I’m not sure how much business this post office gets. All I know is what I was reliably told.
“The old post office, yes, it’s vital for Nelia. It’s got sentiment, but reminds you of old Western’s, doesn’t it?”

There is a caravan park behind. It’s where I stayed. The road to get there is a straight line running from Townsville through the middle of Queensland. It continued somewhere I couldn’t see, and so did the rest of the directions I looked. There is a railroad running alongside it. Two trains pass per day if I counted right. The caravan park shakes when they do.

It’s hot. There are a few other campers staying. As night comes, we huddle around the fire even though the evening has us sweating already.

We are an odd bunch. Had it not been for our communal stop in Nelia, we would have nothing in common. To me, everyone else was strange except me. To everyone else, everyone else was strange except them. No one knew how to take each other, and there was always silence after someone said something.

The owner of the caravan park is a man called Job. He has a kelpie he hasn’t named yet. The kelpie is brown furred with green eyes. He is as well behaved a dog as you can get, and he is always looking to Job to confirm whatever he is doing is ok. While we sat around the fire, he played and danced with the chickens and the chickens just bobbed aimlessly, cursed with looking like they’re constantly dancing anyway.

Millie the cow comes by the fire. She is a big girl and has eaten well all her life. She isn’t shy. She plonks herself right next to the fire in front of one of the campers. He laughs to hide his nervousness from being so close to Millie. He gives her a friendly patting smack, unsure of his actions. Millie doesn’t budge.
The man scoffs, “Go on, git.”
Millie just looks at the fire.
The man laughs, hiding the pain from being rejected by a cow.
“She’s big isn’t she, well big.”
“Yes she is a cow.”
Millie edges closer to the man and if you were paying close enough attention to the man’s face, you could see it drop.
Job looks at Millie and then the man. He starts laughing.
“Go sit on him Millie”, he says.
Everyone laughs. The man laughs too, but shuffles back slightly.

It’s easy to get tired by a fire. Everyone was relaxed, loose, and so the man whom Millie was closest to asked Job if he was going to eat Millie soon. From where I sat I couldn’t see the man, I could only hear his pitiful little voice from behind the great Millie.
“No,” Job barked, but there was no hostility in his voice.
“She’ll have a good life,” Job said, “and when she goes, we bury her out back.”
“You don’t breed the animals for eating then?”
“These ones are different.”
“How are they different?”
“These here,” he leant over and patted Millie’s neck, “they’re pets.”

I slept like death that night and woke reborn. Something about the no reception and natural lighting always induces that kind of rest. I stayed in bed, listening to the quiet and wondering if I’d ever have this much time to do nothing ever again in my life.

Job makes me breakfast. He is a man bred from the land, from soil and hard work, and I am a man bred from the city, from middle class comforts and parents who did all they could for me. Him making me breakfast felt like an odd power dynamic. His girlfriend ran the caravan park see, but she was away, so Job had to take care of guests, and that meant breakfast.

He made me eggs on toast with butter. The eggs had come from the dancing chickens out back and their yolks were a dark orange and the whites were dark too, like looking through a tinted windshield.

I’ve never done well with dairy, and I had told Job’s wife when she asked if I had any dietaries.
“No that’s fine!” she said doing her best to accommodate me, “we can do Nuttelex!”
Apparently, she had told Job six times to make sure I got Nuttelex butter. Job told me she was adamant on it.

He put the plate of food in front of me.
“So what happens?”
I looked at him blankly.
“When you eat the dairy? You explode?”
I laughed, “No, it just makes me breakout with pimples.”
Job looked at me as though I’d suddenly switched languages. I realised it was a pathetic thing to say to someone like him.

He sat down on the other end of the table, “If it’s not butter from milk, then what the hell is it? Yellow sludge.”
“I don’t know,” I said as I ate, “but it tastes good.”
“Like butter I spose.”
“Exactly like butter.”
“Not the same though, is it?”
“It’s good enough.”
“Hmm,” Job said, “still not as good as the real thing.”
“You should try.”
Job merely shuddered.

The kitchen was packed with jars and tubs which were full of food. There was not a packet in site. There was even a jar of loose tea labelled ‘Job’s Tea.’ Job goes collecting every few weeks and picks up whatever random leaves he happens to find on the ground. He mashes them up, grinds them, then makes Job’s Tea.
“Don’t you worry about getting bad stuff with it?”
Job looked at me in that same foreign language way.
“What do you think tea is? Leaves, just leaves. It’s what you’re buying in shops. People don’t think anymore, all you have to do is pick them up, from the ground.”
He said it tastes like dirt to begin with, but then you get used to it, and soon you can’t imagine drinking store-bought tea ever again.

My van was packed and I was ready for the next driving stint. It would be ten hours to Mataranka. As I pulled out of the caravan park, Job came up to me with something in his hand.
“We won’t eat this,” he handed me the tub of Nuttelex through my rolled down window.
“Not for any of the other guests?”
“Tracey bought specially for you.”
“Wow, she didn’t have to do that.”
“Nah she did, she’s like that.”
“Well thank you Job. And thank Tracey too. It was really nice being here.”
“Drive good,” he said.

I drove slowly over the grate and was back on that straight road to somewhere. The Nuttelex in the passenger seat smelt good, but all I could hear was Job’s voice in my head.
It wasn’t the same though, was it?