May The Best Team Win – Episode 28

Gerard Fay © Neil and Rachel at dinner Illustration: Gerard Fay

Rachel sat at a table, waiting for Priscilla, sipping her drink.

She’d twice met Priscilla earlier in the week and she was worried about her.

On Tuesday, she’d seen their formidable neighbour at the shops.

To Rachel’s surprise, Priscilla had been flushed and edgy. Her usually immaculate scarf had been hanging down her back and she hadn’t wanted to talk.

On Friday, she had come into the doctor’s surgery. That was strange – Priscilla was never ill.

The receptionist said that Priscilla had been jumpy, then left without making an appointment.

It was all very odd.

When Priscilla arrived tonight, Rachel had decided that, if she seemed out of sorts, she would find the courage to confront her.

Priscilla was in need of some kind of help.


She looked up to find Dawn waving a hand in front of her eyes.

“Are you all right? You were miles away.”

“I’m fine.” Rachel laughed. “Sorry. Come and join me.”

They sat down, followed by Neil, who took a seat beside Rachel. He leaned towards her, then sat back and drank some of his pint.

Rachel had thought he was going to kiss her and was disappointed he didn’t.

She had really enjoyed their date – such a contrast to the awkward evenings she’d spent with Ewan.

She felt strange making the adjustment from friendship to something more, but she hoped he would ask her out again.

Neil was such a gentle man, and the intensity in his eyes was making her feel a little wobbly.

The door banged and Rachel looked up.

Priscilla had entered. Her nose was red and she was wearing odd boots.

“I’ll have a brandy tonight, please, Maeve.”

That was stranger still. Priscilla always drank wine.

Rachel rose to her feet, but stopped when she saw Neil’s stricken expression. She squeezed his hand.

“I’ll be back in a bit, but I must speak to Priscilla.”

She made her way over to the table where the captain of the Master Minds sat alone.

“Hi, Priscilla.”

“Oh. Evening, Rachel.”

Rachel took a seat.

“I expect you’re looking forward to the Quiz Quartet final,” Rachel said. “Two teams from the Flying Duck – it’s quite something, isn’t it?”

“It is.” Priscilla nodded, but didn’t look enthusiastic.

“Who do you think will win?” Rachel asked, suppressing a smile and waiting for a brusque rejoinder.

“Who knows?” Priscilla shrugged and sighed.

This was serious indeed.

“Priscilla. I can’t help but notice . . . You seem out of sorts. Is there anything you want to talk about?”

Priscilla fixed Rachel with a stare, but didn’t reply.

Rachel took Priscilla’s hand and was shocked to see tears in her eyes.

“Whatever’s the matter?” she asked.

Priscilla drank some more brandy.

“I may as well tell you,” Priscilla said at last. “After all, everyone will find out before long. It’s Barry – he’s having an affair.”

Rachel did a double-take, then frowned.

“Barry? Are you sure?”

Priscilla’s husband was not a demonstrative man, but he had always seemed very proud of his wife.

They pursued different hobbies, but they belonged to the bridge club, and were often seen on rambles together or at the shops.

Barry didn’t seem the cheating type.

Still, Rachel thought darkly, you never knew.

“What makes you suspect him?” she asked. She thought of her own ex-husband, Mark. “Did you find texts on his phone?”

Priscilla shook her head.

“No,” she replied, “but he’s been receiving phone calls that he won’t explain, and I went to collect him from his chess club the other evening and he wasn’t there.”

“Perhaps he’d left early.”

“No, I asked his friend Geoff. He hasn’t been there for the last two weeks.

“He’s lying to me and an affair is the only explanation.”

Rachel wasn’t sure what to say. She thought for a moment, while Priscilla downed her brandy.

“Have you confronted him?” Rachel asked. “Perhaps he has a rational explanation.”

Priscilla shook her head.

“I hope it isn’t Doreen,” she said. “I couldn’t bear it if it was Doreen.”

Doreen was an elegant woman who frequented the bridge club. She won most of the matches.

“I don’t want to intrude, but I thought you might need these.” Neil had come over with a Prosecco for Rachel, another brandy for Priscilla and some crisps.

Rachel smiled at him.

“Thank you, Neil.”

Priscilla picked up the glass and took a sip.

“You’re not intruding. You must join us. I’m afraid I was just telling Rachel that Barry is having an affair.”

There was a gasp.

“Oh! Oh, dear. No!”

Rachel turned. Ali had stood up, her face pale.

Rachel leaped to her feet.

“Are you all right?” she cried. “Is it the baby? Sit down.”

Ali sat, but shook her head vigorously.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. I’m fine. The baby’s fine. I couldn’t help overhearing…”

To be continued…

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