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  • Michael Braccia

Leeford Village - episode 114

Episode 114: Today's coffee with be late


Previously in Leeford Village:

 

Jasmine wants to change hers and Kim’s family name to ‘Thornton’. Justin reveals to Jasmine that he is also the romantic novelist, Emma Tomkinson. He and Jasmine declare their love for each other. Adam surprises his mother by telling her of his engagement to Meredith Park. Edward and Ethel have a heart-to-heart talk about Billy. Sherry states her intention to ask Carlos to marry her and stay in Leeford.

~

 

 

It’s a quiet day on the market. George Owens and Jack Simmons are discussing George’s brother’s ‘Longford’ novel, clearly based on the residents of Leeford Village.

‘How long has Jason been writing this?’ asks Jack, really wanting to know whether he features in the book and what his character name might be.

‘No idea, mate. It was a complete surprise to me. He’s always been the literary type. When we were kids, he always had his nose in a book.’

‘What about you, George?’

‘Literary? Me? Quite the opposite. I was always outside. I don’t think I’ve read a book in my life. Magazines are my limit. I bet you’re a reader Jack. All those quotes you manage to come up with.’

Jack ponders the question.

‘Actually, I’m not a great reader. I soak up trivia. If you tell me something, I’ll remember it. If I hear a quote, it sticks in my head. I can’t remember what I did yesterday, though. My head’s full of nonsense really.’

George laughs.

‘Do you think Jason has written about me, well, a version of me in his book?’

‘I’ve no idea, mate. He keeps his writing very secret, but I’ll…what in the name of Derek Dougan is that!’

‘What?’

That!’

George points to the end of the market where Simon and Zack are positioning a handcart with a coffee machine and water boiler at one end. The two market traders amble over to where Zack is leaning a chalkboard against the side of the cart. Simon kicks two chunks of wood under the wheels to stop it rolling.

‘Blummin’ ‘eck lads, where did you get this from?’ says George, walking round the cart.

‘It’s state of the art. George. We’re going to serve the finest coffee in Leeford.’

‘I’m a tea drinker myself,’ says Jack, looking doubtfully at the machine which Simon is connecting to a small generator.

‘We do tea, Jack. Breakfast, herbal – whatever you like,’ says Zack pointing to an array of teabags.

‘Hmm. Does Ethel know about this?’

‘No idea. But a little competition can only be good for the consumer,’ says Simon, having successfully started up the generator. ‘Do you want to be our first customers?’

George peruses the chalkboard.

‘Okay, lads. I’ll have one of those coffees that’s going to take a while to arrive,’ says George, winking at Jack. Jack looks at the board and giggles.

‘Sorry, George, I don’t get you.’

‘One of those late coffees. I always find the late ones taste better. They’ve taken longer to make the effort to get here.’

Zack looks at the board.

‘Simon, you pillock. Latte has two t’s!’

 

~

 

‘When did you and Meredith get engaged, son?’ asks Agnes. ‘And why haven’t you told me and Dad?’

Adam taps his fingers on the kitchen table. ‘Only a couple of weeks. We were going to announce it but wanted to wait a little longer. Just to see if it worked out.’

‘I see,’ says Agnes, disappointment in her voice. ‘Well, congratulations, love. You and Meredith make a lovely couple.’

‘Thanks, Mom. I’m sorry we didn’t tell you earlier.’

‘It’s fine, son. But you’ll have to tell your dad now.’

‘Yes, I know.’

‘Don’t sound so worried. His, er, thing¸ about Meredith is in the past now and I know it’s something he regrets.’

‘Yeah. It’s quite funny now isn’t it?’

Agnes frowns. ‘Funny? Not really. But I don’t bring it up with him. Not often anyway.’

Adam laughs.

‘I’ll tell him tonight. I’m sure he’ll be proud. He’s a bit of an idiot sometimes, but he’s a great dad, isn’t he? He’s always been there for me, even though I haven’t always appreciated him. I couldn’t wish for a better father.’

Agnes gets up from her seat and walks over to the sink. She looks out of the window. What a mess, she thinks.

Since returning from her meeting with Daniel Windrush she has found it hard to concentrate on anything. Daniel said he had meant it when he wrote: I’ve missed you so much. Agnes told him how ridiculous that was, considering they had never had a relationship and that she had no feelings for him at all. Daniel apologised and tried to backtrack, saying he meant he hadn’t seen her for a while and had missed their chats in the chemists. But it was clear to Agnes where his feelings lay. And now here was Adam telling her what a wonderful father Cody is.

‘Mom, did you have something to tell me? Something about you, me and another party? I suppose I could tell Meredith later - we’re not joined at the hip. Yet.’ He laughs again, but Agnes continues to stare out of the window.

‘Mom?’

Agnes turns to face him.

‘Another party? Yes. Ah, yes! I was going to talk to you about Dad’s birthday. I was thinking about throwing a party for him. I know we did it last year. He enjoyed it so much I thought we could have another.’

It’s Adam who frowns this time.

‘Er, yeah, sure. Is that it?’

Agnes feels faint and sits down at the table.

‘Yes, Adam, that’s it.’

Adam is suddenly animated.

‘Me and Meredith could announce our engagement at the same time! That would be great, wouldn’t it?’

Agnes bites her fingernail. ‘It would. Your dad would love that.’

 

~

 

Trade at Zack and Simon’s coffee cart has been brisk. Most of the stallholders partake of the lads’ offerings, generally approving of the coffee and the range of teas. A few market customers also stop and buy a drink. Simon has been manning the cart for the first couple of hours when Zack comes to take over.

‘Thank goodness you’re here,’ says Simon shuffling from leg to leg. ‘I’m dying for a pee.’ With this he runs off in the direction of the market’s toilets, only accessible to traders who are issued with a key when they sign up to take a stall.

Zack tidies the cart, rearranging the paper cups and brushing loose coffee from the machine. He counts the takings so far. At this rate they will have covered the cost of the pitch by lunchtime. He serves a couple of customers, attempting to craft hearts in the foam on top of the cup as he had seen baristas do in the artisan coffee shops in Birmingham.

His next customer is Allen Gomez.

‘Mr Gomez! What can I get you? A skinny latte? Flat white? Mocha? A tea, perhaps?’

Allen says nothing at first. He walks around the cart twice.

‘An Americano?’ continues Zack.

Allen strokes his goatee beard, a recent appendage to his face since Carlos arrived on the scene and Linda had said how she found his beard rather attractive.

‘What do you think you are doing, Zack?’

‘Serving coffee? Now what can I get you?’ says Zack, cheerily.

‘I tell you what you can get. You can get your coat. You’re fired.’

‘Fired?’

‘Yes, fired.’

‘Why?’

This,’ says Allen pointing disparagingly at the cart.

‘Eh?’

‘You are a council employee. As such, you are not permitted to carry out any business on council property.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. Also, in your position as assistant to the market manager, having a stall of your own is a conflict of interest.’

‘I see. I didn’t know,’ says Zack, looking down at the floor.

‘Well, you do now. Please leave your fluorescent jacket in my office before you leave. HR will forward your P45 in due course.’

Simon returns, a look of relief on his face.

‘That’s better. I didn’t think I would make it. Ah, Allen, I’m glad you’re here. This toilet key is a bit tricky. I think it’s a bit worn. Could I have a new one?’

Allen inspects the key Simon has handed him. He rubs the end of it.

‘I see what you mean, Simon. I’ll get you a new one for tomorrow.’ He turns to Zack. ‘You still here, Zack?’

‘Yeah, Zack,’ says Simon, ‘off you go. I can take over now. Go and do some market stuff.’

Zack throws down his fluorescent jacket. He stomps away from the market, the eyes of Allen Gomez and Simon watching his back.

‘What’s up with him?’ asks Simon.

‘Might’ve been something I said,’ says Allen.

 

~

Linda and Sherry are sitting in the lounge working their way through a box of chocolates that Carlos bought Linda as a greeting present when he arrived.

‘I suppose you’d have to live here for a while,’ says Linda, still getting her head around Sherry’s announcement that she is going to ask Carlos to marry her.

Sherry finishes chewing a toffee cream.

‘Thanks, Lin. It’ll be a bit crowded, I  know. We’ll find somewhere of our own as soon as we can.’

Linda selects a mocha fudge.

‘Of course, we need to get Allen and Carlos to agree not to fight each other.’

Sherry nods her agreement while enjoying a coffee crème.

‘If they were in a cage fight, who do you think would win?’ she asks.

Linda thinks about this over a Turkish delight.

‘Well, Allen has the height, but Carlos is probably quicker.’

‘And Allen is more aggressive, but Carlos is more cunning,’ adds Sherry.

There’s silence while they each select another chocolate.

‘I don’t know who’d win, Shez, but I do know one thing,’ says Linda.

‘What’s that?’

‘If they cause any trouble at all, I’ll take both of them on!’



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