Previously in Leeford Village: Suptra and Nita make the decision not to go back to India. Gail Perkins reveals her past relationship with Nick Allthorpe and knows who is responsible for the fire at the hairdressers – but is not saying. Allen Gomez, the duplicitous lothario, is confronted by Sherry and Linda. Some of the younger Leeford residents have decided to form a band to enter the talent contest at the Community Centre and The Cross is looking to start a football team.
‘A bit of a Romeo aren’t we Mr Gomez?’
Linda stands with her hands on her hips. Allen Gomez’s usual confident manner had deserted him the moment he saw Linda and Sherry standing in the dim glow of the security light.
‘What do you have to say for yourself?’
Linda is not going to let him leave without an explanation, but Allen’s mouth is so dry he can hardly speak. He smiles instead.
‘And you can wipe that smile off your face!’
Linda can hear in her own voice that of her mother’s, scolding her whenever she had misbehaved. This amuses her slightly, but she remains straight faced. Allen spreads his arms wide.
‘I’m sorry, Linda. I just thought…’
‘You just thought that it would be cool to have both of us on the go at the same time, eh?’
Allen looks down at the floor. He hasn’t felt this humiliated since he was made to stand up in front of the whole regional sales team to explain it was his poor sales figures that had prevented the whole team achieving their bonus for the year. He had resigned shortly afterwards and made a vow to himself that he was never going to work for anyone again. Right now, with Linda Cross moving ever closer to him in a threatening manner, it is difficult to see how he can resign from this situation.
‘Linda, I’m, I feel…’ he stutters. She is so close to him now that he can feel her breath on his face. He gulps.
‘If you ever, EVER, go anywhere near my sister again, then I will make you pay dearly!’
‘I will tell everyone, what a sleazy, selfish character you really are. You understand?’
Allen nods, his forehead almost touching Linda’s.
‘Say it, then.’
He licks his lips which are so dry they are stuck together.
‘Yes, I think you do.’
‘I do. I understand.’
She nods again.
‘Good. Now kiss me!’
A person walking past the vicarage might feel a pang of nostalgia for a gentler way of life as they hear the strains of a Vaughan Williams song coming through Reverend John Peterson’s open study window. Or, they might feel uplifted by a Handel oratorio, or even pause to question the deeper meaning of life after a few bars of a Mahler symphony. But not today. Today, the sounds coming from the vicarage are such as never been heard before in Leeford Village. The sounds of guitars tuning, the opening riff of Times Like These, played through every effects pedal known to man in such a way that would be completely unrecognisable to the Foo Fighters, who wrote it. And then there is the bass, which, if the volume were to be turned up half a notch would dislodge masonry that had weathered many a storm over centuries.
Zack was correct is assuming Clare would know a bass player and Ziggy has turned up and tuned up and is adjusting his strap, so his bass is just above his knees. Unbeknown to Zack his soundproofed room is effective to the extent that no-one in the house can hear him practising his violin (which none of his friends know anything about), or his father tinkering on the piano, preparing for an upcoming service. It is not so effective for an onslaught of amplification. Luckily, Zack and his friends are the only ones in the house and are blissfully unaware of the quizzical looks on the faces of passers-by.
‘Where’s Clare?’ shouts Simon, eyeing the empty drum stool at the back of the room.
‘She’s on her way!’ Simon tries to lip read Zack, but fails and shrugs his shoulders.
‘She’s on her way!’ Zack shouts again. Another shrug.
Zack goes over to Adam’s amplifier and pulls out the lead. Silence.
‘What the…’ says Adam, looking down at his guitar switches.
‘Give it a rest, Adam. I can’t hear myself shout,’ says Zack.
Ziggy goes to pluck another deep note, but receives a look from Adam that causes him to rethink his move.
‘Now I can speak.’
The others put down their instruments, in case the temptation to play gets the better of them.
‘Clare’s on the way. Before she comes, I want us to work out this song I wrote a couple of weeks ago.’ He pulls a folded sheet of paper out of his back pocket and spreads it on top of Adam’s amplifier.
‘It’s a love song…’
Immediately, there is a collective groan from the others.
‘Is it called “Clare” by any chance?’
Zack ignores Adam’s comment.
‘It goes like this.’
Zack proceeds to sing a couple of verses of the song. The others nod their approval.
‘Well, it’s got something, mate, even if it is a love song,’ says Simon. ‘Have you got the chords, so we can have a go?’
‘I have. But, here’s the killer chorus.’ Zack belts out the chorus. When he finishes the others look at each other. Then at Zack.
‘Mate. You’re not really going to sing that are you?’ says Adam.
Zack looks bemused. ‘Of course, it’s the best bit of the song.’
Adam and Simon both look away. Ziggy shakes his head and plucks a low D that sends a framed family photo crashing to the floor.
‘Who, Gail? Who did you meet?’
The name almost escapes from Gail Perkins’ lips, but she checks herself and leans back in the chair.
‘What’s in it for me?’
Sergeant Stephen Miller does a double take.
‘What? What do you mean “what’s in it for me”?’
‘If I tell you who it is. What do I get out of it?’
Stephen throws his hands up in the air.
‘Unbelievable!’ He draws out the word.
Gail has the hint of a smile on her face.
‘I’m serious. If I’m going to give you vital information, information that would have taken you years to find out for yourself, then there has to be something in it for me.’
PC Gary Carr walks back into the room carrying three cups of tea on a tray. He places the tray on the table and passes one cup to Gail, one to Stephen, then sits down with his own cup in front of him.
‘Oh, thank you, Gary.’ Gail takes a sip of tea. ‘No biscuits?’
Gary stands,’ Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t…’
‘SIT DOWN!’ Stephen slams both hands on the table.
There is an uncomfortable silence before he speaks.
‘PC Carr. Miss Perkins here thinks that we should be rewarding her for the information she holds that will enable us to solve the crime.’
Gary takes a long drink of tea and smacks his lips.
‘Fair enough, Sarge.’
‘Fair enough? FAIR ENOUGH? Give me strength!’
Stephen spends the next silent minute trying to quell his anger and frustration. He takes a couple of deep breaths and, when he speaks again it is with his usual composure.
‘Look Gail. This is the situation. If you tell us who actually planted the device, whose idea it was, then it will help your case when you come to court to defend yourself against whatever we decide to charge you with. If you don’t, then we will have to assume that you carried out the whole operation and that could mean a long prison term.’
Gary drains his teacup.
‘Fair enough, Sarge.’
‘So what is it to be, Gail?’
Clare walks into the music room just as the rest of the band are finishing Zack’s song.
‘Hi! Perfect timing! Well, you are a drummer!’ Zack laughs at his own joke then hugs Clare. They embrace for what to the others is an extraordinarily long and unnecessary time, before Clare sits behind her kit. She makes a few minor adjustments, plays a couple of rolls across the kit and then waits.
‘What are we doing then?’ she asks, drumsticks poised.
‘A song I wrote a couple of weeks ago. You’ll love it. It’s really easy, isn’t it?’
Zack looks around at the others, who are looking glumly at their instruments.
‘Just play a straight 4/4 beat, but rock it up in the chorus.’
‘Ok,’ says Clare, ‘I’ll count you in.’ She clicks her sticks together four times and the band launch into the song. There are two verses and a short guitar solo from Adam, before a rising sequence of chord that leads into the chorus:
And I’m so glad that I met you
And I’ll never forget you, Aman----da.
It is a well-known fact, even to those with little musical knowledge, that in any rock song, once a drummer unexpectedly stops drumming, much of the power in the song is lost. Gradually, the others follow Clare’s lead and what follows can only be described as an awkward moment.
‘Why have we stopped,’ asks Zack. ‘It was sounding great!’
Clare puts down her sticks.
‘Who is Amanda? The girl you wrote the song for.’
‘It’s no one. It’s just something I wrote.’
‘A couple of weeks ago!’ Clare stands behind the kit.
‘Yeah. It’s not about anyone.’
The penny drops.
‘Oh, I can see why you…’
He is unable to finish the sentence before Clare rushes out of the room.
Adam bites his bottom lip. Simon scratches the back of his head.
‘I had to use Amanda. I needed a name with three syllables,’ offers Zack.
It is Ziggy who speaks.
‘I think you’ve just lost your girlfriend, mate.’
Zack’s face reddens.
‘It’s worse than that,’ says Adam, ’we’ve lost our drummer.’
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