Community Spirit – Episode 36

JEANNIE adjusted the black and white uniform and pushed the paper cap made to look like lace out of her eyes for the umpteenth time.

“Whose idea was it to play ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ on the hottest night of the year?” Marie, one of the other waitresses, fanned herself with a menu which contained dishes such as Poirot Prawns and Express-o Mousseline, designed by Debbie.

No-one was going near the kitchen unless they had to, as Clive, the head chef, was in a foul mood about preparing food with novelty names.

“I am a serious chef,” had been heard more than once from the kitchen that afternoon. “I do not cook Orient-All Spiced Duck!”

“It’s going to get worse,” Jeannie warned, looking around the restaurant.

The waiting staff were all in black and white uniforms and the diners were dressed in dinner suits and Thirties-style long dresses.

“Are there any more windows we could open?”

Jeannie froze as she looked around. Marie followed her eyes and saw that Jeannie was staring at a couple being seated at a table by another of the waiting staff.

The man was tall and broad-shouldered, the woman petite and slim with an angular face and sour expression. They were in fancy dress with badges with their characters’ names on.

“Isn’t that . . .?” Marie said.

“My ex-husband and his new wife,” Jeannie finished.

“Aren’t they –?”

“Seated at one of my tables? Yes.”

“I’ll swap if you like,” kind-hearted Marie offered.

“Thanks, that’s sweet of you, but I’m an adult and it’s all in the past. Besides, it might be fun to see their faces when they realise I’m their waitress.”

Jeannie walked over to the couple, who were studying their menus.

“Good evening. I’m Jeannie, I’ll be your server tonight. Can I get you anything to drink?” she asked brightly.

Mark, her ex, looked up open-mouthed whilst his wife Rebecca stared at Jeannie with pursed lips and hard blue eyes.

“I didn’t know you were working here,” Mark commented. “Tasha didn’t mention it.”

Jeannie gave a shrug.

“I’ll have a glass of sauvignon blanc,” Rebecca requested. “A large one.”

“Of course,” Jeannie replied, making a mental note to serve her chardonnay. “And for you?”

“Fergus invited us,” Mark blurted out. Fergus and Mark had a strange friendship based on one-upmanship.

“How nice,” Jeannie replied, mildly amused by her ex-husband’s discomfort and his wife’s sulky expression.

Over the course of the evening, Jeannie’s enjoyment wore off with every large glass of wine Rebecca consumed and every expensive whisky her ex asked her to fetch.

The night was a roaring success for the Goose. Each of the seven oddly named courses was interspersed with clues and increasingly loud accusations of murder.

Fergus and Debbie held court over the proceedings as Jeannie became hotter and more angry over the hand fate had dealt her.

Another of her tables was being particularly loud which, together with the swell of conversation and laughter, was making Jeannie’s head pound.

Mark had just ordered another fifteen-year-old malt and Rebecca had switched to champagne

by the glass.

Jeannie wasn’t stupid; she knew they were taunting her now.


Alison Cook