Andrea Weeding, 1,500 words
The Fisherman’s Inn
Kev’s eyes darted from the angry couple in front of him. Beyond them the Inn’s old oak door swished lazily open, its heaviness pushed partly by the force of a strong westerly wind, leaves blew in and under the nearest table.
The couple had been ill, after drinking his pub’s beer, they reckoned that as the beer tasted o.k. the lines must need cleaning, and “why has this been neglected?” asked the man with an angry red face.
Through the doorway behind them, clacked a petite red haired woman, in high heels and red lipstick.
“Stunning”, thought Kev, she smiled delightfully and radiated charm, so much that the angry couple smiled back at her, immediately disarmed.
“Stupid people” thought Kev, “why should I clean the pipes? His mind flicked to the petite lady. He smiled graciously at the red head, his afternoon saviour, he was weary of fending off these country bumpkins. When would they take the hint? She obviously wasn’t from around here, he liked her immediately.
It turned out that she was his only applicant for the position of Pub manager/bar staff/housekeeper.
“Good evening Mr Ricard, I’m Brenda.” She extended her soft manicured hand with varnished red nails, he shook her hand gleefully, she was perfect, she could start next week. Her only proviso was free accommodation, for herself and the dog Bracken. “Perfect” he thought, “that’s my security guard vacancy filled too and all on minimum wage” he hummed merrily to himself.
She was given the attic room, no good for B&B customers as the roof leaked, just a bit, she won’t mind.
Brenda fixed the leak and the stained ceiling on their first night, with an elegant flick of her rose scented wrist and her trusty old willow wand. The ceiling was made good as new, as were the old bed springs and the thread bare carpet. Soon her little attic room was a comfortable oasis of calm.
She felt that they would be very happy here, after she had just made a few more adjustments.
A voice had led her across the world, to this old rambling pub sat on the banks of a pretty river. It was frequented by narrow boats and holiday makers, who scrambled ashore onto the pub’s jetty, for real ale and chips, ice cream for the kids and a bowl of water for the dog. It really was a lovely place to spend quality time.
“It’s so peaceful here” She sighed as she walked Bracken that evening. Bracken sniffed the air and barked as if in agreement, then turned back to the pub.
“A new broom sweeps clean” smiled Brenda the next day, Kev grinned back at her, enjoying her newly revealed cleavage in her barmaids blouse, as she hoovered the pub floor.
Three months later, Brenda began wondering about Kev’s motives. Though she enjoyed the excitement of running the pub, Kev seemed unmoved, there was a brooding atmosphere around him, even when he was smiling and talking to customers. He looked worried, she thought, especially when she cleaned the beer lines, which she did quite often.
Six months later….
“Kev’s in London today, Brenda told the cleaner, as she hurried past with an armful of clean linen, for the bedrooms. It was early Saturday morning, best day of the week, loads of new folk to meet.
“I’ll be manning the office today” Brenda grinned.
“Ok ” She smiled back.
Brenda trotted into the office, opened the accounts book and involuntarily tutted. All that income from the inn, but nothing was being spent on it. There was a long list of wines and spirits purchased only last week, but where had they gone? They weren’t behind the bar; it was embarrassing telling customers their only choice was between two beers. Even the crisps selection had dwindled to just ready salted. A loose piece of yellow paper fell out, it was a local authority planning application notice!
“What the hell is this?” She said under her breath. It read…
“to whom it concerns, the owner of Fisherman’s Inn has hereby applied for permission to erect ten, five bedroom houses fronting onto Rambler’s Drove.
Also a two storey extension, to front and rear of existing property.
Also a Gambling license for afore said Inn,
Changing existing premises to 150 Bedroom Hotel and Casino, with indoor swimming pool.”
She sat down hard and peered through the office doorway at the pub’s customers, happily flopped on comfy chairs having their breakfast, dogs at their feet. Outside boating holiday makers were already chugging up the river towards the inn, anticipating a pint in the sunshine. All that would go if this planning permission was granted.
“No! It won’t happen, not on my watch!” She shut the book.
The previous owner Mr Granger, had haunted the Inn, since his death last year. It was he who had called to Brenda, across the desert, where she had tried to ignore the pull of his cries, but had finally dusted off her magic carpet, gathered her wand, her dog, and her best lipstick to fly with the Sahara winds, steering straight to this Inn, from one oasis to another.
Now she understood why. “He can’t rest while his Pub is threatened” She applied a fresh layer of red lip stick, while a plan formed in her mind.
Over the coming months Kev became painfully aghast at the massive change in the fortunes of Fisherman’s Inn.
So many people turned up, that the B&B was fully booked, the bar always packed, the restaurant full, even the beer garden overflowed with customers. He watched Brenda, and guessed that she was the reason.
“Hardly surprising” he thought “With knockers like those, and such wondrous legs…” I should have known better, she’s going to wreck my plans, she’ll have to go!”
But he couldn’t sack her, for what reason? As much as he tried he couldn’t come up with a single reason for her dismissal. Her spell on him worked well, it usually did.
The W.I. started holding regular meetings at the Inn, while their eager husbands sampled a vast selection of beers. All Brenda’s work, just a flick of the wrist with her willow wand!
Kev’s planning application was refused, with the help of Counselor Evan’s wife who ran the W.I. and other prominent locals.
Brenda was particularly happy the day the letter of refusal arrived. Kev couldn’t understand it, he always got his way, “why was that woman so damned happy anyway”?
He suspected that she knew something. He drank some of the gin that she had magically procured for the bar. How did she do it? He had tight control over the money. Did she know about the application? He had to get shot of her; she was wrecking his chances of a profitable development.
That night, after hours, he did the only thing left to do. He poured a trail of petrol from the door to the bar, stood at the open doorway and chucked a lit match into the petrol, the flame ran along, he left quickly, needing an alibi.
Up in the attic Bracken was going crazy, barking and running around. Brenda followed him, he rushed out of the door as soon as she opened it, and down the stairs. Smoke billowed up towards them but Brenda used her quenching spell, her wand activated itself, its sparkles of magic flew around quenching the smoke and flames.
They reached the bar, where a sooty trail across the floor had been smothered.
The B&B customers appeared in their pajamas; one had a mobile phone and photographed the petrol trail.
Kev was duly arrested, “its twenty years for arson” said the arresting officer, Kev protested his innocence but went quiet when Brenda arrived at his court hearing. The judge smiled across at her like an old friend. Kev went down for the full term; his usual friendly veneer hadn’t worked for him this time.
Brenda bought the Inn when it was auctioned off. She felt at home, running her own pub. Mr Granger’s ghost visited on her first night as new owner, he said “I am so happy, now the inn is safe, I can rest, good luck my dear, I don’t think I’ll be back again” the ghost faded towards the heavy oak door and was gone.
The following afternoon just as the sun was setting, customers in the beer garden clapped as Brenda and Bracken joined them.
“Well done! Congratulations!
She smiled and Bracken wagged his tail with gusto. One of the W.I. ladies came and gave her a big hug “Well done, we are all very grateful, you’ve saved our pub! Brenda felt her eyes moisten, she loved these people and she loved her pub.
After everything that had happened, she turned around and instead of a dark troubled sky, there was the most beautiful golden sunset. A pink ethereal light glowed across the land reflecting rose flames in every window.