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  • Michael Braccia

Leeford Village - episode 116

Episode 116: Thanks, Billy!


Previously in Leeford Village:

 

Frank Watson meets Colin Simpson, a clerk at Banfield Council, to discuss the upcoming census. Colin reveals the council’s plans to merge Leeford and Bordsley Parish Councils. It’s the end of the road for Ethel and Edward. Agnes tells Adam that Daniel Windrush is his father. Jason reads the latest instalment of ‘Longford Village’ to a group of friends.

 

~

 

 

One thing Simon is learning on his first day as a barista is that, it is unwise to drink too much of your own product, unless you have huge bladder capacity. For the past hour he has been shifting from one foot to the other, walking up and down in front of the coffee cart, and breathing deeply. None of it has worked and he is forced to call out to Ken Taylor, the nearest stall holder.

 

‘Ken. Have you seen Zack?’

‘No, mate. Not since this morning.’ A customer appears at Ken’s stall and takes his attention.

Just as Simon is about to abandon the coffee cart and dash to the toilet, he sees Allen Gomez walking towards him.

‘Allen. Sorry, Mr Gomez. Can you get hold of Zack? He’s not answering his phone. I really need him to relieve me, so that I can, er, relieve myself.’

Allen shrugs.

‘Haven’t seen him since I fired him this morning.’

Simon bends, puts his hands on his knees then straightens up quickly.

‘Okay. Well, when you see him…hang on, fired him? What for?’

Allen picks up a discarded plastic coffee cup lid from under Ken’s stall.

‘For carrying out his own business while working for the council. On council premises, too.’

‘Really? He didn’t tell…sorry, Mr Gomez. I have to go!’

Simon runs off in the direction of the toilet.

‘What a strange lad,’ says Ken, ‘a real fidget.’

Allen walks behind the coffee cart.

‘I’ve come to bring him a new toilet key. It’s a shame he didn’t stay long enough for me to give it to him, because he’s left the one he has here on the cart.’

 

~

 

Adam leans forward on the sofa and clasps his hands in front of him.

‘So, if Daniel Windrush is my father…’

‘…biological father,’ interrupts Agnes.

‘…biological father,’ continues Adam, ‘then this lady who has left me the villa in Spain was my grandmother.’

Agnes nods.

Adam sits back and rubs his face.

‘I can’t take this in. Why are you only telling me this, now?’

Agnes puts her hand on Adam’s arm.

‘I wasn’t going to tell you at all. Me and Daniel were never an item and…’

‘Never an item? You must have been very much an item at one time – hence, me!’

Adam pulls his arm away and walks over to the window.

‘I’m sorry, love. I just didn’t think it mattered. You’ve always known Cody as your father and he has been, ever since you were born.’

Adam looks over to Meredith’s shop. He wishes Meredith were in the room with him right now.

‘Does, Dad, er, Cody, know about this?’

Agnes looks down at her hands.

‘Thought not,’ says Adam. ‘Are you going to tell him?’

‘Only if you want me to. And he is still ‘Dad’ to you.’

Adam paces up and down the lounge.

‘I don’t know what I want, Mom. I only know that you have lied to me all my life and that the guy who owns the chemist’s, who I’m not particularly fond of, actually, is my father.’

Agnes sighs and watches Adam stride from one side of the room to the other, finally returning to looking out the window.

He laughs.

‘You know what’s funny, Mom? Here’s Jasmine changing her name to Thornton so she can be part of the family, just as I find out that I’m not a Thornton at all!’ He laughs more loudly, then stops when he sees the reflection of Cody standing in the lounge doorway.

 

‘Not a Thornton, Adam? What do you mean?’

 

~

 

Sherry is sitting by the window of the laundrette. Her sister, Linda, is busy loading East Banfield FC’s football kits into the washing machines. Since arriving back in Leeford, Sherry has found it hard to settle and her restlessness is heightened by the arrival of Carlos and the memory of Rio that follows him.

Rio. A city full of life, brimming with opportunity. She fell in love with the city the moment she landed there. Each time she sees Carlos, she thinks of their time together: strolling along Copacabana beach, dancing with the carnival, walking up Corcovado to Christ the Redeemer, with its spectacular view over the city and Sugar Loaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay in the distance. What a time they had, albeit brief and ending in tears for both of them.

 

An old lady with a shopping trolley shuffles by, followed by a boy and girl from the school, skipping along the grey pavement, their backpacks hanging off their shoulders. Linda is telling Sherry about something Pippa had said in the post office. Sherry laughs, for Linda’s benefit. However, behind the laugh there is sadness, which Linda registers.

 

‘You’re not here, are you, Shez?’ she says, shutting the door on another load of football shirts.

Sherry bites her bottom lip to save herself from crying. A single tear falls, nevertheless.

Linda sits on the window ledge and looks out onto the street.

‘Rio it ain’t, eh, Sis?’ she sighs.

Sherry half-smiles.

‘Definitely not Rio, Lin.’

‘But with its own charm, would you say?’

‘I, I don’t… I think…’

‘Don’t answer that, Shez. I know what you’re thinking.’

Sherry turns to Linda and grabs her arm.

‘Oh, Lin. You’d love Rio. The heat, the dancing, the smell of the street food…’

‘..the heatstroke, the violent crime, the earthquakes…’

Sherry frowns. ‘Well, every place has its downside.’

Linda points to the street.

‘No earthquakes here. The occasional pothole, I’ll give you that. And it would be very difficult to get burnt by the sun. And you can have a dance at The Cross on New Year’s Eve.’

Sherry laughs.

‘You make it sound so appealing, Sis. Why ever would I be thinking about Rio when I have The Cross on New Year’s Eve to look forward to?’

Linds puts her arm around her sister and pulls her close.

I’m here,’ she says, ‘that’s the best thing. That’s the reason you should stay here and make your life with Carlos. He’ll get used to it. He could play darts in The Cross. He’s a bit young for the walking football team, but the domino players are always looking for fresh talent.’

Sherry strokes Linda’s arm.

‘I don’t know if you’re being serious or ironic,’ she says.

‘Ironic? I wouldn’t know how to be. I’m just saying it like it is.’

It’s Sherry now who sighs,

‘When I went to the States - and I know it didn’t work out the way I thought it would – I got a glimpse of what my life could be, Lin. And then Rio and Carlos. My life isn’t this.

Linda gets up and goes over to the washing machines. She turns the dials to give an extra ten minutes washing time.

‘Okay, I was being ironic,’ she says, returning to the window ledge. It has started to rain, huge drops battering the window.

‘Would you leave here, if you could?’ Sherry asks.

‘In a heartbeat, girl!’

Sherry’s face lights up. She jumps from the window ledge.

‘Then why don’t you come and live in Rio, with me and Carlos!’

Linda leans back.

‘Whoa! Hold on a minute. You are assuming first that Carlos is going to marry you, and second that he wants to go back to Rio.’

‘Of course he’ll want to marry me. Who wouldn’t?’ Sherry pouts and flutters her eyelashes. ‘Oh, Sis, it’ll be great. We’re made for Rio!’

‘I might be, you might be, Carlos might be, but…’

‘…Allen.’ Sherry slumps against a spin dryer which has just finished its cycle.

‘Yes, Allen. I can’t leave him to go to Rio with you. And you wouldn’t want him to come with us, would you?’

Sherry ponders the question.

‘If it makes you happy, then I’ll put up with him.’

‘Oh, that’s very generous of you,’ laughs Linda.

Sherry is about to speak when the door opens.

‘Allen!’ Sherry throws her arms around his neck and kisses him on the cheek. ‘We’re all going to Rio!’

Allen wipes his cheek with the back of his hand.

‘Oh, that new Brazilian place in Wolverhampton? I’ve heard good things about it. You can have as much meat as you can eat. They slice it off the bone at your table. Yeah, I’m up for it. We could have a few pints in the King’s Arms first.’

Sherry groans and looks at Linda.

‘I hope you’ll both be happy festering in Loserville!’

 

~

 

Ethel cleans the table after her last customer has left the café. She turns the sign on the door to ‘closed’. Edward had phoned earlier to arrange collection of his belongings. For a moment she considered telling him that she’d made a mistake and that he should stay. But it was only the briefest of moments. She looks at the sign above the counter. Billy’s.

The café would always be Billy’s and so would she. She blows a kiss toward the sign. She finishes the washing up and cleans down the kitchen surfaces. When everything is spotless she switches out the light, puts on her coat and picks up her bag. Just as she reaches the door she feels a presence behind her.

‘I’ve done the right thing, haven’t I, Billy?’ she whispers.

She feels a patch of warmth on her shoulder and reaches her hand round to touch the spot.

‘Thanks, love. You were right all along,’ she says and walks out into the street.


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