May The Best Team Win – Episode 15

Gerard Fay © Neil and Rachel in their local pub Illustration: Gerard Fay

The Flying Duck was packed. It was the second round of the Quiz Quartet and Maeve and Brad were delighted to host the sixteen teams that remained in the competition.

Amongst them, of course, were four from their own pub, including the Smarty Pints and Master Minds.

Maeve looked around with a satisfied smile.

She and Brad had been working all day to get the pub ready for the evening.

The bar and tables shone, light glinted from the polished taps and a fire blazed in one corner.

The other fireplaces had stunning displays full of roses, asters and dahlias. Berries and greenery festooned the rafters.

“Evening, Maeve. You’ve done a wonderful job again. The pub looks great.” Neil was smiling warmly at her.

“Thanks, love.”

Maeve handed him a pint, then noticed that for once he was on his own.

“Where’s Apollo?” she asked. “I hope he’s well.”

Neil grinned.

“Apollo’s fine, thanks, but I’ve left him at home. Things will be a little too crowded for him tonight.”

Maeve nodded and was about to speak again when she saw Neil’s face fall.

Following his gaze, she realised he had noticed Rachel and Ewan, who were at a table in the corner.

Ewan had his arm around Rachel. Then he leaned forward and pecked her on the cheek.

Neil turned away, frowning, and drank a long draught of beer.

Maeve was very fond of Neil. She was also a little concerned about Rachel.

She was pleased that she was dating again, but was Ewan really right for her?

In her opinion, Rachel had more in common with Neil, and he certainly seemed more reliable.

“Oh, look,” she said to Neil with some relief. “There’s Graham and Dawn. They’re waving.”

Neil smiled and made his way towards them.

For the next 20 minutes, Maeve was rushed off her feet as more contestants arrived.

Eventually, however, most people settled and she had a moment to catch her breath.

She was getting herself a glass of water when Ali came up to the bar. Kirsten came across to serve her and Maeve relaxed again.

Ali ordered a diet cola and stayed to chat.

Maeve was tempted to ask how she was, but she didn’t want to interrupt the conversation.

Every now and then, however, she caught the odd word or phrase. To begin with they seemed to be discussing Ewan.

“I have to say I don’t miss it.” Kirsten laughed.

Ali nodded.

“He can be a bit much.”

Maeve smiled. Ewan was harmless, but the girls got fed up with his flirting.

The rest of the conversation seemed to be about Ali and Cam’s desire for a family.

When Kirsten gave Ali a hug, Maeve strained to hear what was said, then laughed and told herself off for eavesdropping.

It was time for the quiz.

Brad took the microphone and proceedings began.

Things didn’t start well for the Flying Duck – one of their teams was knocked out straight away.

In the second group, however, the Master Minds were up. Surely Priscilla would triumph again?

Maeve smiled as they made their way forward, Priscilla looking as confident as ever.

As the quiz progressed, the team seemed to be writing down answers for all the questions and, sure enough, a while later they were announced as victors.

“That’s the way to go about it, Neil,” Maeve heard Priscilla remark in her booming voice.

“Now make sure you go and do the same. The Flying Duck is counting on you.”

Maeve couldn’t hear Neil’s reply, but he seemed to take Priscilla’s comments with good humour.

Maeve really hoped the Smarty Pints would win. They’d had such a close call in the first round.

Whilst serving drinks, she kept half an eye on the team. They seemed relaxed.

Brad took up the microphone again.

“The Smarty Pints have thirty-two points and the A Team have thirty.”

A cheer went up. Maeve clapped and went over to congratulate them.

“Well done, everyone, you’re through to Round Three! That’s fantastic.”

Neil grinned and Graham mopped his forehead.

“Goodness, another close one,” he said.

“Yes, but not as bad as last time.” Rachel laughed.

“Why do we keep coming up against such good teams?” Dawn groaned.

Priscilla tutted and adjusted her scarf.

“If you want to get to the final, let alone win this competition, you will have to be capable of beating any team, however good,” she remarked.

The Smarty Pints just laughed.

“Still,” Priscilla continued more graciously. “The A Team are particularly good. Not a bad effort. Not a bad effort at all.”

Neil somehow maintained a straight face.

“Thank you, Priscilla,” he said. “That’s kind of you.”

To be continued…

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