Keep It In The Family – Episode 34

“Hello, Adam. Rosie. Do you have a minute?”Adam and Rosie had been seated behind the desk, elbow to elbow, poring over the month’s schedules, and both looked up in surprise as the gruff voice spoke from the office doorway.It was Adam who was first to react. He beckoned the other man in.“Afternoon, Bruce. Have you got news of how George is? Here, take a seat,” he added, clearing his jacket and briefcase from a spare chair.Bruce Radley sat down, looking nervous, unsure of his reception.Rosie and Adam knew him, of course. The two haulage businesses had been competitors for years, but as far as they were concerned the rivalry had always been relatively good-natured and respectful in their father’s day.“I’ll get us some tea, shall I?” Rosie offered, with a glance at Adam that told him he’d better wait till she returned before he let Bruce Radley get down to the nitty-gritty of why he was here. Had he come to make his takeover offer in person?She hastily assembled some mugs, threw some biscuits on a plate, and the water had barely hit the teabags in the pot before she was carrying the tray back in.Adam and Radley were chatting about that ever-safe subject, the weather.“Milk and sugar, Bruce? Help yourself to a biscuit.” Rosie quickly did the honours, then joined Adam behind the desk, unconsciously presenting a united Willson front to the other man.She nudged Adam imperceptibly.“So, Bruce,” he began, “what brings you here?”Bruce Radley placed his mug carefully on the desk and looked at them each in turn. Rosie was holding her breath and she could feel Adam taut with tension, too.“An apology, plain and simple. And to say thank you,” Radley said.Rosie pressed her shoulder against Adam’s in silent communication. This was unexpected.“Go on,” he said.Radley was shaking his head.“I’m not here to make excuses. I’ve pulled some dirty tricks this last few months since your dad went. He was a decent man and always played fair, and in a funny way I’m glad he’s not here to see how low I sank, if you know what I mean.The man slumped back in his seat with a weary sigh.“I got into financial difficulties, that’s the truth of the matter. I couldn’t seem to get my head above water and I panicked.”“Yet you were talking about a takeover!” Adam put in.“Aye, I know. I thought if I could persuade the bank that you were failing, I could snap you up for a song and you’d act like a lifebelt to Radley’s you know, keep us afloat.” He was shaking his head again. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Panic hits us all in different ways, and with me it made me lash out. I can’t tell you how ashamed I am. Your dad would be disgusted with me. He was a decent man.”Suddenly Radley looked right at Adam.“And you’re just like him. Rescuing that load after the accident that was exactly the kind of thing he would have done. I don’t mind telling you, if that load had been left, it would have been the end of me. And I would have deserved it. I don’t know what else I can do but say that I’m sick at myself and sorry for the trouble I caused.”Rosie exchanged another quick look with Adam, happy to let him be the spokesperson.“Apology accepted, Bruce,” he said, holding out his hand to take Radley’s in a firm clasp. “It was good of you to come round in person. So, what’s the news on George?”Radley seemed to relax slightly, on more comfortable ground now.“He’s pretty banged up, but there’ll be no lasting damage. Broken bones heal, and he’s a tough character. He’ll be back behind the wheel before too long, I’m sure.”“I’m glad to hear it,” Rosie put in. “He has a family to support.”Radley stood up and again shook their hands.“Thanks again for your help, and for being so decent about this when you could have thrown me out on my ear.” He moved towards the door. “Maybe it’s time I was thinking about retiring,” he said on a sigh. “Maybe I should start thinking about letting you take me over. You’ve done a grand job with Willson’s since your father passed. He’d be proud of you.”He closed the door quietly behind him as he left, leaving Rosie and Adam staring at each other.“Well,” Rosie said at last, “it looks like we have one less thing to worry about, at least.”“How about lunch at the caf to celebrate? I want to talk to you.”


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