Previously in Leeford Village: Gail Perkins has still not revealed the name of her accomplice, but Stephen Miller thinks he’s close to a breakthrough. Linda threatens Allen, saying that she will tell everyone about his behaviour if he goes near Sherry again. He says he understands, and she tells him to kiss her. The new rock band start their noisy practice at the vicarage, and Zack causes a problem in his relationship with Clare by singing about a girl called Amanda. Ted has started to sign people up for the new Leeford six-a-side walking football team.
‘Will you just listen to me for a minute?’
‘I’ve nothing to say to you Zack.’
‘Oh, so you are speaking to me then?’
This precipitates a stony silence of the Clare variety.
‘Look, there is no girl called Amanda. She doesn’t exist.’
‘Of course. I’m not going to be corny like the Oldies and say you’re the only girl for me, but you are.’
‘Zack, I do love you.’
‘Come here and prove it.’
‘Oh Zack, how did Ziggy get on?’
He leaves his hands on her shoulders, but hesitates.
‘Hang on Clare, forgot to ask. How do you know Ziggy?’
‘Didn’t I say? He’s my ex.’
‘Listen Gail, you can see what Stephen, er, Sergeant Miller, is like. He won’t give up. You might as well give him what he wants.’
‘Will it really help me?’
‘Of course. You will be charged at the very least with being an accessory. If you don’t cooperate, you might be classed as a co-principal.’
‘What does that mean, Gary?’
‘P.C. Carr to you.’
‘Ok, but what does it mean?’
‘If you are charged with arson, you could get life.’
She doesn’t need to speak. Gary has no need to push. She will tell Stephen what he wants to know, even though it will hurt her.
‘She’s ready then Gary?’
‘How do you know?’
‘You can be as thick as pudding, sometimes mate. The double-sided mirror?’
‘Oh, you were listening, boss?’
‘You do catch on quickly, but I have to say P.C. Carr, you’ve come up trumps this time with your little chat. I thought you were going to ask her out at one stage.’
‘Give me some credit...’
‘Never mind that, I’ll see Miss Perkins in a minute, but you do realise you were talking a lot of legal crap back there, don’t you?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Principal? What the hell was that?’
‘The main, y’know, criminal?’
Stephen can’t keep the smile from his face.
‘Gary, you really have been watching too many old episodes of Starsky and Hutch.’
‘Fargo – the Amercian crime series. Brilliant.’
‘Whatever Gary, but “Principal” in the UK is not the main criminal. In this country, the Principal is a person who gives another party the authority to act on their behalf.’
‘Ok, I’ve learned something, but it seems to be working, doesn’t it, boss?’ he replies with a smile.
‘I’ll give you this one, Gary, I’ll give you this one.’
He’ll never get through his sergeant’s exams, he thinks to himself.
‘That’s better. Now, this is being recorded and can be used as evidence in court. I am starting the tape now. For the tape, what is your name?’
‘Why did you have a grudge against Jessica Townley?’
‘Two things – first, she came along and ruined what I had going with Nick Allthorpe.’
‘We’ve spoken to Nick. He says it was a casual fling; two or three dates.’
‘I slept with him.’
‘I’m not sure that’s relevant to the case, but I will accept that you became infatuated with him. Is that true?’
‘If you want to put it that way, yes.’
‘And then he met Jessica.’
‘Dumped me like a brick in a canal.’
‘Then why target his girlfriend? He was the one that hurt you.’
‘Don’t know, I just did.’
‘Ok, then there was the hairdressing incident.’
‘Yes, but she paid for that. The money came in useful.’
‘You don’t seem so bothered about that.’
‘I was, until a few months ago, then I met him.’
‘How does he fit into this?’
‘I fell in love with him.’
‘Don’t judge me, Sergeant, but there was a scheme for single women to write to prisoners in jail.’
‘I’ve heard of that. So you became a pen pal to Martin. What was he in for?’
‘I see. What’s his background?’
‘Born in London, his Dad worked at the fish market, his Mom’s Swedish.’
‘The fish market.’
‘No, about his Mom!’
‘What happened next?’
‘We’d written to each other for nearly nine months, and he was due for early release. I met him in a pub in Banfield and I fell in love with him.’
‘Speaks Swedish does he?’
‘Well yes. Why?’
‘No reason, Gail, no reason.’
‘Tea, Sarge?’ interrupts Gary.
‘For God’s sake, Gary, this is not the time.’
‘Sorry Sarge, I’ll do it later.’
‘Gail, who initiated the idea of the fire at the salon?’
‘He did - it’s strange this, but he’d had a run-in with Jessica over some work he did for her.’
‘He’s a trained plumber and he worked on the toilets at the back of the salon. She claimed they kept overflowing after he’d finished the work, got somebody else to fix the problem and didn’t pay Martin.’
‘So, he’d got a grudge against her, and your grudge was with Nick, essentially.’
‘We’re getting somewhere now.’
‘Can I have a break?’
‘No, I’m tired.’
‘Sorry, Gail, I want to finish this. What happened next?’
‘I have knowledge of chemicals. It was a joke at first. You know how it is, over a few drinks. I suggested that we make a timed incendiary device that would fuse two chemicals together, causing a reaction and, well, a fire.’
‘He jumped at the idea. I wasn’t sure at first. I’d already had the money from Jessica – that was easy. She never argued about it – but he goaded me about Nick and finally persuaded me to help.’
‘What did you actually do?’
‘I didn’t make anything. I listed the relevant chemicals, told him how to mix them, and we both researched incendiary devices on the Net. He took control, and I would have done anything for him. Gave him a set of keys for the salon as well.’
‘Do you have an address for him?’
‘Only his Mom’s flat. His Dad died, and it was never clear where Martin lived. I could never work him out. He was strange, but had a way of drawing you in.’
‘Did you know about the drawings and the Swedish phrases?’
‘I heard about them, but Martin never mentioned it.’
‘Where is Martin now, Gail?’
‘I’ve no idea, Sergeant – honestly.’
‘Ok, Gail, you will be charged as an accessory, but I’m grateful that you have finally been honest. Thank you. Gary, that cup of tea would be welcome, wouldn’t it, Gail?’
‘What’s his full name?’
‘Changed it by Deed Poll.’
‘What was his real name?’
‘Right. I can see why he changed it. Bowie fan is he?’
The conversation continues, and Zack is feeling increasingly uncomfortable. They both have exes, but she has brought Ziggy into his band. Does she want him back?
‘Hi Ted, exciting news about the new footy team.’
‘George, I can’t wait to see you in your shorts.’
‘Shucks Ted, bet you say that to all the girls.’
‘I must say I love your enthusiasm, if not the sight of your legs.’
‘What about you, Ted? Are you playing?’
‘Not with my knee. I’ll stick to being Club Secretary and bucket and sponge man.’
‘Hey Ted,’ shouts Cody, ‘what formation do you think Frank will plump for?’
‘Four-four-two, Four-two-four, three at the back with wing-backs...’
‘Hang on Cody, hang on a minute, that would be impossible.’
‘It’s blummin’ six-a-side walking football !’
‘Crikey, Cody - help me out here, George – SIX-A-SIDE.’
‘Oh, sorry, Ted. Agnes says I was at the back of the queue when the brains were handed out.’
Ted responds with a muttered ‘hmm’.
‘Mind you, George, we’ll need a squad. People always drop out at the last minute. Anyway, here’s the man himself.’
‘Hi Ted, George, Cody.’
'Hi Frank!’ the three men respond in unison.
‘Pint please, Ted.’
‘Have you seen the latest list?’ Ted makes an effort to get the head just right on Frank’s pint.
‘Let’s have a look then,’ says Frank Reed, reaching out for the clipboard that Ted keeps on the bar.
‘Now, let’s see – well done George, Cody, Nick Allthorpe, Steve Adams – good, a bit of youth...’
‘Youth?’ jumps in George.
‘Steve’s only fifty – not exactly in his dotage – and Nick’s only thirty. He’ll be one of the younger players, unless we get some of the students involved.’
‘What do you mean, women?’
‘Are women allowed to play?’
‘Not thought about it. But if they apply, we’ll encourage them to start a ladies’ team.’
‘Don’t know about that,’ says Ted, ‘Sally is thinking about applying. Only a question of sorting out dressing rooms. The school have offered their outdoor five-a-side pitch and the school facilities outside school hours. No problem there.’
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ says a worried-looking Frank, as George and Cody nod their heads in agreement - whether that is with Ted or Frank, no one is quite sure, and Frank continues to grimace.
‘I really don’t know about that.’
Ted has made a dreadful error. He has applied to the Banfield and District Football League which has initiated the walking football scheme. However, the on-line form has two sections, A and B. A is for ‘normal’ football (i.e. teams of eleven) and B is for the new scheme, walking football. A simple matter of ticking box B, but Ted and the Internet sometimes don’t get on. The application is now being processed - for Division Eight of the Banfield & District Football League.
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