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  • Michael Braccia

Leeford Village - Episode 124

Episode 124: A novel ending?


Previously in Leeford Village:

 

Cody confronts Agnes about her meeting with Daniel Windrush and discovers that Adam is not his son. Adam explains his inheritance to Cody. Cody tells Adam to inform Agnes that their marriage is over.

 

‘Just go home, Adam. I need to clear my head.’

Adam rises and puts his hand on Cody’s shoulder.

‘I love you, Dad. You know this won’t change anything, don’t you?’

Cody taps the back of Adam’s hand.

‘Just go home, son.’

‘Son. You called me “son”,’ says Adam, a lump rising up in his throat.

‘Yeah, well. Off you go,’ says Cody, with a wave of his hand.

Adam walks for a few metres then stops and turns back towards his father.

‘You won’t do anything stupid, will you?’ he asks.

Cody looks straight ahead.

‘I’ve been stupid all my life. Why change now?’ He manages a wry smile.

‘I’m serious, Dad. I’m not sure I can leave you here.’

Cody turns his head towards Adam. Not for the first time he sees that they bear no resemblance to each other, a fact that he has always put down to Agnes having stronger genes. Can he see Daniel Windrush in Adam’s face? He’s not sure, but doesn’t look too hard.

‘Adam. I won’t do anything stupid. Just let me deal with this in my own way. Please.’

‘Okay, Dad,’ says Adam, walking away.

 

~

 

Frank Watson is proud of his census form design, even though it is something that he wished he did not have to produce. The format of the form was supposed to be agreed by the parish council, but Frank has decided that it is a task he needs to take on himself, on the basis that the less the councillors know what’s going on, the better. The questions have been provided by Banfield Council and are the usual ones associated with the national census, though there are fewer of them. It has been explained to Frank that the council needs to know how many people live in Leeford and the demographic, in order to help them allocate resources and determine which services can be shared between Leeford and Bordsley, and which could be closed down to save money. Frank saves the document. He sighs loudly. He attaches the document to an email to the printer in Birmingham who has agreed to print the forms within twenty-four hours. Just before he presses the SEND button, he has an idea. He removes the document from the email and opens it up on his screen. He looks through the questions again. Then he adds another at the bottom of the form:

 

Do you think that Leeford Village should remain independent, or merge with Bordsley?

 

He then provides tick boxes for the two options, ‘yes’ or ‘no’, saves the document and attaches it to the email. He takes a deep breath and presses SEND.

 

‘That should set the cat among the pigeons,’ he says and sits back in his desk chair with a smile of satisfaction across his face.

 

~

 

Cody walks through the village, a forlorn figure under the glow of the streetlights. Although he said to Adam that he wanted to clear his head, he has no idea how to do that. As he approaches The Cross he hears a voice behind him.

‘Coming for a swift half, Cody?’ The voice is Jason Owens. Cody stops in front of the pub’s entrance.

‘Hello, Jason. No, I won’t join you.’

Jason takes a step back.

‘What’s up? You look like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.’

Cody thrusts his hands into his pockets.

‘You could say that, Jase.’

‘Then a swift half might do the trick,’ suggests Jason, cheerily.

Cody shakes his head.

‘A drink is the last thing I need. Thanks, anyway.’

Jason shrugs his shoulders.

‘Suit yourself. I’m going in.’

Jason steps up to the threshold and goes to push the door open.

‘Jason. How’s that book of yours coming along?’ asks Cody.

Jason steps back onto the street.

‘I’m approaching the finish line, actually. Should be ready for publication in a couple of weeks. Why?’

‘Is there room for one more chapter?’

Jason puffs out his cheeks.

‘Might be difficult. You can’t just add a chapter without building up to it.’

‘Hmm,’ says Cody. ‘You know that character that is a bit of a, er, philanderer?’

Jason blushes.

‘Look, Cody. These are characters, not actual people who live in Leeford. You know that, right?’

Cody smiles. ‘Okay, Jase. But it’s me, right?’

Jason remains silent.

‘Well, I have a brilliant story about, er, the character that would turn your novel into a blockbuster,’ says Cody.

‘What story?’

‘I’ll come round to see you tomorrow and tell it to you. Believe me, you will be amazed.’

Jason is about to speak when Cody turns on his heels and continues his walk through the village.

 

~

 

Pippa and Harry Smestow have moved into the back room of the post office, Pippa having agreed that Harry could stay for another half an hour.

‘You’ve done well for yourself, Pip,’ asserts Harry.

‘Have I?’ Pippa looks around the room. ‘You mean all this?’

‘Yes. Postmistress is a very important role in a village. I bet you are at the heart of everything that goes on.’

Pippa laughs, aware of her reputation.

‘I suppose. I love living in Leeford and I like my job, though I never planned for my life to turn out how it has.’

‘Oh? And what was your plan?’ asks Harry.

‘I always wanted to be a travel agent.’

Harry raises his eyebrows.

‘Travel agent? But you studied accountancy – and were very good at it from what I remember.’

‘Yes. And it’s come in useful over the years. But it’s not what I wanted to do. It was my dad that guided me down that route.’

‘Guided?’

‘Well, pushed. He always said that if I could work with figures, I’d always have a job. I suppose he was right and he had my best interests at heart. But I was always more interested in the world outside accountancy.’

‘Did you travel, after you left university?’

‘I did the backpacking thing after I left Bristol. For two years. Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam. I even ventured into China. I loved the idea of travel and wanted to make it happen for other people. But I fell into a job when I got back and here I am. A postmistress in Leeford.’

Harry looks down at his hands.

‘Pippa, you know I always wanted us to make a life together, don’t you?’

‘Is that what you said in your letters? The ones I didn’t read?’

Harry nods slowly. ‘When I didn’t receive any replies, I resigned myself to never seeing you again. I fell into a loveless marriage, had a child and got a divorce as soon as James started secondary school. I’ve thought of you every single day.’

Pippa notices tears forming in Harry’s eyes. Memories of their brief time together come flooding back to her. He was kind, funny in a self-deprecating way and always interesting. She had been madly in love with him, even though she knew that the relationship was doomed to failure.

She feels a flutter in the middle of her chest, the same feeling she used to have whenever Harry walked into the lecture theatre.

‘It was a long time ago, Harry,’ she says, after a lengthy silence. ‘We are different people now.’

Harry shakes his head vigorously. ‘No. No, we’re not. I thought you might be different, but you are still that wonderful girl I fell in love with. Have always been in love with.’

Harry starts to cry. Pippa pulls a tissue out of her pocket and hands it to him. He wipes his eyes.

‘I’m sorry,’ he says, blowing his nose. ‘Look at me, blubbing like a love-struck teenager.’

Pippa smiles. ‘It’s okay, Harry. It really is okay.’

 

~

Linda unwraps her sandwiches and offers one to Carlos. All the washing and drying machines are empty after a busy morning and Linda is glad of the break. Carlos takes a sandwich, much to Linda’s disappointment as she only has two and BLT is her favourite.

‘So, Carlos. You want to marry my sister, but you need to know whether she wants to marry you, for you, or because you might take her back to Rio one day?’

Carlos swallows.

‘That is correct, Linda. You have given an accurate summary.’

‘But you are already married, to a girl in Rio and, if you go back there, your father will kill you?’

‘Or her father.’

‘Your father will kill her father?’

Carlos swallows another mouthful of sandwich.

‘No. If my father doesn’t kill me, her father will.’

Linda puts down her sandwich without taking a bite.

‘Then whatever Sherry thinks, and I don’t know what she thinks, you are up a creek with no paddle’

‘Eh?’ says Carlos pushing the last of the sandwich into his mouth.

‘You are on a sticky wicket.’

‘I know not what you mean. I no sail, nor play cricket.’

Linda laughs. ‘I’m playing with you. What I mean is, you are in a very difficult situation.’

‘Yes, I know that. You no need to tell me. I know. And now I come to you to give me advice.’

Linda laughs. ‘Me? I’ve no idea, mate. Don’t get me involved. All I know is that you are messing with my little sister’s head and I wish you’d never come here.’

‘You no like me? Why you not like me?’

Linda picks up her sandwich.

‘I didn’t say I don’t like you. I just wish you hadn’t come here. Can’t you see what a problem you’ve caused?’ Linda puts down her sandwich.

Carlos bites his bottom lip. ‘I can see that. But I am a nice guy and I love Sherry. I want marry her, but I need know she loves me, not only Rio. I very confused.’

‘You and me both, mate,’ says Linda, as Carlos reaches down, picks up Linda’s sandwich and takes a bite.


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