Story by Big M.
It was mid-morning and Foodge was already overheated and confused. He had lost the deposit on his legal ‘Chambers’, and had to pay Fern severance pay plus annual leave. This, and a hefty bar tab, left him skint. His finances were in a mess, but, he was intending to avail himself of a universal panacea. “Mr Merv, couldn’t bother you for some succour in my time of need?”
“Succulents, yes ideal for these long hot summers.” Merv slid a canoe across the bar, and then deftly poured one for himself. “Bloody hot summers, Mr Foodge!”
“Where does it all come from?” Foodge wiped away a foam moustache with a monogrammed handkerchief.
“Kegs, mainly, although we stock bottles.” Merv nodded towards the glass fronted
refrigerator, with its flickering, yellow fluorescent tubes.
“No, the heat!” Foodge was already regretting, not wearing his new white Bermuda shorts. “It’s insufferable.” As he waved his Fedora in front of his face.
“That’s because it’s fuckin’ ‘ot outside, Mr Foodge”. Merv nodded sagely as he poured another couple of Best.
“Isn’t there some sort of cooling mechanism?” Foodge could feel the ale finding its way to his liver.
“Well, there is the aircon.” Merv gave the glass door of the fridge a wipe with a
dirty rag, squinting at the brown bottles inside. “Fiji Gold, sounds like a cracker!” Merv had a habit of buying ‘South Seas’ brands. “I could turn the aircon on if you like?”
Merv flicked the switch marked ‘Honeywell’. There was a rumble from the rear wall of the pub. Then a bang. Something seemed to be whirring away behind the bar. Puffs of dust fluttered down from the discoloured plastic vents that dotted the ceiling. Then…nothing. Merv gave the thermostat a whack. Another bang from the back of the pub, then…cool, clean air. “That OK son?”
“Ah, now I can think!” Foodge motioned towards his empty glass. “Whatever happened to those nice, young nurses?”
“All on overtime, they’ll be ‘ere soon.” Merv flicked some dust from his pink singlet.
“Some of them are quite attractive.” It was Foodge’s turn to knowingly tap the side of his nose.
“Yep, and the others are blokes!” Merv roared with laughter. “The others are blokes!”
“Who are blokes?” Asked Yvonne. “While you’re thinking I’ll have three reds, three
pints of pale ale, all with ouzo chasers.”
“Male nurses. They’re all blokes.” Sniggered Merv.
“Mr Merv, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you take drugs?” Yvonne reached over for a tray.
“Well, I’m on a hefty dose of paracetamol for me knees.” Merv was considering the drinks being on the house, after all, the tequila was from Fiji. “Why do you ask?”
Yvonne gathered the glasses together on the tray. “You have the demeanour of someone who’s touched in the head.” As she hurried off towards the Ladies Lounge.
“Thanks for the compliment, Sister Yvonne!” Merv knew she wasn’t a Sister in the biblical, or even, nunnery sense, but called them all ‘sister’ to razz them up.
There was a screech from the back of the pub. “ Merv, Merv, MERV, did you turn that fucking aircon on?” Granny appeared at the foot of the Obama Memorial Staircase. “You know we can’t afford to run aircon!”
“I popped it on for Foodge, ‘e was a bit ‘ot!” Merv was trembling, as he hadn’t seen Granny this angry since she found the brown mullet in the spa.
“Foodge, Foodge, is he alright?” Granny crossed the distance from the foot of the staircase to Foodge’s side like a wraith. “My Darling, are you feeling the heat?” She walked our poor, dear boy to an aging, cracked Chesterfield, of indeterminate shade. “Merv, more fluids!!”
“’e’s ‘ad three pints of Best!” Merv protested, as he poured another.
“He doesn’t need Best, or Bitter, he needs a proper Strong Ale, Granny’s Special
Merv set the pint aside for ‘Ron’, then accessed the secret tap behind the bar, pouring a litre of Granny’s Spesh, carrying it to the sweaty couple with shaking hands.
“Just sip it, my love, it’s the Elixir of Life!”
Foodge sipped from a huge glass he’d never seen before, and instantly felt better, in fact, he wasn’t that bad to start with, given that the aircon had cooled him down pretty quickly. He looked up at the concerned faces of post night shift nurses. “No mouth to mouth needed here, girls!”
“If there’s any mouth to mouth needed, it’ll be me givin’ it!” As Granny clamped her lips around Foodge’s. “Merv, give me a hand to get him into the lift.”
“We have a lift?” Merv was anything but observant.
“Yes, he’s coming up to my room for some special therapy!” Granny winked.
Neither were seen for the rest of the day.
Those long, hot summer days.