A Place Of Healing – 27

Mary Jordan was standing next to Cassie when Paul Bryant arrived.

“Mary, could I have a word?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Look, I’m not trying to be awkward or dog in the manger or anything, but something has to be done about Donald. A lot of people have to be up early in the morning. He should realise that. I’m sorry, Mary, but I’ll have to . . .”

“No, Paul, I’ll go and speak to him. You’re quite right. I’m sorry.”

He touched her arm.

“It’s not your fault, Mary, and in many ways he’s been fine, but . . .”

“I know. Leave him to me.”

“If you’re sure. Sorry.” Paul returned to the hall.

Cassie shook her head. If those two stopped apologising to each other and got on with telling each other how they really felt, they’d find life a lot easier, and happier, and Cassie would stop wanting to bang their heads together!

So Mary went off to have a tactful word with Donald and whatever she said seemed to work because the rest of the evening progressed quickly until they came to the last contestant, a moment that Cassie, Paul and Maura had thought of with some trepidation.

Mrs McDougal and her ventriloquist act that involved no ventriloquism at all . . .

“Ladies and gentlemen, lads and lasses, please welcome from the deserts of Arabia, Fatima and Abdul!”

Donald walked offstage one way as Fatima, with Abdul, walked onstage from the other side as Maura played “The Sheik Of Araby”.

Abdul, of course, was in his Arab clothes with a red and white checked headdress, sporting a fierce black moustache on his painted features. Fatima wore a long, dark dress with a red silk sash around her middle, golden bangles on her wrist and a veil across the lower half of her face, a yashmak sparkling with sequins so that only her eyes were visible.

Cassie and Mary just looked at each other.

Fatima sat on a chair with Abdul on her knee and began.

“So, Abdul, what have you been up to the day?” she asked in a strong Scottish accent.

“Och, I’ve just been doon the oasis for a date, ye ken,” Abdul replied, his doll’s lips opening and shutting.

“Was it nice?” Fatima asked.

“Och, she never turned up.”

There was a polite, nervous titter from the audience, who couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing, but as the act proceeded with little weak jokes they began to laugh at the ludicrous situation before them, and the joke being played on them.

The climax came when Fatima asked Abdul if he would like something to eat and drink.

“Och aye,” he replied. “Some grown gred and gutter and a gottle o’ geer.”

This brought the house down.

Fatima stood up, removed her yashmak and bowed. Everyone realised that the ventriloquist had actually been a comedienne and Mrs McDougal got her well-deserved applause.

*  *  *  *

Now came the difficult task of choosing the winner of “Skerrabost’s Got Talent”. That decision would have to be made by Paul, Mary and Cassie.

Maura decided that she would play a medley of sing-along songs whilst they made their deliberations. Cassie suspected that since Gideon was in the running she didn’t want to be accused of favouritism.

Paul sat in a huddle with Mary and Cassie.

“Personally I think it’s between Gideon and Mrs McDougal. I’d choose Gideon. What do you think?”

“I suspect Gideon would be quite happy for Mrs McDougal to win,” Cassie said. “I think Gideon may have already won his prize.”

“So do I, Cassie,” Mary said. “It’s got to be Mrs McDougal. She was hilarious.”

Paul looked at both women, a puzzled expression on his face.

“Gideon’s prize? I’m not sure what you mean but OK, Mrs McDougal it is. And I think I’d like to make the Apocalypse a good runner-up. They are nice lads and they gave it everything. What do you think?”

“You’re right, Paul,” Mary said. “Absolutely.”

She smiled at him.

So the little silver cup was presented by Paul to Mrs McDougal, who accepted it on behalf of Fatima and Abdul, and Paul managed to dig out some gift tokens for the four budding rock stars.

“Skerrabost’s Got Talent” was a great success and, much to his surprise, Andrew had stayed for the whole show.



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!