If it’s Friday, it must be Macaroni Cheese

IF IT’S FRIDAY IT MUST BE MACARONI CHEESE.

Ted tramped the furrows disconsolately. How many times had he covered this patch of field in the past few years? Today was particularly hard-going. Each lift of his boot brought with it a weighty clod of soggy rust-coloured Devon clay. He’d have to do a good cleaning job on his wellies before putting them back in the car or Mags would have something to say about it. His mood sunk even deeper.

Why hadn’t he gone to Widdon Down instead? Much higher ground. It still wrankled how Jimbo had found a couple of Roman coins here just last week. All the hours Ted had tramped this field and it was Jimbo who’d come up trumps.

The skies had opened shortly after he’d set up. A couple of hours later and his battered, sweat-stained hat was acting as a conduit. Settling on the upturned rim, the rainwater periodically, and when it would ensure the most devastating effect, flowed down whichever channel was most successful in soaking any gap between the waxed jacket and his neck. A shake of his head sent droplets splattering onto the muddy field. His ears were chilled beneath the headphones. Ted tried to ignore the ache in his arthritic wrist, increasing with each side-to-side manipulation of the metal detector.

Random thoughts occupied his mind as he systematically trudged back and forth across the field. Ten more minutes and he’d give it best.

“I’ll give Jimbo a ring and see if he’s goin’ to the match tomorrow.”

“ Wonder what Mags is rustling up for tea? Fuck, it’s Friday, bet anythin’ it’s macaroni cheese. Anythin’ but her macaroni cheese.” His nose contracted as if the particular smell, reminiscent of a rugby club changing room, pervaded his senses. Seemingly, still adhered to the insides of his nostrils from last Friday, it refused to be banished.

“I’ll get in first and suggest a takeaway. Mags is a bit partial to pizza. Maybe a Hawaiian with a nice bit of bacon on it.”

First things first, he’d need a shower. He’d try his hardest to sneak upstairs before she could start on him for messing up the hall and interrupting Eastenders. He tried to push aside the image of her slumped on the sofa. Another irritable shake of the hat.

Ted almost missed the buzz in his headphones. Just a faint buzz. Nothing much to write home about. The sound managed to pierce his subconscious and he started. Halting in his mud-clarted tracks, he took a step back. A loud slurping rattled across the field, followed by another as he repeated the movement with his other boot.

There, far clearer this time.

“Well, well, what have we ‘ere, then? A couple of bottle tops or a rusty nail, I’ll be bound.” Ted had been at this lark too many years to let a bit of a response raise his adrenalin levels.

He stepped backwards and forwards across the rain-sodden patch of boggy soil. His earphones were assaulted by a high-pitched squealing, more like a tortured piglet than the customary angry wasp stuck in a jam-jar. Tugging his little trowel from his hip pocket, he stooped. He allowed his interest to mount, just a tad. Ted never was one for excitement. His heart was a different matter. He now knew the meaning of the phrase “His heart was in his mouth.”  Ted wished he had his glasses on. Did the gauge really read 32? 32?

32, as any detectorist worth their salt knew, was the reading for precious metal.

In his haste, the clay kept sticking to his trowel. No amount of shaking would detach it. Ted started hurriedly to scrape it off. The squealing was deafening. No mistaking he was in the right spot. He was sure of it.

The trowel struck something hard. By now kneeling in the mud, oblivious to the wet soaking through his trouser leg and penetrating his long woolly sock, he discarded the trowel and probed the mud with his bare fingers.

A faint glimmer of a shine. A faint golden glimmer. Ted’s scrapings became more frantic, almost panicky. Whatever this was, it was far too large to be a coin. Calming now, and with the precision of a police pathologist, he carefully cleared the mud from around the sides of the object and, with a final act of reverence, slid the trowel under and, lifted. No denying it was heavy.

“Blow me! Well, blow me!” Was all Ted could say, before the sharp pain pierced his chest and he fell backwards into the mud.

2 Comments

  1. Kim

    A pleasure to read and your surprise endings, are always amazing! What was the find, I ask myself – we will never know.

    Well done; another wonderful short story.

    Reply
  2. Lynne

    Thanks for your kind feedback Kim. This is a story that I first wrote about 5 years ago and it has undergone several changes during that time until I was happy with it.

    Reply

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