The Paul & Jenny Stories Pt. 17obyPAUL C©
The Paul & Jenny Stories Pt. 17o: The Batting Order Ch. 15
I ducked under the last ball of Jerry's fifth over.
"Take a break, Jerry." I heard the captain of the East Chipstable team order.
I breathed in deeply. Whatever bowling they had to come was going to seem tame in comparison. I walked down the pitch to meet Ron.
"Ten overs gone." He observed, looking towards the scoreboard. "Forty-two for two. It could have been a lot worse."
He was right. After us two there was only Jim who could claim to be any sort of batsman. Steve could hang around for a bit and Len could strike the ball hard. Harry and Arthur were no great shakes and Ian, well I don't supposed he knew one end of a bat from the other. And he would be drunk by now anyway.
If we were going to get the runs then it is between Ron, Jim and me.
I walked back to my crease as the new bowler prepared his run up. He was a young lad, Indian looking. He didn't look more than seventeen or eighteen. He was there last man in to bat and I don't think he faced a ball.
The wicket keeper was standing close up to the stumps. He wasn't going to bowl fast then. He took about seven paces and bounced into the crease. His arm seemed out of proportion to the rest of his body. He was a leg spinner, like me. This should be easy. If I bowl them then I should be able to spot what's going to happen when they are coming towards me.
It was well pitched up so I stepped out to meet it with my bat close to my pad. It pitched. I had it covered. I heard it hit the wicket keepers gloves behind me. How did it get there?
The second ball was coming. I stepped out to meet it. I didn't feel a thing. Again the ball was in the wicket keepers gloves.
I looked at Ron at the far end of the wicket. His mouth was open. Not much help from that quarter. What should I do?
He was coming in again. Two quick steps down the wicket and I struck the ball back over his head before it had bounced. Ron applauded with one hand against the blade of his bat.
"Good shot." He called.
The next ball was coming. I made as if to advance down the pitch towards it but then pulled back. The bowler saw me start to come and pitched the ball even shorter. It landed and spun towards my pads. I took a half pace back and right and helped it to the boundary with a full swing of my bat. The ball landed on the roof of the pavilion. There was a burst of applause, I felt like joining in. The bowler looked at me then at his captain in much the same way I had looked towards Ron three balls earlier.
The next ball was fuller and I knocked it to the side and we took a single run. I was beginning to enjoy myself. Jerry was scowling at me.
"Do you want to know what they are doing now?" Lynda asked softly from her position in front of the keyhole.
"No." I hissed back.
"He's got her arse on the bench and her knees over his shoulders." She ignored what I had said and told me anyway. "That looks nice."
"What?" I asked before I could stop myself.
"His tongue." She whispered back. "I don't know how far he has it inside her but it's certainly opened her eyes."
"We shouldn't be allowing this."
"So what." Lynda was starting to look angry. "When she sobers up it will have taught her to take care of herself better. Don't blame Steve. It's offered and he's taking it. She went in there with him willingly, didn't she?"
"Yes." I confirmed. "He said he was going to get changed."
"I don't hear any screaming."
She stood up and approached me.
"Look, Jenny." She continued. "Don't be so naive. She knew what was going to happen when she went in there. So did you. It's either her own fault or good luck. Whichever way you want to look at it."
I heard her cry out. But not for help.
Lynda went back to the keyhole.
"She's sucking his cock now, if you must know. Not the actions of somebody being raped. I know."
I didn't want to be there.
"Will you be all right behind the bar?" I asked. "I think I should help in the marquee."
"I'll be fine." She replied, standing up and moving behind the bar.
She placed a hand on my buttock, gently squeezing. I moving her hand away and giving her a weak smile. She looked hurt. She reached out her hand.
"I'll see you later." I said stepping out of her reach and, opening the fridge, took out two bottles of milk to take with me.
She opened her mouth to say something but closed it again as some men came in and ordered some beers. There was a thud on the roof and a loud burst of applause.
I went outside and looked out into the middle of the pitch. Paul was batting. Somebody was throwing the ball to a young looking boy at the far end of the pitch. He was running up to bowl. He wasn't very fast. Paul hit the ball and ran to the end where the bowler was standing. At least I could say I saw him score a run.
I walked into the marquee and went to where Shirley and Mary were serving cakes, sandwiches and teas.
"I've come to help." I said. "If you need me."
"We could both do with a break." Mary admitted. "You go Shirley."
"I'll take you around the stalls." David said, suddenly appearing with a glass of beer in his hand.
"I don't think you should drink anymore, dear." Mary said to him. "You have to drive your car home."
"I'll be alright." He replied. "Come on, Shirley."
Shirley looked at me, pleadingly. It was nothing to do with me. If she wanted to have an affair with a married man, that was her concern.
"I'm sure Shirley would rather go around with somebody her own age." Mary suggested. "Go and find Steve. I'm sure he'll take you."
I was sure he would to, under normal circumstances.
"Steve is getting ready to Bat." I didn't think this was the time for Shirley to go searching for Steve, especially as she might find him.
"Well." David said. "It looks like you'll have to come with me then."
David took her arm and led her from the marquee. I saw him guide her to the right, away from the stalls and towards the pavilion, or, more probably, the cars. I glanced at Mary. She had seen the movement as well.
Keep busy. Don't think about it.
"How's Paul doing?" Mary asked suddenly, between customers.
"I saw him score a run." I told her.
"Good." She handed over some change. "He'll like that."
There was more applause from outside. I should really watch Paul play. More applause. This time with cheering.
Shirley came back into the marquee, red faced, as if she had been running. The zip on her jeans was undone but I didn't think this was the time to mention it. David appeared in the doorway to the marquee.
"I think I might go and have a short break." Mary said, reaching under the counter for her handbag.
There was more applause from outside.
I watched Mary's back as she walked towards David. It seemed to sag a little as if she were carrying a heavy load.
"Are you alright?" I asked Shirley.
"I'm fine." She snapped back.
"Hey." I replied. "It's me. Remember."
There was a lull in customers and we both moved away from the serving tables to the canvas wall at the rear of the marquee.
"What's been happening?" I asked her. "You look as if you've run a mile and your zips undone."
She turned to face the wall and zipped up her jeans.
"Was it David?" I continued.
"What?" She seemed genuinely surprised that I should suggest it. "What do you mean?"
"I mean you just left with him and come rushing back with your jeans undone."
"I have to tell somebody." She looked around as if frightened of being over-heard. "You'll never guess."
"You're having an affair with David." I answered as matter of factly as I could.
"What." She gasped. "How did you know?"
"It wasn't difficult."
"Does anybody else know? Paul?"
"I would have to get him to watch you doing it before he would realise." I said, smiling at the thought. "Lynda does."
I looked her in the eye.
She looked around as if expecting Mary to appear.
"No!" She exclaimed. "She can't know. We were always so careful. Why hasn't she said anything?"
I didn't think I should tell her of a conversation I had with Mary over a couple of bottles of wine as we looked at the family photo-album shortly before Paul and I was married. Her telling me, as her fingers had traced the outline of the features of Paul's great uncle Alistair in a photo with Paul sitting on his knee, of a night in the flat in London. There had been wine that night. And Alistair had played, one handed, on the piano, then later, on her body. The difference in their ages had been equally as great as that between Shirley and David.
Why indeed hadn't she said anything?
"It's over." Shirley's eyes were filling up with tears. "I think I want to see Steve."
There was a loud moan from outside. Somebody was out. I hoped it was Paul. I wanted him to take me away.
"Steve will be concentrating on the game." I said. "Stay with me here. I'm sure Paul will be finished out there soon."
"Alright." She smiled. "Are we going back to Bristol straight after the game?"
"If you want to."
"It looks like it's everyone to your place afterwards." We both looked to the serving tables where Len was standing.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Ian's inviting everyone he can find."
Only forty runs needed and we still had only lost two wickets. There were still ten overs to go. I think we could do it.
They were bringing the young lad back on again. It almost seemed a pity. We had taken over thirty runs off his first three overs. Ron was facing. He had scored sixty runs. His eye was in. The ball looped through the air. He stepped out, bat raised. The ball pitched. He swung his bat. The ball struck the outside stump and the bail fell to the ground.
A moan of disappointment went up from the crowd.
"Sorry Paul." Ron said, folding his bat under his arm and making his way back to the pavilion. "Well bowled." He called to the bowler.
Oh well. There was still Jim. He was walking out now. I went to meet him.
"The young lad can spin in." I said. "Don't let it bounce."
Jim walked to the far end of the pitch and took guard. He was a tall, thin man and the bat looked the wrong size for him. Never mind. We were going to win this match. The bowler bounced in. The ball was pitching in line with the middle stump. Jim was reaching forward with his bat. The ball spun. I heard the sound of the ball touching the outside edge of Jim's bat. The wicket keeper threw the ball into the air.
"Howzat." The fielders cry.
Jim looks at the umpire who raised his index finger to indicate that he is out. Then Jim looked at me, sighed and began the walk back to the pavilion.
Things were not looking so good now.
"Yes." Len said, placing his arm around Stephanie's waist as she joins him from behind the bar. "He seems to be organising quite a party. Telling everyone to bring their own beer."
"Oh no." I said, turning to Shirley. "Look. I had better put people straight. Can you manage on your own."
"I had better get ready." Len said, walking towards the exit. "I'm in after Steve."
The vision of him entering Sally after Steve pulled out of her flashed across my mind. He wouldn't, not with Stephanie with him.
I found Ian standing at the far end of the bar with a pint of beer in his hand.
"I've told everyone about the party at your place after the game." He said.
I could smell the beer on his breath from six feet.
"We're going back to Bristol." I told him, loudly, for as many people as possible to hear. "Straight after the game."
I can see he is thinking about that.
"Why don't you go over to the pavilion and see Lynda." I suggested to him. "You might have to bat yet."
"Well." Stephanie said storming back into the tent. "You could have warned us."
"What's the matter?" Shirley asked from behind the sandwich table.
"Steve and one of those girls." Stephanie walked squirmed her way through the crush at the bar.
"Which girl?" One of the men standing at the bar asked.
"I don't know her name." Stephanie called across to Shirley.
Please don't say any more. I urged silently.
"She's with the east Chipstable team." She continued.
I saw a number of the East Chipstable supporters look at one another. Some are making their ways to the exit. Probably to check up on their own women.
"What was Steve doing?" Shirley asked.
Don't be so naïve, I thought.
The penny dropped.
She looked at me.
"Good for Steve." Ian shouted.
A number of locals joined in with him.
"Giving her one. Was he?" Somebody called.
An East Chipstable supporter at the bar told him to shut up. Then the fighting started.