‘She can’t do this to us’ said John, slamming his palm down on to the rocky table. Peter clumsily grabbed his glass and the near empty whiskey bottle.
‘Brother, she can and she did.’ Paul said, not taking his eyes from the voluptuous barmaid. She had ignored his flirtatious attempt at charm all night. ‘It’s only a matter of time’ he thought confidently.
‘Y-you you c-can s-s-s-say that Paul b-but you’ll get on with your l-looks. Y-you always do!’ Peter gasped. He looked to the window behind John’s back, it was dark outside the inn and little candle reflected his round, pock marked face. His purple bulbous nose pointed at him in anger.
The three brothers had always drunk in the finer establishments of the town but now their mother had disowned them, she had also cut their ties to the family estate. They could no longer rely on her paying their tabs.
‘You’re all so useless!’ she had screamed. Their mother had then told the workers on her farm to hoist the boys off her estate, if they did not leave willingly. Peter had cried. Paul had moved very quickly so as not to get into a scuffle and damage his good looks. John had still been attempting to convince his mother that the gambling debt had all been a misunderstanding. He persevered whilst being manhandled and stated that his new business venture was sure to sort everything out, so long as he had her backing. He had mumbled about how business wasn’t as easy for him as his good friend Timothy. Timothy had been trading goods from India since he left university. His mumbles were even less dignified due to the towering game keeper holding him up by the scruff of his jacket and collar.
‘I’m sorry to be doin’ this sir. If you can’t find anywhere to stay, go to the clinkers Inn and tell them I sent you.’
‘It’s quite alright Geoffrey.’ John looked up amicably, ‘Sometimes I wish I was you, what a simple life you lead, eh?’ John said, his feet barely touching the floor as he was handled through the main gates to the estate, ‘any chance you could lend me some money till mother calms down?’
Geoffrey’s eyebrow rose, ‘I’m to shoot you if you return so be mindful of that, it would lay heavily on my soul if it were to come to that’ he said smiling once his back was turned on the three sullen boys. Boys he thought, they’re all in their bloody thirties!
John grabbed his glass of whiskey, ‘Why couldn’t I have been born into the Peterson’s family? Timothy has the luck of his father still running the estate and wouldn’t be subjected to the emotional ruling of a woman!’
‘Perhaps we should have her sectioned,’ Paul suggested as he called the barmaid over to fill his glass.
The barmaid filled each of their glasses and said, ‘That’s the last of you credit Sirs’ she moved sideways avoiding the pretty boys creeping arm without so much as glancing his way.
Peter was unaware of the intense stares of Paul and John as he crammed the third meat pie of the evening into his already over filled mouth. He looked up wondering why all had gone silent, crumbs clinging to his hamster like cheeks. ‘Wha-?’ he managed with only a few crumbs of pie escaping his still full mouth. Paul and Barmaid grimaced alike.
‘Well, give the girl some money,’ John demanded attempting a winning smile at the barmaid but giving up half way, remembering his brother’s higher chances of winning her affection. He quickly channelled his envy at Peter, ‘We both know you’ve got more saved than us.’
Peter wiped his greasy hands in his creased tweed blazer. He stood, digging his large soft hand into his corduroy trousers, his belly nearly tipping the table. Crumpled notes fell over his hand to be quickly swept up by John.
‘W-we only ha-ave enough f-f-for the board n’ lodge.’ He stammered, placing the money back in his pocket quickly.
‘I’m not staying here!’ Paul said crossing his arms. He looked up at the girl for confirmation it was a dump then turned to his drink. He quickly looked back to the girl realising his potential insult. ‘No offence of course.’
‘You’ll need to move on after you’ve drunk these beers and don’t let them last all night.’ she said.
Paul looked over his whiskey glass which paused at his lips. ‘So that’s what a rebuff feels like then Peter.’ he laughed, offloading his embarrassment to his brother.
‘We can’t let this go on any longer.’ John stated, downing Peters pint then raising his own, ‘we shall go back and sort this out!’
‘How?’ Paul asked, grabbing Peter’s whiskey shot. Peter looked from one brother to the other in quiet protest.
‘She just needs a good talking to.’ John hiccupped, leaving the Inn.
This should be fun, com on Peter.’ Paul said, he waved to the barmaid, who to his mind, could not have seen. He took his jiacket from his chair and headed out the door whilst putting it on.
Peter looked at his empty piny and whiskey glasses and sighed. ‘This is going to end in disaster,’ He said. Peter threw a note down for the barmaid and whistled, pointing down at the money. He finished by shouting, ‘Cheers Love.’
She stopped pouring ale into another customer’s glass and stared at him, eyebrows knitted as he left.
By the time the three boys had walked from the town, out to their mother’s estate, they were cold and wet from the knees down.
‘I say John, this was a stupid idea,’ Paul complained.
‘Was it not you who protested about staying at that god awful inn?’ John retorted.
‘She-she’s not going t-t-t-to be ha-happy,’ Peter said, half stuttering and half shivering.
‘Nonsense’ Said Jon, ‘She’s been waiting for us to take a stand, been hoping we would be proper men!’ John waved a fist as he stepped over the fence that took them off the main road, onto the field that led to the family home.
‘So why are we going through the kitchen up to her room then?’ Paul whispered as they stooped low to the floor and scurried to the back door. The lights were all off but over the horizon, a pink hue edged the top of the hills and trees.
The boys tiptoed up the broad stairs that centred the wide entrance way and headed up to their mothers door. Paul stood to the left of her door and John to the right. Peter stood in the middle of the middle of the landing staring intermittently from one brother to the other.
‘You go first’ John whispered to Peter, leaning back against the wall to hide his body, should the door open. Peter’s eyes widened, his mouth made the smallest circle, he started to wring his hands and shake his head.
‘This is a hold up,’ Said a muffled male voice from in the room. This’ll go easier if you just do as I say.’
Paul looked at John, fright showed as he backed away from the door. John grabbed him before he could scarper.
‘Please sir I don’t know what you mean. I’m just a poor woman.’ They heard their mother plea.
‘So you think you can fool me do you? Sure enough I can see your jewels right here,’ the male said sternly.
‘Mummy!’ Peter shouted as he barged between John and Paul to smash through the bedroom door and rescue his mother from her assailant.
The boys all fell through the door in an almighty bang. This happened as the man in nothing but Cowboy boots, underwear and a Stetson dropped his gun in surrender. The last image etched onto their now blind eyes would be to see the game keeper roleplaying with their mother, who had been smiling and wearing a corset.
She screamed at them to get out, grabbing the ornamental sword from its scabbard at the gamekeeper’s hip and beating the boys with the flat of its blade. They cried and tripped over each other as they tumbled down the stairs.
‘How could you Geoffrey?!’ John wailed.
‘That’s father’s sword, God rest his should’ wailed Paul.
‘Why were you using a loaded weapon Dad!?’ Peter Shouted. The older boys stopped, holding each other as they heard Peter’s perfect speech and shocking words.