This story by Dobra was first published on the Square Pegs (squarepegs.overspillers.net) public fiction section.
“Has someone left this key here on the bar?” Henri yelled across the room of Le Grand Cocquerel. Most of the men barely glanced up, and continued reading their papers or gambling a few sous away. Vast jugs of vin ordinaire sat on each plain pine table, many of them half empty. Fading pictures of de Gaulle, and Mitterand clad the grubby walls, and a well used dart board hung precariously from a rusty nail.
Most of the men in the bar were local farmers and foresters and many were habitués of the bar, living in and around the remote village in the Haute-Savoie. Visitors were few, apart from walkers and hikers; some were lost, of course. But the mystery of the key bugged Henri, obviously the customers had no interest or knowledge…… Anyway, he went out the back to tidy some paperwork and for a break from the moaners sitting in the bar.
Place de Gaulle was a typical square in a village in these parts, a small hotel with a decent restaurant, the Hotel de Ville with its French Tricolour and EU flags lazily fluttering in the warm breeze, and a few grand houses. Two dogs snoozing in the shade, and an old widow woman sitting under a tree completed the scene.
Down the hill, the village church of St Georges was host to a wedding. Jeanne and Jean Houge were emerging, and posing for Ernst the local photographer. Rice was being hurled by the small party, and then when the posing and giggling finished, the group slowly made their way up the hill to the Hotel de Ville for a reception in a private room. Speeches, toasts and good luck from all guests there, and from those absent. The best man then handed Jean a piece of paper with some scribble on it. Both grinned.
At the end of the reception, the bride and groom strolled across Place de Gaulle in the sun to the bar and walked in. Suddenly, all hell was let loose. Henri leapt across the bar, waving a key (so he did know something) and handed it to Jeanne, a symbol of a house to come. Then a CD was put on, with some pleasant but haunting music recently composed by Jeanne’s father which played in the background. Then Jean’s father and M le Maire walked into the bar and asked the assembled group to raise their glasses to the young couple, and it was then the father handed the pair a large envelope – and it contained details of a plot of land in the village on which they could build their house. Jeanne wept a little, and Jean couldn’t stop shaking hands with everyone in range.
So, from us, the readers – bon chance to Jean et Jeanette.