Someone once said that 'gossip is the Devil's radio', that person is obviously dead now, so you don't have to worry about a thing. Being gossiped about is horrid, but it happens (or it will happen). The important thing to remember is that tomorrow, the gossipers will have grown tired of your story and will have moved on to something much juicier, I know this is fact. I know it because I gossip. Now some folk will tell you that gossip is a feminine trait, something beneath men, something that they never indulge in. I know this is a lie. I know it because I gossip with men as much as I gossip with women. 

The best thing about working in an establishment the size of McClures' is the gossip. Between the staff, the McClures' themselves, and of course the patrons, there is a veritable whirlpool (or cesspit) full of gossip. It's as if the very cosmos aligned and formed an especially charged magnet, which attracts scandal and it was buried deep in the earth beneath the foundations of McClures'.

Smearing butter on my still warm (butter) croissant, I listened aghast as Vivienne filled me in on what I had missed after work on Saturday night. 'Well...' Vivienne said, leaning in towards me, chin resting on her hand like Rodin's Thinker, '...Sue was out again last night but, she wasn't with Paul. She was with Mike'. I gasped, choking on those damned flakes of pastry which already (rather glamoursly) speckeled my jumper. Vivienne sniggered and poured me a glass of water. My barks under control, pastry dusted off my clothes, I sat back down. 'What do you mean she was with Mike?' I asked, 'she was with Paul last week, I thought there was something relatively serious happening between those two.' Viv smiled, 'Aparently not, her and Mike were all over each other at the end of the night, and in full view of us all, so everyone knows... except maybe Paul.' I tried to remember if Paul had been working, he hadn't been in my bar. 'Mike's a fecking McClure, and an asshole. What's she doing with him?' I asked.

Mike bedded a different woman every night, except of course on the nights he went home with his girlfriend. She was pretty and well-to-do, and he was the youngest of the McClure brothers, who had no money of his own to speak of. He rode his brother's coat-tails, and would eventually have to strike out on his own. Had I known him a few years earlier I am sure I would have known a very handsome man. Now though he was moving further and further past his best-before date. Too long burning the candle at both ends had taken it's effect, however rather than relaxing into his middle-age he still dressed, and behaved like a man in his mid-twenties. When I looked at him, I saw a man who had passed his prime. It was a little sad really. 

'They got a hotel room together, Tom had to phone ahead and book it for them, so of course he told everyone before they had even left the building. Perhaps if she wasn't so bloody drunk she'd have been embarassed, but she was that drunk, and she was prancing about like a stripper.' I groaned internally, I don't know if it's a catholic thing, but guilt and shame hit me like a hammer the mornings after I make a drunken fool of myself, and I felt sorry for Sue. I imagined she had woken up on Sunday morning in a strange room and found herself alone, like so many girls before her.  Mike would have paid for the room, but she would have to walk out through the hotel lobby, knowing that even the strangers there were making snide comments. Or maybe Sue wouldn't be feeling that way at all, maybe she had exactly the kind of night she wanted. Who knows, I sure as shit wasn't about to go asking her about it.

'I still can't believe she was with Mike, Paul's a pain in the arse, but he was mad about her and wasn't... what's-her-face, the really skinny one who works upstairs?' 'Alison?' ' Yeah, wasn't she with Mike the week before? I wonder if it'll be pistols at down?' Viv and I cackled, two witches sitting around a big old cauldren of other people's misery.

The End

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