This is the twenty-first part of a fiction serial, in 784 words.
Their head of department was very upset to hear the news that they were both leaving. He told them he could see why though, and wished them well. Jimmy turned down the offer of a leaving party, though Lesley was very gracious when she received the leaving gift of a set of cutlery for the new home.
Jimmy had informed the council of his moving date, and arranged to sell or give away most of the contents of the house. He agreed with Lesley that they should buy new things once they had bought a house. For the time being, their plan was to stay in a nice bed and breakfast until the mortgage was approved, and the house sale had gone through. Lesley had no firm offer of a job, but she was sure something would turn up.
They had settled on the village of Boscombe, close to Porton Down, and around ten miles from Salisbury. Lesley could take Jimmy to work on the way to the city, and pick him up on the way home. After spending the weekend there, Lesley had fallen in love with a two-bedroom Victorian cottage. It was small, and only had a courtyard garden, but the house was full of character and original features. The mortgage was easly affordable, and that meant Jimmy could manage it on his salary, even if it took some time for Lesley to find work.
Lesley Walker was under no illusions about her married life. Jimmy was young and attractive; she was ten years older, and looked more like fifteen years older. But he was kind to her, even though he was often distant, and showed her scant affection. He didn’t enjoy watching television, but at least he no longer only read The Bible, and he never spoke to her about religion.
In her heart, she just knew he had killed George Greaves. She was sure the police knew that too, but they had no evidence. Lesley didn’t care. Greaves was a heartless con-man, and had deserved what had happened. Jimmy had just been putting things right.
There was so much to be grateful for. Jimmy never so much as looked at another woman. He seemed to have no idea how attractive and eligible he was. For her, life was exactly what she had hoped for, ever since freeing herself from that awful Simon, and her uncaring parents. She had married a man who asked little from her, and had started to carve out a great career for himself. He had bought her a car, and provided the deposit for the little house of her dreams. And he was paying to furnish it exactly as she wanted, with no arguments. In her mind, she was the luckiest wife in England.
And he was buying a colour television for the new house. She had so wanted to watch in colour.
Moving day didn’t happen until the furniture and everything else had been delivered. Lesley felt like a princess in the small house, but Jimmy was more interested in his first day at work, the following Monday. As Lesley still had no news about any employment offer, she would get up with him and take him the short distance in the car. He would get his official pass at the gatehouse where it will have been left for him. As his working day was from eight until five, Lesley could easily pick him up at the gate when he finished.
Jimmy was rather disappointed to be told that his first week would be one of familiarisation, safety training, and tours of the site. As there was no other new starter, he had been assigned a mentor for that week, a serious woman called Eileen. She told him she had been there since nineteen-sixty, and there was nothing she didn’t know about what went on at Porton Down. Jimmy didn’t much care for the way she spoke to him, which reminded him of an officious female Geography teacher at his school. But she was right about being well-informed, and as she divulged secret after secret, he realised why he had been compelled to sign The Official Secrets Act.
Great Britain was a signatory to the Geneva Protocol, banning the use of chemical weapons in warfare. But that had failed to deal with the storage and testing of them, and despite Britain claiming to have destroyed its stock, Jimmy quickly discovered that was far from the truth.
Eileen told him about the special rooms that held stocks of mustard gas, and various biological contaminates, including a sample of the Plague bacillus. That made Jimmy raise his eyebrows.
The Black Death. Now that had made a difference.