Community Spirit – Episode 33

WHEN Jeannie arrived for her evening shift at the Goose, neither Fergus nor Debbie were in sight. She hung her bag on the staff pegs as the sound of clanking bottles emanated from the store cupboard nearby.

Hoping to creep away before being noticed, she was forced to turn back as Debbie came to the door.

“Jeannie!” she called. “Wait a minute.”

“Looks quite busy in the restaurant,” Jeannie commented. “I’d better not be too long.”

“Never mind that,” Debbie told her, drawing close. “Don’t think people aren’t talking about you and the dashing new landlord who’s come to save the day. So what do you know? What are his plans?”

“I don’t know,” Jeannie declared, unable to think straight for wondering what people were saying about her and Nate.

“I’m getting the feeling you’re not a team player, Jeannie,” Debbie said. “Or at least you’re not on the Goose and Gander team.”

“That’s not fair!” Jeannie cried.

“We need people who are on our side,” Debbie went on. “And we don’t need people who aren’t.”

Debbie stepped back and folded her arms, her meaning clear. Jeannie would have to tell her what she knew or lose her job.

“I only know what everyone else knows,” she said, flushing red from her neck to the top of her head.

“Which is?”

Jeannie thought of the bare fridge at home and what she would do if she lost this job, and became very frightened.

“That he wants the pub to be a community resource. For people to use it as a meeting place for their various groups and clubs.”


“And people have been asking him about food.”

“What sort of food?”

“Traditional pub food. Fish and chips, ploughman’s, that sort of thing.”

Debbie looked dubious.

“Is that it?”

“Yes!” Jeannie replied. “What else could there be?”

“I don’t know, but I was expecting something more extravagant from Mr Big Shot over there,” Debbie confessed. “Ploughman’s? Is he stuck in a time warp?”

“I don’t think he’s a big shot, but he knows the pub trade and I know that’s what he thinks is needed.” Jeannie tried not to sound like she was defending Nate. I’m sure he wouldn’t want me fighting his battles for him, she thought.

“Fine,” Debbie said. “I’ll take your word for it, but if I find out you’ve been holding out on me I’ll be forced to reconsider your position here.”

Debbie barged past Jeannie, leaving her staring at the space where she had been.

The door to the store room was ajar, bottles of spirits, full and empty, strewn across the floor.

Alison Cook