Leeford Village episode 84: Missing
Catch up with the latest episode of the online serial by authors Michael Braccia and Jon Markes.
Previously in Leeford Village: Frank Watson is rescued from the roof of the rubbish truck but has sustained several injuries. He is visited by many of Leeford’s residents, praising him for his actions. Cody confronts Agnes about the money transferred to Derek but later reveals he already knows about Jasmine and her daughter. Following the protest, Jack Simmons, Nick, Jason and Nigel have been released on bail.
Agnes and Sally are sitting in Sally’s kitchen.
‘Let me get this straight, Agnes. You transferred twenty-thousand pounds to this…’
‘…this Derek, without consulting Cody, whose money it was…’
‘Everything’s shared, Sally’
‘…whose money it was because he won it?’
Agnes swills the remains of her coffee around the bottom of the mug.
‘That’s about the truth of it, yes.’
Sally puffs out her cheeks.
‘Cody must have gone ballistic!’
‘Well, that’s the thing, Sal. He didn’t. He was shocked when I told him over the phone but, by the time he arrived home, he seemed more concerned about the protest.’
‘I don’t think Ted would have been as calm.’ says Sally, picking up the empty mugs and taking them over to the sink.
‘Cody wouldn’t be, usually. He said he already knew about Jasmine, where she lived and that she has a daughter. Then he calmly asked me what I’d done.’
‘How did he know about Jasmine?’
‘Phone records, he says.’
Sally places the mugs on the drainer.
‘That wouldn’t tell him much. Unless he called the number and found out that way. But don’t you think he’d have said something?’
‘I’d have thought so.’
‘And how did the conversation end?’
‘I told him why Jasmine needs the money and that Derek had said they need it urgently.’
‘Then he said, “well, this is a bit of a mess, but we can sort it out”, and went to bed.’
‘That’s all. This morning, he didn’t mention it. He said he was going to see if Jason wanted him to act as a character reference in court on Thursday.’
Sally sits down at the table.
‘Well, either he’s being very understanding, or there’s something he’s not telling you.’
‘That’s what worries me. What is he keeping from me?’
Frank Watson, having instructed one of the trainee nurses to ‘pop downstairs and fetch the local paper’ is reading through the report of the protest.
‘You’re quite the hero, Frank Watson,’ he says to himself, sticking out his chest until the pain from two cracked ribs causes him to yell.
The night before, it was agreed that chair of the Anti-Bypass Protest Group should pass to Frank, (much to the relief of David Ward), and that he would co-ordinate the campaign from his hospital bed, until he is fit enough to return home. Buoyed by the good wishes of those who had paraded around his bed the night before, Frank sets to work straight away, making a list of further activities that don’t involve anyone climbing onto roofs.
Jason Owens is sitting at his kitchen table, taking the opportunity to write more of his book while his brother, George, is at work. On the table is a file of information about Leeford villagers, which Jason has been compiling ever since he thought of the idea of writing the book, over a year ago. There’s plenty of material. A second file contains cuttings from the local paper, each one dated neatly at the top in red biro. A third file is titled Dennis Family and is thinner than the others. He is about to put pen to paper when there is a knock on the front door. Jason curses under his breath and continues to write. A second knock. Then a third. He throws down the pen and strides angrily through the hallway.
‘Oh, Cody. It’s you.’
Cody stretches out his arms.
‘George is at work,’ says Jason, hoping that end the doorstep conversation.
‘It’s not George, it’s you I want to see,’ says Cody. ‘It won’t take long.’
Cody steps across the threshold and before Jason can object, he has made his way into the kitchen.
Jason follows two steps behind and positions himself between Cody and the kitchen table.
‘So, this is where our local wordsmith carries out his magic, is it?’
Jason emits a nervous laugh.
‘How’s the book coming along? I haven’t heard you talking about it.’
‘Fine, thank you,’ says Jason, his voice coming out as a squeak.
‘I’d be interested to see how you’ve portrayed me, Jason. If you need any help, I’d be a very willing interviewee.’
‘I’ll bear that in mind. You wanted to see me?’
‘Oh, yes,’ Cody sits on the arm of the sofa. ‘Your court appearance on Thursday. I’m sure it’ll come to nothing, but I could go with you. They might need a character reference and I could lie through my teeth about you, if it would help.’
Cody laughs at his own quip, while only the faint hint of a smile appears on Jason’s face.
‘Thank you, Cody, but I’m sure I’ll be okay.’
Cody stands. ‘Well, the offer’s there. Just let me know.’
Cody turns to walk out of the room. Jason follows but is unable to stop Cody returning to the kitchen. He stands by the table.
‘You’re very organised, Jason.’ He picks up the folder of press cuttings.
Jason grabs them off him.
‘This is private, Cody. I’d rather you didn’t.’
Cody holds up his hands.
‘Sorry, mate. It was very rude of me. Of course, it’s a work in progress. I understand.’
‘Yes, a work in progress. It’s very rough now. I don’t want anyone to read any of it until it’s finished.’
Cody steps away from the table.
‘I’ll be off then,’ he says.
Just as he is about to leave for the second time, his eyes return to the table.
‘George Dennis, Jason? Why is there a separate folder on George Dennis?’
Jason’s face turns a shade of red.
‘Please, can you just leave now.’
‘Yeah. Sure.’ He looks back at the table. ‘Call if you need me.’
‘Oh, yes. Thank you, Cody.’
Once Cody is gone from Jason’s sight, he closes the front door and returns to the table. He rubs his forehead with the palm of his hand.
‘You’ll know about George Dennis soon enough, Cody,’ he says to himself, picking up his pen.
‘Do you think the protests are really going to do anything, David?’
Tricia Ward is leafing through a holiday brochure, turning down corners of pages showing long stretches of beach and clear blue skies. David looks up from the book he is reading.
‘The protests? No idea. I’m just glad I don’t have to chair the meetings now that Frank Watson is back in favour.’
‘Poor soul. I don’t think there’s anyone more committed to this village than Frank.’ Tricia picks up a pen and circles a hotel offer in Lanzarote.
David concurs. ‘I would agree with you. He drives me to distraction, but I hope he’s back on his feet soon. He’s not one for lying in a hospital bed for long. I pity the poor nurses.’
Tricia laughs and David returns to his book.
‘Yes. I can imagine him barking out instructions and complaining about everything. Do you fancy Madeira, or Lanzarote this year?’
David puts his finger on the end of the sentence he has just read.
‘Not fussed. It’ll just be good to go away, what with the Gomez issue and now the protests. I certainly need a holiday. We used to live such a quiet life.’
‘Talking of Allen, have you seen him recently,’ asks Tricia.
‘No. Well, only at the protest, not to speak to.’ David closes his book. ‘I’m going to finish this in bed.’ With that, he rises from his chair, kisses Tricia on the top of the head and makes his way upstairs. She circles one more hotel and drops the brochure onto the glass-topped coffee table. Her phone buzzes.
‘Tricia. It’s Agnes.’
Tricia looks at her watch. Eleven-thirty.
‘Hi Agnes. Is something wrong?’
‘I don’t know. Yes. It’s Cody. He went to see Jason Owens earlier and he hasn’t come back.’
‘Maybe he’s in The Cross.’
‘I’ve tried there. They haven’t seen him all day. And he didn’t work his shift tonight.’
‘What about Ethel? Has he been in the café?’
‘No. I’ve rung around everyone. Even his, er, previous liaisons. No one has seen him. Jason said he called to offer to act as a character witness in court on Thursday, but there was nothing to suggest there was anything wrong.’
Tricia considers calling for David to come down, but he could do without another Leeford incident, she thinks.
‘Have you called the police?
‘No. He hasn’t been missing for more than twenty-four hours. I can’t report him until then.’
‘That’s not true, Agnes. If you are concerned, you can report it straight away.’
‘Okay, I will.’
‘Agnes, is there any reason he might have gone missing?’
There is silence on the other end of the phone for a few long seconds.
‘He’s had a bit of a shock. At least, I think it was a shock. I don’t know. It was, partly. I don’t know.’
‘I’d rather not say, Trish. Anyway, I will phone the police. Thank you for the clarification.’
‘Well, I hope he returns soon, love.’
Tricia hears a sob on the other end of the phone.
‘So do I. So do I.’