A Place Of Healing – 25

Maura Campbell might have been expected to get “Skerrabost’s Got Talent” off to a lively start with a jaunty Scottish reel on the keyboard. Instead, she launched into the always exciting “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.

And although the show was taking place in St Margaret’s parish hall there was all the tingling excitement of a big theatre production.

People were standing at the back. Small children sat on adult knees and the glens and braes of Skerrabost were more quiet and deserted this night than usual.

Backstage, where there wasn’t a great deal of room anyway, the contestants mingled together or waited their turn to occupy the only dressing-room, and hearts were beating faster, one or two people confessing that they felt a bit sick and one or two others dashing to the loo.

Cassie was backstage helping Mary Jordan organise the troupe of country dancers who were chattering and occasionally twirling. Jess, of course, was among them. Cassie smiled at her daughter and bent to adjust a clip in her hair.

“You look wonderful. Enjoy it,” she whispered.

“The kilt’s lovely, isn’t it?” Jess said.

“It certainly is, and you’re going to make Murdo very proud.”

Murdo MacKenzie himself was sitting in the front row of the packed hall, his hands resting on the ram’s-horn handle of his walking stick.

Andrew Shelley was standing at the back of the hall, having given up his seat to an elderly lady. He couldn’t miss the stage début of his darling girl.

At least once he’d seen Jess he could slip away if he wished. Even when the TV talent show was on, eagerly watched by Cassie and Jess, he liked to escape.

Mary Jordan was with Cassie and the children. Cassie noticed Mary keep glancing at her watch. She could guess why. Five minutes to curtain up, and where was Donald Gowrie? Mary had suggested he should compère the show and Donald had breezily accepted, but where was he?

But the show must go on. Who could step into the breach? Mary saw Paul. He was looking around, then he spotted her and came over.

“I thought I’d let you know, Mary, Donald’s just arrived. I felt you might be worried.”

“Oh, well, just a little. Thank you, Paul.”

He nodded.

“Right. On with the show.” He turned to the girls. “You look terrific, girls. Break a leg!”

They looked at him, horrified, as he left.

“I’ll explain,” Cassie said hurriedly.

“Wasn’t that kind of him?” Mary said, more to herself than anyone in particular. “He knew that I’d be worried.” Her eyes followed him as he left.

Cassie smiled to herself.

Then the show began, and as the last notes of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” ended, the curtain went up and Donald Gowrie, handsome in frilled shirt and kilt, strode confidently on stage.

He welcomed everyone. What a terrific show this was going to be, etc. For the first two or three minutes he was charming and amusing, but after five minutes the audience began to get restless. It looked as though this was going to be the Donald Gowrie show, and they had come to see their relation, friend or neighbour!

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!