RNLI Alternate Universe
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: This fic is in response to a challenge to write a story containing euphemisms. One to start, one to finish, and lots in between. There is no plot as such. My Thanks to Helen for the beta work.
ABH = Actual Bodily Harm.
"Ah, more liquid sunshine, oh joy." JD pulled back the curtains and stared at the pouring rain. "Oh well, another day, another dollar."
Since turning eighteen JD had given up his early morning job at the dairy and was working most evenings behind the bar at the Lifeboat Inn. He still worked at Aquarius, the new age shop run by Rain Jackson, but at least he no longer had to get up at four thirty in the morning. The summer season had been good for the pub. The weather - like today - wasn't good, so people were more inclined to come inside and once in, stay. It was Sunday, and the holiday season was just about over. All the new school terms had started and the town had quieted down a lot. Although the weather had been very wet, it wasn't very windy, and the lifeboat had had very few call outs of late.
Since he wasn't working in the shop today, JD had time to go for a run before breakfast. He knew Buck had been out running already so he didn't bother to take Mac with him, the poor dog was getting so much exercise he didn't know if he was coming or going. On his way back in almost an hour later, he encountered Buck.
"Hope you don't want breakfast, 'cause it's long past," he reminded JD.
"Oh, well, I'll just grab some toast upstairs."
By the time he'd showered, had some toast and played with the dog, it was twelve, which was when he was due to start work.
"Hey kid, you know what time it is?" Buck bellowed up the stairs.
"So's Christmas, but I'm not holding my breath."
"I'm coming, I'm coming!"
"Well get a shift on, I need a barrel changed, think you can handle that?"
"Piece of cake."
Buck shook his head and went back to serving drinks to his customers.
+ + + + + + +
Chris stormed into the pub, shaking water from his wax jacket.
"Turned out nice again, didn't it?" Buck commented.
"Don't start with me," Chris warned darkly. "Yesterday was bad, today is getting worse."
Buck held his hands up and backed off a pace. "Ok, don't get yer knickers in a twist, I was just making conversation."
Chris thought a moment then took a long calming breath. "Sorry."
Buck shrugged. "That's okay mate. Come on, I'll pull you a pint of best and you can tell your barman all about it."
Buck placed the glass under the tap and pulled. There was a splutter and a gurgle, but no beer.
"Oh for fu damn it! I told him to change that barrel, it's not rocket science!"
"Problem?" Chris asked, trying not to smirk.
Buck just glared and turned away from the bar and poked his head around the cellar door. "JD boy, what are you doing down there?"
"Um " came the hesitant reply.
JD knew he was up a creek without a paddle, but he was hoping to avoid telling Buck.
"What JD, what's wrong?" Buck shouted, uncaring that the whole bar was now listening.
"I sort of lost the thing."
"The barrel tapping thing, I dropped it."
"Well pick it up." If you want something doing, do it yourself.
"Well I sort of kicked it and now I can't find it."
"Oh great - hang on, I'm coming."
Deciding it was going to be some time before he got his pint, Chris turned around and took a look around the bar. Over by the fire he spotted Ezra, sipping Guinness and reading the paper. On the table in front of him was a knife and fork, so he had clearly ordered some food.
"Inez honey?" Chris put his head through the hatch into the kitchen, where she and young Clare Potter were busy cooking.
"What do you recommend?"
She stood up and wiped her brow with the tea towel hanging from her waistband. "Steak and Kidney pie, Toad in the Hole?"
"Toad sounds great."
"You want roast potatoes, carrots and onion gravy with it?"
"Is the pope a Catholic?"
"I certainly hope so!" Inez joked. "No worries Chris - on the slate?"
"That'd be great."
+ + + + + + +
"Morning Ezra," Chris greeted.
Ezra looked up and then looked pointedly at his watch. "Good afternoon."
"Mind if I join you?"
"Be my guest." Chris slipped into the seat opposite Ezra. "Help yourself to the paper."
Chris nodded and picked up the sports pages from the many sections of the 'Independent on Sunday' Ezra had discarded.
"No Mister Tanner today?" Ezra asked with out looking up.
"Not so far, no."
With that the conversation died and the two of them read. Clare came over and placed a set of cutlery in front of Chris and a collection of condiments between them on the table. Buck, muttering about cocky kids who 'couldn't organise a piss-up on a brewery' came back up from the cellar with a rather sheepish JD behind him.
"You're sure you did it up tight?" Buck asked him.
"As duck's arse," JD promised.
With the barrel on tap, a pint of bitter appeared in front of Chris just as Dr Nathan Jackson came in. Several people greeted him as he hung up his coat and came over to Ezra and Chris.
He sat down glumly.
"Morning Nate." To Chris it was afternoon until he'd had lunch. "You okay?" he asked, looking at his friend's glum expression.
"Just had what our American cousins call 'a negative patient outcome'," he explained gloomily.
Ezra looked over his paper and frowned.
"Old Joss Tracy popped his clogs this morning," Nathan explained.
"Ah Hell, that's a shame," Chris said with real regret.
Joss Tracy was one of the town's oldest residents and in his time quite a character. He'd been in the local nursing home for the past year, ever since the sudden death of his wife.
"How old was the gentleman?" Ezra asked.
"Well he had a good innings."
"That's true I guess. He went in his sleep, so it was easy for him. Still "
"You hate to lose one," Chris finished.
"Yeah, I do."
Ezra had already signalled to the bar and before he knew it, a point of cider appeared in front of Nathan.
"On the house mate," Buck assured.
"You eating lunch?"
"Well Rain's working, so we're eating tonight, so I'll just have a sandwich."
Evan as he said it Ezra's Steak and Ale pie and Chris' Toad in the Hole appeared on the table.
"Damn, that looks good."
"So have some," Chris encouraged.
"We're having beef tonight."
"So have something else, the chicken in white wine sauce is very good," Buck told him.
"You got chips?"
"Do bears shit in the woods?"
+ + + + + + +
"Nice weather for ducks," Father Josiah Sanchez commented as he shook water from his thick hair once he was inside. Then he strode over to the table where the other three were gathered.
"Good morning," he greeted.
Nathan didn't respond, so Josiah mouthed 'what's up' to Ezra.
"Apparently someone called Joss has turned in his pension book, so to speak."
"Old Joss Tracy?"
Nathan nodded glumly. "He one of yours?"
"No, Methodist I believe. We all have to meet our maker someday." With that Josiah decided he needed to change the topic. "Guess who stayed with us last night?"
Nathan looked over at the big priest. "Well, go on, who?"
"Vin, sick as a dog."
"Sick?" Nathan had switched back to doctor mode.
"Oh yes, worshipping the porcelain all night, well on and off."
"Is he okay, did you check for fever?" Nathan demanded.
"Calm down, he's okay, apparently he had some mussels last night, one didn't agree with him."
Chris looked over at Buck. "Vin eat here last night?"
"Josiah says he's been talking to God on the big white telephone all night."
"Well don't look at me mate, haven't seen him since the day before yesterday."
Josiah explained that on a late night stroll down to the harbour he'd found Vin hanging over the rail of his yacht.
"Even under the street lighting he looked like death warmed up, so I made him come home with me."
"How'd you manage that?" Chris asked, knowing how proud Vin was and how hated people fussing over him.
"Well mainly by pointing out that the forecast was for rain, so if he was going to be out on deck all night hacking up his guts he was going to be very cold and wet."
"Well the forecast was right, I'm glad he agreed to come in, he'd most likely have pneumonia by now otherwise."
Nathan snorted indignantly.
"What?" Chris asked.
"I'm not saying it would have been good for him, but it's a lot harder than you think to develop pneumonia - you don't catch it - besides Vin isn't made of glass, he's a lot tougher than he looks."
Nathan's chicken arrived and Josiah then ordered the Steak Pie. The four of them settled down to enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon. Buck had a variety of Sunday papers available to his customers, and as the customers left they seemed to find their way to the table where four members of the lifeboat crew were whiling away an afternoon. As the afternoon staff came on duty, Buck and JD joined them. Suddenly Ezra snatched the tabloid Buck was reading.
"What the Hell?" he exclaimed.
"What?" Buck demanded, trying to get his paper back.
"It can't be true!"
Buck finally got a look at the headline Ezra was looking at. "Minister resigns after the second major scandal. At the last party conference, Sir Giles Heatherington, 44, was found 'tired and emotional' at three in the morning out side the Prime Minister's hotel. Today he issued a statement, explaining he was resigning from the government because he wanted to 'spend more time with his family'. Rumours about Sir Giles and a mystery blond woman have been persistent. Sir Giles stated that she was a personal assistant and nothing more. However after she was seen leaving his London flat at four in the morning the position of the minister, who has campaigned for a return to 'Victorian Values', became untenable. Sir Giles admitted he had been economic with the truth but still refused to name the woman." Buck looked up. "What's the big deal?"
"Well look!" Ezra demanded, slapping the paper over the picture of the mystery woman.
Buck looked at the picture of the woman, she was blond, that was all you could say, since the picture was taken through a car window and she had her handbag in front of her face.
"That hair, that diamond bracelet and matching ring, I'd know them anywhere."
"You don't mean?" JD gasped.
"Thats Maude?" Buck finished.
Ezra nodded, at first he looked stunned and then his face changed until he resembled the proverbial cat that got the cream.
"What are you grinning at?" Chris asked.
"Well there is no way dearest Maude would sneak around at four in the morning unless there was serious money involved. Heatherington has a lot of City connections; my ever-predictable mother was no doubt looking for information, or a deal, or a favour. If you ask me he got off lightly, if she'd had her way he'd probably have ended up being detained at Her Majesty's pleasure for insider trading or fraud or something similar."
"And while he did his porridge, she sits on a beach counting her ill-gotten gains?" JD asked.
"Well I don't think having him arrested would have been part of the plan, but it wouldn't have bothered her either."
"It says here," Buck was still reading the paper. "That there is a rumour in Fleet Street that the journalist who got the picture was tipped of by a private detective employed by Lady Heatherington."
"Oh this just gets better and better!" Ezra was positively gleeful.
+ + + + + + +
By four o'clock the pub was almost empty, as it always was just before the evening rush started at around half past six. Vin came in clutching his waterproof around him, though the rain had stopped.
"How are you feeling?" Nathan asked.
"Better, a lot better, hungry in fact."
"What do you fancy?" Buck asked, ever the host.
"Um, well I'm not sure. Nothing heavy."
"How about scrambled egg on toast?"
"That sound perfect."
Buck stood up and stretched. "Give me a moment to let the dog out so he can spend a penny, might point Percy at the porcelain myself, then I'll rustle some up." Buck looked down at Mac. "Well come on hound, I know you need to go, you know you need to go and its stopped raining."
Mac didn't move.
"Up now!" Buck commanded.
With what could only be described as deliberate slowness Mac stood up, stretched and eventually followed Buck out.
Vin watched Buck go then looked back at the others. "Guess who I saw getting off the London bus just now?" he asked.
"Well go on, tell us?" JD prompted.
"Shelly Goodfellow, and she's got a bun in the oven," he announced.
"Pardon?" Ezra asked.
"In the pudding club, up the duff, knocked up, preg "
"I know what it means. I'm just trying to grasp the significance," Ezra cut in.
"Because she and Buck were you know? Before she went to London." JD pointed out.
"So?" Chris asked, looking from Vin to JD and back. "Guys I know Buck may be in like Flynn, with almost every woman he meets, but trust me, there are enough condoms in that room upstairs to sink a battleship. Whoever got Shelly in the family way, it wasn't Buck," he stated confidently.
"That may be true, but does Teddy know that?" Josiah asked. He didn't approve of some of Buck's lifestyle choices, but recognised that different people had different moral codes, and whatever issues as a Catholic priest he had with casual sex and contraception, he recognised that Buck was very moral, in his own way.
"Who's Teddy?" JD asked.
"Shelly's husband, he's not quite the full shilling," Josiah admitted.
"A sandwich short of a picnic," Nathan added.
"That a technical medical term?" Ezra asked the doctor.
"So you're saying this Teddy guy is a bit nutty?" JD clarified.
"As a fruit cake." Chris confirmed.
"So where is he? This head case?" Vin asked.
"Doing twelve months for ABH." Chris explained.
"So what's the problem?"
"He went down almost exactly a year ago, he could be out by now."
"He'd have been out sooner than that, surely?" Ezra, like all of them, knew few prisoners served their full sentence.
"Not Teddy, there is no way he got out on good behaviour, no way in Hell."
"But if it wasn't Buck " JD was confused.
"JD, Teddy Goodfellow is not only a certified lunatic, with shoulders the size of tallboys, he's also thick at as two short planks and twice as dense, if you ask me his brain is smaller than a weasel's wedding tackle. Buck has a reputation and for Teddy that is all it will take," Chris explained. He glanced worriedly at the kitchen door. "I'll have a word with Buck, warn him. Don't worry, Buck can take care of himself."
"Speak of the devil," Ezra commented, as Buck returned, carrying a plate of fresh scrambled egg on hot buttered toast.
"What's up?" the tall publican asked, sensing the tension in the group.
"Shelly's back and she's in an interesting condition," Nathan explained.
"Well don't all look at me, it's not mine." Buck looked down at his friends pointedly.
"We know, the point is will Teddy believe you."
"Oh hell, I can handle Teddy Goodfellow, I threw him out of here enough times before I got tired of it and banned him for life."
"Yeah I'd forgotten that," Chris admitted.
"That was so good," Vin announced as he put his folk down.
"Shit boy, what did you do, inhale it?" Buck asked, staring at the empty plate.
"Damn it's almost five, I have to get home!" Nathan declared, getting to his feet.
"It isn't is it? I'll be late for evensong." Josiah followed Nathan out.
"Best get back to the farm, I need to help Casey with the evening chores, she wants to go early tonight." He cast a look at JD. "Can't think why."
JD blushed and ducked his head. "I, I need to go take a bath." With that he hurried away.
"What about you two?" Buck asked Vin and Ezra.
"I have no plans," Ezra admitted.
"I'm still hungry," Vin admitted.
"You're always hungry."
"I'm a "
"Growing boy," the other two finished.
Buck winked at Vin. "Well, I'm going to get this place cleaned up before the evening rush. I'll see what Inez has going spare."
A thought struck Ezra. "Now I know why I never wanted to work in the hospitality industry, you never stop having to be hospitable."
"It's like painting the Forth Bridge alright, but I love it." With that Buck picked up all their empty glasses and headed for the bar, whistling as he went.