by Andrew Foote
I returned to the bar and broke the news to the assembled locals.
"So the bottom line is that tonight I won't be opening. I need that time to get this place squared away in readiness for her homecoming. I'm sorry but I hope you'll all understand."
Old man Edwards muttered his approval. "Yes of course Simeon and I'm sure we all understand, but you'll be opening as normal tomorrow?"
"Yes. Nothing changes except for tonight which would be normal anyway."
That afternoon, Cathy and I made a start by changing the bed linen in Mum's room whilst Aruno and Rob made inroads into thoroughly cleaning the kitchen to a standard which was generally reserved for when the Health and Hygiene inspectors were due a visit.
Next Aruno and I tackled the cellar and bottle store with Rob and Cathy looking to the bar area.
Everything was given a once-over including all the brass work, the windows both inside and together with the outside paint work before Rob disappeared as if out on a mission to which none of us were a party to.
He returned a couple of hours later with bunches of flowers for Mum's bedroom and our living room plus a banner which he and Aruno hung from the upstairs front windows sporting a simple 'Welcome Home' message.
A nice touch, and one even Cathy knew nothing about.
When we were done, we celebrated with a couple of drinks each which we took outside and watched as the sun set over the village. Cathy and Rob then left for her house and Aruno and I showered and went to bed.
We made love that night – I mean we really made love. I hate the 'F' word but Aruno wanted me to penetrate him and while I must've made a clumsy and altogether amateur job of it, it changed my life forever, and Aruno's reaction was one of delight and complete happiness. We had bonded. He had become – in his words, not mine, my property, and had we'd been in his village, I would've been confirmed as his Mimi-cu for life and he, my life partner and consort but as things stood, here in England I'd be wide open to, and guilty of, a charge of Statutory Rape.
I didn't have feelings of guilt or fear. We both of us had lost our virginity one to the other and we both fell into a deep and satisfying slumber, wrapped up in a tangle of arms and legs, not waking until the gulls began screaming at 5am.
Aruno looked radiant – I mean he actually glowed happiness and me? All I wanted was to escape to a place where the love and adoration I had for him would be seen as acceptable.
I knew where that place was, and that was at the other side of the world. It would have to wait, but with more immediate problems to consider like my Mother's reaction should she ever find out, was more of a priority.
We showered, dressed then changed the bed sheets before pigging out on a breakfast of smoked Haddock, scrambled eggs, toast and tea.
Next I had Aruno go and do the three-day start up on Conqueror while I unclogged the filter on the glass washer that we'd left soaking overnight.
I was done before Aruno, so I went outside and swept the seating area at the front of the pub then watered the hanging baskets, finishing just as he reappeared.
"All is good on your boat Mimi-cu but we will need bread, milk and other things that might spoil before we leave.
You have full water tanks and I have checked the fuel, but you might need to fill once we arrive."
"Thanks and yes. We will need diesel before we leave Torquay. The old girl hasn't been out so often for years.
Are you happy?"
"Very happy Mimi-cu. Why do you ask?"
"I was just worried you might be homesick, nothing more than that."
"I miss my village – my friends and the community, but not so much as I'd feared. Here is different, everything is new and exciting with so much to learn, and then there is you. I love you Mimi-cu, and I will follow you anywhere.
Can you please teach me how to navigate using those machines on your boat?"
"You mean the plotter?"
"I think so."
"I will try and teach you everything I can but in return, can you teach me the language of your village?"
"I can try, but why would you want to understand it?"
"You just said that you'd follow me anywhere, and I have made up my mind that you will go back to your people but not alone. I will be with you, and I'll need to understand if only a little."
Aruno's face was a picture and he threw himself into my arms.
"Then we will teach each other! Now I am not just happy, but very happy!"
We were three parts of the way through a surprisingly busy lunchtime when my Uncle Peter and Mum walked through the door and as soon as they were noticed, a sudden round of clapping came from our regulars which resulted in confused faces from visiting customers.
Mum was suitably embarrassed then refusing the offer of large gin and tonics, opted for a half pint of Bass with the explanation that beer was okay, but she had to stay clear of the top shelf until she'd been given the all-clear by the medics.
I picked up her overnight bag and took it to her bedroom and when I got downstairs, she was in the kitchen talking to Cathy and Rob who were both dressed in chef's whites.
"I can hardly believe what I'm seeing! The place is like a show home and you're doing so many meals! What's going on here??"
"I got bored, so last Sunday, instead of locking up shop at two, we thought we'd stay open until things slackened off, but the thing is Mum, it didn't and Aruno had to do his Pied-Piper thing to get them out of the door at gone eleven in the evening.
We opened yesterday for much the same reason – not expecting any takers but we put over four hundred quid through the till on a day where we'd normally be closed."
"Your boy looks the business behind the bar I have to say – not exactly legal but he looks as if he's very capable."
"Very capable, and the thing is Mum? The locals have taken to him big time, it's like he's one of their own."
"I did notice that and I'm unsure what I should read into it. Those old buggers have a dislike for in-comers normally."
"Well, we did have one slight incident which might've swung things in his favour?"
"Do I really want to know about it Simeon?"
"I reckon you'll hear about it soon enough, so it's better it comes from me. Let's go through into the sitting room shall we?"
Having taken our seats and with the door closed, Mum turned to me.
"This is going to be bad isn't it. I can almost smell it."
"That depends on your definition of bad I guess, but actually, I think it enhanced our reputation rather than destroying it?"
I was cut one of those looks that basically told me not to beat about the bush.
I carried on.
"We had a goodly crowd in one night…… well most of the day really, but the thing is, it attracted some young guys from out of the village and they took to the bottle big time. Normally that wouldn't be an issue – kick them out if it got out of hand and job done, but they were pretty well-behaved all things considered, so I allowed them to stay."
"You're prevaricating Simeon. Get on with it please!"
"Oh sod it!
Aruno was serving behind the bar – he's good at it Mum and the locals love him……"
"Cut to the chase Simeon!!"
"One of those kids was waiting at the bar. Aruno was pulling a measure of Scotch from an optic when this kid noticed that the man who had ordered the whiskey had left a twenty quid note on the bar, so this kid snaked his hand across to take it, but Aruno somehow noticed…… well, the long and the short of it is…… Aruno swung around and in a flash, pulled a knife and stabbed it between this kids middle and ring finger right into the bar. No-one was hurt…… well maybe this kids pride cos he left after apologising, and oh boy, were our locals ever impressed!"
"A knife fight?? Oh my GOD!!"
"No! Not a knife fight! Call it a cautionary warning not to go causing trouble in the Nelson!"
"That's as maybe, but we can't be letting him make a habit of it." Mum chuckled "but I can imagine how impressive it must've looked! I'll pretend I don't know anything about it.
So, is there anything you'd like me to do?"
"There is one thing that needs to be done and that's the banking. The tills balanced at the end of each session and everything's in the safe but I didn't get around to doing the books, and with you having the car, I couldn't get to the bank."
"Fine. Just as soon as Peter gets his ride to the station I'll get on with it."
I went to walk away, but Mum hadn't finished.
"Have you heard how Arthur is recovering?"
"No, but we're taking Conqueror to Torquay Sunday afternoon so Cathy and Rob can bring the Marion back home."
"That's a very nice gesture. Were you thinking of stopping off at Penzance on the way?"
"Not on the way, but given how much will have to be done before she's ready to leave, a night there on the way back would be an inevitability."
"Good. Might I suggest that Cathy visits her Mum while she's there? I think she would be pleasantly surprised."
"Who. Cathy or her Mother?"
"Both, but I was thinking more about Cathy."
"Why don't you mention it to her?"
Firstly, you've only this minute told me of your plans to go to Torquay, and secondly, some things are too personal to go yapping on about, and as doubtless she'd ask me why she should go, I think it best it's left until such time as you've docked."
"So, you're not going to tell me either then?"
"No I'm not. She'll probably take the opportunity to visit anyway, and also it would be nice for your boyfriend to see her again, but if she doesn't, make up some excuse to get her off the boat."
" Boyfriend? What the fuck??"
"Please don't spoil the habit of a lifetime by using language like that? What do you take me for, complete idiot?
Look at you; look at this place. You've been opening on days we're normally shut, he's so confident behind the bar, plus he looks at you constantly with that delightful smile, so Simeon? Tell me I'm wrong?"
"This is difficult – you're embarrassing me."
"Alright? But what do you think your Father might say to you given how frightened you are?"
"He'd tell me to man-up and face reality full-on."
"Yes. That's precisely what he'd say. You are very proud of your Dad, and rightly so, so given that? Please do what he would expect his only son to do?"
"I love him Mum!!"
"Thank you. The truth sometimes is hard to come to terms with, but after you admit to it, life can be very rewarding. You get back to work, and by the way. I don't have a problem with this just so long as you don't go shouting it from the rooftops."
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