Ted and Jacky helped to shoehorn Margot into the back of Stephen's car. The other club members stood around offering advice, some of it, comic, some of it, (mainly from the student element,) very sound.
'How are you going to get her out, at the other end?' asked Ted.
'I've phoned ahead, Margot's husband, Gordon, will be waiting for me at the front gate, he's done this before, once or twice.'
'It's very kind of you, Stephen,' said Harriet. 'I'd have never managed her on my own.'
Georgina's mini pulled up at the entrance to the car park and Jacky trotted across to climb in. As he opened the passenger door he shouted across to Stephen to remind him to call.
'Ring anytime next week, Stephen. I'll be in most afternoons and evenings. I'd like some computer advice too.'
As he closed the door, Georgina said something to him and he made a winding gesture, she dropped the driver's side window and Jacky leant across her to shout.
'Any day except Wednesday, I stand corrected.'
Georgina waved as she pulled slowly away.
'Be careful with this one, she's a married woman,' she teased.
Stephen rolled his eyes and climbed into the car. He took a quick look at Margot, sprawled over the back seat, and turned the volume down on the hi-fi. He selected a Mozart album on his MP3 player and plugged the jack into the hi-fi panel. Soft piano music filtered through the speakers.
He pulled out of the car park to whistles and catcalls from the younger element of the group.
'Don't let him take another souvenir,' advised Marvin.
'Radley Woods is the best spot for dogging,' called Josh.
Stephen drove through the town wondering what he'd let himself in for. He had joined the club to improve his writing skills not to get involved in internal politics. He realised that a lot was expected of him from some quarters. He didn't mind the responsibility, he was used to that, running his own business, but he thought there would be more than a few questions asked if he didn't side with the younger element of the club. He decided not to worry about it until he knew more about his future role.
Margot woke up as they pulled up at the traffic lights on the far side of town. She hummed along to the music for a while, then pulled herself into a sitting position, checked for her bag, then stuck her head between the front seats to see who was driving.
'Oh, it's you Stephen, sorry about the inconvenience, I allowed myself to lose a little self control back there.'
'It's not a problem, Margot.'
Margot closed her eyes and grimaced as a hazy picture of the night's events came back to her.
'How bad was it?' she asked
'Not good,' said Stephen. 'You were out of it back there.'
Margot nodded, closed her eyes again and rubbed her forehead.
'I'm sorry, it's that dust tomb I live in. I know I need help.'
'Have a word with your doctor, Margot. I'm sure he can help you.'
'Not likely. He's Gordon's best friend. It would all come out at the golf club or some other place. They can keep secrets, but not from each other. They do a bloody good job of keeping them from me though. I only found out he was going to the Open golf championship when he called me from St Andrews.'
'I don't know why you put up with it, Margot. You said you threatened to divorce him once, couldn't you try it again?'
'I think he'd agree to it this time, then what would I do? He knows I drink a bit too much, but he doesn't know how bad it is. If he found out I think he'd be the one asking for a divorce.'
Stephen pulled off the main road onto the single track that led to Margot's house and turned his headlights to full beam.
'He's the one responsible for your drinking habit, Margot, but if he doesn't know how bad it is, you have no chance of getting him to look at things from your point of view. On the phone he said that he'd had to help you out of cars once or twice before, so he must have some idea.'
'Party nights,' said Margot. 'Even then it's only happened twice. Once when we had the Christmas party at the Institute, and once when I went on a girls night out with some friends from the golf club, we all got potted that night; It's amazing how similar our lives are.'
Stephen pulled up outside Margot's front gate. A light came on immediately and Gordon walked slowly across the gravel drive to greet them. Stephen got out of the car and hurried round to the passenger side to open the door for Margot. She slid her legs out, grabbed Stephen's arm and pulled herself to her feet.
'Hello there,' called Gordon, cheerfully. 'I was expecting to have to lift you out, old girl.'
'She's fine,' said Stephen. 'I think one of the student's at the club must have spiked her drink. She's over it now though. Good as new.'
Gordon held out his hand and Stephen shook it firmly.
'Thanks for looking after her, old boy, I couldn't drive over, I've had one or two myself.'
As if to prove the point, Gordon staggered, leant on the car for support, then straightened himself up.
'It's not a problem,' said Stephen. 'As I said, she recovered on the way home.'
Margot kissed Stephen on the cheek, took her husband's proffered arm and together they made their unsteady way back to the house.
'I want to shoot that moose, Gordon,' she said.
'Tomorrow,' said Gordon. 'You'd miss it if you tried tonight.'
He slapped Margot on the backside as she stepped through the front door.
'Come on old girl, let's get a nightcap.'