EPISODE 48 - HOW MUCH?
by Michael Braccia and Jon Markes
‘I’m going to need to sleep on this, Ethel.’
David looks at Linda and Allen sitting on the sofa like two naughty schoolchildren waiting to hear if they have been put in detention.
‘You mean, the answer is ‘no’, don’t you, David?’ says Allen, clearly irritated by David’s prevaricating.
‘Well, I wouldn’t say that’s a definite, Allen, but…’
‘Say no more, David. It’s obvious what you’re thinking.’
Allen stands to leave.
‘Come on, Lin. We’re wasting our time here. Thanks for trying for us, Ethel. You’re a good sort.’
Tricia looks at David, then at Allen.
‘I think David just needs to consider Ethel’s proposal, Allen. It’s come out of the blue and there’s a lot involved.’
Allen is not convinced.
‘No, Trish. I knew as soon as Ethel suggested I become involved it was going never going to happen. Isn’t that right, David?’
David shifts uncomfortably from one leg to the other.
‘Okay, you’re right, Allen. I don’t want you near the place. And you know why!’
‘Yes, well. I thought there might be such a thing a giving someone a break.’
David looks around the room. At Tricia, sitting open-mouthed; at Linda, looking up at Allen, clearly confused by the whole situation; at Ethel, with tears in her eyes and, finally, at Allen, red in the face and clenching his fists. David makes his exit.
‘I’m sorry, love. I have no idea what this is about,’ says Tricia, patting Ethel on the arm.
‘I was just trying to help,’ says Ethel, quietly.
‘I know you were, Ethel,’ says Linda. Allen indicates that he and Linda should leave. ‘Thanks, Tricia. I hope it all goes well for you.’
‘I’ll have a word with David when you’ve all gone,’ says Tricia.
‘Don’t bother, Trish. I want nothing to do with him. Come on, Lin. Let’s go home,’ says Allen.
Adam Thornton is about to put the key in the front door of the flat when his phone pings.
Adam. We need to talk. I haven’t done anything wrong, believe me. Can we meet? Please, son. I’m begging you.
Adam is about to delete the message when he feels a sudden urge to see his father. There is something pitiful about the message and he hates that his father, normally so strong and confident has been reduced to begging.
OK. Meet on bench outside market in an hour. This had better be good.
Tricia finds David standing in the back garden. He is wishing he had not given up smoking last year.
‘What the Hell was all that about, David?’
David shakes his head.
‘I can’t have him anywhere near our business, Trish. I just can’t.’
‘Why? I know he’s a bit of a wide-boy, but from what I can gather, Linda is beginning to sort him out. And poor Ethel! How much did you embarrass her?’
‘I know. I’ll explain to Ethel that she’s nothing to do with it.’
David clasps his hands together.
‘There’s something about Allen you need to know. I was never going to tell you, but I never expected to be in this situation.’
‘Let’s go inside. I need a drink.’
Since they returned home, Allen has refused to speak about the incident at the Wards’ house. He and Linda are half-watching a film on TV. Their stony silence is broken by a call on Linda’s phone.
‘Sherry! How are you?’
The call from her sister in the States lightens Linda’s mood. Sherry tells her how she has been auditioning since arriving and that a music agency has asked her to record a demo.
‘You’re going to be a star, Sis!’ says Linda, excitedly. ‘Me?’ She looks at Allen, slouched at the opposite end of the sofa. ‘Let’s just say that yet another opportunity has just been slammed in my face.’
At this, Allen rises and sneers at Linda. She waits until he has left the room.
‘What? Oh, ignore me. I’m being grumpy. Tell me more! What’s your apartment like?’
Adam is sitting on a bench in front of the market, closed down for the day. He is unexpectedly nervous about meeting his father. This could be our last meeting, he thinks, not knowing how Cody is going to explain being seen with three different women in a very short space of time. He is contemplating his response to whatever his father has to say when he sees Cody walking towards him. And at his side – Meredith Park. Adam stands and walks in the opposite direction.
‘Adam, wait!’ shouts Cody.
Adam stops. Soon, Cody and Meredith are standing beside him.
‘Hello, Adam,’ says Meredith, softly, in the way she used to talk to him when they were discussing their future together.
They all sit down on the bench.
‘Go on then, Dad. I can’t wait for this!’
Cody begins to speak, but is interrupted by Meredith.
‘Adam. Your father has done nothing wrong. He has been a bit stupid, that’s all.’ Cody frowns at the word ‘stupid.’
‘Actually, stupid describes me perfectly,’ he says.
‘You see, your Dad was infatuated with me. I never knew, so I suppose I fuelled the flames of his passion by showing him kindness. It’s all a big misunderstanding.’
‘I’m embarrassed to say that’s true, son.’
‘Adam, your Dad loves your mom. And I love you.’
Adam bites his bottom lip. He’s not sure what he feels, but, sitting beside Meredith, life seems much sweeter than it did only a few moments ago. However, there are still questions.
‘Okay, Dad. Meredith. Let’s assume that’s true. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ll go with it, for now. That does not explain Amanda Smythe. Nor Megan Watson.’
Cody laughs. ‘Megan? I’m staying at the Watson’s. Megan is a friend. She took me in when I had to leave the Stringers’ because of the sinkhole.’
‘Amanda is a desperate lady,’ says Meredith, ‘she even made a play for Frank Watson once.’
‘Yes,’ agrees Cody with a new found air of confidence. ‘She’s anyone’s for a chip butty.’
Meredith slaps him on the arm.
‘That was mean,’ says Meredith. ‘She’s a lovely girl, just very lonely. I wish people would make more of an effort with her.’
Cody puts his arm around Adam. ‘So, do you believe me now?’
Adam tries hard not to smile, but a big grin eventually breaks out on his face.
‘Yeah. Okay. You idiot. I might be a fool for believing you, but I think I do.’
‘Good. Then we’re friends again?’
‘Friends, Dad. Yes.’
‘And us?’ Meredith holds Adam’s hand.
‘Yeah, we’re good.’
Cody punches the air. ‘That’s all settled then!’
‘Not quite,’ says Adam with a smirk.
‘Eh?’ says Cody, echoed by Meredith.
‘Convincing me was easy. You’ve now got to convince Mom.’
David and Tricia Ward sit opposite each other at the kitchen table.
‘So, let me get this straight. Allen Gomez took out a business loan from Banfield Business Council, which he gambled away on the greyhounds within a month.’
‘Yes, that’s exactly what happened. So, clearly, he’s not someone you would want anywhere near your business.’
‘No. How long ago was this?’
‘Oh, five, six years ago, something like that.’
David taps out a rhythm on the table.
‘It’s strange I’ve not heard of this before. It’s the sort of thing that everyone in the village would know about, don’t you think?’ Tricia cocks her head to one side as she asks the question. She looks down at David’s hand. He stops tapping.
‘I suppose he didn’t want anyone to know. It’s not the kind of thing you want broadcast. Particularly if you want to be known as a bit of an entrepreneur.’
‘How do you know about it?’
David shakes his head.
‘Hey, did I tell you that Adam Stringer thinks he has a spaceship in his sink hole?’
Tricia sits back in the chair and folds her arms.
‘How do you know about it, David?’
‘Adam told me when he phoned…’
‘I mean about Allen. How do you know if no one else does?’
David pinches his brow. He feels a lick of sweat on his fingers.
‘Because, well we were friends at the time and…’
‘And…and I acted as his guarantor.’
‘You did what?’
‘When he took out the loan. I acted as his guarantor.’
‘For how much?’
‘I can’t remember, exactly.’
Tricia raises her voice to just below shouting level.
‘How much, David?’
‘Twenty grand,’ says David, barely audibly.
Tricia puts her hand to her mouth.
‘Twenty thousand pounds?’
Tricia throws her hands up in the air.
‘You paid off Allen Gomez’s debt? Twenty thousand pounds?’
‘Yes. Don’t keep saying the amount.’
‘And this was five, or six years ago?’
‘Around the time Joanna was born?’
‘I suppose it was, yes.’
‘When you said we had no money because it was all invested in the business? When we had to struggle just to keep a roof over our heads? When our child had to have everything second hand because we were broke?’
‘Yes. It was exactly that time. I’m sorry.’
‘Sorry? My God, I don’t believe this!’
The phone rings. David jumps up from the table, glad of a moment of respite.
‘Hello, Adam. What is it?
‘Well, it’s not an unexploded bomb. Nor a spaceship. Guess what it is?’
‘Just tell me Adam, I’m not in the mood.’
‘It’s a…wait for it…it’s a helmet from a suit of armour!’
‘Really? Oh, grow up Adam!’
David slams down the phone and does not hear Adam saying ‘yes, really.’