The Touch Ch. 05byGreenFingers2015©
WARNING TO READERS - This is a long, rambling, multi-part story and VERY British. The individual chapters will make more sense if read in sequence.
Chapter 5: Cold Days and Hot Nights
The Guy Fawkes party came and went, it was a total success and everybody enjoyed it. Most of November was occupied with preparing the garden centre for the rush of business that would happen over Christmas. By the end of November the shop was full of Christmas gifts for the gardener, holly wreaths, potted poinsettias and Christmas tree baubles. Outside, the front of the buildings were festooned with fairy lights and the yard had been filled with some rented market stalls displaying sprigs and garlands of holly, ivy and mistletoe and seasonal plants in festive reds and greens. The rest of centre was temporarily closed to the public as the builders were already on site marking out for the laying of new electrical cables, plumbing and sewage pipes for the new buildings and the site was an obstacle course of pegs, strings and half dug trenches.
Maggie and I spent a lot of time together finalising our plans and making last minute adjustments. Some of the ideas that I had brought back from the Norwich trip had been merged into the design and we were confident that all would ready for a big re-opening at Easter.
The first week of December that year was very cold we even had a small flurry of snow and most days dawned to a white ground frost, it felt wintry and people were thinking about the Christmas holidays. We had received our first delivery of cut and small root ball Christmas Trees; I had talked Maggie into expanding our range of trees and placing a couple of adverts in the local papers. By Saturday afternoon of that first week we had virtually sold out and on Monday Jack and me took the truck and drove down to the Forestry Commission plantation near Lyndhurst and bought another load of fifty trees ranging from 3' to 7', all prime trees that would stay green through the Christmas period and on a whim I added to that a real monster about 20' high which we erected just inside the main gate, garlanded with lights which could be seen from the main road. Maggie was out when we got back and the big tree was erected and the lights working by the time she returned. She had been into Southampton shopping with Mum and Emma and by the number of parcels in the car had bought most of the town. The four of us stood in the yard just looking up at the tree, Mum and Maggie were on each side of me with their arms linked through mine and were as delighted as a couple of kids and even Emma seemed to be in a good mood and for once behaved nicely without bitching and sniping at everyone and stood on the end with Mum's arm around her shoulders.
Jack and one of the student part timers were looking after the greenhouses and potting sheds and I had the other two men working the Christmas stalls. We had a temporary cashier to help Maggie in the shop, Mrs.Cardew, an elderly lady who came in for a couple of weeks at Christmas every year, and we were expecting Debbie and Joanna to return during the winter break from university. I filled in wherever I was needed and did most of the Christmas tree deliveries, but had my exams in the Spring for my Cities and Guilds certificate and at Maggie's insistence spend a good deal of time in the office swatting.
The beginning of December was memorable for several reasons some of which were happier than others. I got home on Tuesday night about nine, I had dropped into the habit of staying late at the office either working or studying most evenings. Mum was sitting on the couch reading the paper and sipping a glass of wine, Emma was either out or in her room. She looked up, "Hello love," she said, "sit down and have a glass of wine with me." I got a glass, poured myself some Chianti and flopped into the arm chair.
We chatted for a few minutes about what sort of day I had had, how things were progressing at work but I could see that something was going on; Mum was bright and bubbly and seemed to be bursting to tell me some news of her own. In the end I just said, "OK Mum, what's going on, I know you are up to something?"
She beamed at me, "Just stay there," she said and went out, I heard her go upstairs and after a few minutes come back down. The door opened and she stood there, laughing with arms akimbo, Hollywood starlet style. It took me a few seconds to realise that she was wearing a different nurse's uniform, dark blue with white trim. She had finally got her promotion to senior sister.
"Hey!" I said teasing her, "that is fantastic, great costume....really but really sexy, are we going to a fancy dress orgy?" I swept her up in a bear hug, lifting her right off the ground and swinging her round, whilst she laughed and slapped at my arms in mock annoyance.
"Stop acting the fool," she giggled, "I worked bloody hard for this and it means a lot more money."
"I know, Mum," I said seriously, "I really am proud of you, you deserve a bit of good luck." I was still holding her feet off the floor so I put her down, held her at arms length and smiled, "but I still think the gear is dead sexy...I think that you should keep it on and we should party, eh!"
I had learned from Maggie that she really had worked hard over the years, I had not realised that she had worked and studied to get her State Registered Nurse status, and had kept up her membership of the Royal College of Nurses even after she had Emma and I to look after. Dad was away most of the time already and Maggie had helped out by looking after us as well as the twins so that Mum could work and study for the top qualification.
It was great to see her smiling and laughing again, it made her look years younger. We sat for a couple of hours talking and drinking wine until she said, "I'm for bed, sweetheart, starting the new job tomorrow and I'm on early shift," she leaned over and kissed me, her lips brushing mine like feathers, "don't stay up too long now." I listened to her climb the stairs and go into her bedroom, sat and finished my drink, smoked a cigarette and then turned in for the night.
I lay in bed and just couldn't get the picture of Mum in that dark blue nurse's uniform and those black tights out of my mind, I couldn't get to sleep and my erection was causing a tent in the bed if I laid on my back and it was just impossible to lay on my stomach. In the end I got up, listened against Emma and Mum's door to make sure they were asleep and then went into the bathroom, locked the door and ran a hot shower, stepped in and indulged my fantasy about Mum and that uniform by beating off beneath the hot fierce flow of water.
The second good happening of the week, also involved Mum. I was standing in the yard of the garden centre talking to Maggie and Jack about 3 in the afternoon, on Thursday, it was overcast and cold and we were bundled up in overcoats and scarves but there were several customers looking at the Christmas Trees and picking over the plant stalls. A car pulled through the main gates, but, instead of turning into the car park came straight up the drive and stopped outside the shop. It was a metallic blue 1985 VW Golf five door hatchback, and I felt my mouth drop open when the door opened and the driver got out, it was Mum!
Maggie and I trotted over to her. Mum's beaming smile filled her whole face, she patted the top of the car, "So what do you think," she asked "do you like my new baby?"
"Bloody hell, Mum, it's great!" I enthused. She had sold her last car after Dad left and she could not afford to keep it on the road, I know she missed having her own wheels, getting the bus to the hospital and back was a drag particularly in the winter. Having a car again would make a real difference for her. "When did this happen?" I asked.
"I had been looking around the dealers for a car I could afford for weeks," she said," then I saw this one the day the hospital told me I was made up to senior sister, I went in and paid the deposit there and then, and picked it up this afternoon and drove straight here." She opened the door, "Come on, get in you two, I'll take you for a spin around the block, I want to share this moment with my two favourite people." That was weird; Mum was almost talking to Maggie and I as if we were a couple, I know that it was not what she intended but it made me go goose flesh. A couple, I should be that lucky!
I slipped in beside her, Maggie got into the back and Mum pulled out onto the main road. We made small talk about the car and her new job and just drove around for ten minutes or so then she dropped us back at the centre, waved goodbye and went home. I was really pleased for her, I did not ask, how much, or how she was paying for it, Mum was bright and intelligent and had a real hang-up about being in debt so I knew she had it covered. Maybe things were starting to really turn around for us as a family at last.
Friday's happening was a sad event, Maggie and I went to the funeral of old Gracie Dwight. Charlie Dwight owned a largish farm and market garden about a mile up the road between Mum's house and the garden centre, with big orchards, strawberry fields and a Farm Shop which sold their produce direct to the public. All the local kids knew Mrs. Dwight, she was a nice old lady who handed out free apples or pears to any children who went up to the farm shop. I suppose that it wasn't really a shop so much as a market style stall but it had been run by Gracie for as long as any body could remember, all her produce was top notch and people came from all around for her fruit and veg.
Mum had wanted to attend the funeral but had an important meeting at work, so Maggie asked me to go with her. I came into work that morning in my suit with a white shirt. The most sombre tie I possessed was a blue stripe so Maggie found me a black funeral tie that had belonged to 'Ben the Bastard', I hated wearing it and after the funeral threw it on the compost heap, and later bought a black tie of my own.
The funeral was to be held at the parish church in a village a couple of miles up the road so we took the Range Rover, and Maggie had me drive. Maggie had dressed in a black wool coat over a black skirt suit which hugged her hips and bum, a pale violet polo neck jumper beneath her jacket, sheer black tights and a plain round black hat. She looked absolutely fabulous and sexy as hell.
After the service Maggie put her arm through mine as we stood at the graveside and kept it there when we walked back to the car. We all went back to the farm house afterwards for the traditional tea and sandwiches. I stood in a corner feeling a bit awkward, it was my first funeral and I wasn't sure what to say to anybody. In the end a man about thirty approached me and introduced himself as Mark Dwight, Charlie and Gracie's son. He was a pleasant man and as we talked it came out that he would now be taking over the farm, Charlie wanted to retire and with Gracie gone he had to close the farm shop as he could not find anybody to run it for him. A great idea popped into my head but I kept it to myself.
On the way home I told Maggie about my conversation with Mark. "I've had this idea," I said, "what if we turn one of the new outhouse units into a farm produce shop supplied by Mark. Gracie's old customers will need to find somewhere to get their fruit and vegetables and it could attract more people into the centre." I parked in front of the shop and turned to Maggie, "Do you think it would be worth looking into?"
"It's a great idea." she enthused, "Let's take a couple of days to work out the estimated overheads, you'll need to take on somebody to mind the shop, then if it seems viable you can go and negotiate something with Mark Dwight."
"Me!" I exclaimed.
"Yes, you! It's your idea, so it can be your project. I am going to make a businessman out of you if it kills me." she added laughing. I got out of the car and she climbed over to the driver seat that drove back to the house to change her clothes. I changed into my working gear and then went out to give the lads an overdue lunch break.
That evening I kept my promise to Mum, we took her new car and drove out to the Ship Inn at Burcombe and I bought her dinner. I would have invited Emma as well but she was out somewhere with her friends. Mum looked terrific, she had been to the hairdressers that afternoon and had her honey coloured hair blonde streaked, to disguise the grey hairs, she said. It was now cut into a bob style, chin length with the tips curled under, and looked great. She was wearing a new knee length dress of black with bold angular splashes of red and gold and blue, very fashionable and very continental, the sort of gear that Maggie would wear. It showed off her figure perfectly, she was marginally more solid than Maggie, with a slightly thicker waist and bigger breasts, and her hips and buttocks were round and firm. She looked suddenly so much happier and younger and very, very alluring.
I think we confused the landlord of the Ship Inn, because he recognised me immediately, but was a bit thrown by Mum, she was so like Maggie but, not Maggie. Our meal was great but the pub was very busy so we had coffee at the table not in the bar and then Mum let me drive her new car home. It was a super evening; we both relaxed and had enjoyed being together for the first time in ages. She was my mother but I felt like we had been on a date. Before going to bed we sat for a while in the kitchen, and discovered that we only had one cigarette left between us so we shared it, passing it back and forth to take alternate puffs then Mum said good night, kissed me on the cheek and went up to bed. I sat still holding the cold cigarette filter tip in my lips, it tasted of her lipstick which I found erotic. I suppose I should have felt guilty about that, she was my mother, but I didn't.
Saturday night I got a call from Josh, a mate from college asking me to meet up in Salisbury for a drink, I did not want to take the moped if I was drinking and so got the bus into town, as we passed the garden centre I peered up at Maggie's house, but there were no lights on and the Range Rover was not parked out front so I guessed that she had gone out.
Friday night is drinking night in Salisbury. I met Josh and a couple of the other guys and we spend the evening on a pub crawl through the centre of town. It was only a fortnight to Christmas and the city was heaving with groups of workers from the offices and shops out for the annual Christmas meal and booze-up. We were a bit pissed and cheeky and managed to get ourselves included in a couple of rounds of drinks by just mingling with the parties and ordering drinks at the bar, nobody noticed and we thought that it was hilarious, typical students arsing about on a lad's night out. It got towards closing time and my last bus had already long gone so I was resigned to walking home. Josh had his father's car, but I thought that he was a bit too rat-arsed to drive, and said so. When he still insisted on driving we parted amicably, the others went to the car park. I sat on a wall outside the Berni Inn in Milford Street, smoking, it was cold and I only had on my waxed bikers jacket over a t-shirt, but the alcohol was keeping me warm from the inside.
I must have been day dreaming because suddenly I realised that planted right in front of me were a girl's knees and legs, emerging from a short grey skirt. I looked up with a bit of a start. It was Joanna. She must have come down from university early, I was not expecting to see her or Debbie until they started work at the garden centre again nearer Christmas.
"Hi,Jo!" I said, desperately trying not to slur or mumble, and stood up so that we could hug. "You are home early.....it's good to see you." And it was.
"Came home for the weekend for a friend's birthday," she explained, then swept her arm to indicate her two companions standing a few yards away, "That's Suey, the birthday girl...." She pointed to a rather attractive Chinese girl," then leaned in to whisper, "The other one who looks like Miss Piggy, is my cousin Bethany....we got stuck with her for the night." The poor bitch really did look like a Muppet; she was huge all round with legs like tree trunks and was dressed in a long bright pink quilted anorak with pink fun fur trim. I shuddered with the thought of meeting that on a blind date...if she got one of those legs over you, you would not be getting up in a hurry!
We hugged again and she started to move off towards her friends, "See you next week I called! Then on a whim, "Call me at home, if you fancy doing anything tomorrow?" Saturday was my day off, that week.
"Yes, OK," she called back as they walked away, "that would be great...we can do some catching up."
By the time I had walked home I was sober but bloody freezing. Mum and Emma were already in bed so I made a mug of hot chocolate, dumped a slug of brandy into it and took it upstairs and sat in bed, slipping the chocolate, smoking and listening to Mozart through my headphones.
Joanna did call me the next morning.....Emma took the call and stamped into the kitchen where I was sitting with Mum, "It's some tart for you!" she snapped, her good mood had soon evaporated again and she was her normal shitty self. I went through to the hall and sat on the stairs with the phone.
"I can't see you today, I promised to spend the day with Suey.....but we can hang out on Sunday if you want?" Joanna told me. I said that I was good with that and we arranged to meet in Salisbury in the afternoon and take in a film at the Odeon. As usual there was bugger else going on, even the restaurants closed on Sunday, except for the Berni Inn, but the Odeon had started showing a double feature matinee of old re-runs on Sunday afternoons.
I spend Saturday at home, helping Mum about the house in the morning then after lunch we both put our coats on and went out into the garden, the weather had turned a lot milder and we started by raking up dead leaves and dragging them to the compost heap. I spent some time chopping kindling, we always have a proper fire at Christmas, Jack had helped me to cut down a dead poplar tree at the bottom of the garden in the summer so we had plenty of logs and chippings. It was a good afternoon....Mum and I mucked about, throwing leaves at each other and I chased her around the garden with a shrivelled up, dead, grass snake which had failed to hibernate before the frost and which I had found under the compost heap. By dusk we were both exhausted with exertion and laughing. As we came back into the house, the front door banged and I guessed that Emma had gone out again.
Mum had made one of her famous boiled beef and carrot casseroles, with potatoes and suet dumplings, it was a favourite of mine but with Emma out there was still going to be more than we could comfortably eat in one sitting so Mum called Maggie and invited her over for supper. She arrived about seven, bearing gifts.....two bottles of superior claret, a gateaux, and a couple of videos.
I thought Mum and Maggie really did look like twins that night. Both were dressed in sweaters and jeans that hugged and showed off their figures and both were wearing their honey coloured hair tied back with a ribbon....I do not think that the almost matching outfits were planned, but then...they were twins after all, and twins do these things unintentionally. The thought that it could have been premeditated and for my benefit was just a total fantasy but it really turned me on. After supper we took the remains of the second bottle of wine into the sitting room. We sat in a row on the settee and watched the videos, I was in the middle and it was a bit of a squeeze, neither of them seemed to notice, but I pulled off my sweater and held it over my lap to hide the boner that kept coming back all evening.