River­side by Glenda Young

A sur­prise vis­i­tor turns up at the sa­lon . . .

The People's Friend - - News -

UN­CLE JIM, have you got a box? Any size will do.” Jim looked un­der the bar counter. “There’s a box of crisps down here that’s al­most done. I’ll take out the crisps and you can have this one,” he replied. “What do you want it for?”

He handed the box to Sam.

“It’s for the phones,” Sam ex­plained. “When po­etry night’s on, no-one’s al­lowed to use their phones, so we turn them all off and put them in a box so no-one’s dis­tracted. It would spoil it for ev­ery­one.”

Jim shook his head. “You mean to tell me that I went to all the bother of hav­ing Wifi in­stalled in the pub and you’re turn­ing off your phones? What about your so­cial me­dia that you young ones are al­ways bang­ing on about?”

Sam took the box into the back room and held it out for his col­lege friends to drop their phones into.

“Some­times, Un­cle Jim,” he said, “ev­ery­one needs a bit of peace and quiet.”

Jim smiled. He couldn’t ar­gue with that. He was proud of the way Sam had or­gan­ised th­ese po­etry and and pint nights.

And with new bar­maid Claire help­ing out, Jim might ac­tu­ally have a chance to lis­ten to one of Sam’s po­ems.

“Do you come in to work by bus, Claire?” Jim asked as the two of them worked to­gether at the bar.

“No,” she replied. “I just walk over. I live in the new flats on the river­side.”

“Just you and the baby?” he asked, won­der­ing how on earth she could af­ford to live in such style.

“No, we live with my mum and dad. That’s why I moved from work­ing at the Pig and Whis­tle to work here. It’s the clos­est pub to home now.

“Mum and Dad look af­ter my little boy. The flat’s lovely and there’s a lift for the pushchair, but there’s nowhere for Brady to run around out­side, as there’s no gar­den.”

Since Claire had started at the pub she’d im­pressed Jim no end, us­ing her ini­tia­tive and get­ting on well with the cus­tomers.

He’d never known such a friendly and en­thu­si­as­tic mem­ber of staff be­fore.

She was ev­ery­thing Sam wasn’t, yet she and Sam seemed to get along great.

“Are you do­ing the same course as Sam at col­lege?” he asked, in­trigued.

“Books aren’t my thing. I’m more hands-on. I love mak­ing things – crafts and that, you know? I’m on a fash­ion de­sign course. I want to be a de­signer.”

She looked at Jim’s old sweat­shirt and the jeans he was wear­ing.

“In fact, I’m in need of a project for when term starts. I was won­der­ing if you might let me de­sign a uni­form for you, me and Sam. You know, like a brand for the Ship.”

“It won’t cost any­thing, will it?” Jim smiled.

“Just the price of three T-shirts,” Claire replied. “You’re on,” he told her. He held out his hand and Claire shook it heartily.

The next morn­ing, as Anna fished in her hand­bag for the keys to open up the hair sa­lon, Jenny was on her way to work there, too, walk­ing along the river­side path, mak­ing the most of the sun­shine be­fore her day be­gan inside Anna and Carol’s Beauty Sa­lon.

She was en­joy­ing help­ing out there, and she and Anna, if not ex­actly the best of friends, got along well enough at work.

Anna’s keys turned in the lock and the sa­lon door swung open. Af­ter turn­ing off the bur­glar alarm, she waltzed straight through to the back room to switch on the ket­tle.

“To­day’s the day,” she an­nounced when she saw Jenny walk in.

“What for?” Jenny asked, hang­ing up her cardi­gan on the coat rail.

Anna pointed to the door. “That sign above the door’s com­ing down. I’ve given my sis­ter a fair chance, but I’ve not heard from Carol for weeks now.

“There’s little chance she’s go­ing to come back here any time soon. It’s time I took her name down.”

“But I thought Carol was still your busi­ness part­ner,” Jenny replied.

“That was the plan,” Anna said firmly. “But she’s not in­vested a penny. And I’ve given her long enough. I’m go­ing to or­der a new sign to­day.”

At that very mo­ment, out­side in the sun­shine, a small sports car pulled up op­po­site the sa­lon on the river­side road.

The driver’s door swung open and a dainty foot with five painted toe­nails peek­ing out of open-toed high-heeled san­dals stepped on to the pave­ment.

The feet were fol­lowed by long, lean legs wrapped in black jeans, then a flouncy red top and blonde hair cut in a short bob.

The woman gath­ered her­self to her full height, locked her car and walked to­wards the sa­lon.

It was Jenny who spot­ted her first.

“Your nine o’clock ap­point­ment’s a bit early,” she told Anna when she saw the woman head­ing to­wards the sa­lon.

Anna turned to greet her cus­tomer, but when she saw who it was she had to grab the back of a chair as she reeled with the shock.

She could hardly be­lieve her eyes as the woman strode into the sa­lon.

“That’s not my nine o’clock,” she whis­pered. “It’s my sis­ter! But what on earth does she want?”

More next week.

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