Community Spirit – Episode 54

PAMELA’S voice carried around the pub and soon Jeannie had a crowd around her praising her food and trying to prise from her the recipes she had used.

Jeannie laughed and deflected the questions.

“Jeannie really is the answer to the Mucklebury Arms’s food situation,” Pamela told Nate. “With her food on the menu, it would be a sell-out.”

Nate smiled.

“I don’t doubt it, Pamela, but the brewery have still not come back to me on the food proposal. To be honest, I don’t think they’re prepared to make the investment needed.”

“Maybe they need to taste some of Jeannie’s cooking to be convinced?” someone offered.

“Maybe we should send them one of Jeannie’s pies every day until they relent?” someone else added.

“I think we should storm the brewery head office with platters of food on the day of their next board meeting!” Pamela finished to loud cheers.

The group broke up into smaller conversations about the best way to convince the brewery to support Nate’s proposal.

Nate’s smile faded as he listened to the lively chatter.

“Why do you look sad?” Jeannie asked.

Nate sighed.

“To be honest,” he said, making sure no-one but Jeannie could hear what he was saying, “I don’t think the brewery is going to save the pub. I’ve seen it too many times before and it doesn’t go like this if there’s to be a happy ending.”

“Have they said anything?” Jeannie asked.

“No, nothing,” Nate replied. “That’s just it – they’re too quiet. No visits, no demands for higher figures, no phone calls asking me what I’m doing to improve things.” He put his hand over Jeannie’s. “No, I think Cally and I will be moving on before too long.”

Jeannie looked bereft.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s OK,” Nate assured her. “Cally and I have talked and neither of us wants to go far. I’m going to ask the brewery for something more permanent not too far away. Cally wants to stay at the school and I –” Nate stopped, not trusting himself to speak.

“And you?” Jeannie prompted, barely daring to look at him.

“I want to stay nearby, too,” he managed.

“You do?”

“Near you.” They locked eyes.

“That would make me very happy,” Jeannie said finally.

Nate lightly kissed the first two fingers on his right hand and pressed them to Jeannie’s lips. She kissed them back and he touched his own lips with her kiss.

Alison Cook