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Sheryl's Last Stand By Kerrie Noor Characters: 10185

Updated: 2018-02-07 12:01


Dedication

I dedicate Sheryl's story to

Kirsteen and Douglas two great and supportive kids;

Who have been such a blessing to me.

Thank You

Ivor – mentor and pal who helped me stand on my own two feet.

The Lochgilphead Writers group – for all your encouragement, support and for laughing in the write places.

Duncan Berndt – who not only started the writers group but always believed, encouraged, and looked at my work even the really early drafts.

And

For my delicious cover :- libzyyy from 99designs.co.uk

Just a thought

When one door closes another opens, so the saying goes.

When one door closes another slams in your face, so the joke goes.

For Sheryl, however 'that door' was always for someone else.

Until she met Nefertiti

CHAPTER ONE

Sheryl watched the droopy lids of his eyes fill with water, and pulled out a tissue.

'You've have got some arse on you!' he said, dismissing the tissue. 'You are like a ewe at tupping time.' He moved behind her and pressed his fingers into the small of her back. 'There's plenty of meat on you girl.'

Mr. Rugby was the only person who called her 'girl', and he was the only man whose fingers came near her body. She watched as he fumbled his way into the cupboard beneath the stairs and pulled out a bottle of Aberfeldy.

'Your mother has always been a little on the bony side for me, ' he muttered into the dark. 'I like someone with a bit of meat on them, something to grab hold of. The problem with your mother, ' he continued, 'is she lives on her nerves. It makes her lean and mean.'

'My mother eats like a horse, ' said Sheryl.

Mr. Rugby had one final fumble with the bottle before he stumbled over to Sheryl and handed it to her. She eased it open and placed it on the kitchen table.

'And she don't know a good thing when she sees it, ' he continued, pouring out the whisky.

Sheryl motioned for him to stop, but he carried on until the glass was full.

'Take that George feller. If you ask me, she isn't going to get any better offers, not in a wheelchair and certainly not the way she drives it.' Sheryl said nothing. She looked at her full glass and tried to remember if it was her third or fourth.

'Now, what you need is something smooth, ' he said, staggering off to the stairs again.

Sheryl threw a shovel of coal on the fire, careful not to look in the direction of the mirror above it. It was the sort of mirror best avoided in daylight, and for the past two hours, she had managed it.

Mr. Rugby pulled out a bottle of Royal Brackla. 'The Marilyn Monroe of malts, ' he whispered, and dusted it with his sleeve. 'Full bodied, curvaceous and well endowed, ' he read off the label, then looked at Sheryl. 'Whatever happened to peaty?'

****

Later on that night, she sat in front of another mirror behind the bar of the Argyll Hotel. Shifty the barman was playing, 'Islands in the Stream'; and Sheryl was working up to a sway.

'Dolly Parton really hits the spot, don't she?' Shifty said with a toothless grin.

Sheryl smiled and continued to sway until she heard Martin's voice.

'Sheryl! Thought it was you, I could hear you from the car park!'

She looked up to see Martin's reflection in the mirror and standing beside him was the reflection of Imogene. Sheryl smiled a lopsided smile then turned to face her ex.

'Sheryl THIS is Imogene, ' said Martin. 'Imogene, Sheryl.'

Sheryl stared at Imogene; she had a body that defied gravity and a face that hadn't cracked a smile since Christmas. Sheryl took a long draw from her cigarette and stubbed it out. Dolly Parton had finished and so had her good mood. She watched Martin place his hand on Imogene's stomach and smile a smile she had never seen before.

'I'm going to be a dad, ' he said.

****

Sheryl woke up five minutes before the alarm, with the sort of hangover that makes sleep impossible and any lying position worse than the last.

Ten past seven flashed on her clock.

'Sheryl!' boomed Beatrice. 'It's gone seven.'

'I know.'

'What?'

Sheryl rubbed her temples. 'I said I know.'

'I can't hear you, ' Beatrice continued, adding a small cough.

Sheryl spied a glass half full of flat beer. She gulped it down; hoping it, along with the rest of what was in her stomach would stay still. Sam, the cat of unknown origin, sauntered up the bed.

'Sheryl, you awake?'

Sheryl looked at the ceiling, wondering where else she could be at seven o'clock in the morning.

'SHERYL?'

Small snapshots from last night flitted into her mind and she groaned. She let out a huge belch, attempted a stretch and then gave up as her head began to spin.

Beatrice eased herself upright and began hunting around for the television remote.

'Sheryl, any chance of a cuppa soon?'

Sheryl rolled onto her back and groaned.

Beatrice flicked on the television with the remote and rewound last night's wrestling tape.

Sheryl eased herself onto the side of the bed, pulled on her tracksuit and then made her way towards the kitchen, the only warm room in the house.

Sam sprang off the bed and began charging in and out of her legs like a ferret on speed, as Sheryl expertly walked around it.

She flipped the kettle on, put bread in the toaster and then sat down with her back against the wall, waiting for her stomach to catch up with the morning's movement. Nothing mattered, she thought. Nothing but keeping the contents of her stomach down and finding some cat food that didn't stink of fish.

Beatrice watched the wrestling. Two huge men, dressed in colours only a large muscular man could get away with, circled the ring. They wore Lycra so tight that the only one (in the audience) who couldn't see what was underneath was a short-sighted woman in the back row, half asleep.

Beatrice was almost in heaven, if only she had her tea.

Sheryl shuffled into the bedroom. 'God, that's loud!'

One of the wrestlers grabbed a chair from the commentator's table and belted it across the back of his opponent. The chair hit the wrestler's back and he fell on to his stomach with his limbs stretched out like a starfish. The standing wrestler looked around for applause. When none came, he then yelled some abuse at the audience.

'Good night last night?' said Beatrice, noting her daughter's pasty complexion

Sheryl wondered if a cup of tea would be tempting fate. She forced a smile.

'It's about time you went out, ' said Beatrice. 'You've been moping around far too long.' She tapped her daughter's knee, trying to appear positive; not easy with a face as comfortable with disappointment as Beatrice's.

'It was Rugby's birthday, ' Sheryl ventured. 'And he was looking for company!'

'Ah, the malt whisky, ' smirked Beatrice, picking up a piece of toast. She could just picture the bottles lined up in the larder, and Mr. Rugby's shaky hand pulling down one at a time, tenderly wiping the dust from the labels as he read each one out. 'I remember his 65th birthday, ' said Beatrice. 'We almost made it to the Knockando. So you seduced poor ole Rugby into a session, did you? How far did you get? I bet half of them didn't even taste any different!'

'I seem to remember a particularly pleasant Laphroaig, ' said Sheryl. 'I even helped him to bed. No, my mistake was to carry on to the pub. That's where things get blurred.'

'I gather you met HIM then?'

'And how did you 'gather' that?'

'You staggered in moaning that song that you constantly played after the split.'

'Shifty's song, ' muttered Sheryl.

Beatrice swallowed her toast.

'I thought we had a chance. I thought the split was temporary, then I met....' She jumped up from the seat and raced to the toilet.

'That's right, Sheryl, better out than in, ' said Beatrice as she turned up the wrestling tape to drown out the sound of retching.

CHAPTER TWO

Sheryl sat in 'The Stables Café' thinking about brandy, raw eggs and other morning-after cures, idly wondering what sort of sick person came up with the idea when she noticed Lindsey, her younger sister, standing by the front door with an "I've got something to tell you, which you are going to hate" look on her face.

'Sheryl's feeling delicate, ' yelled Beatrice, with a sympathetic face.

'Oh, ' said Lindsey, with the blank look of someone who had never experienced a hangover before. Lindsey was the sort of younger sister no one would want; she had the same metabolism as Beatrice, a rich amiable husband and an easygoing son. Her main problem in life was what to wear to golf, and how to keep her cleaner from leaving. She ordered a hot chocolate with cream and the 'gooiest' cake available, and then looked at her sister. 'So, what you been up to now, then?'

'Feeling a bit rough.'

'Sheryl, I can't remember a morning when you haven't felt rough.'

'Or needed a good puke, ' added Beatrice.

'You've had more hangovers than Mum's had carers, ' said Lindsey, ignoring Beatrice's sour look.

'Ain't nothin worse than a hangover when your life's crap, ' said a waitress, appearing from nowhere. She plonked a hot chocolate down.

'Crap?' said Sheryl, looking at the waitress, who looked like she had nursed a few herself.

'When you've got nothing better to do than get pissed.'

Sheryl eyed the waitress, still young enough to "pull" even in a slightly soiled apron. 'I did not get p...'

'Hanging around ole Rugby again?' asked Lindsey.

'I don't hang around....'

'When there is no one but your mum to commiserate with.'

'Cheers, Mum.'

'When the only way to treat yourself, ' said Beatrice 'is to get pissed with some old git down the road.'

'I did NOT get pissed ....'

'Mr. Rugby did, by all accounts, ' said the waitress, scratching herself. 'Frances was just in; she said he was still in bed - stinking of whisky.'

'What's he playing at, a man his age?' said Edna from the next table. Edna spent every morning in the café with Mavis, and they had both known Rugby all their lives.

'He didn't even want his porridge, ' continued the waitress, acknowledging the two women. They nodded in unison.

'What did you do to him?' laughed Lindsey.

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