MICHAEL JOHNSON - PADDY’S BAR
Living in Spain but born in Yorkshire - England.
I began my writing career late in life.
My first novel titled Dragon was published in 2014.
It was soon followed by The Korean Connection, The Buddha in Ice, The Bankers and Stealth - *The David Fallon Detective Series by Mike Johnson.
I have also published *Stories from the Bar – a collection of short stories.
My latest novel titled ‘Khan’ will shortly be published by Scarlet Leaf Publishing.
Note: *Available on Amazon and other large outlets.
(Somewhere in England!)
Stanley Harry Davenport was in a bad mood.
In truth, he had been in a bad mood all week. It was now Thursday.
He punched the steering wheel of his car and instantly regretted it ‘Ouch!’
The traffic lights in front of him light showed Red then Amber.
He was tempted to gun the engine and run the green light but he knew he wouldn’t.
Steady Stanley would never do anything so outrageous.
Stanley Davenport. Engineer of distinction. It was not in his nature.
He sighed and drove away slowly looking both ways just in case some idiot in a upped up old banger decided to do what he just considered doing.
He didn’t want to go home. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his wife and adore his two children. He did! He just didn’t want to take his bad mood out on them. Again!
He ignored the turn off into the housing estate and drove on.
The local public house was called The Swan. It used to be a nice old fashioned type until the Brewery had their way. The refurbishment had been a disaster. At least in his opinion.
No! He didn’t fancy sitting all alone at the bar but it was the only place in the village that sold alcohol. The Indian Restaurant did serve decent Lager but that didn’t open for another two hours.
It was only five o’clock!
He sighed and stopped the car.
The Village Green was in front of him. It had been neglected for years following a dispute with the local council.
‘Common Land’ they had decreed it ‘and not the Council’s problem’
‘I used to play cricket here’ said Stanley sighing again ‘had many a good night in the old Pavilion’
He put the car in gear and drove into the car park. He would go for a walk.
He planned to skirt the Green and walk along the footpath next to the Golf Course.
He used to do that when he was younger. Searching for the wayward golf ball as he went.
Stanley was about to set off when he noticed a man exit the Pavilion.
The man dusted off a wooden table and arranged chairs around it.
It seemed the old Pavilion wasn’t empty after all. In fact, there was a sign over the entrance.
This needed investigation he decided.
He entered the Pavilion and looked around. The place had been converted into a replica of an Irish Bar. Old curtains covered the windows. Pictures, which he assumed where of Ireland hung on the walls. Mirrors with etchings where behind the counter which had now been transformed into a bar.
Stanley smiled and tried to think of a word to describe it.
‘Homely’ he decided.
The man he had seen outside was behind the bar.
He was casually polishing a glass with a towel.
Stanley approached the bar and sat on a stool. There were only two.
‘Welcome to Paddy’s Place. Would you be wanting a small drink before you make your way home?’ the man asked in an Irish voice.
‘I’m driving but one wouldn’t hurt. Would it?’
‘A cautious man I see! Sensible and doesn’t take too many risks. A credit to his family and well respected at his place of employment. You must be a happy and contented man’
Stanley was taken aback by the observation.
Paddy placed a bottle on the bar. He then placed a shot glass next to it.
‘In honour of you being my first customer would you have a drink on the house!’
A free drink! Why not he thought.
‘That’s very kind of you. What’s in the bottle’ he asked.
There was no label on it.
‘A very old Irish Whiskey not available to the public. If you know what I mean!’ Paddy said winking.
Whiskey! It was his favourite tipple but it was only on rare occasions he allowed himself to drink it. Sensible Stanley would never over indulge or god forbid get drunk.
He fingered the shot glass reverently.
‘Down the hatch’ shouted Paddy making Stanley jump.
The glass was emptied in one go.
He was expecting the drink to be of dubious quality and a little rough to the taste.
Nothing was further from the truth.
The whiskey warmed his chest on the way to his stomach. A feeling of well-being overcame him.
‘My name is Stanley’ he announced boldly ‘and you are Paddy I assume?’
‘That I am. Welcome to my bar’ he replied offering his hand in friendship ‘may I ask what you do for a living Stanley’
‘I’m an Engineer and a good one. I’ve worked for Southgate Engineering since I left college. I should have been made Team Leader years ago. Next week there’s a possibility the Company will sell out to another Firm. If that happens I will leave and look for another job!’
‘Have you let them know how you feel?’
Stanley shuffled in his seat before answering ‘no!’ he admitted.
Paddy kept quiet.
‘Dammit!’ Stanley suddenly shouted angrily ‘they need to know this sell out is wrong’
‘In that case. Shouldn’t you be getting on home to prepare your presentation’ Paddy suggested.
Stanley jumped off his stool ‘thanks for the drink Paddy. I’ll be back!’
Margaret Winters had not spoken since leaving the funeral of her sister. That was two hours ago.
Colin Winter. Her husband. Was in no hurry to break the silence. But he had to say something.
They were about to enter the housing estate and would be home in another few minutes.
Once inside the chance of a drink would be gone. His wife did not approve of alcohol in the house; except of course at Christmas.
He had not participated in the toasts to his dead sister-in-law. Tea and biscuits all day had not gone down well.
Her husband. Sorry Life Partner! As they had never married, had been smashed by the time they said their goodbyes.
The odds where they would never see him again.
They were sisters but you couldn’t get two people more different.
Margaret was organized, frugal and smart in her appearance.
Tilly, as she was best known; was the opposite in almost everything. She liked to think of herself as a Hippy. Her Partner of ten years was the love of her life. They had no children.
They lived in a run-down cottage on the edge of a Moor. Chickens roamed free. A goat was allowed the freedom of the house.
They may have been poles apart in their life style but there was one thing that never changed.
They loved one another as sisters do!
Which is why Margaret couldn’t understand or forgive her decision not to continue with her Radiotherapy.
It was a death sentence. The cancer finally did its thing and ended her life. Forty-two years old was no age and now she was gone.
‘Shall we call at The Swan for a drink on the way home?’ Colin asked hopefully.
Margaret was about to give an acid reply but stopped herself. She had been taking her frustration out on her husband for almost two months. It was unfair and she knew it.
‘Is there anywhere else apart from The Swan. The idea of all our friends consoling me is not something I could stand just know’
Colin remembered something ‘didn’t Gary say the old Cricket Pavilion had re-opened’
Gary was the next-door neighbour.
Margaret was just about to reply but too late.
Her husband had taken the moment of silence as confirmation they should stop.
They were already pulling into the car park.
The wooden benches outside the Pavilion were all taken up with families. They went inside and looked around.
‘It’s called Paddy’s Place. I think the decor gives it away’ Colin laughed.
That got a withering look from his wife.
A man was behind the bar polishing glasses. He waited for his next customers to approach the bar.
‘Good evening folks and welcome to Paddy’s Bar’ Paddy shouted.
Margaret blanched at the welcome but none of the other customers took any notice.
‘Is it just the two of you. Or are you expecting company?’ Paddy asked.
Something registered in Margaret’s brain ‘Oh my God! We’ve left Tilly in the back of the car!’
Colin was unable to respond. Which was probably the best thing.
‘Well don’t just stand there. Go and fetch her!’
‘Are you serious!’
‘I’m not leaving my sister all alone in the back seat of our car’ she replied stubbornly.
Colin sighed and moved away. A few minutes later he returned.
Urn in hand!
‘Well know!’ Paddy began ‘I only have two bar stools so why don’t we place your sister on the bar. That way she joins in the conversation’
It was a strange thing to say but Colin did as he asked.
‘May I know the young ladies name?’ he asked turning the Urn around three times on the bar.
‘Her name was Tilly’ Margaret stated sadly.
‘Nice name. Sounds a little Irish. I have a feeling Tilly was woman who loved life. A free spirit who liked the outdoors’
‘Why yes she was!’ she agreed surprised at the insight.
‘Maybe you can tell me all about her. But first let us get you folks a drink. If you don’t mind I would also like to offer a toast to Tilly’s Spirit. You can’t enter the afterlife without a proper send off, now can you?’
Colin nodded in agreement to that sentiment.
Paddy looked at Margaret ‘if you don’t mind me saying so you look like a no-frills type of person. Straight to the point and a positive attitude. Gin and Tonic?’
‘Why yes!’ she agreed.
Paddy looked at Colin ‘I have a feeling your husband has hidden depths. Calm on the surface but a Tiger if he’s roused’
Paddy scratched his stubbly chin thoughtfully ‘Guinness!’ he declared.
Six months past Colin had visited Dublin on the Banks business. He had been persuaded to try the Amber Nectar or the Black Doctor as his Irish colleagues had described the drink.
He loved it.
Arriving back home he had tried to re-create the experience. He failed.
Paddy placed a pint glass under the Font ‘now this may take time but perfection cannot be rushed’ he declared as the glass filled ‘let that settle a while and I’ll get that Gin and Tonic’
Colin was hypnotised by the creamy froth in the glass as it settled in waves. As each wave reached the bottom of the glass his frustrations bottled up over the past few weeks left his body.
Paddy smiled and placed three shot glasses on the counter. He then reached for a bottle from under the bar. It had no label. He filled each glass carefully.
He looked at Margaret ‘may I ask. What is your favourite time of year?’
Another strange question but she was getting used to them ‘Christmas!’ she declared even without thinking.
Paddy nodded ‘a good choice. A time when all the family come together. Good-will to your fellow man and all that. Mum in the kitchen preparing the Turkey with maybe a little something to get through the day?’
Margaret grinned ‘well a little drink of Sherry does help things along’
‘And quite right too’ Paddy agreed ‘and you Sir! What would you be drinking at this happy time of year?’
‘Whiskey! But only the best kind mind you’ Colin declared taking his eyes away from the Guinness for a moment.
‘And what would Tilly be drinking do you think?’
Margaret and Colin suddenly realized they had completely forgotten the Urn was on the counter.
‘She liked a glass of wine’ Margaret decided.
Paddy pushed the shot glasses towards them ‘down in one!’ he announced.
Without even thinking they both did as he ordered.
Images of Christmas flooded her mind as the taste of the smoothest Sherry hit her senses.
Colin sat upright on his stool as the taste of the finest Malt Whiskey slid down his throat and hit his chest.
Paddy collected the glasses without commenting.
He just smiled and waited.
‘Her life style was strange Margaret but she was a good woman. I will miss her’ Colin said sadly.
His wife nodded in agreement.
‘She was a woman of the Earth’ she said to Paddy.
‘Someone once said. If you like flowers you will cut them. If you love flowers you will grow them. I think Tilly was the growing type. May I ask what you are going to do with her remains?’
‘We hadn’t thought that far’ Margaret replied truthfully.
‘Then can I suggest something. Plant a tree in her honour and place the ashes at the root. I think she would appreciate that’
Husband and wife looked at each other.
They both nodded in agreement.
‘That’s a good idea Paddy. Thank you. We will let you know what tree we have chosen’
‘Wonderful! Now! I think that Guinness is about ready!’
Sandra Flack shouted at her daughter to slow down for what seemed like the hundredth time.
It was early evening. It was summer and the sun was still high in the sky.
Sandra had suggested they take a walk along the footpath adjacent to the golf course.
Her daughter Samantha was in her usual talkative mood which hadn’t gone down well with the golfers about to take their Tee Shots.
She loved her daughter but the constant back-chatting was beginning to wear her down.
She had been like it ever since her father had decided he wanted a younger woman to share his bed.
The divorce followed soon after.
She had kept the house but the mortgage was stretching her finances to the limit.
Samantha was running ahead when she suddenly stopped and pointed to something.
‘Mum! Can we stop at the shop and buy ice-cream’?
‘What shop’ her mother shouted.
Verbal abuse came from way over on the golf course.
‘Sorry!’ Sandra said by way of apology.
She caught up with her daughter and looked in the direction she was pointing ‘that’s the old Cricket Pavilion. Has someone taken it over do you think?’
Her daughter gave a look that said; ‘why are you asking me?’
‘Why not. I could do with a cold drink’ she decided.
A large glass of white wine was conjured up in her mind.
She didn’t want the disapproving look from her daughter.
Sandra held her daughters hand as they entered the Bar.
A man was behind the counter polishing glasses. He waited for them to approach.
‘Now what have we here! Two young people out for adventure, is it?’
Samantha giggled at the Irish accent.
Her mother shushed her ‘do you have ice cream by any chance?’ she asked him.
Paddy scratched his beard thoughtfully ‘I don’t believe I have. But why don’t you two young lady’s take a seat and I’ll check my freezer’
Samantha giggled again at the young lady’s comment.
There were only two bar stools so they sat on them. The bar had a few customers but they seemed to be ignoring them.
Paddy returned ‘well now! I do have a tub of something but I don’t know if it will be to your taste young lady’ he said looking at Samantha.
Samantha was about to start one of her tantrums but Paddy raised a hand to stop her.
‘Would you like to play a game?’
She was completely taken off-guard by the question so she just nodded.
Paddy placed four shot glasses on the bar. One he moved towards her mother.
‘I think it’s only fair we get your mother a drink. But first! Would she have one on the house. This being your first visit an all!’
Sandra was also taken aback by the offer; but she also nodded in agreement.
Paddy pulled a bottle from under the bar. It had no label.
Sandra was a bit dubious about drinking the contents. But she accepted the glass.
‘Down in one!’ Paddy shouted.
Without thinking she tipped the measure into her mouth.
A few seconds later a vision of Tuscany and rows of Grape Vines came to mind. A young man clinked her glass and she swallowed the chilled of wine.
Sandra choked back a sob.
Her honeymoon had been something special.
‘Are you Ok mummy’ her daughter asked concerned at the sadness on her face.
‘Yes darling. I was thinking back to happier times’
Paddy pushed the remaining three glasses towards Samantha. He then placed a pea under one glass.
‘A game is no good unless there is a wager. Do you agree?’
Samantha nodded still unsure what was happening.
‘That tub of ice cream in my freezer is Strawberry flavour. Do like strawberries?’
Her mother almost laughed. Her daughter was mad on them.
Samantha nodded, not wanting to appear too eager. This man behind the bar had her intrigued but strawberry ice cream was already on her taste buds.
‘So, we have a wager’ Paddy announced grandly ‘Strawberry ice cream for you if you win’
Samantha was ready to play the game.
‘And if I win. It’s one minute of silence from you’
‘If you don’t find the pea you cannot speak for one minute’ he said pointing to a large clock behind the bar.
Samantha’s mouth dropped open. What kind of bet was that. This was going to be easy.
She nodded in agreement.
Paddy shuffled the three glasses.
Samantha stared intently as the glasses moved.
When he stopped, she was confident the pea was in the middle.
She pointed to it and smirked.
Paddy lifted the glass.
There was no pea.
Samantha was just about to burst into a tantrum when Paddy put a finger to his lips and pointed to the clock.
He then sighed sadly ‘I don’t think that was a fair bet do you. After all. You are only a young lady and can’t be expected to be as clever as your mother. Now can we?’
That barb hurt her pride.
‘I’ll tell you what. Let’s play the game again. But this time you shuffle the glasses and I will find the pea. In fact! To make it even harder I will let you have five glasses’ he said producing another two from under the counter.
Samantha worked out that having five glasses would make it harder. She nodded in agreement.
‘The bet now is ice cream if you win. And five minutes of silence if you lose’
That didn’t go down well but she nodded agreement again. This was going to be easy.
Paddy placed the pea under one glass and indicated she should shuffle them.
He then deliberately faced her mother who was completely absorbed in the battle of Will.
‘You have a fine daughter here. You must be very proud of her. I’m guessing there’s no father at home these days?’
Sandra should have been annoyed at the intrusion from a stranger but she wasn’t.
She just dropped her eyes in resignation.
Her daughter heard the exchange and looked at her mother.
Without realizing it she still had a finger on one shot glass.
‘I choose that one’ Paddy announced.
Samantha was about to complain but she knew she’d been had.
She lifted the glass. The pea rolled away down the counter.
Paddy pointed to the clock on the wall and placed a finger to his lips.
‘Would a white wine spritzer be to your liking’ he asked her mother ‘plenty of ice and a twist of lemon?’
‘That sounds perfect’ she replied.
Paddy made the drink and placed it in front of her.
‘It must be difficult balancing a career with bringing up a child’
‘I have a good boss which helps. I love my daughter but she can be a bit trying at times’ she said smiling at her.
‘Have you told her this. It seems to me this young lady is a lot more grown up than you believe. Having an open and honest talk could do you both a lot of good’
‘I’m supposed to be the grown up but being a mother and a father is hard’
‘Divorce is never an easy thing to accept. Especially for a child who loves both parents equally. Having to choose one side or the other is impossible’
‘Her father is too busy impressing his new bed partner to worry how his daughter feels’ she replied angrily.
The frustrations and the sense of betrayal suddenly became too much.
Tears rolled down her cheeks. She looked around desperately for a tissue to hide her embarrassment.
Paddy passed some over.
They continued to discuss other issues. Work. The Cost of Living. School Fees.
Everything that parents would talk about as a matter of course.
Samantha listened but didn’t interrupt.
Eventually her mother finished her drink and announced they should be going.
‘Thank you for the drink and the conversation Paddy. It has made a lot of things clearer in my mind’
‘It has been a pleasure to meet you both. Please come again soon’
Samantha was about to jump off her stool.
‘Will you be taking this delicious strawberry ice cream away with you!’ he announced placing the tub on the counter.
She just nodded her thanks and grabbed her mother’s hand.
Paddy watched them go then glanced at the clock behind the bar.
Twenty minutes had passed since the bet.
He smiled and began polishing glasses.
Steven Ford pulled into the car park. He had heard rumours the old Cricket Pavilion had been converted into an Irish Bar.
‘Why would anyone want to open that run down place’ he thought.
There were wooden tables outside.
Mums and Dads played with their children while having a drink.
One man threw a ball onto the over grown village green.
A sad reflection of when it was a well-cared for cricket pitch.
‘I guess it can’t be that bad’ he decided as he turned off the engine.
He entered the Bar and looked around.
It had a homely atmosphere he thought.
A man was behind the bar polishing glasses. He waited for his customer to approach.
‘Welcome to Paddy’s Bar. We are a little busy today but why don’t you take a seat and I’ll get your drink’
There were only two stools so he sat on one and looked around.
The other customers seemed to be ignoring him and going about their own business.
‘Fine by me’ he thought ‘last thing I need is meaningless conversation. Which is what I will get at home!’
That mental comment wasn’t fair and he knew it. His wife of two years wasn’t the reason for is bad mood.
‘You look like a man that enjoys something different’ Paddy said kindly.
Steven wondered what he was referring to.
‘Or maybe I’ve got that wrong! Let me think now’ Paddy said scratching his beard thoughtfully.
‘I think a nice cool pint of Lager’ he decided ‘but a little something on the side!’
Steven shuffled on his stool and wondered how to reply.
Paddy placed a shot glass on the counter ‘will you be having a drink on the house seeing as you’re a new customer?’
‘That’s very kind of you’ Steven replied relieved he was only talking about the drink.
‘Don’t be stupid’ he told himself ‘how would this guy know about Carla!’
Carla was the new girl in the office.
Harper and Harper Solicitors where a well-established Firm with a solid reputation. He had been lucky in securing a place in their Firm after graduating from Law College. He was even more lucky when he married the owner’s daughter.
Heather was also a Solicitor. But she had decided to join another Firm to avoid any nepotism. It was just the sort of positive mental attitude she exhibited in her dealings with clients. Her tough no-nonsense approach to everything she did made her successful enough to achieve Silk in record time.
She also loved her husband.
He loved his wife.
But he also couldn’t stop fantasizing over Carla. The full of life sexy as hell Intern. The full bosom slim hips young woman who was half his age.
And she fancied him. In that she had left him in no doubt!
Paddy placed the cold pint on the counter.
He then placed a shot glass next to it and poured a measure from a bottle from under the counter. There was no label on it.
‘It’s none of my business but you seem a little troubled. Anything I can help with?’ Paddy asked kindly.
‘It’s not something I can talk about sorry’ he said taking a sip of the lager.
The shot glass remained untouched.
‘I see! Personal Business? I understand’ Paddy replied nodding.
‘You could say that!’ Steven sighed.
‘Life is a gamble in many ways. Do you like a flutter by any chance?’
What a strange question Steven thought. But the answer was ‘Yes!’
‘I thought I saw a man who likes to take risks occasionally. Spice up the day to day routine and all that!’ Paddy said complimenting him.
Steven just laughed.
‘The last time I did that I lost most of our savings’ he said.
‘Well! You can take things too far I guess’
‘That’s one way of putting it. My best friend got married last year. We had a Stag weekend in London would you believe. It included a night in a Casino’
‘That sounds like a recipe for disaster my friend’
‘Lost all my money then emptied the bank account in one night. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid!’
‘I bet that went down well back home’
Steven looked at Paddy.
‘Heather never said a word. She put it down to men’s silliness and never mentioned it again. The money was all our savings for a Deposit on a new house. It took us six months to recover!’
‘Now that sounds like a very special woman if you ask me’ Paddy said nodding thoughtfully.
‘I never told her how sorry I was’ Steven said frowning.
‘Maybe it’s time you did. Unless there’s something stopping you?’
He wasn’t sure what he meant.
‘How is the Lager by the way. Is it to your liking?’
‘I do like a Lager but may I ask what’s in the shot glass’
Paddy just smiled ‘it’s anything you want it to be. But be warned. It can leave a bitter taste if it’s not something you are used to!’
‘I’m not sure what you mean’
‘This drink is a bit like life. I call it. A little bit on the side. It looks good enough to drink. But it can the leave the other drink; like the Lager; with a bitter taste in the mouth!’
Steven frowned at the strange comments but lifted the glass.
‘Down in one!’ Paddy shouted.
Without thinking he downed the liquid.
The drink warmed his stomach and made him smile. A feeling of pleasure came over him.
He lifted the glass of Lager and took a swallow.
It tasted bitter after the shot glass. In fact. He was beginning to feel nauseous.
In fact. He was now beginning to regret accepting the free drink after all.
‘It seems I was right. Best stick to things that you know and can rely on!’ Paddy said taking the shot glass away.
Steven frowned ‘what the hell am I thinking!! Chancing a quick fumble with a girl half my age. If my wife found out she would never forgive me’
Paddy nodded and smiled ‘I think they sell lovely flowers at the Petrol Station these days!’ he suggested.
‘Thanks for the drink Paddy. I’ll see you again’ Steven said before jumping off his stool and leaving.
AN UNEXPECTED TURN OF EVENTS
Colene wasn’t sure why she was here. Paddy’s Place that is.
She stood at the doorway and looked inside the converted Pavilion.
It was busy. A lot busier than she expected in fact.
Colene had worked in Bars most of her adult life. Her parents had owned a Hotel back in Ireland before taking a well-earned retirement.
She was not only good at her job but she liked working behind a counter.
The Craic as the Irish called it!
A man was behind the counter polishing glasses and ignoring the bustle in the bar. Empty glasses and crisp packets littered the tables.
‘It may have a homely feel to the place but that’s no reason for this mess’ she said to herself.
Without thinking she collected glasses on her way to the counter.
‘Have you come for the job?’ the man asked.
‘I didn’t know there was a vacancy’ Colene replied ‘in fact! I’ve no idea what I’m doing here?’
‘Well make your mind up. Do you want a job or not?’ he asked again.
‘Well yes! I guess!’
‘In that case! You’re the wrong side of the counter. I assume you can serve the odd drink or two?’ he asked questioningly.
‘I’ll have you know I’m the best barmaid this side of Dublin’ she replied tardily ‘but before I start I don’t want any Shenanigans when I’m behind that counter?’
‘Shenanigans is it!’ Paddy laughed ‘me a confirmed bachelor and a regular visit to St. Mary’s. At least when I’m back in the home country!’ he smiled.
‘And when was that may I ask?’
Paddy looked sheepish ‘well! It may have been quite a while’ he admitted.
The customers in the Bar started laughing.
Colene suddenly realized they had been listening to the exchange.
She blushed but laughed all the same ‘I think I’m going to like it here’
The evening past by in a flash. Colene forgot her troubles as she served drinks and chatted to the customers.
It had been a warm day again. The heat wave was forecast to continue until the end of the week. Good news as tomorrow was a Bank Holiday. Bad news as the holiday traffic jams would continue as well.
It was for that reason she had ended up in a small village and a converted cricket pavilion!
Colene was about to enquire what time they closed.
But by the time she had collected the empty glasses and cleaned the tables the bar was empty.
Paddy was behind the counter polishing glasses.
‘Is that your Camper Van in the car park by any chance?’ he asked.
‘Yes! Why is it a problem?’
‘No problem! You look like you’ve had a long day Colene. Why don’t you have an early night and we’ll talk tomorrow. Would you like a night cap!’
‘Thank you but no. I need to keep a clear head’
Paddy nodded ‘good night then and find your brolly out. It’s going to rain tomorrow’
Colene was about to repeat the weather forecast but for some reason didn’t.
‘Good night Paddy’
THE NEXT DAY
For the first time in weeks Colene slept soundly. So much so it was after eleven before she ventured outside.
It was still warm but a black cloud was forming over the area.
By the time, she had changed and had breakfast; spots of rain patted on the camper vans roof.
‘I don’t believe it!’ she said rushing the last few yards to the bar.
‘God morning Colene. I trust you slept well’
‘How did you know it was going to rain Paddy?’
He just shrugged ‘why don’t you sit at the bar and I’ll make us a nice cup of coffee. Maybe a little something in it?’
She was about to refuse but a commotion at the door distracted her.
A woman pushed a pram inside. A man followed behind with a small child in his arms.
The thunder storm had caught them unawares.
The woman pulled the baby from the pram and hugged her child who was completely soaked.
The man was about to strip the clothes off the little boy but stopped and looked at the counter. Unsure if he was doing the right thing.
Colene didn’t hesitate.
‘Paddy! Will you be getting lots of towels to dry these poor bairns off? Come inside why don’t you’ she told the parents.
The little boy was shivering. Colene removed all his summer clothing and wrapped him in a warm towel.
The father accepted a towel but manly refused further help.
The mother stripped the baby and wrapped her in a blanket that Paddy had produced from nowhere?
The baby continued to cry pitifully.
There was a concerned and the anguished look on the faces of the parents.
It seemed the crying was nothing new!
Colene asked if she could hold her for a while.
The mother hesitated but then passed her child over. The temporary relief would be welcome.
‘Would you like to sit at the bar’ Paddy asked the parents ‘I’ve just made coffee’
They accepted and sat on the two bar stools all the time checking the baby was OK.
The little boy had stopped shivering. The hot chocolate drink warmed him up nicely.
They would wonder later where that had come from?
The baby continued to cry.
‘What’s her name?’ Paddy asked.
‘Louisa Jane’ the mother said ‘I’m sorry for the trouble. It was lovely when we set out this morning’
She was referring to the weather.
‘It’s no trouble believe me. Would you care for a drink on the house?’
Paddy had already set two shot glasses. He then produced a bottle from under the counter and filled them.
Colene watched him and frowned ‘I don’t remember that being there yesterday’ she thought.
‘Down in one!’
Without thinking the parents tossed back the drink.
They relaxed and drank the coffee.
‘Your child seems upset. Is there something wrong?’
The mother jumped in immediately ‘the doctors checked her out again yesterday and said she was fine. There’s no need for the welfare people to call again’
The man calmed his wife ‘they are only doing their job Sandy. Now I’m home for good everything will be fine I promise’
‘Have you been away?’ Paddy asked.
‘Just completed my second tour. Took a bullet in the shoulder for my troubles. It could have been worse?’ he said.
‘A soldier? A fine career but hard on the family sometimes?’
The man nodded ‘I was in a coma for a week afterwards. Infection the doctors said. I got airlifted home’
The baby was still crying.
‘Why don’t you sing to the child. It may help?’ he said to Colene.
A pained look crossed her face.
Paddy came from behind the counter.
‘When you parked that little camper yesterday I was going to ask. Are you coming or going somewhere?’
‘I haven’t decided’ Colene replied.
‘Why don’t you sing a lullaby. It may help?’
‘You are a strange man Paddy and no mistake. But you are right. I have to make a decision today one way or the other’
‘I’m sure you will make the right one Colene. You’re a natural behind the bar; but I don’t think it’s a full-time career for you anymore?’
The holiday traffic had got the better of her. She had pulled off the motorway intending to park up and take a rest. The trip from Ireland was taking longer than expected.
The Petrol Station attendant directed her to an area she could safely park up for the night.
‘It’s next to the Village Green. At least that what it was a few years ago’ he said.
She had been curious at the activity around the old Pavilion.
On impulse, she had decided to check it out.
The last thing she expected was to be working behind the bar.
But like the owner said. She was a natural!
And. At that moment, it was exactly what she needed. A distraction!
Singing was the reason she was going to London.
The Talent Show had been in Belfast. Across the border from where she lived in Southern Ireland.
The judges were so impressed they had asked her to attend a follow-up rehearsal a week later In London. All expenses paid.
She would be a Star they said!
Her fiancée had been supportive but could not come with her. He was a teacher and had commitments at a Summer Camp.
Her parents were not so enthusiastic. The Hotel they owned had been sold to an American investment company.
‘You have a Trust Fund that means you don’t have to work for a living unless you want to. Everyone knows you have a lovely voice Colene but do you really want the life style of a Pop Singer?’
It wasn’t the life style she wanted. It was the recognition.
She wanted people to acknowledge her talent. At least that was her goal when she set off two days ago.
Now she wasn’t so sure?
Colene hugged the baby and began to sing.
Softly at first then louder as the child in her arms stopped crying.
The more she sang. The calmer the baby became until a gently happy gurgling sound could be heard from beneath the cover.
She gently passed the baby back to her relieved mother.
‘You sing beautifully’ she smiled.
‘It looks like this storm is here for a while. Shall I call you a taxi?’ Paddy enquired.
The baby wriggled in her mother’s arms.
‘Don’t worry Paddy. I will give this lovely family a lift in the Camper. If that’s Ok with you?’ she asked them.
‘We don’t want to be any trouble’ the Father said.
‘It’s no trouble and it’s me who should be thanking you’
They weren’t sure what she meant but accepted gratefully.
They collected their belongings.
‘I’m sorry I couldn’t work behind the bar Paddy’ she told him.
‘Don’t be! Paddy’s Bar has been fun while it lasted but all good things come to an end. Say hello to the folks back home for me’
She was about to ask how he knew?
‘Fame and Fortune are no match for Family and Friends’ he said smiling.
ALL GOOD THINGS!
Barry John Higgins looked on in disgust at the condition of the Village Green.
Barry was the Head Green Keeper at the local Golf Course.
The storm had passed but his beloved Greens were flooded.
They would be back to their pristine condition by tomorrow but that didn’t placate the many unhappy golfers now downing their sorrows in the Club House.
‘You would think I was to blame for the bloody weather’ he grumbled.
It had got too much.
He decided to go for a walk.
The sight of the Village Green had not improved his mood one bit!
‘The rain isn’t going to help’ a man said behind him.
He turned around.
‘Never would have got this bad when I worked for the council’ he replied.
‘Is there nothing to be done?’
Barry shrugged ‘it needs a machine to cut that lot down. Then a small mower to trim it’ he declared.
‘You seem to know your business’ the man said.
‘I worked for the Council nigh on ten years. Have been Green Keeper at the Golf Club ever since. I know grass!’
‘Would it take long?’
‘Not with the equipment I have. Trouble is. I retire next week’
‘Well then. Nothing to lose is there?’ the man smiled before moving away towards the Old Pavilion.
Paddy stopped a few yards away and turned around ‘best do it before the workmen arrive tomorrow morning’
THE NEXT MORNING
The Bulldozer trundled off the back of the Low Loader.
Council workmen strung tape across the Car Park.
The Council Surveyor donned his hard hat and checked the Plans.
‘Make sure the Pavilion is completely empty’ he ordered.
‘What that place. Who would want to go into that old building’
‘Someone told me there was a Bar in there now’ one workman commented.
‘A Bar! Are you serious?’
The man shrugged embarrassed now at divulging the information ‘I guess not’
The Surveyor gazed across the Village Green ‘what the HELL?’
The workman asked ‘surely we aren’t going to rip the Village Green. I mean. Just look at it!’
It wasn’t Lords Cricket ground but someone had done a magnificent job of mowing and trimming the Green.
Villagers were already strolling about. Dogs on leads barked happily.
The Surveyor sighed ‘If we move the Digger on there we will cause a riot’ he declared.
‘What about the Pavilion’
‘Knock it down. It’s had its day!’
A workman approached ‘the place is empty but I did find this’ he said handing over a wooden box.
The surveyor opened it.
‘There’s a bottle without a label and some shot glasses. There’s a note inside as well’ he said unfolding the paper.
‘Enjoyed the Craic boys. Have a drink on Paddy’s Bar before you leave’