old houses 132364Broadville didn’t exactly follow the Trades Description Act. When it was first laid out in the 1900s it consisted of a straight road, ten houses, a shop, and 33 residents; 19 adults and 14 children. Over a century later it was still one road, ten houses and a shop but 24 residents and a pub. It didn’t make much money but being a self-sufficient community they muddled along.

That is until a stranger came to town.

“Excuse me, are you lost?”

“I don’t think so.”

“On your way somewhere?”

“Not particularly.”

“There aren’t any houses for sale here.”

“That’s OK, I’m not looking.”

Fred Tindell was stumped. No-one came to Broadville unless they were visiting and being the oldest resident, he knew this guy wasn’t here for that. He also figured that asking more questions wouldn’t bring anything but trouble, so he smiled, tipped his hat and went off to the pub for his evening constitutional.

As he approached the pub’s front door he glanced back and saw the man heading for the shop. With no way for the stranger to see Fred without turning round, Fred waited and watched him go inside.

Fred waited some more. And waited. And waited. He was a pretty patient chap; he’d nursed his wife through cancer, even endured the soaps on TV while she endured the treatment. The pub’s opening hours were dependent upon who wanted serving so he had plenty of time to kill.

Thinking that he must have missed him, though not sure how, Fred was about to go into the pub when the man came out of the shop. Fred snuck behind a pillar and pretended to text on a mobile phone. He didn’t have one and was just tapping into his palm but the stranger wouldn’t know that. Fred laughed quietly at getting one over on him. Except he wouldn’t have known that either, because he wasn’t looking. He was chatting to Elver, the owner of the shop, Fred’s less-than-honest brother-in-law.

Fred watched them shake hands. That wasn’t good. He knew saying anything to Elver would prove fruitless but Elver talked to his wife, Fred’s sister, and she spoke to Fred’s wife, so Fred would just have to bide his time.

He didn’t have to wait long.

The following evening when he returned from the pub, Doris put his favourite meal in front of him. Shepherd’s Pie. He loved the intricate plough-lines she’d weave into the topping. Her smile was extra perky as she placed the dish in front of him.

“Had a good day dear?” he asked her.

“Oh, you know, the same as usual really.”

“That’s good dear. So nothing special happened then.”

“Not really,” she said hesitantly, but then pulled out the chair opposite him and slumped into it. Fred stared at her as her eyes worked out how to tell him the news. Since she’d lost her hair, her pale green eyes had become even more noticeable, he hoped they wouldn’t lose any of their shine as her baby-soft blonde fuzz grew back.

“You know something, don’t you?” she asked.

“Not really.”

“You do, I can tell.”

“I saw a guy go into Elver’s shop last night and…”

“You did? What was he like?”

“Rude.”

“You spoke to him.”

“Briefly.”

“Did Elver say what he wanted?”

Her smile broadened to a grin. “You’ll never guess.”

Guessing was one thing that Fred was particularly bad at and Doris knew that. “A film shoot,” she blurted out.

“Really?” Flashes of Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn ran through his brain.

“Well, not film,” she added.

Fred deflated.

“The small screen.”

That’s OK, Fred thought, lots of movies are shown on TV these days.

“Emmerdale,” she continued. “They want to use our little town to do a specific scene.”

“Really?” he asked, salvaging some enthusiasm and thinking that he might even get a walk-on part.

“Yes,” she nodded enthusiastically. “Elver thinks it’s a plane crash… or did he say train?”

Oh great, Fred thought, as if I haven’t had enough drama in my life.

***

This story was taken from my Story A Day May 2011 collection. Photograph above courtesy of morguefile.com.

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