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  • Michael Braccia

Leeford Village - episode 127

Episode 127: Couples United


Previously in Leeford Village:

 

Cody and Agnes have found a suitable place to avoid being eaten by the lion – the market toilets. Agnes tells Cody that the coast is clear. Frank, unaware of the presence of the lion, goes into the café. He escapes and calls the police. Jasmine and Justin are getting very close on the floor in the café storeroom. At first, Frank thinks that Albert has eaten Ethel, but the shoe he can see on the floor of the café is not a style that Ethel wears.

 

~

 

‘I thought it was funny that no customers had turned up,’ says Pippa.

‘Once we heard the police warning, it made sense, didn’t it?’ replies Harry.

 

Pippa nods, and passes a cup of tea to Harry. He smiles, places his cup on the post office counter and moves towards her.

 

‘What are you doing?’ she asks, backing away, her heart beating fast.

‘I still want you, Pippa, after all this time.’

‘What if someone comes in?’

 

Harry smiles again, then walks over to the door.

 

‘We’ve locked out the lion, and everything else. We’ve got some catching up to do.’

‘No, Harry.’

‘Does that mean never?’ he asks.

 

Pippa pauses, touches his hand and points to the chairs.

‘Let’s just sit and chat. We need to get to know each other again. Things have changed so much.’

 

~

 

 

Frank Watson does not realise that the door to the café has an unreliable locking mechanism. Ethel knows the door of old. She has to jiggle the key in the lock to open it, and, when the door is shut, it has a tendency to re-open. This is not usually a problem, but Billy’s Café does not normally have an escaped lion on the premises. When Frank left the café, his bravery didn’t prevent him from shaking, sweating and needing to lean against the wall just round the corner from the café as he waited for the police.

 

Out of sight from Frank and before Stephen Miller drives his car onto the pavement near the café, Albert nudges the café door. It opens wide enough for the lion to make his escape for the second time. He carefully pads through the market, reaching the toilet just as Cody joins Agnes on the pavement between the toilet and the market stalls. Albert starts to run, picking up speed quickly, and is upon Agnes before she can scream. Cody dives down behind a stall as Albert raises his front right leg and takes a swipe at Agnes, knocking her to the ground.

 

Cody screams, ‘Agnes, oh, Agnes!’

 

Albert stands over Agnes. She has fainted. Cody is now standing behind the fruit and veg stall. The stallholder must have abandoned his post, he thinks. Cody grabs a cabbage, a melon and a few bananas and starts throwing them at the lion. Albert spins round, but quickly takes a great interest in what, to him, is a snack. Noticing this, Cody throws a selection of fruit and veg across the marketplace, away from Agnes. Albert runs again, but this time towards the growing collection of food strewn across the pavement. Cody steps out from behind the stall and someone shouts out, ‘down! Get down on the ground!’ Cody has reached his prostrate wife who is still not conscious. He dives to the ground by Agnes as the voice repeats the instruction. Albert turns round and he is heading for Cody and Agnes. He stops and roars. Cody puts his arm around Agnes and hugs her. Albert is now less than six feet away from them, but he falls to the ground as a dart pierces his front left leg.

 

Stephen and Gary run towards the lion, Cody and Agnes, supported by three zoo staff who are armed with dart guns.

 

‘One dart won’t do it!’ the zookeeper shouts. ‘Get those people clear and we’ll tranquilise Albert again.’

 

Stephen and Gary don’t argue. They help Cody to carry Agnes to the car.

 

‘Get an ambulance here quickly, Gary. We’ll get her in the car with George until they arrive.’

 

 

~

 

 

 

It is still quiet in the café. As Justin gets up from the floor to listen at the storeroom door, Jasmine pulls the blanket they had found in Ethel’s cupboard around her.

 

‘You look beautiful lying there,’ he says.

 

Jasmine giggles, and replies, ‘I think it might be an idea if you put your trousers back on before someone opens the door.’

‘As long as it’s not the lion,’ he replies, smiling. ‘Anyway, what will they say if they see your skirt and blouse hanging over the chair? And, don’t forget, it’s locked and we’ve put all that stuff up against the door.’

 

As he sits on the floor by her side, she kisses him gently. ‘You are gorgeous, Justin. Did you know that? That’s the first thing I’d say. I don’t care what they’d say.’

‘What would the second thing be?’

‘I’ll just say that I split a drink over my clothes when the lion came toward me. I hung them up to dry.’

‘You didn’t see the lion,’ says Justin.

‘They don’t know that.’

 

They hear a noise in the café. A different noise, not an animal. A voice shouts out, ‘is anyone in there? Are you okay?’

 

‘Get dressed, quick, Jasmine,’ says Justin, fastening his trousers. ‘I’ll buy us some time.’

 

He goes back to the door. ‘Just be a minute! We barricaded ourselves in to keep the lion out!’


 

 

Stephen Miller taps on the door. ‘How many customers are in there?’

‘Two!’ replies Justin.

‘You’re clear to come out when you’re ready,’ replies Stephen. ‘We’ve found Ethel. She’s fine. Albert has been caught!’

 

Jasmine and Justin both burst out laughing as Jasmine buttons up her blouse.

 

‘Albert?’ they say, simultaneously.

 

 

~

 

 

 

In the Urgent Treatment Centre at Banfield Hospital, Agnes is in a cubicle waiting for a junior doctor to examine her.

 

‘Junior doctor,’ says Cody. ‘What is he? Twelve? Hope his mommy is here to⸺’

‘Oh, please Cody, shut up!’

‘Sorry, love.’

 

She takes his hand, saying, ‘I didn’t mean to snap. I know you’re just joking. I don’t know what I’d do without you.’

‘I’m sorry too, Agnes. I was really scared at the market.’

‘What, of the lion?’

‘No, honestly, you know that since the – you know, the thing with Daniel Windrush – I’ve lost hope a bit…’

‘What, love?’

‘I was terrified that I might lose you today, Agnes.’

‘Oh, Cody.’

 

Tears roll down her face.

 

‘Do you still⸺’

‘Yes, Agnes, I still love you.’

‘Can you forgive me, Cody?’

 

He smiles, and takes both of her hands. ‘It’s been hard for me to take, but I can see why you found it difficult to tell me about Daniel and Adam. I won’t be going into that chemist shop in a hurry. I’ll use the one at Bordsley.’

‘What about Adam?’

‘What do you mean, Agnes?’

‘Will you have anything to do with him now?’

 

Cody pauses.

 

‘I’ll say this, Agnes. After you, I’ve never loved anyone more than I love that boy. He’s my son. Maybe not biologically, but he is my son. Our son.’

 

Agnes reaches up to him. Cody leans over the bed and takes her in his arms.


 

 

‘I love both of you.’

‘Same for me, Cody. Same for me.’

 

Doctor Palawi has witnessed most of the exchange between Cody and Agnes from the safety of the curtain draped around the cubicle. He didn’t want to interrupt a special moment between husband and wife, but couldn’t drag himself away. Doctor Palawi takes a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and sniffles, as he joins them in the cubicle.

 

‘Oh, I think that is beautiful,’ he says.

‘Are you going to examine my wife?’ asks Cody, sneering. Just a little.

‘Oh, yes, sorry. I can see that you have recovered from your ordeal.’

 

Cody puffs out his chest. ‘Well, doctor, I’ve had better days.’

‘No, I was talking to your wife, Mr Thornton.’  The doctor holds Agnes’s wrist and checks his watch.

‘As I was saying,’ he says, pausing to glance at Cody, ‘you have recovered well from the shock. There are no serious injuries. Just a few bruises where the lion swiped you. No claw marks, though, that’s a blessing.’

 

Agnes, always a great supporter of the NHS, and in particular, young, good-looking doctors, gazes at Palawi’s face, but turns her head away as she notices Cody’s expression. The doctor continues.

 

‘I think you should be able to go home once we’ve checked you over to make sure you’re okay.’

 

 

~

 

 

Frank enters the reception at the community centre with some purpose, his manner noticed by Jessica Townley as she watches him walk from his car.

 

‘King Charles is on his way here,’ she tells Nick.

‘What can you possibly mean by that?’

‘You know what I mean – Frank Watson, pain of this parish, who else?’

 

Nick’s shoulders seem to drop a couple of inches.

 

‘Yes, he phoned earlier and said he had something to discuss. Anyway, here he is.’

‘Nick! Jessica! Lovely to see you.’

 

Frank is offered a chair next to one of the tables set out for the Leeford Ladies Knitting Group, and he is politely informed by Jessica that they have twenty minutes to spare before the ‘great knits’ of the village descend upon them. As Nick’s shoulders are lowered, his eyebrows rise after Jessica’s comment. Frank wastes no time in making his point to the couple.

 

‘I want to start the plans for this year’s fête.’

 

‘Okay, Frank. What did you have in mind?’ asks Nick.

‘Something very different, and recent events have influenced my thinking.’

‘Fire away,’ says Nick,

‘Drone racing.’

‘Drone racing?’ enquires Jessica.


 

 

‘Yes, that will interest the kids. Then we can have a beer-drinking competition – something for the lads.’

‘Go on,’ says Nick.

‘A ladies’ weight loss challenge.’

‘Anything else?’ asks Nick.

‘Yes,’ says Frank, ‘I have come up with one more idea for an event.’

‘What’s that then?’ says Jessica.

 

A long pause for effect, then Frank launches his pièce de resistance.

 

‘Lion taming.’


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