Community Spirit – Episode 08

AS Jeannie left the Goose and Gander that afternoon, she savoured the cool breeze blowing across the green. Sunday lunch service had gone well and her return to waitressing after 15 years had been uneventful.

Like riding a bike, she thought, pushing down thoughts that she shouldn’t be the waitress, she should be the chef. She tried to see it for what it was – a way to make ends meet.

Across the green, Nate was up a ladder washing the windows of the Mucklebury Arms. He caught her staring and gave a little wave.

Jeannie watched his arm arcing back and forth over the windows before dipping the cloth and wiping again. She went over.

“Those windows must be very dirty,” she said from the bottom of the ladder. “You’ve done the same pane about five times.”

It was her turn to make him jump and he nearly fell off the ladder.

“Oh, hello again,” he said, coming down. “I didn’t think you’d seen me. You looked lost in your own world over there.”

“Yes,” Jeannie replied, looking at the Mucklebury Arms. “I was in a world where I’d just got a new job when a man appears in the village to save the rival pub and put my new employer out of business.”

She thrust her hands in her pockets and met his amused eyes with a challenge of her own. He had a dimple in his left cheek, she noticed.

Nate chuckled and the dimple deepened.

“I think you’re over-estimating my powers,” he said.

“But that is what you’ve been sent here to do?” she asked.

“To do my best to save the Mucklebury Arms, yes, but not for the Goose and Gander to close down.”

“But that could happen, right? A village with two pubs can’t support them both.”

“There are plenty of villages supporting two pubs and there’s no reason why Much Mucklebury shouldn’t be one of them. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“If only that were true,” Jeannie said, then headed back across the green.

Alison Cook