Like Cats And Dogs – Episode 35

All four heads swivelled to stare appraisingly at Ged, busy behind the bar, charming the customers as he fetched their drinks.

“‘I’m Too Sexy’?” Tim guessed.

“‘You’re So Vain’?” was Craig’s suggestion, and Cally slapped his arm.

“That’s a bit harsh,” she protested. “Ged doesn’t have a vain bone in his body.”

“OK, so what’s his song?”

Imogen and Cally exchanged a look.

“‘Thriller’,” they announced together, relishing the men’s reaction.

“You’re kidding!” Craig looked again at the barman in surprise.

“And he does all the dance moves, too,” Cally added with satisfaction.

“It’s the star turn of the night. Brings the house down every time,” Imogen added for emphasis.

Tim puffed out his cheeks.

“That settles it: if ever there was any chance of me stepping up on that stage, you just blew it out of the water. Agreed?” He looked at Craig, and the other man nodded emphatically.

So it was doubly surprising that barely one hour later, Cally and Imogen were in stitches as Craig and Tim hammed it up together on stage with a hilarious rendition of Dean Martin’s “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me”.

“I don’t know what’s got into them.” Cally giggled to Sheila, who had stopped by their table. “They’ve only had a pint each!”

Any answer was drowned out by the uproarious applause as they took an extravagant bow and returned to their table.

The karaoke man evidently decided that it was the perfect point to stop for an interval, and the table of four found themselves surrounded by a surge of fans, patting the men’s backs and assuring them they would be expected to be regulars from now on.

Among the crowd were Jack, Tim’s contractor, and some other men who were plainly mates of his.

“This is my girlfriend, Cally,” Tim said over and over, drawing her into every single conversation.

Imogen watched idly, unaware of the significance of Tim’s simple gesture, but she could see how happy it made Cally, and the way she and Tim looked at each other.

“So, you’ve told me you’re not from around here,” Craig said, breaking into her thoughts, “but how on earth did you come to settle in Little Dishforth? I mean, it’s a smashing village and everything, but . . .”

Imogen smiled.

“It’s kind of funny, actually. I ran away from a village exactly like this when I was fifteen.”

Imogen didn’t share her troubled background with many people, but there was something about Craig that made her want to open up to him.

She felt the same instant bond with him that she had when she’d found her dog, Chap – though she wasn’t sure how flattered he would be to be compared to the mongrel pup.

“It’s the old story – I got in with the wrong crowd at school. It was either fit in or . . . well, it was just easier to try to fit in.” She thought back to those troubled years, remembering how alone and frightened she had felt at times.

“I put my poor mum and dad through so much. The police coming to their door when I got caught shoplifting. It makes me cringe now. Anyway, I left school, and I left home to move in with my so-called friends. I was so stupid,” she murmured. “I was really horrible to Mum and Dad, but they never, ever stopped caring about me and doing their best to look out for me. Even when they got precious little thanks for it.

“Eventually I saw sense, thank goodness. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but something just clicked in my head and I thought, what on earth am I doing with my life? So I asked Mum and Dad if I could come home, and they said yes.”

Craig had been completely quiet as she spoke, but as the karaoke began again, with Sheila’s much-anticipated performance of the Elkie Brooks classic, their heads had moved closer so that he could catch every word, and she could see the sympathy and understanding in his amber-flecked eyes.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.