Angels, Lovers and Songbirds – Chapter 32 – Rescue Mission
The next morning he left Katie sitting on her throne in the kitchen while he took a walk down to Stephenson’s to pick up some bread and milk and as he walked down the road he saw Elise Riley walking the opposite way carrying a bag of shopping and they engaged in conversation.
Jack was in a hurry as he didn’t really want to leave Katie on her own for any longer than necessary but Elise did like to chat.
But she obviously picked up on his anxiety as after a few minutes of chatting she suggested she could go and sit with the Vicar while he did the shopping.
He gave her a hug and a kiss and told her that the front door was on the latch.
He rushed around the shop and quickly picked up the essentials they had run out of and returned home and relieved Elise and the rest of the day passed off without incident as did Wednesday and Thursday, apart from a visit from Sarah Peters who called in to apologize for turning up with Elise without an appointment.
“That’s ok” he said
“Without rules there would be anarchy Jack” she said contritely
“And I broke my own rules”
“You’re being too harsh on yourself” Jack said but he suggested to her that perhaps visitors should be spread out across the day so Katie could rest between visits and Sarah took the suggestion on board.
Jack was seeing Kayleigh everyday but only for an hour or two across the day as life with Katie had seemed to settle into its own pattern and Friday was no exception until lunchtime at least when he found him back at the shop where he found Reverend Massey in a blue funk pacing up and down and muttering to himself.
“Hello Reverend, is everything ok?” Jack asked
“No Jack” he said “Everything is not ok”
“I have a minibus full of pensioner stranded in Mornington and no one to drive them back” he said
“Why? What happened to the driver?”
“He’s drunk” Reverend Massey replied
“I wish I was” he retorted and then proceeded to explain what had happened.
St Lucy’s had organized an outing for the pensioners of the Parish which consisted of a tour around the Finchbottom Vale, lunch in Mornington, and afternoon tea in Shallowfield beside Teardrop Lake before returning to Turnoak.
All was going well while visiting Mornington village, the church, the Manor and the famous Mornington Mills but while they were wandering around the village the driver sat in the Old Mill Inn and got plastered.
Everyone he had asked either didn’t have the confidence or the D1 entitlement to drive the bus.
Drivers who passed their car driving test, which was officially referred to as category B entitlement, before 1 January 1997 were automatically given D1 entitlement on their license to drive a minibus, assuming there was no payment involved from or on behalf of the passengers.
Jack did have D1 entitlement on his license and heard himself volunteering to drive the minibus for him, provided he could find someone to look after Katie while he did so.
So after lunch on Friday Jack left Katie in good spirits with Tania Carter-Thinn, who taught at St Lucy’s school, to keep her company while Kayleigh drove him to Mornington to collect the minibus and its occupants.
“What is the collective noun for a busload of pensioners?” Jack asked as they left the village.
It was nice to get out of the village and spent some time with Kayleigh, just the two of them even if it was only for a short time.
Kayleigh enjoyed it too and was in a very jovial mood.
On the way across the Vale it started to rain, and within five minutes the sky had grown really dark and thunder cracked in the distance.
Then the rain fell ever harder until the wipers could barely cope, as luck would have it they were just approaching a lay-by so very wisely Kayleigh turned into the lay-by to wait for the rain to abate.
“Well this is cosy I wonder what we could do to pass the time” she said and started nibbling his earlobe as the thunderstorm took hold.
“I didn’t think that was the reason we stopped here,” he said weekly
“It wasn’t, but when opportunity knocks”
“Fair enough” he conceded and kissed her as thunder boomed so loud above them that it shook the car.
When the thunder moved away and the rain had gone from deluge to persistent they reluctantly returned their thoughts to the reason they were on the rain soaked Vale in the first place.
On arriving in Mornington they found the minibus parked in the pub carpark and that its passengers had taken refuge inside the Old Mill Inn and a drink or two had been taken, Jack also learned that the driver had been taken into custody by Sgt Jones who was the local police presence.
Sgt Jones had also taken the minibus keys into custody and Jack had to walk over to the police house to retrieve them once he had proved he was in a fit state and was qualified to do so.
He was not an unreasonable man and actually saw the funny side but Jack gave him some complimentary tickets to the Waterside Club by way of an apology for the disruption to Village life.
And Sgt Jones suggested he get his charges on board quickly before he had some drunk and disorderly’s to deal with.
The two men were laughing and joking as they walked the short distance to the pub.
“Good luck” Sgt Jones said as Kayleigh marshalled the inebriated pensioners towards the minibus.
Once they had the drunken pensioners on board the bus Kayleigh got into her car and she was laughing as she drove away.
The journey back to Turnoak was very noisy and the passengers were boisterous and his ears were ringing by the time he returned to the village.
He parked the minibus in the church carpark and got out and went around to the passenger side and helped the inebriated passengers step down one by one.
“Thank you Jack” Mrs. Clark slurred as she stumbled down the step just as Reverend Massey emerged through the door at the top of the church steps.
“Oh dear me” he said as he looked at the walking wounded as they staggered towards their homes.
“Here you are Vicar” he said and handed him the keys
“I can’t thank you enough Jack” he said “and I don’t know what to say about their behaviour”
“Don’t be silly, it’s not your fault, and they were actually very amusing” Jack said “And they know some very unchristian songs”
When he got back to the cottage Katie was sat in the kitchen with Tania Carter-Thinn, who stood up and excused herself within minutes of his return.
As the front door closed Katie let out long sigh.
“Thank you God” she said looking to the heavens,
“Katie” he rebuked her
“I don’t mean it” she said, “Tania is a lovely person but a little too pious”
In the evening Kayleigh called in on her way to the hospital, it was only to be a short visit, but once she and Jack started to tell the tale of their afternoon adventure they made Katie laugh until she cried and time got away from her so she was late leaving and they didn’t see her again until Saturday.
Later that night as he sat in the uncomfortable chair next to Katie’s bed she said
“You’re a very kind man Jack”
“What’s brought this on?” he asked
“Well letting me stay here, in your house, in your bed, looking after me” she elaborated “and today driving the minibus to help Paul”
“We all have to do what we can as we go along the road” he said “that’s all”