tagExhibitionist & VoyeurEntertaining at Large Ch. 18

Entertaining at Large Ch. 18

byTouch_type©

Susan first appeared in Entertaining at Home. Other characters mentioned joined the story in subsequent episodes of Entertaining at Large. This one's a bit long. I knew where it was going when I started, but all sorts of things cropped up along the way. If you're reading for quick release skip towards the end. Comments, suggestions and support welcomed as always and thanks to those of you who already have.

'Nigel's got a girlfriend. Nigel's got a girlfriend.'

I laughed as my teammates stopped playing and turned to perform a sing-song chant while pointing in unison at the sheepish looking spectator and the young woman alongside him. She slipped her arm into his and grinned. Chanting is not uncommon at football matches. Though usually it's the crowd doing the singing. Still, I suppose there were more on the pitch than there were off it, so fair's fair. Our opposition took the opportunity to sidle over to their bags and grab drinks. The referee, after blowing his whistle a lot and waving his arms about, announced half-time and we all trooped off.

'What ho, Nigel. Who's your friend?'

I kissed him on the cheek and held out my hand to the pretty newcomer who took it shyly.

'Susan, this is Alice. She's a friend from college. She plays football too.'

'Nigel told me he had a woman friend who played for a men's team. I didn't believe him. You know what boys are like. So he asked me down. Hope you don't mind.'

I looked at my teammates who had pulled Nigel away and were generally rough housing, tousling his hair and clearly making suggestive comments given the constant glances in Alice's direction. He was suitably scarlet.

'Bodies of men, minds of thirteen-year-old boys. I'd apologise for them if I thought there was any chance they'd change.'

She giggled and stuck out her tongue in response to the stares and suggestive gestures.

'I've got an older brother. And I have to put up with a lot worse at college.'

I liked her. She was medium height, slim build and had her shoulder-length light-brown hair tied back in a sensible pony tail. She was looking at me with something akin to admiration as I stood in my green kit brushing dirt out of the grazes on my knees. Artificial turf is a devil for scrapes and bruises.

'Look, I'm sorry but if I don't get this lot into some kind of order it'll be time for the second half and there's still a chance we won't lose this one if I give them a good kick up the arse. Maybe we can talk after.'

I turned and started shouting abuse. I pulled Nigel out of the headlock Steve was holding him in and pushed him and the rest of the team to where Bert had set out five bottles of water and a couple of dissected oranges. Nothing if not traditional our Bert.

'Right, you lot, settle down. Not a bad first half, only one down. Wot, good - covering - work.'

Bert had taken to addressing the least fluent of our Polish defensive duo as if he was a deaf simpleton. It was excruciatingly embarrassing to watch, but the fact he spoke slowly and clearly meant Wot did understand him most of the time. On a couple of occasions the deaf and dumb act from the sidelines had so distracted our opposition we had managed to nip in and score.

Our virtually-retired coach then went through the rest of the team dispensing praise first and then pointing out areas where we could tighten up. He said he'd noticed that the other side were always slow to get back when their attacks broke down.

'Steve, if you stick to the left when they're attacking; Luke, you take the right and unless we're under a lot of pressure let the other boys do the defending. Susan, as soon as you get the ball - straight out to Steve - and you get forward fast Luke.'

I was impressed. When I watched what was going on in front of me, it always looked like a disorganised melee. This wasn't the first time in the past few weeks though that Bert had identified weaknesses we could exploit. The lads took in what he said and we all nodded agreement. I felt Bert's hand on my bottom as he pushed us back onto the pitch. Some things hadn't changed.

I watched on with some admiration as we scored four goals in the second half: our biggest ever win. And all of them down to Bert's tactic. Alice was animated at the side of the pitch; pointing out to Nigel what was going on; jumping up with every shot and cheering my saves. Bert soon joined the young couple and poor Nigel was getting it in both ears. We became so dominant towards the end, I had loads of time to think about what had brought about the new-found camaraderie.

A lot of the change in atmosphere was down to Steve getting his head out of his arse about Chloe. After getting a good seeing to from my friend Monique - once in the back seat of her car on the way home, once on his sofa and finally a quick hand-job in the shower before she left - he had returned to the pub a new man. Cheery and supportive around us, he was, rumour had it, slowly working his way through every unattached female in the town between the ages of eighteen and forty.

Getting Bert to play ball had been a tougher nut to crack.

'They've got to learn to respect my authority.'

Was his frequently expressed rebuttal to attempts by me, Luke and even George to get him to see sense. We had begged George to just sack him and let us get on with it ourselves. The fat landlord, however, had somehow got hold of the idea that with the right guidance we might get promotion - and consequently there'd be reports in the paper every week mentioning the pub's name. It was that sleazy bastard from the Courier who did the dirty. In some ways, George's loyalty to his old customer was admirable in some ways. But he wasn't the one having to put up with the idiot every week. In the end it was Tracey of all people who sorted the problem.

Steve, Luke and I had been gathered around Bert at the bar one evening bickering again about the usual thing. George was sulking after we all told him to "fuck off" when he suggested we needed a more commanding presence in the box - he had, at least, started reading the sports pages. Tracey had been sitting at the end of the bar swigging alcopops. She was clearly waiting for Luke to finish playing silly buggers and take her to the Ladies for their customary shag. She had even started scanning the bar for a likely substitute. Eventually she hopped off her stool, brushed down her skirt to draw attention to herself and tapped Bert on the shoulder.

'Bert. A word.'

'Not now, love, we're talking football.'

He turned back to the three of us and started again going on about the central role of the manager in a team set-up. I saw Tracey frowning and going slightly red with anger. She wasn't used to being dismissed. She poked him hard in the shoulder with a stiff finger. I saw him wince.

'I said a word, Bert. And I meant now, not next week.'

Her face was stony as she gripped his arm and led him away to the other end of the long, polished bar. None of us could hear what was being said, but it was clear from Tracey's body language she was tearing him off a strip. Bert looked abashed at first. Then, as she relaxed a little, he seemed quizzical. Then his face took on a happier demeanour and by the time Tracey shook hands with him and then stood on tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek, he was beaming. The pair of them came back to us arm-in-arm.

'Four pints of lager please George. Let's join the others boys. I need a word.'

Bert slapped a twenty down on the bar and then, an arm around their shoulders, marched Steve and Luke over to the table where Wot and Pete looked up with some trepidation. They thought they had escaped another argument.

'I'm sure he meant to order me another of these. Pumpkin and lychee.'

Tracey waggled her empty bottle at Mandy as she drew the four lagers. I winced internally at the thought of the brewery's latest combination: clearly an attempt to crack the Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year market in a single bottle. Tracey's face was unreadable. Mandy raised an eyebrow when she caught my eye; I shrugged in reply. George was engrossed in studying the water mark in the note Bert had given him. He'd already scrubbed it well with one of those pens designed to detect fakes and compared it scrupulously with ones in the till he knew to be genuine. Our manager, as you might have guessed, was not known for his generosity.

Mandy was none the wiser when she came back from delivering the drinks. Tracey had, by now, moved over to the pool table and was cracking jokes with the boys waiting to play. We were joined by George and all three of us watched silently as the five of them sat, heads together, talking earnestly. It went on for about ten minutes.

Then things got stranger.

Bert stood up and beckoned each of the boys to him in turn. When they were in front of him, he took them in a warm embrace, slapped them on the back and in Wot and Pete's case, kissed them on both cheeks. His knowledge of European customs was never strong. I could have sworn there was a tear in his eye when he turned away and marched over to me.

'May I have a word please, Susan. Pint for the lady George.'

The fat man's jaw fell open. Mine did too.

'Of course, Bert. What's on your mind?'

He drew me over to where he and Tracey had spoken earlier.

'First, I wanted to apologise for being a complete, um, idiot over the past few weeks.'

'S'OK Bert, you can call yourself a dick if you like. I don't mind a bit of language.'

He ignored me.

'And second for excluding you when I spoke to the lads just now. I didn't know how to talk straight to them without using, er, certain epithets. And I didn't want to embarrass you.'

I ignored him. Usually I'm a stickler for inclusion and women's equality, but I was too interested in what was coming next to quibble.

'I've had a long, hard think and decided it was down to me to turn over a new leaf, mend bridges, if possible, and get us all working together for the good of the team.'

'OK.'

'I've told the boys we'll be working in a more collective way - collegial you might call it - in the future and my door is always open.'

He took a deep breath. I just wondered what door he was talking about. He put his hand on my arm.

'I've always had a great deal of respect, Susan, for your ability and for your commitment to the team.'

I could feel myself going red.

'There's little I think I can teach you, but I do have this friend. He was goalie for City back in the day. Done a bit of coaching at league level. Retired now. I've told him about you, said how much I admire you. Would you mind if I put you in touch? He's said he'd be happy to pass on some tips if you'd like.'

My face was now burning and I had no idea how to reply.

'That'd be fine. Thank you Bert.'

He looked down at his feet and shuffled them together.

'Thank you for listening, Susan. I'll let you get back to your friends now. Have a good evening.'

He held out his hand which I shook tentatively, but overcome with the emotion of the occasion, grabbed him to me and squeezed hard. He looked even more embarrassed after I let him go. We stood for a moment then he seemed to pull himself together and with a hand raised high said loudly.

'Well night everyone. I'll see you all later.'

It was only when the door banged behind him that the place erupted. There was laughter and expressions of astonishment from every corner. Tracey had disappeared into the toilets with Luke. The rest of the lads relayed what Bert had said to them - more or less what he'd told me, but with more obscenities. More drinks were purchased and the same conversations repeated for George, Mandy and anyone else who cared to put up the price of a pint. Everyone had a theory about what had transpired between Bert and Tracey, each more fanciful than the next.

When Luke tried to sidle unobtrusively back into the pub he was seized upon immediately by the team, a couple of the pool players and half the darts team who had abandoned their match once the ruckus had begun. I resolved to go to the source herself.

'Bottle of pumpkin and lychee please George. I can't believe I'm even saying that.'

He took my money and handed over the orange bottle with a shake of his head, a downcast look and a muttered oath. I headed for the Ladies.

When I got there Tracey was adjusting the line of her panties with one hand and applying lipstick with the other. She glanced sideways at me via the mirror when I plonked the bottle down.

'Ey up, Sue. Ooh, thanks for that. It's lovely. Have you tried it?'

'I'd rather sup strychnine or eat at McDonalds, thanks all the same. What did you say to Bert?'

'Yeah. What did the dirty bastard do to you love?'

Neither of us had heard George come in. Unusual in itself. He looked both angry and frightened. I knew from all the talk in the bar that his theory was that Tracey had dirt on Bert so disgusting that she hadn't told anyone, ever. He'd left the word paedophilia unspoken, but left no one in any doubt that that was what he was thinking. Tracey looked at each of our faces and then started laughing. She took a swig from the bottle, smacked her lips and then hoisted herself up onto the shelf between the sinks.

'You want to know what I said to Bert?'

'Yes.'

She crossed her legs and took another drink. She was clearly enjoying the attention. And playing hard-to-get which was a first.

'He knows a lot about football does Bert.'

'Bollocks.'

'He does?'

She frowned at George and then grinned at me.

'He does. I got chatting to him once. It was some time after Xmas. Place was nearly empty and I felt sorry for him sitting on his own. But it was really interesting.'

'I find that hard to believe, but go on.'

'Well I, like the rest of the pub, have had enough of you lot bitching, so when you started it all again tonight I decided enough was enough.'

She took another drink and looked decidedly coy.

'Football's all about incentives.'

'Not another one.'

I groaned, expecting her to start going on about stuff she had no knowledge of. I could feel George's temperature rising by the minute.

'So I told him to stop behaving like a dick and start applying the knowledge I knew he had so that you could start winning.'

'Is that all?'

'You mean he never touched you?'

There was palpable relief in the big man's voice.

'Well I did hold out the possibility of, shall we say, rewards, if he turned the team around.'

'Go on.'

'I hope you don't think I'm going to pay.'

I was beginning to get suspicious. George definitely was.

'Shut up, dad. It's a simple enough system. If you draw, I told him I'd give him a hand-job.'

I started to laugh.

'If you win, and god knows there's little chance of that, I'd suck him off.'

Even George was chuckling now.

'And in the unlikely event you get promotion, I told him I'd fuck him so hard he wouldn't be able to walk for a week. Seemed to do the trick.'

She hopped off her perch, and with a last glance in the mirror, picked up her bottle, pushed between us and headed out of the door. I could hear her singing to herself as she went back to the noisy bar. George and I just looked at each other while we laughed and shook our heads.

'That's my little girl. Always thinking of others.'

'That's Tracey alright.'

'I didn't even know she knew about football.'

I held the door open for George. Now the crisis was over I didn't want to get stuck in the toilets with him once his mind turned back to his usual prurient thoughts. He was shaking his head as he walked back in front of me.

'And she shaves her fanny, so you can't even say she was hiding her light in her bush.'

He was still laughing when he put a pint in front of me and waved away the money I offered him.

Bert, Nigel and Alice were standing alongside each other clapping enthusiastically when we came off the pitch. The lads were flushed with victory, I was - as befits my gender - perspiring slightly. We all hugged each other, and them, with the excitement of the biggest victory since we'd started playing together. Bert went over and solemnly shook the hand of the bloke in a track suit who was consoling the other team.

'I'm just the driver, mate, I hardly know them.'

'All the same, good game, you played hard, better luck next time.'

He was holding both fists, thumbs up, in front of his chest when he returned to our bench.

'Wankers. Right then, first round's on George, I'll pay for the second, Same goes for the supporters club.'

He pointed to Nigel and Alice who looked at each other and nodded agreement. They seemed as pleased as the rest of us. We must have played well. A warning light went off in my head.

'Hang on a minute. You're not taking Alice to the Crown are you Nigel?'

'It's alright, Susan. He's told me it's a bit rough. I'm sure I've been in worse places in town.'

'Come on Sue, she'll be OK, we'll look after her.'

I looked at Steve who had spoken last with a hard eye. They were all looking at Alice as if they had realised for the first time that she was young, attractive and female.

'You lot couldn't look after your grannies on a bingo night. I'm going for a shower, Alice you can come with me. We'll catch you all up.'

I started walking towards the changing rooms and heard the scurry of feet as Alice caught me up. She sounded worried.

'Is everything all right. It's not that bad, is it?'

'Course not, I just thought we should have a girl-to-girl chat before we went in there. And remind that lot that you're not the usual slapper that frequents the place.'

'But you go in there.'

I just looked at her and we both started laughing together once the penny had dropped.

'You played really well, by the way.'

'Thanks. So how long have you been going out with Nigel?'

'Oh, we're not dating...'

'But his mum told me he was always staying over at your place.'

'He does, my mum really likes him. I do too. It's just...'

I waited for her to decide what she wanted to say. She looked like she was running through something in her head before she tried it through her mouth. Smart cookie.

'When we were put together to work on a project I was really pissed off, you know?'

'I can guess.'

'He was a nerd, I was one of the cool chicks.'

She made inverted commas signs with her fingers. I smiled at her to go on while I turned on the shower.

'I was dating these guys. You know, their own cars, better clothes, haircuts. Money.'

'I'm glad I'm not eighteen again.'

'I'm nearly nineteen, actually.'

She looked a bit pissed off at me. I suppose it was patronising. I apologised and asked if she minded if I stripped off in front of her. She looked mollified and kind of nodded.

'Anyway, after we finished the work we had to do together, we just sort of kept going. Something had changed about him. My friends noticed it about his mates too. Suddenly they didn't seem so, you know, naff. You shave your pubes?'

'Duh.'

At least she laughed. I'd taken off my shorts last and stepped into the long shower section. I'd turned on one of the middle spigots so she wouldn't get splashed. We still had to shout the rest of the conversation though.

'I've thought about it, you know, what's it like?'

'You're a woman of the world Alice?'

'I've taken it up the bum a few times if that's what you mean. Where are you going with this?'

She suddenly sounded defensive. Like I was going to try and jump her or something. Maybe she as just touchy about being treated as an adult.

'I guess that makes you a member of the club then. It's just that I do a bit of stripping on the side. I didn't want to shock you. The punters prefer naked pussies. I'm easy either way.'

I waited to give her time to process what I'd said.

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