A Jolly Good Show – Episode 48

WHEN Will Griffiths had finished helping Kate with Nesbo’s props, he felt hungry.

Sally would be some time yet. She wanted to make sure that her return to the bill of the Jolly Goods would be spot on. She’d make sure that the musical director knew exactly what she wanted.

So, driven by hunger he slipped out of the stage door and, with head bowed against the elements, he made a quick dash across the road towards the welcoming doors of the Fox and Goose tavern.

They had food, simple fare but sufficient. Sitting on a high stool at the bar, he ordered a cheese sandwich and a glass of beer. He sat looking at his reflection in the mirror behind the bar while he waited for his order.

There sits a lucky man, he thought. Lucky and happy. What would his future have been without Sally? Pretty grim. He scowled into the mirror.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” the barmaid said anxiously as she put the food and beer on the counter in front of Will.

He smiled at her.

“Not at all. It was worth the wait. Thank you.” He produced a 10-shilling note. “Take a drink for yourself.”

“Ta very much.” She slipped away.

He took a sip of his beer. What would his future be like with Sally? He was pretty sure that he knew what he wanted now. What would she want? He was older, perhaps more ready to settle down than she. How long would she want to sing and dance and be applauded?

He took a bite of his sandwich. He shrugged his shoulders at the man in the mirror. Enjoy now. Let the future take care of itself for the time being at least.

At his shoulder as he sat at the bar was a frosted-glass partition. He glanced over the top and saw Cyril Broom. He was alone, sitting at a small marble-topped table, a glass of whisky before him.

Will was about to call to him when the bar door opened and a big, heavily built man in a trilby hat and trench coat wet from the rain came in.

He went over to Cyril. He sat down opposite him. He rested his folded arms on the table and leaned forward and began to speak.

Will could not hear what was being said, but it was evident that the man was not pleased. It was also evident to Will that Cyril was frightened. His soft white face was damp with sweat, not rain. When he spoke to the angry man he was pleading, trying to placate him, calm him. Will didn’t like it.

The big man suddenly jabbed his finger violently twice into Cyril’s chest, his snarling face close to Cyril’s. Will began to move off his stool. He wasn’t going to stand by and watch Cyril being bullied and assaulted, even if it wasn’t any of his business.

Then he saw Cyril quickly reach into his inside coat pocket and produce a fat brown envelope. He offered it to the man, who took it. As he opened it to inspect its contents, Will could see a thick wad of five-pound notes. The man thrust it into his pocket, then stood up.

With one more angry threat he turned and left the bar. Will saw Cyril put his elbows on the marble-topped table and rest his head in his hands, a picture of misery and despair.

Cyril needed help, but Will hesitated to approach him now. Perhaps it would make his humiliation worse if he knew someone had witnessed it. Cyril was in trouble and something would have to be done. But what? Nesbo was Cyril’s friend. He’d know what to do.


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