Previously in Leeford Village: Sherry arrived for her date with Allen Gomez, but did not expect to meet Linda, who had also arrived for her date with Allen – on the wrong day. Gail Perkins is at the police station being questioned about the arson incident at the hairdresser’s, for which she is prime suspect. Zack is being accused of cheating during the Pound Challenge by Frank Watson.
An eerie silence descends on the whole pub as Zack makes his way to the bar. George, Ken and Cody look at each other, Jack looks bewildered and Clare looks at Zack, as she has done throughout the whole evening.
‘Give that phone here, my lad!’ Zack deposits his phone in Frank Watson’s outstretched hand.
‘Now, let’s see what you have been looking at while this challenge has been going on.’
Frank taps the screen, frowns, taps the screen again.
‘It’s password protected,’ says Cody, winking at Zack.
Frank hands the phone back to Zack.
‘Well, unprotect it, then!’
Zack taps in four numbers and is about to give the phone back to Frank, when Ted intervenes.
‘Hang on Zack. You’re not obliged to do that. There might be personal stuff on there, Frank. I suggest he gives the phone to me, so it’s out of his reach.’
Zack gives the phone to Ted, who puts it in his pocket.
‘I’m sorry, Ted. That’s not good enough. There’s money at stake here. And the reputations of those involved. And, if I may say, the integrity of the Pound Challenge, which attracts a sizeable crowd of paying customers.’ Frank points around the room at the customers enthralled by the situation unfolding in front of them.
Ted nods. ‘OK, Frank. You’re right. Mind if I tap in your passcode. Zack? I saw what it was. You can change it when you get the phone back.’
Ted taps in a code and hands the phone to Frank.
‘Right. This will confirm my suspicions, mark my words.’
Frank gives the phone a few taps and scrolls down the page. He stares at the screen for a while, his face turning redder and redder. A few beads of sweat form on his brow.
‘Something wrong, Frank?’ asks Ted.
‘It appears I might have made a slight error of judgement, Ted.’
‘Oh, what makes you think that?’
Frank swallows hard. He hands the phone to Ted.
‘Hmm. It seems that Zack’s recent browsing history points to him searching for weekend breaks in London. Hardly something that would lead to him being able to pass on the answers, is it Frank?’
George, Ken and Cody look at each other, shaking their heads. Clare continues to look at Zack, marvelling at how calm he remains in the face of a crisis.
‘I, I, I don’t understand…he, I’m sure…but, I thought…’, mutters Frank.
‘I think an apology is in order, Frank,’ says Ted.
Frank straightens his tie and coughs.
‘Of course. I apologise unreservedly, Zack. I made a terrible error of judgement. I beg your forgiveness.’ He offers his hand out to Zack, who takes it, reluctantly.
‘S’OK,’ he says.
Frank looks at his watch. ‘It that the time? Well, I’d better be off. Goodnight all.’
He marches across the room and pushes through the double doors that open onto the street.
‘OK, everyone. Normal service is resumed!’ shouts Ted. Gradually, the customers pick up their drinks and soon there is the normal buzz of a pub on a busy Tuesday evening.
George, Ken, Cody and Jack stand looking confused. Zack is about to join them, when Ted beckons him.
‘Zack! A word!’
At the police station, PC Gary Carr and Sgt Stephen Miller are standing outside the interview room. Sitting inside is Gail Perkins, waiting to be questioned.
‘Just to fill you in, Gary, the owner of the ring has agreed not to press charges against Clara. I explained that Clara has been quite distressed lately and that what she did was totally out of character.’
‘Yes, I was surprised when I heard about it, Sarge.’
‘Also, she didn’t exactly steal the ring, she just didn’t give it back when it was reported lost, so it would be difficult to charge her with theft.’
Gary nods in agreement.
‘Anyway, it’s all done and dusted. I’ll call and see Suptra in the morning. Poor man has had such a fright!’
They look through the one-way mirror at Gail Perkins, sitting motionless as she has done since arriving at the station.
‘OK, Gary. Let’s get on with it!’
They enter the room and sit opposite Gail, who continues to stare straight ahead.
Stephen begins. ‘Miss Perkins. Thank you for being patient. We’d like to ask you a few questions.’
Ted takes Zack into a small room behind the bar, stacked with crates of soft drinks and boxes of crisps.
‘Thanks for that, Ted. You’ve saved my life! But, how did you do that stuff with the phone? You must be a magician. Can I have it back?’
Ted puts his hand firmly on Zack’s shoulder.
‘Don’t you ever do that in my pub again! Do you hear?’
Zack immediately feels two feet smaller.
‘You did cheat. I know that and so do you.’
Zack looks down at his trainers.
‘Yes, I did. I’m sorry. We were trying to stitch Jack up.’
Ted releases his grip.
‘Well, I’m disappointed in you. But, I’m more disappointed in those that agreed to go along with it and I’ll be having words with them too.’
Zack looks up at Ted.
‘I won’t do it again.’
‘I know you won’t, Zack.’
Zack smiles weakly and turns to go back to the bar.
‘Hang on,’ says Ted, reaching into his pocket. ‘Your phone.’
He hands the phone to Zack.
‘Wait. Just let me check it’s the right one.’ He pulls a phone from his other pocket.
Zack looks at the phone in his hand and the one in Ted’s.
Ted winks. ‘I know. I have no idea what your passcode is. I had been searching for a city break for me and Sally, later in the year. The phone Frank Watson was looking at was mine.’
‘Ted, you’re a genius.’ Zack laughs and Ted cannot help smiling.
‘Thanks for doing this for me.’
‘You? I didn’t do it for you! You see how popular the Pound Challenge is. I can’t afford to lose my punters because of your cheating!’
Zack walks away sheepishly.
‘Anyway,’ Ted shouts. ‘You’re not off the hook, entirely, my boy.’
Zack stops and turns.
‘What d’ya mean?’
‘Your Clare will be expecting you to take her on one of those City Breaks she thinks you’ve been looking at!’
Ted bursts into fits of laughter as Zack skulks back to the bar.
‘Gail. This is not helping. If you know something about the fire at the hairdresser’s, and we’ve every reason to believe you might, then it’s best you say so.’
Gail Perkins continues to look straight ahead, ignoring Sergeant Miller’s words.
‘Sergeant Miller is right, Gail. You will have to speak if this goes to court.’
She briefly looks at Gary Carr and then straight ahead again.
‘I’ll ask you one more time, Gail. Do you know anything about the recent fire at Jessica’s?’
At the sound of Jessica’s name, Stephen Miller notices Gail clench her hand into a fist.
‘Jessica Townley. I believe you and she have a bit of history.’
‘What did she tell you?’ Gail suddenly becomes animated and thumps her fist down on the table.
‘Eh? What did she tell you?’ she repeats, thumping her fist down again.
Stephen and Gary look at each other.
Stephen asks, ‘What do you think she might have told us, Gail?’
Gail relaxes her hands and stares straight ahead.
‘Look, Gail. We’ve had enough. If you’re refusing to cooperate, then I’m going to have to arrest you on suspicion of arson. Of course you can call your solicitor, but I suggest we keep it to a chat at this point, until the facts can be established.’
Gail leans back in her chair. ‘OK. I know something about the fire at the hairdresser’s.’
‘Now, we’re getting somewhere,’ says Stephen, trying to keep the conversation friendly, despite his obvious irritation.
‘Yeah, I know something about it. But it wasn’t me that caused it.’
‘What am I doing here? What are you doing here? You said you were meeting your friends in East Banfield.’
‘And you said you were going to Wolverhampton.’
The two sisters glare at each other, rapidly thinking of an excuse for being in the car park.
It’s Sherry who speaks first.
‘If you must know, I’m meeting a fellah.’
‘A fellah? Who?’
‘I’m not saying.’
‘Anyone I know?’
Sherry fiddles with a long string of beads she is wearing around her neck.
‘Maybe. Maybe not.’
‘Oh, come on, Sherry. You’re not ten years old!’
‘Ok, if you must know, I’m meeting Allen Gomez.’
Linda’s eyes widen. ‘Sorry. Did you say, Allen Gomez?’
‘Yeah. He texted me. Says he wants to go on a date.’
Linda looks up to the sky, then down at the floor.
‘Well, would you believe it?’
‘Yeah. Actually. I’ve always thought he fancied me,’ says Sherry, with a wide grin.
‘So, why the secrecy?’
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
Sherry wraps her necklace around her fingers.
‘Because he told you not to tell your sister? Is that it?’
Sherry shakes her head. ‘Sorry, how do you know that?’
‘Because he told me the same thing!’
‘Oh my God! He wants to date both of us? On the same night?’ Sherry lets go of the necklace and the beads rattle as they fall back into position.
‘What a creep!’
‘Yes,’ agrees Linda, ‘what a creep!’
‘I didn’t know he fancied you, Linda. He hardly ever speaks to you when he comes in the laundrette.’
Linda feels a chill run down her spine.
‘Er, no. I didn’t know, either.’
‘Well, he’s going to have such a surprise when he finds us both here!’
‘Yeah,’ says Linda, in a very small voice, ‘he is.’
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