Previously in Leeford Village: Sergeant Miller has been tasked with dealing with the archaeologists that have descended on the site of the sinkhole. Allen has gone to meet the launderette owner, Arjun Bandra, to ask him for help in paying off his £20000 debt. Jessica and Roberta are preparing for their spot at the Marina Folk Club.
Cody Thornton sits clasping his hands in his lap. He has not felt this nervous since he was sent to the Headmistress for shooting his maths teacher in the back with a potato gun. Agnes brings in two cups of tea and places them on the coffee table. She sits down next to Cody.
‘So, Cody. You talk and I’ll listen.’
Cody clears his throat.
‘Okay, love. First and foremost, there is nothing between me and Meredith. I admit that I was a little smitten for a while and that was very stupid of me. But there was never anything going on between us and I would swear that in any court in this land.’
‘Go on. What about Amanda and Megan?’
Cody sighs. ‘Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Amanda, well she was just being Amanda.’
‘She’s always had a thing about you, I know that.’
‘Well, I can’t say I’m exactly flattered by that, Agnes.’
‘She was just being friendly. I needed somewhere to stay and she offered.’
Agnes takes a sip of tea.
‘Do I believe you?’
‘You have to, love. There’s only you. There’s only ever been you. I feel foolish and being away from you has made me realise what I have.’
‘But is it enough, Cody? I believe you about Amanda and Megan, I always did. But to have a thing about your son’s girlfriend. Well, that’s something else entirely.’
Cody shakes his head.
‘I think I was jealous of Adam. Not because he was with Meredith so much as I envied his youth. I thought I could be like him and, well, Meredith seemed to offer a little of what he has. Do you understand that?’
Agnes purses her lips. ‘I think it’s called a mid-life crisis, Cody. But most men have their hair dyed blonde, or buy a Harley Davidson. They don’t become obsessed with their son’s girlfriend.’ She smiles and reaches for Cody’s hand.
‘I’m sorry, Agnes.’
‘I know you are.’
‘Am I forgiven?’
‘You will be, Cody. In time.’
‘But surely you don’t need to cover the whole site. People need to get back to their houses.’
Stephen Miller is surprised to find an area covering many more square metres than he expected roped off by the Birmingham University lecturer and his team.
The lecturer waves his trowel in front of Stephen. ‘This is a site of great historical interest and, because of that, we have to make sure that the whole site has been completely mapped before it is made good again.’
‘And how long will that take?’
The lecturer scratches his chin. ‘Probably five, or six. It’s hard to tell until we do a bit more excavation.’
‘That’s nearly a week! We can’t keep people out of their homes for that long.’
‘Sorry, I meant five or six weeks.’
There’s a gasp from the crowd which has moved in closer.
‘But, but…’ Stephen is feeling pressured. He has encountered many difficult situations in his career, but he is at a loss how to resolve this one. He looks down into the hole and the three students carefully removing soil and riddling it through a sieve. Then a thought occurs to him.
‘How do you know this is a site of, how did you put it, great historical interest? Before the sinkhole it was just a row of houses. I only told you about finding the helmet. I thought you’d have a little dig around where you found the helmet and then people could get on with their lives. ’
The lecturer taps his trowel against the side of his head.
‘We received intelligence. After you called us, we received another phone call.’
‘And who, or what was the source of this intelligence?’
The lecturer shouts over to the students.
‘What was the name of the chap that called us, Lucy?’
‘I can’t remember. Scott, do you know?’
Scott stops digging for a moment.
‘Watson. Frank Watson.’
Stephen’s face reddens.
‘I knew it. I knew he’d have something to do with it!’
At the Marina, the Folk Club founder, organiser and MC for the night, Peter Redman bounds onto the stage. He taps the microphone.
‘So, ladies and gentlemen, next up is an old hand and a new face.’
Jessica mouths old hand? to Roberta, who laughs.
‘Please welcome Jessica Townley and Roberta Peterson.’
There is an enthusiastic round of applause from the floor as Jessica and Roberta take the stage. Jessica plugs in her guitar and strums a few chords. She tightens the D string a little and strums the chords again. Perfectly in tune.
She smiles at Roberta, who is looking both nervous and excited to be making her public performance debut. Jessica begins the song, playing the chord sequence a couple of times. Roberta gives an inaudible cough and launches into the first verse. She is halfway through the second verse when Peter Redman walks to the front of the stage, waving his arms.
‘No, no, no!’
Jessica stops playing. Roberta looks worried.
‘Sorry, Peter. Is something wrong?’ asks Jessica.
‘Oh, yes, Jessica. Something’s very wrong. Very wrong indeed.’
The audience is in silent shock, except for David Ward who cannot resist a giggle.
‘What is that song you’re playing?’
‘It’s Cosmic Dancer, by T.Rex. Is that a problem?’
‘Yes, Jessica. It is a problem.’
‘This is a folk club. We play folk music. This Comic Dancer is not folk music.’
‘It’s Cosmic Dancer,’ says Roberta, quietly.
‘Well, granted that I’m not standing on one leg with my finger in my ear, singing in a vaguely West Country accent, but I don’t see why we can’t sing a Marc Bolan song in a folk club.’ Jessica puts down her guitar before she is tempted to hit Peter Redman over the head with it.
Peter Redman stands resolute. ‘As I recall, Marc Bolan was a pop star.’
‘Not a folk musician.’
Jessica frowns. ‘He was famous, I’ll give you that. But so is Bob Dylan and I’ve heard countless dodgy versions of Blowin’ in the Wind being played here. I’ve done one myself. Not that dodgy to be honest. Rather a good version if I say so myself.’
‘Bob Dylan is not Marc Bolan, Jessica.’
‘No way!’ says Jessica, mocking surprise at this revelation. Roberta, who has moved closer to Jessica stifles a laugh.
‘Bob Dylan has folk, er credentials. Pedigree.’
‘And you are saying that Marc Bolan doesn’t? Have you heard his early work?’
This denial produces a loud ‘boo’ from someone in the audience. ‘Let them play!’ shouts someone else. ‘We love Marc Bolan!’ shouts another. Before Peter Redman can begin to speak again, the audience breaks into a chant of ‘Let them play! Let them play!’
Peter Redman turns to face them.
‘You’re all banned! Do you hear me? Banned!’
But his voice is drowned out as Jessica and Roberta begin the song again.
The crowd erupts into a cheer, as Peter Redman makes his exit.
‘Shall we go out for a meal, Agnes? To celebrate. My treat.’
Cody is feeling relieved, still a little stupid, but relieved, nonetheless. The flowers were well received and the romantic buried deep within him is beginning to emerge.
‘No, Cody. I have a better idea. Let’s stay in tonight. We can have a cosy night, bottle of wine and, while you were away I bought myself a box set. We can watch that.’
Great, thinks Cody. A whole evening of Morse, or the one with the Whately fellah. He tries not to express his disappointment when he hears the theme tune to Midsomer Murders.
Allen Gomez has only ever been in Arjun Bandra’s office twice in the ten years he has been working for him. The first time was when he was interviewed for the job as launderette manager and the second was when he had asked Arjun for money to buy one of the market stalls that the council was offering. Arjun had refused.
‘Twenty grand? You want twenty grand?’
‘Yes. That’s what I need.’
Arjun puffs out a thick cloud of e-cigarette smoke. It smells like strawberries and hits Allen at the back of the throat. He coughs.
‘Twenty grand, Allen. That’s a lot of money.’
‘I know. But I really need to clear this debt. It’s hanging over me.’
Arjun taps his fingers on the desk.
‘Well, I could loan you twenty grand, Allen. It’s not a problem. But I’d want thirty back.’
Allen swallows. He knew this was coming. Linda was right, he is a shark.
‘I can’t do that, Arjun. I’d be owing you forever.’
‘Those are the terms, my friend. And I think I’m being reasonable. I’m giving you employee rates.’
‘I can’t do it. It’s too much.’
‘Well, take it or leave it.’ Another thick cloud engulfs Allen.
‘Then I’ll leave it.’ Allen stands and walks to the door.
‘There is another way we can do this, Allen.’
Allen walks back to the desk.
‘I need someone to do some work for me. Someone I can trust. Can I trust you, Allen?’
‘Trust me with what?’ Allen notices a film of sweat that has formed on his palms.
‘Can I trust you?’
Allen shrugs. ‘Yes.’
‘Well, if I can trust you, you can earn your twenty grand in three months.’
Allen sits down. ‘You can trust me Arjun. You can always trust me. What’s the job?’