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  • Michael Braccia

Leeford Village - Episode 118

Episode 118: Grandfathers


Previously in Leeford Village:

 

Cody questions why everyone is being so secretive and is told that there is a birthday party at the community centre being planned for him. Adam announces his engagement to Meredith. Meredith surprises everyone, including Adam, by announcing she is pregnant. Sherry proposes to Carlos, who reveals that he is already married to a girl in Rio, called Anita, and that he cannot go back home for fear of what his father might do.

~

 

 

It's not often there is silence in the Thornton household, with the sound of the chip fryers and the chattering of customers below the flat being clearly audible for much of the day. Not to mention Agnes’s and Cody’s regular (and always lovingly resolved) altercations that punctuate the day’s progress (and, often, the evening’s). But, if tumbleweed were to swirl across the patterned Wilton carpet in the moments following Meredith’s announcement, no one would be surprised.

 

Adam speaks first.

‘Meredith, that’s really, erm, well, what I mean is…’

Before he can finish constructing his sentence, Agnes lunges towards Meredith and wraps her arms around her, before pulling back suddenly.

‘Oh, I’m sorry, perhaps I shouldn’t…’

Meredith smiles. ‘It’s fine, Agnes. I’m only twelve weeks. Hug me if you like.’

Agnes does just that, holding on for a long time. When she finally lets go, she turns to look at Adam, his complexion paler than it was prior to Meredith’s announcement.

‘Oh, Meredith. You mean we’re going to have a baby?’

Meredith nods excitedly.

It’s Adam’s turn to hug Meredith, following it up with a long kiss, much to the embarrassment of Agnes and the envy of Cody (though he would never dare admit it).

Cody takes Meredith’s hands and leans in to kiss her on both cheeks. Then he shakes Adam’s hand. ‘That means, I’m going to be a grandfather!’ he exclaims. ‘I’m way too young, but wow! Of course, he’ll have to wear a Wolves shirt as soon as he can.’

‘Er, hang on there, grandad! I might want him to have a Leeds one,’ laughs Meredith. ‘Or even Southend United, the team my father supports. Though I don’t know why – he’s never been to Southend in his life!’

Agnes, Jasmine and Adam are gathered together in the corner of the room.

‘Could it get more complicated?’ whispers Jasmine to Agnes.

‘No, love,’ is Agnes’s reply.

 

~

 

Simon dials Zack’s number for the tenth time in an hour. Answerphone.

He leaves a message: ‘Pick up, Zack. I need to know what’s going on.’

 

Back at the vicarage, Zack is explaining his situation to his father, Revd. John Peterson.

The reverend listens carefully then sits back in his worn-leather office chair.

‘The way I see it, son, is that Mr Gomez is within his rights to sack you. You did breach your terms of employment after all.’

‘I didn’t know I had terms of employment, Dad.’

‘Did you have a letter saying when to start and what the pay would be?’

Zack thinks. ‘Yes, I’ve still got it.’

‘And was there anything else that came with the letter?’

Zacks thinks again. ‘Only a load of blurb about the council and some stuff about policies.’

‘Did you read it?’

‘Read it? No. There were pages of it. Really boring legal stuff.’

Revd. Peterson sighs.

‘Well, in among that really boring legal stuff would have been your terms of employment. I suggest you read it, not that it will get you your job back.’

Zack flushes. ‘When I said I didn’t read it, I meant I binned it.’

Another sigh from the reverend.

‘That’s that then. However, Allen Gomez can’t stop you working with Simon. That’s your business. And the council have agreed you can have that spot in the market, for which Simon has stumped up the money.’

‘Simon’s dad, actually.’

‘Whatever. Anyway, I suggest you go back to the market, get behind that coffee stall and make it a roaring success. And bring me a mocha - as my consultancy fee - when you finish for the day. Two sugars, please.’

Zack stands.

‘Thanks, Dad. I will. Me and Simon are going to be so rich. I’ll be able to tell Gomez where to stick his job and…’

‘Whoa, son! No need for that kind of language. Just go and do it, honourably.’

The doorbell rings.

‘I’ll go,’ calls a voice from outside the room. Revd. Peterson and Zack listen as Hilda, the vicar’s wife answers the door.

‘Hello, Frank. Come in. John’s in his study.’

The reverend puts his head in his hands. ‘Frank Watson. Oh, for Christ’s sake, not today!’

Zack puts his hand on his father’s shoulder.

‘Whoa, Dad! No need for that kind of language.’

 

~

The Thornton household has returned to something resembling normality. Cups of tea have been drunk and almost a packet of biscuits eaten, mostly by Agnes. The tension between Jasmine, Adam and Agnes has been well concealed from Cody and Meredith. However, it reaches a heightened level when Cody asks: ‘Adam, when I came in you were saying something about not being a Thornton. What did you mean?’

All eyes turn towards Adam.

‘Did I? I can’t remember now,’ he says, without conviction.

‘Yes. I think the exact words were, just as I find out that I’m not a Thornton at all. What did you mean?’ says Cody, beating Agnes to the last biscuit from the packet.

‘I really don’t…’ begins Adam, before he is rescued by Jasmine.

‘I remember, Adam. I was saying how much you and I look alike and that it must be Mom’s genes because neither of us looks like Cody. And you joked about maybe not being a Thornton.’

Cody laughs.

‘He’s definitely a Thornton. He’s as lazy as me and just as good-looking. And he has exactly the same taste in, er, music.’

Agnes frowns.

‘Music?’

‘Er, yes,’ says Cody, relieved that the word he was thinking of, women, did not come out.’

Adam stands.

‘This conversation is getting weird. I think I’m going out. Music? I hope not, Dad!’

 

~

 

John Peterson pours Frank a cup of tea.

‘Thank you, John. I’d be inclined to take something stronger, but I understand.’

John acknowledges the remark and pours a cup for himself.

‘So, Frank. What’s the burning issue that can’t wait until the next council meeting?’

‘Bordsley,’ says Frank, taking a sip of tea.

‘Bordsley,’ repeats John.

‘Do you know it?’ asks Frank.

‘Of course. I’m vicar there. As well as Leeford, Cordingley, Harrington and High Marley.’

Frank pours some tea into his saucer, then drinks from it.

John tries not to look disapproving.

‘Yes, I forgot you have to look after all the small churches these days. So, Bordsley.’

‘Yes, Frank. Bordsley.’

‘What do you know of it?’

Frank pours the remains of the tea in his saucer back into his cup.

‘Well, it’s small. Just a smattering of houses, really. A pub, small primary school, nineteen-seventies village hall. Nothing to distinguish it from any other village around here. Why do you ask?’

‘Do you know anyone there?’

‘Yes. Just about everyone.’

Frank puts down his cup.

‘I’m assuming you are on their parish council?’

John nods. ‘Of course. I’m the vicar, as I think I’ve said before.’

‘Yes, yes,’ says Frank agitatedly. ‘So, what are they like?’

‘They?’

‘The parish councillors.’

John ponders the question.

‘There’s five of them. They run a tight ship, actually. Very well respected by the community.’

Frank clasps his hands together.

‘Are they better than us?’

‘Better? In what way?’

Frank bites his bottom lip.

‘If you were to choose between Leeford Parish Council and Bordsley Parish Council, which one would you prefer?’

John sits back in his chair.

‘Bordsley. Every time. They have sandwiches at their council meeting and those push down coffee pots. I always love having a drink from those.’

Frank slaps his hand on his leg.

‘I’m serious, John. Who is the best? More to the point, is their leader better than me?’

John purses his lips.

‘Well, Margaret Phillips doesn’t drink her tea from a saucer, I’ll say that for her.’

At this, Frank stands.

‘I can see you’re not taking this potential catastrophe seriously, John. I’ll be on my way. I’ll see myself out.’ Frank turns and leaves John’s study.

‘Frank! What do you mean, ‘catastrophe’?’ he calls, but his question remains unanswered as he hears the front door slam.

‘For pity’s sake,’ says John. ‘What’s wrong with that man?’ He picks up his cup and pours some tea into the saucer. He raises it to his lips then puts it down again, without taking a drink. ‘What a strange habit,’ he says to himself.

 

~

 

The bell above the door of Burry’s clangs. Daniel Windrush, about to close for the day, walks from the raised area behind the counter that serves as a pharmacy.

‘Adam.’

‘Daniel. Or should I call you, ‘Dad’?’

‘Never. Cody’s your dad. I’m assuming he knows.’

Adam shakes his head.

‘Whyever not?’ asks Daniel, taking a step back.

‘Because it will break his heart,’ says Adam.

Daniel removes his white pharmacist’s coat and hangs it on the back of a chair

‘He needs to know, Adam. You are about to inherit a villa, your grandmother’s villa. How are you going to explain that?’

Adam straightens up a display of glucose tablet packets at the front of the counter.

‘I don’t want it. You can have it. She was your mother.’

Daniel scratches his head.

‘That can’t happen. She willed it to you. I’ve nothing to do with it. I suppose I could contest it, but that would make things very complicated.’

Adam puffs out his cheeks.

‘Well, I’m going to make things even more complicated.’

‘Oh?’ Daniel gulps.

‘You are, technically, going to be a grandfather.’

Daniel is speechless for a few moments and holds onto the back of the chair.

‘I’m going to be a grandfather!’

 

No one has heard Cody enter the chemist’s through the door left ajar by Adam.

‘You’re going to be a grandfather?’ he says, grinning. ‘Me too!’

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