This is a funny story by one of the members of the Torrevieja Writers Circle group. We meet weekly on the Costa Blanca in Spain to share our work with each other and give and get feedback. There are many talented writers in this group. This is one of Jenny’s stories.
By Jennifer Kearney
The group climbed down from the coach assisted by the driver and assembled outside the art gallery. Martin, the leader, did a quick headcount and inspection. “Hilda, stop sniffing, and Margery, stop pulling your knickers up,” he said. “I think the elastic’s gone,” replied Margery, giving her underpants another yank from beneath her skirt. “Leave them alone,” commanded Martin.
He then looked at George, who was trembling and perspiring heavily. He moved towards Martin and straightened his tie, while putting a reassuring arm around his shoulder. “Now you come in first,” Martin told George. “You are the star of the evening.”
“It looks a bit posh,” George said. “I’m very nervous.”
“You will be fine,” said Martin. “Come on. Follow me.”
“Can I go in first? I’m not nervous,” said Bert, trying to push his way to the front. “No! Get back, Bert. It’s George’s painting that’s won the competition. Now calm down and be quiet. In fact, none of you better say anything, do you hear?”
Martin realized that he probably made a big mistake in bringing this motley crew from the care home. Instead, he should have brought George on his own but he’d thought that a bit of an outing for them and some moral support for George would be a good thing. Oh well, they could usually behave for a short while if he told them to. And hopefully it wouldn’t take too long, Martin thought. They would stand with George until he’d been presented with his prize and then they could all make a speedy exit before any major incident occurred.
The group followed Martin and George into the lobby, gratefully accepting glasses of sparkling wine at the door from a very tall, thin, bouffanted lady in a long skirt and sparkly top. Hilda clumsily curtsied and said, “Thank you, Mam.”
The room was crowded with people, all surveying the works of art, sipping their wine and making appropriate oohing and aahing noises at each one. An elegant chandelier hung from the ceiling and decorative, brass-encased wall lights illuminated the runner-up entries adorning the gallery walls. On a raised platform at the end of the room stood an elaborate easel, displaying George’s Country Garden in Springtime with a placard in front saying, “First prize winner, Mr. George Stokes.”
Martin introduced George to a stout balding chap in a tweed jacket called Mike Belshaw. Mike was frantically testing an unyielding microphone next to the platform. They shook hands. The rest of the care home group hung back with heads lowered. Suddenly, Mike’s mike sprung into action and deafened the crowd with “1,2,3, testing.”
The people made their way towards the platform. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Mike began in a much-lowered tone. He went on at length to thank everyone for coming, for their support and dedication, etc., etc.. He then stressed what a difficult task it had been for the judges to select a winner due to the incredibly high standard of entries. But he said they have finally chosen the winning painting due to its sheer technique and originality. “I therefore would like to present a cheque for 100 pounds to Mr. George Stokes.”
Martin pushed George towards the platform as the crowd applauded. Mike and George then posed, smiling, and holding the envelope with the money while a photographer from the local paper snapped some photos.
As Martin sighed with relief that the event had all gone smoothly and they could now make a hasty exit, he froze as a voice beside him shouted, “George, look.” “Quiet, Bert,” Martin shouted. “George, look at your painting,” yelled Bert. “You missed number 34 and you’re supposed to paint over all the numbers!”