Cupboard Love

Literature | Listenings | Vocabulary


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Listen to a short story to improve your listening skills and develop your vocabulary. Listening Activator - Cupboard Love. A romantic fiction story. An attempt to stop the lecherous attention of a colleague results in unexpected consequences for two young girls working on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) in a nursing home in England. This story originally appeared in 1988 in the women's romantic fiction magazine Loving. It was the first story that they published with from a male writer and they started a new section in the magazine called Something Different. Richard spent a couple of years in the 1980s writing romantic fiction.

Cupboard Love



"I don't want to hear any more of this nonsense," raged Sister, as though we'd accused the Pope himself. "Mike's a pleasant lad and a hard worker. It's a shame there aren't more staff like him." That last comment was obviously a dig at Paula and myself, tidying up. But even if we got it spotless, Miss Baggley would find something to complain about and we'd get the blame.

As soon as we were in the storeroom, Paula smiled thoughtfully. "No one's ever going to believe us about Mike," she whispered bitterly. "It's about time we sorted him out ourselves."

I listened eagerly as she outlined her plan ...

"It's as simple as that," Paula finished up. "I come on strong to Mike and make out that I'm desperate to meet him in the storeroom."

"He'll be waiting behind the door when Miss Baggley arrives for her inspection," I chipped in. I could almost hear Miss Baggley's indignant squawks as Mike's hands went where no man's hands had gone before. "I'd love to see his face when he realises his mistake!"

We went over the final details of the plan while we tidied the storeroom and I suggested we removed the light bulb ... "So that Mike won't know, until it's too late, that his victim isn't who he thinks she is."

"But will he fall for it?" I frowned, carefully unscrewing the ceiling light.

"Of course he will," laughed Paula. "If Mike thinks I'm willing to meet him here - alone he'll jump at the chance."

"But what if Baggley doesn't arrive at two o'clock?" I asked, handing Paula the bulb.

Paula and I had got jobs as care assistants on a YTS scheme at the Temple Manor Home for the Elderly. Though the work often proved that slavery had not been abolished, we got far more satisfaction out of helping to look after the seventy elderly residents than we would've got packing biscuits at a local factory. We would've enjoyed it even more if it hadn't been for Mike.

Mike was one of the male care assistants, with the biggest head on record! Physically, he wasn't unattractive - having obviously spent a lot of time building his muscles in the gym - but as for the rest . . . yuk! Though he was only twenty-one, his behaviour, as he followed us around the home, was that of a dirty old man.

Apart from his lewd comments and octopus hands, Mike's favourite trick was to lurk behind doors until one of us entered the room, when he would leap out, grab us from behind and fight for a kiss. In his own warped way, he probably thought we'd be turned on by his caveman tactics. Unfortunately, he always made sure there were no witnesses.

"I want you girls to tidy the linen store," Sister had continued angrily. "Miss Baggley is coming to inspect it at two o'clock this afternoon."

Once outside Sister's office, I looked at Paula in dismay. The linen store was a huge mess of a room and would need a lot of work

"Stop worrying, Lorraine," said Paula. "You know how keen she is about punctuality. She'll be here, don't worry."

What Paula said was true. Miss Baggley, the Matron, might've been a fussy, sour-faced old maid, whose main pleasure in life seemed to be finding fault with everything we did, but she was never late for her inspections.

Mike was on duty at half-past twelve and, after lunch, we waited anxiously for the drone of his moped.

"Hello, Mike," Paula purred, in her most seductive voice.

As Mike swaggered in and peeled off his jacket, Paula thrust herself against him, running her hand across his chest. Mike didn't find this at all unusual. He'd obviously fallen in love with himself at an early age and thought it was only natural that everyone else had, too.

I tried desperately not to laugh as I watched from behind the dining- room door. Paula reached up and whispered something into Mike's ear.

Mike's vain expression melted into a lecherous grin. "Don't worry about it, darling," he boasted. "I knew you couldn't resist me - no woman can. It was just a matter of time before you gave in." He made a grab for Paula's bottom.

Paula avoided Mike's hand and retreated a few paces. "I'm as anxious as you, lover-boy," she said, her voice silky and provocative. "But not now, not here."

"Two o'clock," said Mike eagerly. "I'll be waiting."

"I'll be counting on it," Paula smirked, blowing him a kiss.

After that, Mike strutted around the Home like an anxious stallion, until ten minutes to two, when he crept into the linen store. The trap was set.

At precisely two o'clock, Miss Baggley arrived outside the storeroom, gave me and Paula a get-back-to-work-this-instant look and disappeared into the darkness. The door clicked shut behind her as though on a powerful spring, and Paula and I smiled gleefully at each other.

"Nothing's happening," I said after a moment, demonstrating my flair for stating the obvious.

Nothing had happened ... no scream, no disgusted Miss Baggley bursting from the storeroom, no horrified Mike standing red-faced in the doorway. Nothing.

"Perhaps Mike left when we weren't looking," I suggested, feeling all let down.

"But there's no light in there," Paula pointed out. "Baggley wouldn't stay in the dark." "Someone must've replaced the bulb since this morning," I said.

"Mike!" groaned Paula. "You know how vain he is. He'd have wanted me to have a close look at his capped teeth and sun-bed tan!"

I nodded. "And he'd have noticed it was Miss Baggley and not you," I said, turning away. "He's probably helping her with her inventory right now."

"But that means he'll think I'm really keen on him," moaned Paula as we walked away. "He'll think I didn't turn up because of Baggley."

I nodded sympathetically.

About half an hour later, when I was wheeling one of the residents to the television room, I met Baggley walking slowly towards me along the corridor. She walked right past without her usual criticism - as though I wasn't there - a faint smile playing across her face. Her hair, usually immaculately set, was hanging in loose grey strands above her shoulders.

Leaving the residents happily watching television, I rushed back to the ward kitchen where Paula was preparing the afternoon teas. "What's happened?" I asked, once I'd told her about Miss Baggley.

Paula shrugged. "I've just seen Mike," she whispered. "I can't understand it. He didn't say a word when he saw me, just stared through me like I wasn't there."

That was two weeks ago and whatever happened behind the linen store door has certainly had the desired effect ~ though not in quite the way we planned.

It certainly had a very big effect on Miss Baggley! These days she couldn't be a nicer person. Instead of criticising us, she now asks our opinion about the latest fashions she's taken to wearing - and last week she even traded in her well-maintained Morris Minor for a nifty little scarlet sports car. Temple Manor is now a great place to work.

As for poor, unsuspecting Mike, the incident marked the end of his career as a care assistant and he no longer works at the Home. From what I hear, though, he seems to be enjoying his new role as Miss Baggley's toyboy.

© R.I.Chalmers 1988

First published in Loving 1988

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