May The Best Team Win – Episode 07

Gerard Fay © Priscilla makes her presence felt Illustration: Gerard Fay

Maeve was feeling flustered as she wiped down the tables and refilled the bowl on the bar with fresh nuts.

She ran a clammy hand through her short brown hair. A pipe had burst and the basement was two inches deep in water.

To make matters worse, it was quiz night and soon the pub would be full.

The plumber wouldn’t arrive for at least an hour, and with Brad and Joan moving kegs and trying to limit the damage, she was short-staffed and minus a quizmaster.

“Evening, Maeve. It’s a beautiful night.”

She looked up to see that Neil and Apollo had arrived. She put on a smile and did her best to be a good hostess.

“I’m glad to hear it. Can I get you a drink?”

“A pint, please. How are you and Brad this evening?”

Maeve shrugged.

“Oh, fine really, but it’s a bit fraught. We have a leak in the basement.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Neil looked concerned. “Can I help in any way?”

“I don’t think so.” Maeve smiled at him. “Though it’s very kind of you to offer.

“The main problem is the quiz – I think we’ll have to cancel it, but it’s too late to let people know.”

Neil adjusted his glasses and returned her smile.

“I wouldn’t worry about that,” he told her. “We’ll all enjoy a drink and a chat.”

“Thank you, Neil.” Maeve felt a little better.

She supposed it couldn’t be helped.

“We’ll have to make Sunday’s quiz doubly exciting.”

“I’m sure you will.” Neil nodded reassuringly, picked up his pint and wandered over to a table to await his team.

Apollo padded after him and curled up at his feet.

“Evening, Maeve. I’ll have a pint, and something for this beautiful young lady. What will you have?”

Rachel, who had followed Ewan into the pub, smiled self-consciously.

“Oh, a glass of Prosecco, please. If you’re sure you don’t mind, Ewan.”

“It will be my pleasure, ma’am.”

As Maeve turned to sort out their order, she thought she heard Rachel giggle and she raised an eyebrow.

Maeve wondered if something was brewing.

Ewan flirted with everyone, of course, so perhaps not. She wasn’t sure.

Anyway, it was none of her business. She had more pressing concerns.

She turned back to her two customers, who were deep in conversation, and passed them their drinks.

“I’m really sorry,” she said, “but we’re going to have to cancel tonight’s quiz. We’re dealing with a leak in the basement.”

To her relief, neither of them looked concerned.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Maeve. I wondered where Brad was. Can we help at all?”

Maeve shook her head and smiled at Rachel.

“I’m more than happy to take an evening off when I have such stunning company to console me.” Ewan winked at Rachel, who laughed.

It wasn’t long before the pub was full.

Ali and Cam were sitting at a table eating crisps and talking contentedly.

Dawn and Graham had joined Neil and Apollo, and were laughing at something someone had said.

The room was cosy. Candles flickered in glass holders on the tables and music played softly in the background.

Maeve noticed that Rachel and Ewan hadn’t sat down yet and were talking in a corner.

Neil seemed to be glancing over at them and he looked miserable.

She felt sorry for him. He was a lovely man, with a tragic history, and she’d often wondered if he held a candle for Rachel.

Maeve filled a bowl with crisps and headed over.

“I’ve brought some snacks by way of apology for the quiz cancellation,” she said. “I hope you’re still enjoying yourselves.”

“Cancellation? You can’t cancel the quiz!”

Maeve almost jumped a mile high as Priscilla’s voice boomed out behind her. She wheeled round.

“Priscilla, I nearly dropped these crisps. I didn’t know you were there.”

Priscilla snorted and removed her camel coat to reveal a tweed skirt, cream jumper and silk scarf.

“You can’t cancel the quiz. What’s going on? It’s Wednesday night and it’s out of the question.”

“I’m sorry, Priscilla.” Maeve took a deep breath. “We have a leak in the basement.

“Brad is far too busy sorting that out to be quizmaster tonight.”

“What about you or Kirsten? Surely someone can take over?”

Maeve gritted her teeth.

“We need to serve the customers.”

“Maeve has more than enough on her hands. Why don’t you join us for a drink, instead?” Neil smiled at Priscilla.

“What can we get you?” Graham asked.

Maeve offered up a silent prayer of gratitude for her supportive friends. She was about to turn away when Priscilla spoke again.

“Thank you. I’ll have a glass of wine, but this isn’t acceptable. If no-one else will do it, I’ll lead the quiz.”

There was stunned silence and the others exchanged glances.

“That’s very kind of you Priscilla.” Neil cleared his throat. “But if you take over as quizmaster, the Master Minds will be a man down.”

If he’d thought that would stop Priscilla, however, he’d underestimated her.

“Nonsense, I can read the questions from my seat. I don’t need the answers.

“Kirsten can do the marking afterwards. It won’t hurt to shake things up a bit.”

Maeve’s mouth fell open, but before she could reply, Priscilla was taking matters into her own hands.

To be continued…