Community Spirit – Episode 23

THE staff area for bags and coats was at the back of the pub, between a store room and the kitchen. The door to the store room was ajar and Jeannie could hear Debbie whispering loudly.

“That was too close,” Debbie hissed. “This has got to stop.”

Jeannie didn’t want to hear any more. She took her bag from the coat hook but pulled another bag with it which fell to the floor with a thud.

Debbie appeared at the door to the store room.

“Just off for my break,” Jeannie said, trying to smile. “Thought I might sit on the green.”

She nearly made it to the back door of the pub.

“Wait!” Debbie called.

Jeannie turned to face her, trying to keep her expression neutral.

“How are you, Jeannie?” Debbie asked. “Enjoying your job?”

“Great,” Jeannie replied, feeling like a cornered mouse facing a large cat. “I was wondering if you had any extra shifts. I know you’ve been very generous so far, but if you had any more it would be a godsend.”

Jeannie tried to look earnest. She could do with the extra shifts, but hadn’t intended to ask at that moment.

Debbie’s eyes swept over her.

“That depends, doesn’t it?” she said mysteriously.

“On what?”

“On what you’ve found out about the plans over the road at the Mucklebury Arms. I know you stayed behind last week. What happened?”

Jeannie didn’t need a mirror to know the flush on her neck had risen at the mention of that night.

Debbie mistook Jeannie’s discomfort for knowledge.

“What is it? What did you find out?”

“Nothing!” Jeannie said.

“We told you last week, it’s in all our interests to see that place fail,” Debbie reminded her.

“Honestly, I didn’t find anything out. We talked about our girls and how they are getting on so well.” Jeannie gave Debbie a shrug and made to leave.

“Fine,” Debbie called after her. “And no, we don’t have any extra shifts available at the moment.”

Alison Cook