The Jolly Boys

Shirley Stephenson is a bored housewife who never stops day in day out, its the same humdrum existence. Bob her husband is a lazy good for nothing. who lost his leg in an industrial accident and is claiming benefit fraudulently. he keeps her short and moans because she goes to the bingo. Shirley finds the courage to file for a divorce and free herself. her life is suddenly transformed after she finds all of the compensation that Bob has been hiding from her. she orders a taxi she takes £30.000 and takes a box with some things that her gran had left her.

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“Do you like to grow vegetables, I have a vegetable plot around the back and fruit bushes that produce a good crop every year. I have an apple and a pear tree as well.’

“Splendid.’

 “Come through to the conservatory Keith and I’ll show you, just bring your tea with you.’

 

  Keith followed Margaret into the conservatory which had not long been added to the house after she had told her mother how much she liked the one she had. It was actually bigger than her mother’s and she enjoyed sitting in it. “Please come and sit with me Keith.’ Keith turned and came and sat down on a cane sofa next to Margaret. He couldn’t help himself and found himself staring at her. When she looked at him he lowered his head.

“How often do you visit your sister?’

“Not very often I’m afraid, I don’t have a car you see.’

“What,’ your father owns his own company and he won’t buy you a car. Does he not realise that a car is tax deductible?’

“My father believes that you should earn your own money to buy things.’

“Who pays your university fees?

“I work part time in McDonalds in Newcastle of a weekend. My mother sends me some money every now and then.’

“If ever you wanted to go to visit your sister then I would take you.’

“It’s getting the time off Margaret; I work a double shift on Saturday and Sunday so I can pay my rent and buy a few bits and bobs. My cupboards are full with spaghetti. I use some of the discarded burgers that are left over each night and some cheap tins of tomatoes and a bit of fresh basil to make a quick spaghetti Bolognese.

“Sometimes I freeze discarded chicken nuggets and use the cheese from the cheese burgers to make a kind of macaroni cheese with chicken nuggets. It saves me quite a lot on food.

“Speaking of which I’ll go and check on our food.’

 Margaret got up then walked into the kitchen, she turned the chips then checked the steak.

“Not be long now Keith. How do you like your eggs, I can poach, fry, or scramble them for you?

“Poached would be nice thank you.’

Margaret boiled a kettle then cracked two eggs into a poacher then set inside the pan on the stove and put the lid on. When the chips were cooked she took out the meat then served it up onto two plates finally she added the poached eggs.

She placed the condiments on the dining table then called Keith in.’

“Would you like some bread and butter.

“No thank you, there’s a lot there for me.’   

Margaret made a fresh pot of tea and they sat down together chatting away. Keith was now beginning to relax and she found him to be quite funny. He made her laugh a few times. When they had finished the meal, Keith helped to wash the dishes whilst Margaret dried.’

“Have you got room for a scoop or two of ice cream?’ It’s only Neapolitan from Iceland but I like it.’

“You’ll spoil me you know.’

“Don’t worry you can treat me to your Spaghetti Bolognese the next time.’

“Alright then you’re on.’

 Taking out two small glass desert dishes Margaret scooped two large ones in each dish and handed one to Keith. They made short work of them and again Keith quickly washed up. After drying them he put them back from where they had come from. Right I have to go around to mams house do you want to come?’

“Yes, I’ll come with you if you don’t mind me tagging along.’

“I’ve enjoyed your company Keith, it’s better than coming home to an empty house and eating alone.’

I know what you mean. Keith helped Margaret on with her coat then put on his own. Margaret filled a bag with milk and fresh bread and then they were out the door.  Keith got into the car and waited until Margaret started the engine.

“So, can you drive Keith?’

Oh yes, I passed first time.’

“Me too.’ Mind it took our Jimmy three times before he passed.’

“Where does he live then?’

“Just over the road from me but he’s hardly ever in.’

“Strange having a brother who lives over the road but cannot be bothered to come and visit.’

Margaret drove to Ilfracombe Gardens then stopped outside of her mother’s house.

“Do you want me to wait?’

“No come in with me, I’m not ashamed of you, you know.’

Margaret jumped out of the car and Keith joined her as she opened the door and went inside again they took off their shoes at the door. She turned on the lights and the central heating to warm the place through. It was only 6% outside and was quite chilly. It was just after eight o’clock as Margaret showed Keith around the house. She told him how Gary had turned the house into an open plan dwelling with the help of his parachute regiment friends who were now in his full- time employment.

“What time do they get back?’

“They should be back in Newcastle now.’

  

  “They will be here about 8.30 p.m.’

“Do you want me to go; I mean I can get the bus back home from here.’

“Keith please just relax, they won’t bite your head off you know.’

“I know but we have just met today.’

“So, what difference does that make?’

“I don’t know, but I don’t want your parents to think I’m some freak.’

“What makes you say that?’

“Well I’m a bit of a loner, very shy you know and don’t really know what I’m doing to be honest.’

 “Mam is just like me honestly, and Gary is great.’

Margaret took Keith by the hand and then went to him and kissed him softly. She didn’t pull away as Keith expected. She leant in again and kissed him again. Keith was shaking as Margaret lifted his arms so they went around her. Softly and gently they kissed and suddenly Keith’s shaking stopped and he relaxed again. He held her for what seemed an eternity as if she was some fragile little bird. She kissed his neck then slipped her hand under his cardigan and felt his chest and around his back. Keith’s breathing became more apparent and his heart was beating inside his chest so loudly he swore she could hear it.  He was lost in her and she in him and he knew that he would have to let her go even though he didn’t want to.  He looked into her eyes and she into his then they sat down on the sofa.

“I like you a lot Keith, you are a kind and honest man. My mother will be delighted that I’ve finally met someone that I can trust implicitly.

“I never thought I’d meet anyone like you Margaret, you are so beautiful and I feel so good right now.’ My heart is beating so fast It should surely burst. The last time I felt this way I was with Sally, you won’t leave me, will you?’

No, I won’t Keith, I’m here as long as you want me.’

Keith took her by the hand and held it in his. His thumb felt the softness of her skin. Somehow it just felt right. They sat together and Margaret laid her head on his shoulder. She made no attempt to move even when the sound of a car pulled up outside the house. Keith didn’t want her to move but she lifted her head when the key went into the door but held onto his hand.

Shirley walked into the living room and saw Margaret and the young man.

“Hi mam; this is Keith Berry, he’s my boyfriend. Keith stood up and held out his hand and Shirley shook it.

Keith is at university like me and he’s doing a business degree. His father owns the Compaq Computer Company. He is helping me with my degree aren’t you Keith.’

“Yes, Ms Miller.’

 

Its Mrs Sanderson now, Gary and I were married in the Maldives just two days ago.’

“Really said Margaret.’ Oh mam I’m so pleased for you.’

“Yes, all legal and binding said Gary as he came in with the cases.’

Both Gary and Shirley were well tanned as they showed off their wedding rings and Margaret hugged them both. “I’m so pleased for you both. Have you told Jimmy yet?’

“Give us a chance we just got in.’

“He’s out anyway mam, there was no lights on when we passed.’

He’ll be out with his mates again I’ll bet.’

Gary asked if they would like a drink and Keith replied yes please, can I have a cup of tea.’

“Have you been home Margaret?’

“Yes Gary, I made our tea then came over here.’

“Sixteen hours on a plane is not recommended Margaret, my bottom is numb.’ One good thing about economy seating is you can walk up and down the aisle once the trolley dollies have finished serving the passengers.’

“What was your holiday like then?’

“Oh, it was absolutely fabulous.’ The sand was so white and the water was as blue as the sky on a sunny day. There was just so much to do and see, a week wasn’t long enough really. I’ve brought you a few things back that you’ll like but I’ll give you them tomorrow love. I’m worn out. Gary and I only slept three and a half hours coming back.’

“I can go now if you like said Keith you don’t have to bother with tea.’

“Don’t be silly another half hour isn’t going to make a difference is it Gary?’

“No love, tea is coming right now.’

Gary brought out the pot and placed it onto the table that he’d made then poured everyone a cup out.

“Milk and sugar Keith?’

“Just milk thank you.’

“Same as Margaret well at least you have something in common.’

Keith sipped on his tea as Gary asked about his father’s company.

“I think that we should get a computer you know Shirley it will help us with interior design.’

“Yes, there is a module on floppy disc that allows you to do that. I can show you how to use it if you like.’

“Well if you can get us a computer from your father, we’ll buy it of course, then I’ll get the programme and you can walk me through it.’

“I will ring my father and have one sent out to you. You will need a computer desk with draws for your files on floppy discs. Plus, a comfortable chair as sitting at a computer is tough on your back and neck.

“Does your father supply them as well?’

“Yes, he does.’

“Good, then I’ll have one of those too.

“You will need a computer with a lot of memory space so you can store all of your files.’

“Just order the best one that you have Keith with the largest memory capacity, my wife and I will get ourselves on a computer course so we can familiarise ourselves with how to run a business format.

“I will ring my father in the morning and you should have everything by Thursday or Friday. I will come over and set it up for you, if you don’t mind that is.’

“Of course, not Keith, just let me know the cost of everything and I will write you a cheque.

“I can put it in the conservatory so when I’m working I can look out onto the garden.’

Good Idea Gary said Shirley.’

“Anyway, I won’t keep you both said Keith, you must be tired after you long journey.’

Thank you for the tea.’

Margaret got up from the sofa and kissed her mother and hugged Gary before taking Keith’s hand and walking down the passage to put on their shoes before leaving.

“I think both my mother and Gary like you already Keith said Shirley as she got into the car and headed back to Keith’s flat. It was now getting on for ten o’clock and Keith liked to get to bed by eleven thirty at the latest.

“Will I see you tomorrow?’

“Yes, I’ll meet you for lunch in the library Cafeteria, I’ll bring you a nice sandwich and a piece of fruit.

“Thank you Margaret, you are too kind.’

The car pulled up outside his flat and Keith for the first time leaned across and kissed her softly but briefly on her lips before getting out of the car. He stood at the gate until she pulled away and waved.

It had been a truly eventful day and one he would never forget. He took of his jacket then went into the bedroom and undressed after turning out the kitchen light. Turning on the small bedside light he pulled back the covers on his single bed and got in.

He lay there on his back for a while just thinking about Margaret and the softness of her lips on his.

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