Previously in Leeford Village: The prognosis is good for George Owens, but what will he say to his brother Jason when he regains consciousness? Mel Adams thinks her husband, Steve, knows about her clandestine meeting with her ex-lover Dr Jeremy Roberts. Greg Withall is claiming his share of ex-wife Mandy’s investment in Nigel Cleeve’s business and runaway PC Gary Carr knows the whereabouts of both Gail Perkins and Martin Frobisher, suspected of planting the incendiary device in the hairdressers.
Cody bites the end of his biro, a habit formed in his schooldays and one he has never been able to break. Cody’s biros are chewed to destruction long before they run out of ink.
‘So, fourteen lines, written in iambic pentameter. Shouldn’t be too difficult,’ he mumbles to himself. He can’t remember what Jessica Townley, the writing tutor had said about iambic pentameter, so he decides to ignore it and just stick with the fourteen lines. ‘Have a look at Shakespeare’s sonnets, for inspiration,’ she had said, but he hasn’t time to do that now. Anyway, he wants it to be an original piece of work and does not want to be influenced by anyone else. In any case, what does Shakespeare know about writing a love poem? Didn’t he write plays about kings and fairies?
Cody sets to work on his poem:
It is you I love, in so many ways.
It is you I love, for always.
Rhyming ‘always’ with ‘ways’ is probably not a good thing, he thinks. Days? Would that be better?
It is you I love, for all my days.
Perfect! He takes a bite out of his biro in celebration. He remembers Jessica saying something about describing the person you love, pointing out the things you love about them. He sucks the end of his biro. Here’s the problem, he thinks. How to describe Meredith, whom the poem is about, while letting Agnes think the poem is about her? Then, as he spits out another piece of plastic, inspiration hits. ‘The eyes,’ he whispers, ‘they both have the same colour eyes!’
From the early morning when I rise
I think of you and your clear blue eyes.
Beautiful! Another ten lines like this and I’ll be the star of the next writing class, he thinks, as the ink chamber drops out of the bottom of the biro.
They are sitting in a café in Euston Road. Martin Frobisher is talking animatedly to Gail Perkins, who is in two minds whether or not to order a second piece of cake, seeing as Martin is paying and he owes her, big time. PC Gary Carr positions himself behind a lamp post on the opposite side of the road. He peers round it and takes a quick photograph with his phone, which he could use as evidence later. He checks the picture - an old man and a dog walking in front of the café. He takes another and, this time captures the two of them perfectly. Gail looks out of the window. ‘Where is he?’ she thinks, expecting Gary to have turned up at the café fifteen minutes ago. She has not told Martin Frobisher about Gary because she is not sure what Gary’s plan is for the three of them. All Gary had said was to meet Frobisher in the café and wait for him there. Gail looks out of the window again. Gary jumps quickly to his left, so that the lamp post obscures his thin frame, completely. As he is about to make his move, a young man wearing a grey hoodie approaches him.
‘Got a light, mate?’ His voice is gruff and there is an urgency to his request.
Gary is flustered. Gail is bound to see him now. He instinctively fumbles in his pocket, then remembers he gave up smoking two years ago.
‘Er, no. Sorry. Don’t smoke.’
The young man pulls his hood further over his head, covering most of his face.
‘Give us a twenty quid then.’
‘Twenty quid. Give us twenty quid and I’ll leave you alone.’
Gary looks over to the window. Gail and Frobisher are still talking and the waitress is bringing Gail another piece of cake. He looks at the young man and then at the outline of a knife in the pocket of his hoodie.
Under normal circumstances, the man would by now be handcuffed and pinned against the lamp post, but, today, Gary pulls out his wallet, takes out a ten-pound note and two fives and gives them to the man. He smiles at him. ‘On, your way then. And be quick about it.’ The man looks incredulously at the money he has been handed without even having to produce the knife, shrugs his shoulders and walks away.
Gary turns to look at the window. Time for action. Or, at least it would be if he could escape the grip of the two police officers that have appeared from nowhere and are now pinning him against the lamp post.
‘What the …’
‘You are under arrest on suspicion of dealing in illegal substances. Anything you say…’
Gary does not wait for the rest of the warning, a warning he has handed out hundreds of times.
‘But, I’m a police officer!’ he says.
‘Yeah, and I’m the Prime Minister,’ says one of the officers.
‘We’ve been watching you, sir, and you’ve been behaving suspiciously for the last fifteen minutes,’ says the other.
‘But, I am a police officer. I’m about to arrest those two in the café over the road!’ pleads Gary.
‘Those two at that…oh, no, please, no! They’ve gone!’
‘Well, sir. Maybe you’d like to come and play at being a police officer down at the station. It’ll be right up your street.’
‘You have to go, Sher! This is your big chance, Sis!’
Sherry sits down on the sofa and holds her head in her hands. Linda puts her arm around her.
‘I know, Lin. But, Las Vegas? That’s a whole life away from Leeford!’
‘Well, yes. I grant you there are not many similarities, but this is your opportunity to make the big time. It’s a no-brainer, surely. Tell her, Allen!’
Allen Gomez clears his throat.
‘If this lady is asking you to stay there for a year, she’s pretty serious about it.’
‘Yeah,’ agrees Linda. ‘You can’t say “no”, Sis. You’d be mad if you did.’
‘I know.’ Sherry wipes her eyes. ‘It’s all I ever wanted to do for so long. Then, after the audition went wrong, I thought that was it and I gave up on my dream. I’m happy here, with you, my job, my friends.’
‘Yes, but you’ll have new friends. And money. And fame. Think of the clothes, Sher!’
‘What have you told this, this…’
‘Julie. Julie Gregson.’
‘I told her I’d talk to you about it. I’m under eighteen, so I have to have your written permission.’
‘Well, you’ve talked to me, girl and you have my permission a thousand per cent!’
Sherry nods and blows her nose. Not very superstar-like, thinks Allen.
Linda looks at Allen Gomez. ‘What say you, Allen?’
Allen is looking pensive. He coughs again. Then he grins at Sherry
‘You’ll be needing an agent, then!’
Though you may never love me as I love you
All my life, to you I will be true.
Cody puts down his biro and sits back in his chair. ‘Beautiful’, he says to himself.
Or, at least it would have been to himself, if Agnes had not walked into the room at that moment.
‘What’s beautiful?’ she says, wiping the coffee table with a duster.
At the sound of his wife’s voice, the blood drains from Cody’s head.
‘You are,’ he says, weakly.
‘I’m what?’ Agnes lifts each ornament off the mantelpiece and dusts underneath.
‘Beautiful. You’re beautiful.’
‘Thank you, dear. Just don’t start singing it, will you?’
Cody turns the poem over.
‘What’s that?’ asks Agnes, squirting polish on the desk.
Cody is about to say ‘nothing’ when she snatches it out of his hand. She reads the first line:
From the early morning when I rise
‘Oh, it’s your homework. Aren’t you a girly swat? I haven’t even thought about mine yet.’
Cody wants to leave the room, but knows that if he stands up now, the room will spin around him.
Agnes reads the rest of the poem, mouthing each word silently.
‘Well, it ain’t Shakespeare,’ she says, handing him back the piece of paper. She picks up her polish and duster. Cody feels relieved. Got away with it, he thinks.
‘Who’s it about, Cody?’
Cody frowns. ‘You, of course.’
‘Yes, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to express my, er, love for you. I’m going to read it out aloud...in the class…next week…to show people how much I…Agnes, why are you staring at me like that?’
Agnes’ face is six inches away from Cody’s and her eyes are wide open.
‘This is very strange behaviour, Agnes…I don’t know why…oh…oh…oh, my God…your eyes are brown…aren’t they? Very brown.’
‘Yes, Ethel. Greg Withall. As large as life.’
‘Well, I never. I thought he’d a few years to do, yet.’
‘They must have let him out early on good behaviour,’ says Nigel, still looking towards the door through which Greg had left.
‘Good behaviour? Greg Withall? I’d not associate him with that phrase.’
Doug and Percy appear from behind the curtain.
‘He can be a charmer when he wants to be,’ says Doug. ‘I bet he did everything the screws wanted him to, pretended he was a reformed character.’
Percy nods in agreement.
‘What did he want, Nigel?’ asks Ethel.
‘Oh, nothing. Just came to let us know he was back.’
‘Does Mandy know?’
‘No, Ethel. And she mustn’t know. OK?’