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  • Michael Braccia

Leeford Village - episode 108

Episode 108: A meaty issue


Previously in Leeford Village:

 

Jasmine and Justin agree to remain ‘just friends’. Ted asks Revd Peterson to exorcise The Cross’s ‘ghost’, unaware that the vicar’s wife, Hilda, has been told that the ghost is someone pulling a prank on Ted. Jasmine confronts Agnes about the letter she has received. The council agrees not to pursue Ken Taylor’s potential planning infringement for five years.

 

~

 

Revd Peterson enters the bar in The Cross, looking unusually agitated.

‘Evening, John. What’ll it be?’ calls Ted Coleman from behind the bar.

‘Actually, Ted, I’m not here for a drink,’ says John, looking around the room.

 ‘I see. You’ve come about the matter we were discussing earlier.’ Ted keeps his voice low, even though there are only two drinkers in the bar who are deep in conversation.

‘In a way, yes.’

‘In a way?’

The vicar looks over the bar at the display of soft drinks in the fridge.

‘I think I will have a drink, after all. A bottle of apple fizz, please.’

Ted reaches down and grabs a bright green bottle. He opens it and pours the contents into a glass. The vicar takes out his credit card, which Ted waves away.

‘On the house, John. It’s the least I can do.’

John takes a sip of his drink.

‘Thanks, Ted. But it’s not what you think.’

‘What isn’t?

‘The ghost.’

Ted smiles. ‘So you do agree that it is a ghost?’

John takes a longer slug of apple fizz which hits the back of his throat and makes him cough.

‘No. What you saw and what frightened Sally was not a ghost. It was a real person.’

‘A real person? What do you mean? How do you know this?’

‘Hilda told me. Someone told her.’

‘Who?’

Revd Peterson taps the side of his glass. ‘Miss Philpotts.’

‘Pippa? Well, that’s that then isn’t it? If Pippa says it’s not a ghost, then it’s not a ghost. How silly of me to think it was.’ Ted picks up a towel and begins to dry some glasses. ‘Anyway, how does she know anything about this? I haven’t said anything and neither has Sally.’

‘I don’t know. But it is certainly now a matter for the police, rather than the clergy,’ says Revd Peterson with some relief. Ted puts down the glass he has been waving in the air while speaking.

‘I’m sorry, Ted. But I think what Pippa is saying is a plausible explanation, irrespective of where she got the information.’

Ted leans against the back of the bar.

‘So, what we do now, John?’

We? I don’t think I’m involved in this, now. It’s a matter for you and Sally. And the police.’

 

~

 

‘Ken. It’s Frank…no, don’t put the phone down. I’ve got some good news for you.’

‘Go on.’

‘The council have agreed to allow you to keep the buildings.’

‘Oh? How come?’

‘A little research on my part and some rare common sense from the planning office. I won’t go into the details, but you don’t have to worry. You do have to leave the trees alone though.’

‘And I bet you’re chuffed to bits about that.’

‘Well, I’m obviously…look, I’ve done you a real favour here. A little gratitude wouldn’t go amiss.’

There’s silence on the other end of the phone before Frank hears a barely audible, ‘thank you.’

‘Good,’ he says. ‘There is one caveat.’

‘Caveat?’

‘They’ll review the situation again in five years’ time.’

Silence again.

‘Are you there, Ken?’

‘Yes, I’m here.’

‘There’s nothing to say they’ll change their minds in five years’ time.’

Ken sighs. ‘We’ll just have to live on tenterhooks, then.’

It’s Frank’s turn to sigh.

‘It’s better than having to pull everything down, isn’t it?’

‘Yes, Frank. I’m sorry. Anyway, in five years’ time I might well be hanging up my wellies and handing everything over to Doug.’

Frank feels his face flush. ‘Hmm, well, let’s cross that bridge when we get to it, eh?’ he mumbles to himself.

‘What’s that, Frank? Something about a bridge? There’s no bridges on my farm.’

Frank regains his composure.

‘No, I was saying “bridge club” at The Cross. Must get to it.’

‘Bridge? Never played it. Cribbage is more my game. I didn’t know The Cross…’

‘Bye, Ken.’

 

~

 

Agnes and Jasmine are sitting at the kitchen table, the letter which has been binned and recovered (twice) in front of them.

‘So, that’s it. You know it all now, love.’

Jasmine reaches over the table and takes hold of her mother’s hand.

‘Oh, Mom. What are you going to do?’

‘I don’t know, love. But, whatever I do, Cody mustn’t know. Ever.’

‘Of course. Though perhaps he might be able to help.’

Agnes withdraws her hand.

‘No. I know Cody – he’d be like a bull in a China shop, once he’d got over the initial shock. I need to handle this on my own.’

Jasmine smiles. ‘You are not on your own, Mom. I’m here now and you can always talk to me.’

Agnes places her hand on top of Jasmine’s.

‘I know. And I’m so grateful for that, Jas.’

 

~

 

Sherry Cross is nursing what was once a vanilla iced latte before the ice melted. Ethel has attempted to speak to her several times during the two hours she has been sitting in the café, sighing often and checking her phone every five minutes. She has rejected Allen Gomez’s offer to go back to her old job at the laundrette. The phrase ‘I’d rather do anything else,’ had led to Allen describing her to her sister, Linda, as “ungrateful” and a few other adjectives which he later regretted. Both Allen and Linda, while happy to support Sherry for a short time, following her return from the USA, do not wish this to be a long-term arrangement. However, Sherry has made no attempt to look for a job and spends her days dragging herself from the couch to the café and back. Several of the villagers have commented on Sherry’s change in demeanour, having always known her as a bubbly, sociable girl with lots of ambition.

 

Ethel clears the table next to Sherry’s.

‘What’s up, love? You can’t go on like this forever you know. You’re wasting your young life.’

Sherry stirs the milky drink around the cup.

‘You want me to go?’

Ethel puts down the tray she had been loading and sits down next to her.

‘Of course not. You can stay here all day as far as I’m concerned. But it’s not good for you.’

Sherry looks up at the ceiling.

‘I don’t know what is good for me anymore, Ethel. After the States, Leeford is so boring.’

Ethel’s stern look indicates to Sherry that she has overstepped the mark.

‘Boring is it? Well, I’m very sorry about that young lady. We might be boring, but we are a community. Your community, and you’d better learn to live with us again. People are concerned about you, but if ‘boring’ is your only issue, then perhaps they shouldn’t be.’

At this, Sherry bursts into tears.

‘I’m sorry Ethel. I didn’t mean it…I love everyone here.’

‘But you love Carlos more?’

Sherry wipes her nose on a tissue that Ethel has produced from the pocket of her apron.

‘You know about Carlos?’

Ethel nods. ‘I know about everything, Sherry. If it’s happening in Leeford, I know about it.’

Sherry sniffs. ‘Yes, I forgot.’

‘You’re missing him aren’t you?’

Sherry starts crying again. Another tissue is offered by Ethel. When Sherry finishes crying, she blows her nose loudly.

‘God, Ethel. Look at me, blubbing away like a little kid. Carlos is lovely and we do speak on the phone. But I’m kidding myself if I think there’s any future in it. I need to move on.’

‘You do,’ agrees Ethel.

‘It’s what to move on to that’s the problem. I didn’t mean it when I said Leeford is boring, but…’

‘But it is.’

‘Well, yes.’ They both laugh and Sherry blows her nose again.

‘I’ve lived here all my life, Sherry. I went to school here, married my wonderful Billy and, well, here I still am. I suppose I’ve never really had anything to compare this life to. We had some nice holidays, when the café did well, but I never thought that was going to be my life forever. It’s about people, you see, love. Not the place.’

Sherry places her cup onto the tray.

‘Yeah, I know. And I love everyone here. I’ll get over myself and stop being a pain. It’ll just take a little more time. And a few more vanilla iced lattes.’

 

~

PC Carr takes out his notebook and turns to the next empty page. ‘Tell me everything you can remember, Sally.’

Sally sits with her hands folded in front of her.

‘Not much at all, Gary,’ she says, desperately trying to recall the events of a couple of nights ago. ‘The glass shattered, there was this wailing sound and I saw this figure coming towards me. I don’t remember what happened after that. I do remember Ted calling me. That’s it.’

PC Carr writes everything down. ‘Not much to go on, then.’

‘Sorry,’ says Sally, shrugging her shoulders.

PC Carr puts his notebook back into his pocket.

‘There was one other thing,’ says Sally.

‘Go on.’

‘There was a smell. Yes, I remember a smell when the figure was walking towards me.’

PC Carr takes out his notebook again.

‘What did this smell, er, smell like.’

‘Hard to say now. It wasn’t very strong. It was like fish.’

‘Fish?’

‘No, not fish. It was more like a meaty smell. Yes, that’s it. Fresh meat, you know, before it’s cooked. It was very faint but now I really remember it.’

PC Carr writes down smelled like meat.

‘What type of meat, do you think? Lamb? A bit of pork, perhaps.’

Sally shrugs again.

‘I don’t know. Just meat.’

Ted is standing at the bar listening to PC Carr interrogating his wife.

Fresh meat? he thinks. There’s only one person we know who smells of fresh meat.

 

~


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