Leeford Village episode 103: To bin or not to bin
Catch up with the latest episode of the online serial by authors Michael Braccia and Jon Markes.
Previously in Leeford Village: Zack and Simon approach another dealer with the gold, but they are arrested. After listening to Pippa’s gossip, Agnes learns the truth about the ‘SS officer’. Cody has steamed open Jasmine’s letter and it is now in the kitchen bin.
‘Hi love. There’s a letter for you on the hall table.’
Jasmine smiles, and reaches down to pick it up.
‘Thanks, Mom,’ she says as she carefully opens the envelope. ‘Brilliant. It’s from the solicitors. Derek has signed all the papers. We’re nearly there.’
Agnes, in the middle of washing up, takes off her rubber gloves, wipes her hands and holds out her arms.
‘You deserve it, Jasmine,’ she says as she hugs her.
The thump-thump from the stairs tells them that Cody has finally surfaced.
‘Cody, are you seventeen, or what?’ says Agnes.
‘Never mind. Anyway, Jasmine’s got her letter.’
‘What?’ exclaims Cody.
‘For God’s sake, Cody, what’s got into you?’
‘Sorry love – bad night. You know, my little trouble.’
She looks him up and down, pausing with a slight grin.
‘I wish you’d go to see Doctor Jeremy.’
‘Anyway, Agnes, what letter?’
Jasmine, once again witness to the strained marital goings-on at Leeford Plaice, tries to clarify matters for her new dad.
‘From the solicitor in Leeds. It should all be sorted with Derek within a couple of months. Absolute.’
‘Absolutely,’ says Cody.
‘No, Dad,’ she splutters, ‘decree absolute.’
She shakes her head. ‘You know, Mom, now I know what you mean.’
Cody looks at Jasmine with only the kitchen bin on his mind.
‘Agnes, have you seen the junk mail – you know the one I put in the bin?’
‘Now, why would I want to ferret around in the kitchen bin? Anyway, I put the rubbish out last night. It’s being collected today. Was it important?’
‘No, er, yes, well sort of. Morse stuff, you know, DVD special offer. Changed my mind…’
At that, he dashes out towards the back door – in the direction of the dustbin.
‘Edward. This is a surprise. What can I do for you?’
Revd John Peterson hears the phone ring as he gestures towards his study. Edward mutters something that includes the words bishop, wedding, you let us down, but as they sit down on either side of John’s desk, any meaningful exchange between the two men is interrupted by Hilda.
‘John! You know that Zack said he was staying over at Simon’s?’
‘He’s not there.’
‘Where is he?’
‘In a police cell. He’s been provided with a duty solicitor, and they’ve just called here.’
‘What’s he done, Hilda? What on earth has he done?’
‘Receiving stolen goods and attempting to have stolen gold melted down. Just like Brink’s-Mat. We must get over to Birmingham. Now! Sorry, Edward – you’ll have to talk to John another time.’
Jasmine decides to celebrate with a coffee and cake at Billy’s. Ethel has been asking how the divorce was proceeding and Jasmine is so relieved she will talk to anyone about it. As she turns the corner by the market, Justin Wilkins literally bumps into her. Jasmine’s handbag falls to the ground, flying open.
‘Oh, Jasmine, I’m so sorry. Here, let me help.’
‘It’s okay, Justin,’ she says, touching his hand.
He takes her hand, passing the comb and credit card wallet he has retrieved from the ground.
‘Remember what I said in the letter, Jasmine. I want to hold your hand – just like this – and I want to run my fingers through your hair…’
‘What?’ she says, pulling away.
‘Don’t you feel the same? In the final paragraph of my letter – sorry, I did go on a bit – I asked you for a sign. Like Ronan Keating once sang - a touch of a hand—’
‘Stop right there! What are you talking about? Ronan Keating? A letter? What letter?’
‘Oh my God. Didn’t you get it?’
‘This mythical letter? No, I didn’t !’
‘Jasmine, I’m so sorry—’
‘Stop saying sorry. Just explain.’
‘I gave it to Cody the other day – the same time as you had that special delivery from Leeds…’
‘How do you know about that?’
‘Well, Cody said – after the postman had told him – and he announced to three customers that I had hand-delivered a private and confidential letter for you!’
Jasmine takes a deep breath. Justin can tell that she is struggling to control her emotions.
‘Cody! Justin, I’ve got to get back home. Someone has some explaining to do!’
‘Jasmine, I didn’t mean to upset you. I am really sorry.’
‘Not your fault. Can I call you later?’
‘Of course you can.’
As Jasmine marches towards the crossing and a confrontation at Leeford Plaice, foregoing her celebratory coffee and cake, Justin gazes after her, mouthing magnificent, simply magnificent. Meanwhile, Cody has a race of his own. As he skids like a cartoon character round the corner of the building to the backyard where the dustbin awaits its fate, he sees the Banfield Council Refuse Operatives bearing down on the temporary receptacle of Justin’s letter.
‘No!’ he screams.
‘What’s up with ‘im?’ scowls the tattoo-emblazoned BCRO. His colleague, half the size of Tattoo Man, is belying his fragile-looking frame by dragging the Leeford Plaice bin one-handed towards the wagon. Cody had once called it a ‘dustbin cart’ and on another occasion ‘rubbish truck’ and was verbally slapped down by the attending BCROs. ‘Wagon, we call it, mate. Don’t forget that. It’s a wagon.’
‘Hang on, lads, this is urgent!’ he pleads.
‘Bung us the Christmas tip we never got and we’ll hold fire,’ says the larger man, who, apparently, goes by the moniker ‘Clarence’. His mate, Cody later discovered, is called ‘Butch’. At the moment, he could not care less what they are called.
‘You’ll have to empty it onto the yard if you’re looking for something,’ Butch says, sounding like this is a fairly regular occurrence in Banfield.
‘Can’t you do it for me?’ Cody asks.
‘No way, mate. Impossible. Union rules.’
‘Here’s ten,’ says Cody. ‘Will that do?’
‘Make it a score and we’re yours,’ says Clarence with a wink.
‘Okay,’ squeaks the chip shop man.
The bin is then unceremoniously tipped over, unloading a mélange of unsavoury and extremely smelly detritus.
‘What did you say you do?’
‘I didn’t,’ replies Cody.
‘He runs the chip shop,’ says Butch, puffing his chest out as if answering a particularly tricky question on University Challenge.
‘Well, Butch, remind me never to partake of his delicacies.’
Even his friend Butch is surprised at Clarence’s turn of phrase, but Cody has to snap back in to deal with his priority – the letter. Butch stands closer to him and appears to help him sift and sort the rubbish with his right toecap.
‘What are you looking for?’
‘What, like alphabet soup letters or a kid’s game?’
‘No, a letter in an envelope.’
Clarence has joined them in the search without knowing what Cody is actually looking for, but stumbles upon a white envelope, addressed to Mrs A. Thornton.
‘Will this one do?’ Cody nods, and Clarence passes it to him.
Cody opens the envelope to find a letter dated five days earlier, the letter opening with My dearest Agnes, I’ve missed you so much. Trying not to succumb to the shock (and quickly deciding to avoid reading the name of the sender for now), he then sees the letter he really wants. He quickly reads the first line - Dear Jasmine, and the last – Please don’t be offended by my forwardness. Yours, Justin xx
Quickly stuffing the first letter in his left back trouser pocket, and Jasmine’s letter in the right, he shouts, ‘thanks lads,’ pays the twenty pounds and walks away.
‘Oi, Chippy! Your job to re-fill the bin. Now!’
He’s not going to argue with Clarence. As he places the last piece of rubbish in the bin, there is a tap on his shoulder. He turns round. Jasmine.
‘I’m glad you’re here, John.’
Ted Coleman, the man whose name adorns the licensee plate above the front door of The Cross, rarely uses the term ‘Reverend’. That is reserved for the regular wind-ups he foists upon his ecclesiastical friend.
‘What are you up to now, Ted?’
‘There is something I want to discuss. I’ll pour you a pint and we’ll find a quiet corner. Almost forgot - how did it go in Birmingham this morning?’
‘Not now, Ted. I’ve had a bellyful of it today. Kids, eh? Anyway, don’t forget I phoned you earlier because I need your help.’
‘Fair enough. Here’s your pint – take a seat and you go first.’
It’s quiet in The Cross before the early evening rush. Revd Peterson takes a seat near the window, through which can be viewed the usual Wolverhampton to Birmingham traffic racing past.
‘I’ll come straight to the point, Ted. The church roof is leaking. I’ve had the quote for the repairs. Six thousand.’
‘Phew,’ says Ted.
‘Give me a box and we’ll put it on the bar. I’ll start it off with thirty quid.’
‘You’re a good friend, Ted. Anyway, what’s your problem?’
Ted draws himself closer to the table, takes a sip of his favourite, ‘Old Monk’ (a local ale), pushes the glass to one side and leans in towards the vicar.
‘Ghosts?’ says John.
‘Well, at least one.’
Ted looks to his right across the bar. Sally is serving Frank Watson. He lowers his voice even more.
‘At midnight. In the bar. I was locking up last Thursday night when I saw him.’