May The Best Team Win – Episode 02

Gerard Fay © Four members of the Smarty Pints pub quiz team Illustration: Gerard Fay

Maeve and Brad were having a late breakfast in their kitchen above the Flying Duck.

It was already ten o’clock and autumn sunshine streamed through the half-open window.

It was Maeve’s favourite time of day – a short period of calm before they opened the pub.

She loved the opportunity to sit quietly with Brad before the chaos began.

“Poor Rachel and Dawn,” she remarked. “They were so disappointed on Wednesday.

“Perhaps they’ll beat the Master Minds on Sunday night.”

Brad looked up from the paper and laughed.

“Not if Priscilla’s got anything to do with it.”

Maeve smiled. Priscilla was a force to be reckoned with. There was no doubt that she would be a sore loser.

Maeve shrugged and addressed her cooked breakfast – another thing she loved about mornings.

This meal served as both breakfast and lunch.

Once the punters began to arrive, they would be too busy serving drinks and meals to everyone else to stop for themselves.

She took a bite of fried egg and sausage.

“Talking of Rachel,” she continued, “I think our Ollie might be sweet on Sophie.”

“Sophie who?” Brad asked.

Maeve groaned.

“Rachel’s daughter Sophie.”

Brad grunted and Maeve shook her head.

“Are you listening?” she asked him.

“Of course. Ollie and Sophie.”

“Don’t you think it would be good for him? A sweet girl like that? Keep him on the straight and narrow.”

Brad looked up and put down his paper.

“You’re not still worried about him, are you, love? He’s a good kid at heart. He’ll be all right.”

Maeve nodded. She knew that, but she couldn’t help feeling concerned.

She and Brad had two teenage sons – Jamie, who was fifteen, and Ollie, who was seventeen.

They had never had much trouble with either of them, until a few months ago.

Maeve and Brad had been horrified to receive a phone call from the local police station.

Ollie had been caught with some mates, spraying graffiti on the bridge by the river.

He’d got off with a caution and the experience had subdued him, but she was still concerned.

“He’s learned his lesson.” Brad smiled. “You know how many times he’s apologised.”

“Yes. Yes, you’re right, but Sophie would make him a lovely girlfriend, wouldn’t she?”

Brad shrugged and laughed.

“Ollie will have to sort out his own love life.”

Maeve didn’t want to interfere, either, but she was sure he was keen on Sophie.

She’d noticed the way Ollie stared at Sophie when she wasn’t looking, and he seemed uncharacteristically awkward around her.

Still, would a girl like Sophie be interested in her son? She had no idea.

She’d wondered whether Ollie’s misdemeanour was the result of boredom and whether he’d have been better if they’d stayed in the city.

But the whole family loved Frenton. She and Brad enjoyed working together and thrived on the social life the pub provided.

She looked across at her husband. He seemed healthy and content after five years of village life.

He was still thin and his blond hair was streaked with grey, but his face was glowing and his eyes had lost that strained look they’d acquired when he’d worked in the city.

“Coffee, love?”

“That would be great.”

Brad passed her a mug and she inhaled the aroma with a contented sigh.

“I’ll tell you what I’m worried about,” he said, as he sat back down.

“Oh, yes? What’s that?”

“That cat. That’s what.”

Maeve burst out laughing.

“Surely it won’t keep coming back?”

Brad scratched his head.

“I’ve no idea, but it’s made an appearance every day for the last week.”

“I rather like the idea of having a pub cat.”

“I know what you mean.” Brad grinned. “But it must belong to somebody.

“I wouldn’t want a child somewhere with a broken heart because their pet has found a new home.”

A small black and white cat had suddenly appeared at the pub about seven days earlier.

It had dashed through the door when someone opened it and had taken to curling up near the fireplace before disappearing again.

It didn’t seem fazed by the noise or the people and the punters were making a real fuss of it.

“Perhaps it’s a stray?” Maeve suggested, but Brad shook his head.

“It looks well cared for to me, so I wouldn’t get too attached to it.”

Maeve rose to her feet and gave her husband a kiss.

“Time to get organised,” she said with a smile.

Brad grinned and began to clear away the breakfast dishes. Maeve made her way towards the staircase that led down to the pub.

Kirsten and Joan would soon be here, and it was time to begin the lunchtime preparations.

To be continued…