Community Spirit – Episode 45

IT was the only time since he’d been at the Mucklebury Arms that Nate had prayed for no customers.

The pizza and garlic bread was served in no time. Cally chose to stay upstairs and carry on watching TV, and Jeannie started to relax as they chatted over the pizza and garlic ciabatta.

“So, Tasha’s at her dad’s?” Nate prompted. “That’s good, isn’t it?”

“It would be,” Jeannie began, “if he weren’t so inconsistent. He cancelled dinner with her earlier in the week, and then rang today and asked if she wanted to stay over tonight. She doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going where he’s concerned.”

“Have you talked to him?”

Nate admired the shade of pink she went as she told him about the murder mystery evening and how she had told her ex-husband what she thought of his parenting skills.

“Wow!” he said. “You must have done some really fast talking to get Fergus to let you keep your job.”

“Not really,” Jeannie said, offering him the last piece of garlic bread. He declined and she tore at it thoughtfully for a moment. “I guess they let me keep the job because they think it’s useful having me to spy on you.”

“On me? There’s nothing to tell. Or nothing that’s out of the ordinary anyway. Maybe we should feed them some false information. Tell them I’m going to be importing Eskimo beer.”

Jeannie laughed.

“Or wine from Russia.”

“And I’m going to be sponsoring a live band on the green every Friday night until Christmas!”

“And you’ve been granted a late licence until two in the morning each weekend.”

Nate chuckled.

“I really must bug them,” he said. “I don’t see why we can’t get along and help each other. It’s hard enough in this industry at the moment without us fighting amongst ourselves. At least you’ve still got a job.” Nate kicked himself as he saw the look on Jeannie’s face. “It’s not that bad, is it?”

Jeannie drank the last of her sparkling water.

“It’s awful,” she said in a flat voice. “The atmosphere is terrible, the pay derisory, and the shifts are interminable. The only saving grace is the other staff are really nice, but Debbie and Fergus treat everyone the same way and the good people don’t stay.”

“So why do you?” Nate asked. “You’re one of the good people.”

Jeannie smiled sadly.

“Lack of other options at the moment. I sent off a heap of applications last week but I’ve heard nothing.

“I need to get something else soon as my wages are just enough to pay our bills, but not to keep up with the mortgage as well. The last thing I need at the moment is to lose the house.”


Alison Cook