3. Pharmaceuticals

3. Pharmaceuticals

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



   Even the proprietors of bookshops need to have a break for lunch and Mrs Bookworm felt the need for refreshment by noon that first day after the enforced closing. There had been a trickle of customers, enough to keep the springs in her till from going rusty, but nothing for her to get excited about, and as she turned the open/closed sign on the door round and let herself out she couldn’t help smiling as a memory of Mr Archer popped into her mind and she decided that it wouldn’t be too nosy of her to see if the pharmacist had anything interesting to add to the story, because it had been to his shop that Mr Archer had said he was going, in search of condoms.

Like herself, Mr Selwyn Jones, pharmacist superior, was on his way to satisfy the inner man when she reached his door. He frowned when he saw her, not because the sight if her wasn’t welcome but because he was closing his shop for an hour and didn’t feel like extending that hour by even a few seconds.

I’m on my way to sit in the park and enjoy my sandwiches,” he said brusquely.

Jolly good,” replied Mrs Bookworm, “then would you mind if I join you? I’ve got egg and cress, and you can have one if you like. I always make too many.”

Mrs Jones does likewise,” Selwyn told her with a more friendly grin, “I believe I’ve got salmon paste from the fragrance emanating from my bag, and of course you can join me. I like a bit of company.”

So the two of them set out for the park, not more than a hop and a skip away if that was how middle aged shopkeepers chose to cover the ground, though, of course, it wasn’t. On the way they were joined by Mr George Hatchett, the local butcher with cheese and onion sandwiches in a back-pack, one or two of which he was willing to swap for either salmon paste or egg and cress in order to add variety to his diet.

It was most odd this morning,” began Mrs Bookworm when the three shopkeepers were seated comfortably on a park bench sheltered from a blistering sun by a lime tree, “but Miss Dewberry, you know, the lady from Newholme flats, came in and started speaking in most intimate terms about Mr Archer’s trousers.”

I saw her too,” nodded Mr Hatchett through a fog of cheese and onion, “she told me the silly foolemoved his trousers and she could see that he goes about commando! I mean, in this climate and with the reliability of zip fasteners being what they are!”

It’s a nice enough day today, weather-wise,” suggested Mr Hatchett who had worked exceedingly hard that morning on an unusually tough carcase and had built up quite a sweat.

But sans undies!” giggled Mrs Bookworm, “I wouldn’t be seen dead without my thong,” without adding she never wore anything as diminutive as thongs.

Or me without my posing pouch,” grinned Mr Jones, who never wore anything less reinforced that oversized boxers though he wasn’t going to publicise that.

But looking at Mr Archer, who would have thought it?” asked Mrs Bookworm, “I mean, he’s such an orthodox gentleman, and orthodox gentleman, surely, like to have a little support!”

You think so?” asked Mr Jones, “there’s nothing quite orthodox about a widower of his age and taste in unmentionable garments making general enquiries about condoms!”

He did?” asked Mrs Bookworm, assuming diluted outrage thought, in truth, it had been she who had suggested the pharmacist to Mr Archer in the first place.

He came in, bold as anything,” began Mr Jones, “and without so much as pretending that he wanted aspirins or toothpaste or examining my vast range of hair care products came right out with it. I’ve formed a friendship with a certain Miss Dewsberry, he said, and I may be in need of condoms before the week’s out and thought you may offer me some advice on the subject. There it was, bold as brass and quite titillating to the easily titillated, I suppose.”

Of all the blatant… telling the world that Miss Dewsberry might be up to certain antics, and her not knowing the publicity she’s getting!” exclaimed Mr Hatchett, “does anyone want another cheese and onion? Her indoors has made me too many, as usual and the onion’s a bit on the acid side.”

I’ll take one,” smiled Mr Jones, “and if anyone wrinkles their nose when I breathe their way I can tell them it’s a new recipe for conjunctivitis and send them to Mrs Brussels the greengrocer for ingredients!”

You are a card!” laughed Mrs Bookworm, “but now then, Mr Jones, what did you tell poor Mr Archer apropos his condom enquiries.”

Mr Jones grinned secretively. “That’s privileged information, like what a priest learns in confessional.” he said in the tone of voice that suggested it wouldn’t be privileged for too long.

Ah, but you’ve not priest,” Mr Hatchett reminded him, “you’re a small town chemist with a conviction for dealing,” he added teasingly.

That was the pill and perfectly legal!” protested the pharmacist, “it’s the local plod who couldn’t keep up to date with the law and it never counted as a conviction!”

Fair enough,” agreed Mr Hatchett, grinning at the expression on the Jones face.

Anyway, I asked him what flavour he was thinking of,” laughed the pharmacist begrudgingly, “and I listed a few off the top of my head, though I did mention I was out of strawberries and cream, and he didn’t seem to know why a little rubber device would taste of anything other than rubber!”

What did he say to that?” asked Mrs Bookworm, who only had the vaguest idea about flavour herself and was beginning to feel quite flustered at where various flavours might enter into a variety of situations that sprang to her mind.

He said he had a lady friend and would have to consult her,” cackled the pharmacist, “and wouldn’t I love to be a fly on his wall if he got round to asking her! And to think, I never got round to asking about ribbed or spiky and what colour!”

So what did he do?” asked Mrs Bookworm, intrigued.

Well, he smiled a lot, didn’t look at all embarrassed and said he’d be back when he had enough information to make an informed decision.”

Miss Dewberry looked happy enough when she popped in for her weekly meat order,” observed Mr Hatchett thoughtfully, “I should have asked her what was cheering her up, though maybe it was the sight of my extra long sausages that did it! She bought four of them!”

Mrs Jones swears by them,” agreed the pharmacist.

I’ll have to try them one day, but to my mind they are maybe a bit on the, what shall I call them, extravagant side,” sighed Mrs Bookworm, “and I do hope the dear Archer man returns to you for contraceptive advice,” she added to Selwyn Jones.

I’ll keep you in the loop,” he nodded with a grin, “and look: time’s up already and I’ve still got a sandwich left!”

© Peter Rogerson 25.06.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on June 25, 2020
Last Updated on June 25, 2020
Tags: lunch, sandqiches, park condoms


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

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