The sausages were flying out of Azzopardi’s Meat Solutions shop at Australia’s Rockdale Shopping Emporium. Ever since his brilliant flash of insight to use chopped up rosemary, a touch of hot chilli with the mince, together with the stamp of Halal, his turnover doubled. He cleverly managed attracting the many Moslims in the area into buying his Meat Solutions. He now had a separate Halal division whereby for just 50cents a kilo more those sausages turned into Halal blessed snags. The ingredients were the same and Joe reckoned that dead sheep don’t talk too much about Islam, let alone Halal. He assuaged his conscience by a self administered reassurance of being exceptionally well endowed with sound business acumen. Once inside the mouth, Halal killed or not, his sausages would taste succulent and lovely anyway.
A further improvement, aided by his ever accelerating ‘business acumen’ was for his wife to sometimes wear a headscarf when helping out during busy times. This scarf wasn’t necessarily a sign of belonging to the faith of Islam. At least it was a hint. People were free to interpret it the way they wanted to. It could do no harm. In fact, the opposite, it did no harm, but, this little item of a scarf could well add to the ‘bottom line’. Money kept rolling in. The ‘bottom line’ is what this proud butcher now frequently used. What is your bottom line? He was forever asking this lately especially at social events such as at sausage sizzles or at the local club? Whenever a subject turned towards his religion he would smartly have some ‘bottom liners’ ready to steer things to the safety of money-talk and the making of it. This was much more important.
He sometimes laid awake tossing and turning, his conscience nagging him somewhat. Was dishonesty creeping up, gaining the upper hand? He turned around, back to back to his wife in their new King size bed with the inbuilt stereo. They hadn’t listened to much music lately, too busy. What can one do? He wanted to be successful and that is what the scarf and Halal was providing him and his family. Hzanna had queried him on her having to wear a scarf in his shop. She knew her canny husband. She wondered how she could possibly explain this in the next Skype episode with her sister Rosaria. Of course, years ago, Maltese women wore scarfs going to their Sunday church as well. She might have to explain that Halal and Islam were very close to Catholicism and that the scarf was for hygiene as well as respect for customers. It was all a bit complicated. She felt like getting up; take a long shower with a good scrubbing down. Was she feeling a bit sullied by the infusion of not only rosemary into the Halal sausages but also by wearing a scarf with such dubious intentions?
They had joined the local RSL club some weeks ago and just before her birthday she received a very considerate ‘congratulations’ but also an offer of special deals including the dinner for two for the price of one. They often had special deals on lunches and wine. The clatter and jingling of poker machines were just next to the Restaurant. This was convenient for those wanting to glaze the evening with a chance to even make some money and to have a play on the pokies, especially when a dinner just cost half. The club had shown great insight and good planning in placing the machines just next to the diners.
It was the Friday and her birthday when they invited some of their friends to go and celebrate at the Rockdale RSL. That day Hzanna had been to her health and beauty trainer for a hot stone treatment. Now that the meat solution shop was doing so well, husband had been very generous in allowing a few little luxuries. They denied much when the children were growing up and just lived frugally, eating most of the meat that had dated somewhat and could no longer be used in the sausages. Not even the Halal ones. One had standards to uphold and the inspectors of butcher-shops were especially trained to inspect suspect dark skinned pretend butchers trying to muscle into the Rockdale precinct. Mr Azzopardi was too much of a conscientious and trained butcher to risk being seen in the category of dodgy meat traders. There were certain standards to uphold!