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  • Michael Braccia

Leeford Village - episode 109

Episode 109: The butcher and his mom


Previously in Leeford Village:

 

Revd Peterson goes to The Cross and tells Ted what he’s heard from Hilda about the ’ghost’. Frank manages to get Ken to listen (for once) to the good news. Sherry pours her heart out to Ethel and realises there is no future for her with Carlos. Agnes has told Jasmine everything about the letter. PC Carr interviews Sally, who remembers that the ‘ghost’ who came towards her smelled of meat.

 

~

 

 

 

‘Can I have a word, Nigel?’

 

Ted had left the pub as soon as Gary Carr had finished interviewing Sally.

 

‘Where are you off to?’ she’d said, to which he had given one of his customary grunts and a shrug of the shoulders. ‘Just an errand, love. Just an errand.’

 

After a short walk to the Cleeve butcher's establishment, Ted had found the shop empty – with the exception of the proprietor.

 

‘What can I do for you, Ted?’ Nigel asks.

 

‘For a start, you’d better put the ‘closed’ sign up for a few minutes. We don’t want to be disturbed.’

 

Nigel complies. He knows Ted and how he deals with situations in a straightforward way – sometimes without engaging his brain. A potential customer walks towards the shop, spots the ‘closed’ sign and walks on,

 

‘I’ve lost one already, Ted.’

‘I can see that. Sorry, but this is more important.’

 

Nigel beckons for Ted to go through to the back room. It doubles as a kitchen and storeroom (anything that is not raw meat – tinned food, stationery, etc.), with a table and two chairs. Ted immediately notices the bareness of the room, but it seems clean enough. There are two doors off to the right – a toilet and the meat preparation room and freezer store. They both sit down at the table.

 

‘What’s this about, Ted?’

‘You may well ask. You’ve heard about Sally, I presume? The fact that she could have been seriously injured?’

‘Oh, God! Is she okay?’

‘Thank you for your concern,’ says Ted, scraping his chair closer to the table. Nigel sits back in his chair, responding to the glare he is receiving from the publican he has known for years.

 

‘I’m sorry to hear about Sally, but this has nothing to do with me.’

‘Who says that it has?’ says Ted, who is now standing up, eyes glistening.

‘I think you’d better go, Ted. I thought we were friends.’

 

 

 

Ted moves around the table. The two men are now standing, facing each other. Someone is banging on the front door. Nigel’s mobile starts to ring.

 

‘It’s my mom. She’s outside.’

 

Ted grimaces. ‘Bring her in. The more the merrier. I’m sure this is a family show!’

 

Nigel unlocks the door to let Vera in, and leaves the sign set to ‘closed’. He re-locks the door and they both join Ted in the back room.

 

‘What’s this, Ted? You accusing my son of hurting Sally?’

‘I said no such thing, but if this is your collective Cleeve-style guilty conscience, let’s hear your excuses!’

‘Listen, Ted, don’t you speak to my mom like that!’

 

At that, Ted shoves Nigel hard on the right shoulder. He falls, banging his knee on the table leg. Vera screams, grabs her phone and starts to dial the number for the police.

 

Ted glares at Vera. The Police? Suits me fine, thinks Ted.

 

‘That’s right, Vera, let’s sort this out with Stephen and Gary!’

 

 

~

 

 

 

‘Okay, Edward, here we are again. I’m sorry about last time. There was some sort of mix-up. It must have sounded terrible what Hilda said. It appears that we – um – pretty much threw you out of the vicarage!’

 

Edward is wringing his hands and breathing heavily.

 

‘I’m getting used to it,’ he says.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Listen, John, I know you’re the vicar and we respect your position in the community and all that but—’

‘There’s a “but”, Edward?’

‘I’m not sure I like your attitude,’ snaps Edward.

 

John picks up his favourite coffee cup and takes a sip, realising it is stone cold.

 

‘Shall we start again? Would you like a coffee?’

 

Edward shocks John by slamming his hand on the desk.

 

‘No, thank you, I don’t want a coffee, or a tea or a glass of water!’

 

‘What on earth is the matter?’ says the stunned clergyman.

 

 

 

‘I’ll tell what the matter is. The woman I love wants to get married. If I’m honest, we could stay as we are, but I love Ethel with all my heart. She is upset because the Church of England has fouled up your website forms. Your fault. Not ours. And when Ethel is upset, I’m upset.’

‘I can see that.’

‘Well, what are you going to do about it? Can we get married, or what?’

‘I think you’d better leave before I say something I’ll regret,’ says the stunned vicar.

‘With pleasure. I’ve got some errands to run, anyway!’

 

 

~

 

 

 

By the time he has reached the post office,  Edward has partially recovered from the row. He is not a frequent visitor to the epicentre of Leeford Village gossip, but he has some documents that need to go by registered post.

 

‘Mr Palmer! How are you?’

 

The Pippa Philpotts motor is in top gear this morning.

 

‘Have you sorted out all that stuff with the vicar about your wedding? Rotten shame if you ask me.’

‘Well, I—’

 

Edward starts to go red in the face and his breathing has increased. Pippa continues.

 

‘No need to make excuses for the reverend. He would say he’s only doing his job and the bishop’s not much better.’

 

For once, Pippa pauses for breath. It looks like Edward is about to explode.

 

‘Have I said the wrong thing, Mr Palmer?’

‘Call me Edward,’ he says, fighting with his inner demons – trying to stay calm. ‘It’s not quite as simple as that, Pippa, but where did you get all this anyway? It is supposed to be private.’

 

She continues to process his envelope full of contractual documents.

 

‘Important, these documents, are they?’

‘You could say that,’ replies Edward.

‘That will be £4.75, please, er, Edward.’

 

He takes the receipt, turns, and heads for the exit, as three more customers enter. He holds the door for them, and his progress to the pavement outside is halted by another Pippa special. The three customers turn round in tandem with Edward.

 

‘Of course, you will have a lot on your mind after hearing that The Cross has been visited by the ghost of Billy Lucas…’

 

 

~

 

 

 

Jasmine taps her mom’s hand and points towards the living room.

 

‘I’ll put the kettle on.’

‘Very British,’ says Agnes.

 

Jasmine nods, and jabs her forefinger in the air.

 

‘If two women can’t solve a problem with a nice brew and a chat, I don’t know who can.’

 

Agnes sits on the sofa, grabs the nearest cushion and hugs it close to her.

 

‘Mom, you told me about my real father…’

‘Kelvin.’

‘That’s it, Kelvin. Is it Kelvin who sent you the letter?’

‘Why do you say that?’

‘It’s obvious. He’s signed it “K”. I just thought – you know – after me. Well…’

 

Agnes turns to Jasmine and strokes her hair.

 

‘You are beautiful and clever, my darling, but you’re wrong. It’s not Kelvin. I never saw him again after you were adopted. He was a waste of space anyway. Sorry.’

‘No, don’t apologise, Mom. I don’t want to track him down. Can you tell me who “K” is?’

 

Agnes stands up and walks to the window. She pulls back the net curtain and peers down the street.

 

‘I’ll tell you, love, but you must – you really must – promise not to tell anyone. Ever. Not even if you marry Justin.’

‘I’m not marrying Justin.’

‘Not now, maybe not for a while, but you light up when you talk about him. Honestly, love, he’s the man for you, and it’s obvious he adores you.’

‘Never mind me. Please tell me who it is. I promise to keep your secret.’

 

Agnes sits down again and takes a deep breath.

 

‘Alright. The “K” is not his first name, but a nickname.’

‘Okay, what does “K” stand for?’

‘Ken. The man who sent me the letter was once known as “Kenny” to his friends, after the snooker player Ken Doherty.’

‘Was he good at snooker?’

‘Ken Doherty. Oh, yes, world champion at one time.’

‘No, Mom. This Kenny bloke.’

‘Yes. He loved it. Still does.’

 

Jasmine sits back with a start.

 

‘He lives round here? In Leeford?’

‘Yes. In this Street. Market Street.’

‘Oh, God, Mom. Who is it?’

 

Agnes pauses.


 

 

 

‘Daniel Windrush. He owns Burry’s Chemists.’

 

‘His wife is the head teacher!’

‘I know, Jasmine. I know everything about him. And I mean everything…’

‘I can’t believe this, Mom. What you’re telling me is that Daniel Windrush, the pharmacist – our neighbour – is Adam’s real father?’

‘And your dad must never know.’

‘But Daniel – “K” – is asking you to let Adam into his life. Does he realise what that would mean?’

‘I think so, Jasmine. I think so.’

 

 

~

 

 

 

Edward takes two steps back into the post office, glares at Pippa and declares:

 

‘You’d better explain yourself, Pippa!’

 

He senses someone walking towards him. They were previously hidden by the birthday and anniversary cards display.

 

‘It’s alright, Edward, I’ll deal with this,’ says Ethel.

 

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