The Punjabi Pappadum

The Punjabi Pappadum by Robert Newton

Book: The Punjabi Pappadum by Robert Newton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Newton
roared the registrar.
    Ah, the giant chook.
    Travis steadied himself and felt his face blend with the white wall behind him.
    â€œI can’t remember any of the steps,” he blurted in a panic. “Shouldn’t we be doing something?”
    Before anyone could answer, someone grabbed their attention.
    â€œDeadly?” shouted a man with a clipboard. “Deadly?”
    â€œOver here,” called Ron.
    â€œFollow me, please.”
    Double-timing it, Deadly followed the man up a ramp and into a space backstage. Standing off to their right was another act, a group of four boys decked in black and looking very sharp.
    â€œNow that’s what I call a boy band,” said Veejay anxiously.
    â€œHi, I’m Pete,” said the man with the clipboard. “You’re our last act for the group category. You’ll be on after ‘The Primetime All Stars’ over there. Obviously you’ll need to get changed. There are rooms off to the left.”
    â€œThanks, but we’re right as we are,” said Theo.
    â€œSuit yourself.”
    The big finish from the trio on stage didn’t happen. Its ambitious lead singer, spurred on by the full house in the auditorium, tried to hit a high note that was well out of his range. Squealing, he was, over and over, until he finally called it quits and settled for the octave lower. Sweaty and shattered, the trio emerged backstage to a dribble of polite applause.
    â€œWe’re home, fellas,” smirked one of the All Stars. “Five hundred bucks, bring it on.”
    No one had noticed Theo’s absence, but when he reappeared he was vibing, big-time.
    â€œI’ve just worded up the lighting crew,” he said, smacking his hands together. “It’s all set.”
    Centre stage, minus the clipboard, Pete worked the crowd into a frenzy.
    â€œIn no particular order, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I’d like to introduce some local boys — Marty, Rory, Dave and Liam. Please give it up and welcome to the stage the very talented PRIMETIME ALL STARS!”
    â€œDoes anyone else want to go home?’’ asked Veejay, over the applause.
    â€œWe’re dead.”
    â€œNot just yet, we’re not.” Ron produced a small piece of paper from his back pocket. “Check this out, Veejay.”
    Veejay took the cheque and read the details.
    PAY THE PUNJABI PAPPADUM
    AMOUNT FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS $15,000.00
    Slowly he looked up, his eyes filled with tears. “You guys are sick, you know that?”
    â€œIt’s no joke, Veejay,” explained Travis. “It’s the reward money from the robbery. A little ‘thank you’ from the Citrus Grower’s Association.”
    â€œFifteen thousand dollars?” babbled Veejay. “But …?”
    Dexter silenced him by raising his forefinger and making a slashing sign across his throat. “We’ve already decided, Veejay. If you remember, The Pappadum was the reason we started this business in the first place. It’s only right.”
    â€œBut …?”
    â€œWe want you to have it,” added Ron, placing his arm around his shoulders. “It’ll get the bank off your back and, who knows, there may be enough left over for some renovations.”
    Quickly, Veejay flicked through a jumbled screen of images in his head — “Grubby” and the public servants, the food critic and the lies. He let them stay only for a second, then banished the lot into a dark vault, locked it and tossed away the key. Good riddance.
    Next, a happier picture appeared — his mum and dad flat stick in a pumping Pappadum. He watched them for a while, his mum in her favourite purple sari working the tables and his dad in the kitchen, pinching spices into spitting pans.
    â€œWe’re back, aren’t we?” he said to Ron, a dreamy expression on his face.
    â€œYou’d better believe it.”
    * * *
    Just offstage, Theo Ryan

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