The Legend of Graeme Thomas
On those cold, crisp nights ‘round Gunning
When the dingos’ calls are clear,
You can hear the truckies yarning
Over campfires, drinking beer.
The stories told are many,
The story tellers few;
Though listening may be agony,
The yarns they spin are true .
One night a truckies convoy
Set camp up for a steak
Off the freeway out of Woy Woy
To have a well earned break.
Graeme led the trucks in line
To their favourite parking station;
He’d led these rigs a thousand times
Across this mighty nation.
In singlets blue like truckies suits
They laughed and joked around
While rubbing hands and stomping boots
On the cold and frosty ground.
They’d barely started sizzling
The bangers, steaks and chops
When some of them started Grizzling
About "Those fuckin’ cops!"
Before the other truckies there
Yelled "Shut ya fuckin’ mouth!"
A sound broke through the still night air
Coming from the South.
The sound was like no other rig
These men had heard before,
The grinding gears like a screaming pig,
The exhaust like a dying whore!
Two headlights pierced the gloomy night
As the truck rolled up right there
It slowed to a crawl then pulled to the right
As the brakes rent the still night air.
The big diesel clattered, it jumped and shook
As it idled down to a halt.
Then with a belch of thick, black soot
The engine stopped with a jolt.
The old Mack leaked water, grease and oil
Its paint was chipped and scratched,
The chrome was peeled from too much toil,
Its tyres were bald and patched.
In silence stood the phantom Mack
As mist rolled round its rims;
No sound came from the darkened cab,
No movement from within.
A truckie raised a shaking hand
To point at the driver within,
His ashen face was pale and bland
His voice was cracked and thin.
"Of all the rigs from sea to sea,
From the cities to the outback;
There’s none that strikes more fear in me
Than the Devil’s big black Mack!"
The truckies glanced at one another
Some soiled their short black dacks;
One whimpered softly for his Mother
While most stop dead in their tracks.
For all who drive to earn a buck
Know when their time is due,
When Old Nick winds up in his truck
He’s come to transport you!
Now Graeme was a legend
Within the truckies clan;
They say one night he flattened
Two-Bob Cobb and broke his hand.
But Graeme’s knees were trembling
At the sight of the big black Mack,
His mind was fast remembering
When he went to Hell and back.......
He’d stripped a lousy retread
One night on Highway One;
It’s the thing long distance truckies dread
But soon the job was done.
Then as he packed his gear away
He heard a familiar sound,
A big old Mack diesel’s bray
Made him turn around.
A big black truck was bearing down
Slowing as if to stop.
The sight of it made Graeme frown
And caused his heart to flop.
The legend of the phantom rig
Came to his mind once more...
"The gears sound like a screaming pig,
The exhaust like a dying whore!"
The black paint sucked the feeble light
That came from the moon and stars;
The colder air, the darker night,
No buses, trucks or cars.
Then from within the darkened cab
There came an evil voice;
"Come on in, me truckin’ lad,
Ye' haven’t got a choice!"
Graeme knew the stories well,
And of the Devil’s calling;
But Graeme wasn’t going to hell,
He found the thought appalling!
"Get thee hence!" he cried aloud,
"You phantom highway drifter!
If you don’t go then how’d
You like a piece of ten inch shifter?!"
Graeme lunged at the ghostly cab
Like a vengeful fighting machine.
"Piss off, you driving demon scab!"
And smashed the Mack’s windscreen!
He knew the truckies legends well
And that the driver’s prison
Was there within his small black cell
From where the Devil had risen.
A blinding flash, an eerie sound
Was all that Graeme recalled;
He barely remembered feeling the ground
When back to his truck he crawled.
But he knew this night would someday come
‘Twas the Devil who set the dates;
But not when his chops were almost done,
And not in front of his mates!
So there in the parking station
Off the freeway late that night,
We saw the confrontation
‘Twixt the Darkness and the Light.
We were all too scared to run or yell,
And then, from all reports,
Graeme walked up to the truck from Hell
And pulled his shifter from his shorts!
From deep within the Devil’s lair
There came a rumbling sound,
A filthy stench filled the cold night air
As he wound the window down.
A pustulant, gnarly, wrinkled fist
Emerged from the truck from Hades,
Attached to an arm of rotting grist
With the middle finger raised.
Then the engine from the truck of death
Roared loudly in the night,
In fear the truckies held their breath
And clenched their butt cheeks tight!
"I’ll get you yet, you son of a bitch!"
Cried the Devil, "On one of your voyages!"
"Ahhh! Go and bite your arse, ya prick!"
Replied Graeme as he pricked his sausages.
The big truck shuddered and almost stalled
But then picked up its pace,
The truckies cheered, they were all enthralled
As they watched it leave this place.
They stuffed themselves with chops and beer,
There’d be no truckin’ tonight!
For this was a night of grace and cheer
It was Graeme’s night, alright!
So now you truckies on Highway One
Can travel both safer and swifter,
Be courteous, kind and never be glum,
And carry a ten inch shifter!
The Devil’s gone with his Hellish rig,
We’ll hear that sound no more,
Of the gears that sound like a screaming pig
And the exhaust like a dying whore!