Mack's Progress Ch. 05byDenham_Forrest©
"Look, Mack, I thought I'd better warn you as soon as I heard. Brian and Conway are planning on taking the children on a couple of weeks' holiday on the Broads. You can't complain; it's your fault they are going up there anyway. They never would have thought of it if you weren't working in that boating pub," Julia informed me one Sunday morning.
'Oh, yeah, how come it's my fault?' I asked myself when the call was over.
Patricia or really her fella John gave us all a nasty shock in early June. The silly little sod smashed his car up with both of them in it. Luckily they weren't too badly hurt and were only hospitalised for a couple or three days. But it really frightened Beverley. It wasn't often that Bev spent three nights on the trot in my bed, and that without any sex between us. She just wanted to lie there in bed and cuddle. Which I was happy to do for her!
Okay, Millie gave me enthusiastic blowjobs in the cellar everyday and I managed to fit in a quick one with Michelle or Millie sometime during the afternoon, whilst Bev and the other of them visited Patricia in hospital. What you'd call a short sharp shot, because we were busy and we only had Tasha to watch the shop whilst we were at it. Actually those quickies became a bit of a habit after that. I even shagged Bev over the kitchen table a couple of times. I'm not sure, I think the girls got off on the idea that we could be walked in on.
"Mike's decided he'd like to go as well, so we are going to hire two boats, cruisers Mike calls them. Should we wear life jackets, Mack? What about the baby? Do they do life jackets for babies?" was the news I was greeted with in another of Julia's weekly calls, just after Patricia came out of hospital, I do believe.
"You'll have to speak to the boat hire people, Julia; I have nothing to do with hiring boats. Some people, children mostly, wear life jackets. The water isn't all that deep really; I think those who do wear them are people who can't swim," I replied.
I wanted nothing to do with their bloody boating holiday if Conway was involved. But my sister had asked a civil question and I'd answered her.
I'm human so I did wonder - but didn't ask - whether Lindsey was planning on joining her so called 'new man' on this holiday. I could just imagine the bitch turning up with him at the pub, to rub my nose in it. I voiced my thoughts to the girls. Beverley, Patricia and Michelle made comments in a similar vein. Millie remained strangely silent on the issue.
As the summer was building to its crescendo (i.e. high season when all the schools are closed), word came from the villagers first that Philip's grandmother had a stroke. That news put Millie in a really good mood for a few days, until she saw Philip and he told her that it didn't look like it was going to be terminal. However, in those few days Millie did her best to kill me every night.
Because - as she put -- "Once Phil and I get married I'm going to miss this dick of yours. You realise that once Phil starts fucking me you ain't getting no more from me, don't you? Anyway I'd better make the most of you whilst I can."
The news that Philip's gran wasn't about to pop her clogs meant Millie needed consoling in the same way as Beverley had when Patricia had her accident. Only Millie's idea on being consoled was to have her snatch chewed on for most of the night. 'Jesus, Millie,' I thought, 'if Phil isn't a quick learner, you are going to be in for a disappointing married sex life.'
"We'll all be stopping by for a couple of nights in August. I hope you're not going to be funny about Lindsey being with us, Mack, and throw a tantrum or anything," Julia informed me.
"Damn it, Julia, I think that's damned inconsiderate of you all. You know my feelings about Lindsey. Why the hell do you have to stop here at all? There's plenty of other pub moorings you could use."
"Mack, Brian and I want to see our brother. Brian and his family haven't seen you since before you left home. You might have a problem with Lindsey and Conway being there, but that's your fault for not coming home to see the family, isn't it? Anyway, I'm sure Conway will stay out of your way, but I think Lindsey would like to talk to you to clear the air."
"Well, I don't need the air cleared, Julia. I think I've got a better idea of what's been going on than you, Brian, Mike or mum and dad will ever know. When are Lindsey and the arsehole getting married anyway?"
'Shit, damn, blast!' I thought to myself. I really hadn't intended to ask that. I was sure in my own mind that they would get hitched. I just wondered how long they were going to keep the bloody pretence up.
"Don't call Conway names, Mack! He's done nothing to you. He's a nice guy and he's treating Lindsey a damned sight more pleasantly that you ever did. If you must know they aren't even dating officially. I think Conway takes Lindsey to lunch from work quite often and it's obvious that he's got a thing for her. He runs her around in his car and takes her over to Brian's place when he takes his children there. Lindsey is coming along as Conway's guest to help look after his children. They seem to like her."
"You've seen them together then?" 'What the hell did I ask that for?' I was thinking the moment the words were out of my mouth.
"Of course, Brian's had a little pool put in and in this hot weather, Mike and I have been going over there on the weekend with the children as well. That's when they all planned this boating holiday idea. But I'm a little worried about the children and all that water."
'Little pool,' I thought. 'That doesn't sound like my brother, Brian. Olympic size pool is more his cup of tea.' But then that modern house of his only has a tiny garden.
"Don't worry about the water, Julia. You have to be careful and use some common sense naturally. But we don't have that many serious accidents with children. It's more the drunk adults making their way back to the boats in the dark and tripping over mooring lines," I placated her.
I don't know why, but Julia worrying about the children and the water took the edge off the anger I'd felt a few moments before. I completely put Lindsey, and her lover coming by, to the back of my mind.
The August Bank holiday was on us almost before I realised. Luckily for just about everyone concerned, my family party didn't turn up over the holiday weekend itself. I think I might have told Julia that I would be too busy to even speak to them during the three days.
It was the Wednesday when Patricia had been down by the river hunting for abandoned glasses with John. Both of them had taken a week's holiday from work to help out, and John was proving to be a nice guy, now he'd tamed down his driving a little. Patricia came into the bar and told me that she thought that it was Mike and Julia who were tying up a medium size craft to the bank.
I looked out of the window to see a gigantic cruiser, probably one of the biggest available for hire on the Broads, manoeuvring to moor behind Mike and Julia's boat. That had to be Brian; he always had to have the biggest and best of everything. On the foredeck - with a rope that he was trying to throw to Mike - I could see a tall slim man who I took to be Conway. I consoled myself in the fact that he had no idea how to throw a rope and it landed short, in the water several times.
Eventually after that great cruiser had virtually rammed the bank and the clown had been able to hand Mike the rope they got the thing moored. Although I'll point out that Stephanie (Brian's wife) made a far better job of throwing the stern line to Julia.
Four children of around eight or ten were then allowed to climb off of the big cruiser and were ushered through the pub's safety fence. During the school holidays, we put up a safety fence to separate the pub's garden from the river. It didn't look very nice, that's why we only used it when the children were off school. But it let the parents of the little ones relax more than they would be able to if they had to watch the children and the river all the time.
Two of the children were Brian's. I recognised them straight away. They went to run up toward the pub, but Stephanie called them back. Julia and Mike had gotten their two little ones from their cruiser and then they joined the children behind the safety fence where they staked claim to a couple of the picnic benches.
"Are you going down to speak to them?" Michelle, I think, asked.
"No, not whilst the arsehole's with them. They can find me when they want to."
"Where's Lindsey?" one of the girls asked; I don't know which one now, since I wasn't listening properly.
"Still on the big cruiser I should imagine," I believe I replied. I was not really concentrating on what I was saying or on what was being said to me.
Brian, Mike, him, Julia and Stephanie fell into conversation, probably about what drinks everyone wanted. Then Brian and Mike started walking towards the pub. Conway went to follow and Julia said something to him. He faltered, looked back at Julia who had stood up again after taking a seat on the bench. They exchanged a few words, then Conway turned back towards the pub.
For a few moments I thought a confrontation of some kind was in the offing, but suddenly I saw Beverley and Millie walking out to meet Brian and Mike from the other garden door. They fell into conversation and I assume the girls took Brian's order. It would be Brian who was buying the first round, that was just Brian.
When Conway joined them I could see him looking in the pub's direction as they gave their order to Beverley. Then after lots of smiles and head gestures the three men began to walk back to the tables that Stephanie and Julia were laying claim to. Conway seemed to falter again looking back at the pub before he followed the others, looking back several times before they got to the tables.
"Arsehole!" Millie said, when she came behind the bar to pull the drinks that Brian had ordered.
"Who?" I asked, not being sure that Millie wasn't referring to Brian, who can come over as all high and mighty sometimes, if you don't know him. He's top dog at the company where he works and tends to forget that he's not talking to his subordinates sometimes.
"That streak of shit that Lindsey's got herself hooked up with," Millie ranted. "He made disparaging remarks about my tits."
Now this was a great surprise. Just about every customer makes some comment about Millie's assets at some time. Well, no one could fail to notice them if you know what I mean. But Millie was always the first to make a joke about them. "Hey, look, Luvver, better men than you have suffocated in here," being her usual putdown.
"Why? What did he say?" I found myself asking.
"He said, 'I see what the great attraction here is for lover boy. Got a weakness for big tits, has he, the little pervert!' The shit said it, after the others had moved away, so I don't think they 'eard him," Millie explained.
"Heard what?" Beverley, who had been at the other end of the bar, asked.
Millie explained and in an instant Beverley was disappearing out into the garden. I'd seen that look before, and I knew that trouble was in store.
"Christ, I hope she doesn't tell them all to move on. When mum gets pissed she just unties their boats and tells them to get gone!" Michelle said, "I'd better go down and try to calm her down a bit. You do want to see your family, don't you, Mack?"
"Yeah, but I could do without seeing that tosser and Lindsey though."
I don't think Michelle heard me. She was almost running, trying to catch up with Beverley. Mille went to take someone else's order and I watched through the window as Beverley went straight up to Conway, who by her body language alone I could tell got a real dressing down. I'm damn sure that the guy, who had stood up as Beverley approached, actually shrank before my eyes.
But suddenly I found my attention was taken elsewhere. Lindsey had appeared on the deck of the big cabin cruiser that was behind them. I could see that she could hear what Bev was saying as she climbed down off of the boat. Lindsey looked at Beverley chastising her man and just stood with her mouth wide open. God knows what Beverley said to him but whatever it was it made them all take notice. Then Bev turned and came back to the pub.
"I'm not having that from anyone," she announced as she came back into the bar. "If it wasn't for the fact that he's with your family, Mack, I'd have told them all to move on. As it is, I've told them that he's not allowed in my pub under any circumstances. If they decide to move on, then I'm sorry."
I looked at Beverley, as much confused about her reaction as I had been about Millie's. Jesus, there was all kinds of innuendo flying around in that pub all the time, what with me being the only man living there. Beverley must have seen the confusion in my face.
"There's fun and there's insults, Mack! That long streak of nothing wasn't joking with Millie; he was insulting both of you. You're my staff and my family whilst you're here. I'll not stand for that sort of thing and that's the end of it," Beverley said, then switched back to friendly mother mode and continued pulling pints.
Sometime later Julia, Brian and Stephanie came into the bar to talk to me. I was quite busy, actually trying to look busier than I really was. But I stopped to sit and talk for a while.
"What was all that about?" Julia asked, "Bev went ape-shit at Conway when we arrived."
"I do believe he threw an insult in Millie's direction. You'll have to ask him what he said," I replied.
"He says he doesn't know, that it was probably you trying to chase him away," Julia informed me.
"Well, I had nothing to do with it. After Bev and Millie took your order Brian, apparently Conway said something to Millie. It's not very often that Millie gets upset, but when she came back in here she was really throwing her toys out of the pram. I think Conway was lucky she never had any beer in her hand when he said it. I've only seen Millie get annoyed like that with a couple of blokes, both of them got a beer shower and one took an unexpected bath as well."
"Feisty little one, is she?" Brian asked.
"Tough as shit as well, Brian. That girl can swing a full beer barrel around like it doesn't weigh a thing."
After that, besides Brian telling me that Conway had been barred from entering the pub itself, the conversation turned to family matters. Brian and Stephanie's two children came in the bar to say hello to me and have a cuddle. I handed out soft drinks and packets of crisps to them and then added a second helping because Conway's two children had followed them and had very tentatively sneaked in the bar as well. Don't hold the sins of the father against the children and all that, is my motto.
Tasha came over and told Julia, Brian and Stephanie that their meals were nearly ready, so the three of them went back down to their tables in the garden, taking the children with them. All four children were to return at regular intervals for their free crisps and squashes later during the day. Can I help it if I'm a softy at heart? Actually I think that all four children had joined my fan club.
"Strange thing that kid said!" Old Bert said to me at the bar a little after they had gone the first time.
"Yeah, what was that Bert?" I asked, not really listening to what he was saying.
"One of those kids, the boy, asked the girl if you were Lynn's boyfriend," Bert said.
"Naw, you got it wrong, Bert. He obviously asked her if I was Lindsey's ex-boyfriend, which I was at one time."
"No, lad that ain't what the boy said! I know, I 'eard him! I might be old, but I ain't deaf, lad. He asked the girl if you were the bloke who - and 'e definitely said Lynn - was going to marry. The girl told 'im that you was! But then the boy asked why they had never seen you with this Lynn and the girl says that she don't understand grown-ups either, and that she couldn't figure out why their dad wasn't living at home with their mother and them."
"Ah, the kids probably got it all arse about face, Bert. You know what kids are like," I said to him.
"Dunna 'bout that, Lad. That girl sounded pretty adamant to me."
"Okay, Bert have it your way, but I think either you or she got it very wrong."
Bert and I had a little laugh and then I think we both forgot about the incident, for the moment anyway.
During the afternoon Brian came in the bar and asked where the nearest shop or supermarket was. I told him the village shop was about a mile and a half by road or three quarters of a mile along the river, but the nearest big supermarket was eight miles the other way once you reached the main road. He indicated that he really needed a big supermarket; I think they must have been moored near the village shop the evening before.
I threw him my car keys and he said thanks before asking for directions. A little later John, Patricia's fella, told me he'd seen Brian, Conway, Julia and Mike driving off in my car. I expressed surprise that Mike and Julia hadn't had their children with them, only to be informed by Michelle that Lindsey was on their boat probably baby sitting. It didn't strike me at the time that my familly's party were being closely watched by all of my new family. They must have been because I got reports every so often on every move they made.
"Be a good time to nip down and visit, Mack," Beverley said, "whilst it's a little quiet, he isn't there and Lindsey's tied up with the babies."
It wasn't really quiet as far as customers were concerned, but we had enough staff on, to handle things. Beverley was suggesting that I spend some time with Stephanie and Julia in the garden, kind of not make it look like I was neglecting or avoiding them.
So I filled some glasses. I knew what both women's tipple was; for shows sake I even took a drink along for Lindsey, only I hoped she wasn't going to come off the boat and join us and, of course, more squash and crisps for the children. Then I went down to sit and talk to the girls for a while.
Julia greeted me with a hug once I'd put the tray down. Stephanie, spotting the cocktail umbrella in Lindsey's drink, took it over to Julia's boat.
"Lindsey said to thank you; she's changing the little one and Sam's asleep so she can't come over," Stephanie said on her return.
I think both girls could see the relief in my face but they didn't make comment. Actually I wondered if the story was really true. That's something I will never know.
I was still sitting talking to the girls when Brian and the rest of them came back. Brian thanked me for the use of my car and I noted that Conway made a beeline for Julia and Mike's boat, after giving his two children what I can only call a dirty look. They and Brian's two were sitting on the grass flanking me. I do believe this new uncle Mack could do no wrong in their eyes.
Later that evening Julia, Mike, Brian and Stephanie came into the bar and stayed in there all evening. Lindsey and Conway must have been assigned baby and child sitting duties on one of the boats. Although Mike and Brian took drinks down to them at regular intervals, Brian commented that he was pleased he'd ordered a boat with a television on it, or the children would have been having withdrawal symptoms by then and driving every one bonkers. I gathered from the conversation that's why the party was split over two boats, so that the childrens' TV wouldn't wake the babies.
"And the accommodation problem!" Julia suddenly added quite forcefully.
I couldn't understand that statement from her, because those big cruisers could accommodate 14 adults quite comfortably, providing everyone was reasonably friendly. Jesus, we'd seen more than that crowded onto some of them.