Branscombe Hall: Part Fifteen

This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 740 words.
My thanks to Sue Judd for the use of her photo.

Nobody had ever hit me before. My parents didn’t believe in slapping or hitting, and I had no siblings to worry about. I managed to survive junior school and Grammar School without ever being in anything resembling a fight, so the hard slap across my face left me reeling. It wasn’t so much the physical pain, more the incredible shock that I had been hit, and by the man who was supposed to love me.

Perhaps my shock sobered Gregg up. He was immediately contrite, and full of apologies. I remember he cried, telling me he had no idea why he had lashed out. But it was too much for me that night. Ignoring his protests, I packed an overnight bag and left the cottage. Not about to tell my father what had happened, I drove to Norma’s and threw myself on her mercy, making her swear to never tell anyone what had happened. I went to bed in her spare room, but hardly slept a wink.

The next day, I didn’t go to the Hall, as I had to complete some paperwork regarding the silver sale. So I turned up at the auction house late, hoping to avoid Gregg who would have already left on his collections. But his car wasn’t in the staff car park, and when I went into dad’s office he was white-faced. “Close the door and sit down please, Alicia”. I was immediately worried, that wasn’t like my dad at all.

“You have to know that I have sacked Gregg this morning. I don’t appreciate having to find out from staff that he punched Lord Branscombe yesterday. And before you say anything, I really don’t care what Branscombe said to him, I have heard all that from Gregg, and I don’t care. Not only could he have lost us the biggest contract we have ever had, he brought our whole business into disrepute. I appreciate it is going to make life difficult for you, and that you are a full partner, but I am not going to change my mind”.

Although I blabbed on a bit about Gregg being provoked and belittled, I could see dad was resolute.

“My decision is that I will pay for young Adrian to learn to drive, and he can take over the new van for collections. It will be easy enough to get a young and strong school-leaver to work with him, and I know that Adrian would never hit anyone, whatever they said to him. You might want to take the day off and go home. Sort things out with your husband, and see what you can salvage from this mess”.

At least he never said I told you so.

Gregg wasn’t at home when I got there, and there was no sign of his car. At seven that night I received a call from the police in Gloucester. They asked me to come and collect my husband from the main police station. He had been arrested for drink-drive, and was obviously not allowed to drive his car home. I was fuming, and told them to tell him to get a taxi, and I would pay for it when he got home. So now Gregg would get a driving ban, a minimum of twelve months. I would probably have to sell his car, and he was going to be trapped in the cottage with no public transport.

Could things get any worse?

As it turned out, they could.

Suitably shame-faced, Gregg arrived home a little after eight. He mumbled a slurred apology and went straight to bed.

The next morning I left him with his hangover and went straight to the Hall. I wanted to start some serious work on the oriental ceramics, and had my camera with me to photograph them. The housekeeper told me that Julian Branscombe had left late the previous evening, telling her he was going back to his London flat. I was so relieved that he wouldn’t be around to gloat about Gregg once he found out about the drink-drive arrest.

Busy with the cataloguing, I hadn’t heard the phone ring in the main house. Then the housekeeper walked into the room, looking shaken.

“It’s master Julian, Mrs White. He was killed in a car crash last night on the A4 near Slough. I don’t know what to do now”.

33 thoughts on “Branscombe Hall: Part Fifteen

  1. (1) “The hard slap across my face left me reeling.” Never hook a vengeful fish.
    (2) Bad citation: “I drove to Norma’s and threw myself on her Mercy. I don’t know why she gave her daughter Mercedes that nickname, but I crushed the poor girl.”
    (3) “Close the door and sit down please, Alicia.” That wasn’t like Alicia’s dad at all. Normally, he would have said, “Shut the damn door, Alicia! And drop that sorry ass of yours in this here hot seat!”
    (4) Between Julian and Alicia, Gregg has been a bit punchy of late. But with Alicia, it’s actually punch-drunk love.
    (5) At least Alicia’s dad never said, “I told you so!” Instead, he said, “You see? I warned you!” and “Now you know! You should have listened to me!”
    (6) Could things get any worse? Yes, the Army of the Dead just released the Kraken, and they’re all heading to Branscombe Hall…
    (7) Gregg was arrested for drunken driving, and Julian was killed in a car crash. Just wait till Adrian gets his driver’s license! He’s going to stay sober, and drive more cautiously than a little old lady from Pasadena!

    Liked by 1 person

All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.