Deano and Rusty slowly pushed the pedals of their BMX bikes along the footpath on the Clontarf foreshore to the old wooden BCC supermarket in the strip of shops across the road from the beach. The sickly-sweet scents of low tide on a humid late summer afternoon filled the air as the boys ran an errand to collect a litre of milk for Deano’s mother.
The supermarket was a large fibro and weatherboard shop with cracked linoleum floors and slow dusty ceiling fans. It housed steel racks of groceries and rows of grey fridges that whirred and grumbled as they dripped condensation to keep their dairy foods cool. A row of windows down one side allowed the humid sea air into the space and kept it from being unbearable.
As Deano jumped off his bike in front of the shop, he turned to Rusty. 'Hey mate, do you want to wait around the side with my bike?’
Rusty sat on his bike for a second and regarded his smaller blond-haired friend. ‘Why can’t I wait here?’
‘I don’t wanna go home through the back streets.’
Rusty sighed. His friend wasn’t smiling, he just stood in front of him with a blank look on his face.
So Rusty shrugged. ‘Yeah, okay,’ he said, and awkwardly pushed the two BMX bikes down the street beside the old supermarket.
Standing in the late afternoon sun, he wasn’t sure what annoyed him more, that Deano had asked him to wait down the side or that he had agreed to it. He could feel his impatience grow and considered allowing Deano’s bike to fall to the ground, when a dull blow struck him on the top of his head.