The Primrose Line – Episode 41

Illustration by Ged Fay

“Sorry to have troubled you,” Sam called as the paramedics left the shop. His face was still pale. “Don’t know how much trade this has cost me. No-one’ll come into a shop with an ambulance outside!”

“You collapsed on the floor and all you’re worried about is how much profit you’ve lost?”

“Yes, well, what I didn’t tell them was that there was a reason for me to have a fainting fit. I had a visitor. Young Phil.”

“Your son! I suppose it ended with an argument.”

“It was a discussion that became heated. It always was like that with him. His brother’s no trouble, calm as you like, but Phil . . .”

“Perhaps you’re two of a kind. Stubborn.”

“Maybe. I should have been expecting it. Ken told me he’d seen him up near Corton Wood, camped there with some of his hippie friends.

“One part of me said he wouldn’t come near me after our last falling-out, and the other part kept hoping he would.

“Then, when he was standing in front of me, I exploded. I said something that might have been better left unsaid.

“Of course, he reared up and stormed off. I had my giddy fit and missed my footing just as Joyce walked in. Talk about timing!”

“I’d say it was lucky timing for you.”

“I s’pose I am being ungrateful. I must have frightened the life out of her. I’ll give her a nice bit of beef next time she comes in.”

“Did Phil want anything in particular?”

Sam sniffed.

“He did. Said he was fed up with the travelling life and the sort of people it was attracting. That the ‘ideals’ had been lost – whatever they are – and he fancied giving a more normal lifestyle a chance. Like becoming part of the business, if I’d have him.”

“So you congratulated him and agreed?”

Sam looked sheepish.

“No. I said he was acting like a lord who thought all he had to do was snap his fingers and everyone would fall in with his wishes.”

“Very diplomatic! And I thought that’s what you always wanted.”

He sighed.

“Well, it irritated me that he might be thinking of walking back into the business that Ken’s worked so hard to build up. Just like that.”

“You wanted him to suffer a little?”

“I don’t want to see any son of mine suffer. But, well, there are certain ways of doing things, Nicola, and the way he was speaking, it all seemed far too easy.”

“Perhaps it is.”

Sam ignored this.

“He said he had something to sort out before he could break away from it all. Again, I didn’t take that very well and made a crack about it being illegal, no doubt.

“Well, that started it off good and proper, didn’t it?

“I’ve blown it, haven’t I, Nicola? I had the one thing I wanted on a plate: my son coming home. And me and my big mouth blew it all away. Why can we never say what we mean, Nicola? Can you tell me that?”

She couldn’t.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.