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   Chapter 5 No.5

Sheryl's Last Stand By Kerrie Noor Characters: 5236

Updated: 2018-02-07 12:01

George parked his red Merc by the library ramp and jumped out. He walked around to the back, pulled the wheelchair out of the boot, unfolded it and then wheeled it around to Beatrice's side of the car.

Beatrice glared at George. 'Why do you insist on driving me about?'

George opened the door.

'I mean, I'm not a bad driver, there are only a few dents on the car.'

George motioned Beatrice to slide onto the chair.

Beatrice inched her small bum into the chair, then switched on the controls. George moved behind to push. Beatrice, however, dismissed him with a wave and jolted the chair into first gear. The chair, not sufficiently warmed up, jolted, spluttered, then moved forward. Beatrice rammed it into second gear, then third, by the time the chair had hit the library door, it was in fourth gear and she had made her familiar crash entrance.

'Hi Beatrice, ' said Steven, not even looking up from the reception desk.

Beatrice grunted and continued on to the staff room. There were three people in the library that morning, and not one looked up. Not one was surprised as she crashed by in her wheelchair, and all three expertly moved their feet out the way, like they had done a million times before.

'Coffee, Steven? That's if this old crock can manage a hot kettle.' Beatrice paused and looked at the familiar faces now watching her, then crashed her chair through the staff room door and put the kettle on. 'Two years ago, I was a vegetable, ' she muttered. 'Couldn't even wipe my own arse.' She looked at the empty coffee jar. 'TEA, STEVEN? They had me for dead; tell me I can't drive.' Beatrice crashed two cups onto the bench.

It had been two years since Beatrice had had her stroke, and she was proud of what she had achieved, she even had her old job back in the library.

'MINT OR NORMAL?' yelled Beatrice.

Steven muttered something about mint.

Beatrice crashed through the staff room doors with a cup balancing on each arm of the chair. Steven watched the liquid move with the motion of the chair, almost but not quite spilling. 'Or whatever you got, ' he said.

Beatrice wheeled herself behind the desk as Steven gingerly lifted the cups from the arms of the chair. She took up her usual place behind the desk, and surveyed the library like a captain at the helm. She liked to think she ran a tight ship and that poor old Steven would be lost without her. She berated the young mothers for making too much noise, and did her best to scare off any children she considered "badly behaved". She dealt with pensioners with an extra loud, "Are you stupid as well as deaf

?" voice, and snapped at any students who dared to ask for an unavailable book. And as for those who brought in a late return; they never did it twice.

Steven, who had been working in the library for a year, had still not convinced Beatrice that it was he, and not her, who was the trained librarian and had the final say. He spent his time placating customers not used to Beatrice's gruff ways, and soothing young mothers whose children refused to go near the "Crabbit old lady in the wheelchair".

He also read "How to write a novel" manuals. He was secretly working on a murder-cum-western story, loosely based around a gun slinging redhead, just like Sheryl. He pictured his heroine standing behind some bar, wrapped in taffeta and lace, with a tiny pistol strapped to her thigh. Sheryl had no idea. She just assumed he looked at all women in a peculiar way.


Sheryl stood in the middle of the Community Centre badminton room, practising her hips circles, the motion felt good, she closed her eyes and moved to the drums.

'Good, Sheryl, ' said Nefertiti. 'You should think about gettin' a costume. Come see me later, I know what works for big ladies.'

Sheryl opened her eyes and looked around the room; there were ten big round bums covered in brightly-coloured coin belts just like hers, and not one of them looked out of place.


Beatrice pulled out four DIY books from the shelf, hid them underneath the desk in the reception, and then began to write a list. Frances walked in and placed a 'Beat the Pros at Poker' book on the returns desk. Beatrice looked at it and sniffed. Frances picked up the list and read it.

1. Unblock drain outside kitchen.

2. Replace rowan outside your window.

3. Replace slates next chimney.

If wet -:

Fix washing machine AGAIN.

Change lock on my bedroom window; they don't match.

'This is for Sheryl?' asked Frances.

'Uh-huh, ' said Beatrice, busy with returns.

'Do you not think she needs pampering?'

'Hard work is what she needs.'

'She's been working for months at your place, and she still looks as miserable as the day Martin dumped her.'

Beatrice threw her a look; she liked to think she knew what was best for her daughter; plenty of hard work and, of course, Mr. Rugby.

Beatrice had a theory, which she would tell to anyone who stood still long enough. 'What a dumped woman needs is the chance to turn down the advances of another man, ' she would say, and Mr. Rugby was nothing if not persistent. The fact that he had just had his eightieth birthday and had a hygiene problem meant little to Beatrice.

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