Chapter 4

Phillip and Rutger sat at the bar. Rutger rocked his whiskey glass back at forth. The click of the ice cubes against the glass was therapeutic and helped to ease his pain. But not by much. Having, smoothed things over with the dancer, persuaded Jessica not to phone the police and become the laughing stock of Bluebell, he desperately needed a liquid anti-depressant. Eve, the barmaid hired specifically for the occasion, held a bag of ice cubes to Phillip's black eye.

"I heard that was some mean right hook Jessica threw at the stripper." She said sympathetically "Pity your cute face got in the way, Phil."

Phillip placed his hand over the ice bag and Eve pulled out an empty glass.

"Another drink honey?"

"Yes please."

There's something to be said about a good barmaid. Sure, nowadays, a lot of them are basically cardboard cut-outs who only ever say "Oh, I don't know!" whenever you ask them a question, but thankfully, there are still some barmaids who remind you of what you love about going to the pub in the first place: good conversation and a sympathetic ear. A good barmaid can heal a broken heart, or at least cure a bad mood by just listening. It also helps if they happen to be a real stunner like Eve.

"I tell you," Rutger said "I have never been so humiliated. Ina's cackling is going to haunt my dreams for the rest of my life."

"Aw, it could have been worse." Said Eve "Now if you weren't wearing your underpants…."

"Please, my dear, that doesn't bare thinking about."

Ina came into the bar, holding a finely chiselled cow statue.

"I just wanted to thank you both for a great evening." She grinned.

Phillip looked at the statue.

"Did you win that in the raffle?"

"Yes, that's right. I think Rose handled the raffle very well considering that you two had to leave to get your wounds seen too."

She held up the statue and admired it.

"That was a bit of good luck, winning this. Every time I look at it, I'll fondly remember this evening!"

She started sniggering again. Rutger buried his face in his hands. Ina turned to Phillip.

"Though I am sorry that you were injured, Phillip. If your face is still sore in the morning, come over to Konohana and we can have the doctor take a look at it. You'll feel better after a bit of acupuncture"

Phillip raised his glass to her and nodded. He didn't like the idea of needles stuck in his face, but he had to admit it was a generous offer.

"Thanks, I might do that. You have a good night."

Ina nodded back then headed to check into the inn for the night.

"I shall never live it down." Rutger sighed. "I may even have to resign from office. But where could I go afterwards?"

"You could always come and help on my farm." Phillip offered.

Nathan, the local priest came into the bar, his face as white as his robes.

Just looking at him, the two men felt a sense of impending doom. That he was going to condemn the two of them to the fiery depths of hell for sins of the flesh. But he wasn't angry. He just looked a bit shaken.

"Well, um…all things considered, I would like to thank you, your honour."

"Thank me?"

"Yes. Rose was telling me that this dinner party raised enough money to repair the roof. Everyone else loved that little pantomime you had between the courses!"

"Pantomime? They thought all that chaos was staged?"

"It wasn't? Hum. Mayor Ina was laughing so hard and she was at the same table as the two of you, so we all thought it was just an act. Grady from the stables was saying that if you weren't doing such a good job as Mayor, you might have a career as a comedian."

After a bit more conversation, Rutger tipped his hat at the priest and Nathan went on his way.

"Well!" said Rutger "Looks like we do get a happy ending after all."

"Yeah." said Phillip "We should celebrate with another round of drinks!"

"A moment ago we were drinking to drown our sorrows and now we're drinking to celebrate?"

"Why not? Booze is perfect for just about anything!"

"Rightly so! Eve! Two pints of your best ale, please!"

The end