s why they call it the ship of the desert, thought Shafrid, watching from his juice-bar at the oasis. He continued to watch, waiting.

The camel reached the oasis and dipped his head forward thirstily into the pool. His rider shot over the camel’s head and into the water.

Shafrid grinned. Every time the camel did this, and every time Omar literally fell for it.

Shafrid went back behind his counter as Omar arrived, dripping, into the shop, swearing at camels, tent-like clothing that clung to you when wet, and life in general. He was the local postman, the one with longest route yet smallest number of houses on the planet.

Shafrid was his nearest customer within fifty miles. Shafrid had established his business for that very reason, figuring that he would have no competition. It hadn’t occurred to him that he would have no customers either.

He called his juice-bar the Showadi Wadi.

People had said he was mad. Many of those people were his wives, three of whom had simply left him. The rest sat around in their tents all day, bemoaning the lack of Wi-Fi and ordering catalogues from Victoria’s Secrets. This was how Omar was such a regular visitor.

The two sat in the cool shade of the juice-bar. It served a variety of drinks, if three can be called variety. Omar was drinking a Fig Surprise. The surprise would come in about an hour’s time, but that wouldn’t be a problem. You could look at the Gobi desert either as half-a-million square miles without a toilet, or as the biggest toilet in the world.

The other drinks on offer were the Cactus-Leaf Smoothie, despite the fact that there is little that is smooth about a drink full of spikes, and the Palm-frond Shake.

As regards food, Shafrid sold falafel. Most visitors bought this, although no-one knows what it is, since the only other item on the menu was Camel Nuggets, and people reckoned that this was not meant in a chicken nugget type of way.

They looked out of the bar. The sun was shining. It always did.

“Nice day,” said Shafrid.

“Piss off,” said Omar.

“What’s wrong?” asked Shafrid.

“It’s always a nice day, that’s what’s wrong,” said Omar. “Nothing but bloody sunshine, all day every day.”

“There’s the rainy season,” Shafrid pointed out.

“Oh yes,” said Omar. “Ten minutes in mid-July when the equivalent of Niagara Falls drops in a vertical sheet, falling so hard that it punches holes in the sand. Then the sun comes back out, and what water you’ve collected in buckets just evaporates as you’re looking at it. It’s as if it’s being drunk by an invisible genie.”

“I was reading the other day in one of the wives’ Cosmo,” began Shafrid. Omar looked at him. “The radio wasn’t working,” said Shafrid defensively. “Anyway, I was reading about a country called Ireland. Apparently their rainy season lasts from April to March.”

“What, no sunshine?” said Omar.

“No, sunshine,” replied Shafrid.

“No sun-tan?”

“Nope. It seems their skin is sun-resistant. They have something called freckles that fight it off.”

“Sounds like heaven,” said Omar. “I hope they know how lucky they are.”

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