This is the twenty-third part of a fiction serial, in 755 words.
The pizza was delicious, but Jon ate it automatically, as if it was made of cardboard. Lolly must have told the Bowes family where he lived, but why would they go to such lengths just to pester him with silly letters, and send him on a pointless chase around southern England? And part of him was concerned for his former lover.
When the owner brought the bill, he asked if she had any idea where Lawrence might have gone. She shrugged hard, wobbling her large breasts up and down under her black T-shirt. “No idea, I’m sorry. We have had no request for a reference, not that I would have given him one, and his post was never redirected. We just threw it away. He left a few things behind, like a phone charger, and some dirty washing. We just threw them all away. Was everything alright for you sir?” Jon nodded, and added a generous tip.
As he stood up to leave, she called out to him. “Was he your son, by any chance?” That reminded Jon of the age difference, and he shook his head as he walked out, fighting back tears.
Once he had checked in to the hotel and sorted out his car park space, he decided that tomorrow would have to see some kind of showdown. All of this had gone on far too long. Even though he might get a book deal, and a television series, he now knew that it involved someone he still loved, and probably would always love.
After a restless night he had no appetite for breakfast, so settled for three cups of coffee to liven himself up. Changing into a reasonably smart suit, but leaving off a tie, he prepared all of his evidence so far, and placed it into his shoulder bag. The drive to Aldenham was fast and easy, and he parked on the street outside the church.
Surprisingly, the door was locked, so he waited in the car for someone to arrive and open up.
Just over an hour later, he saw the vicar walking along the street, then turning into the entrance to the churchyard. He was dressed in casual clothes, not his vicar’s suit. The bomber jacket and tight jeans made him look all the more like a basketball player. Jon was reminded of the Harlem Globetrotters, who he had watched on television when he was young.
He gave the man time to enter the church and do whatever vicars did, then got out of the car to go in to see him. He was sure he could trust the witty and honest man, and whatever the outcome, he was his best chance for resolving the mystery.
William seemed surprised to see him. “Hello again. It’s been a while. Did you come back to tell me you had written me and my church into your latest novel?” He was in his black suit, religious dog-collar in place. Jon spilled out the events of the past weeks, uncharacteristically babbling, and confirming all of his suspicions with what passed as evidence, including both letters.
The vicar listened attentively, and perused each document carefully before replying.
“I think I recall Eloise writing a novel. I didn’t know it had been rejected though. When she visits her mother, she often comes for Sunday service before going back to Kent and sometimes we chat briefly. But I cannot imagine that the two of them would concoct such a deception, just to have you running around the country trying to investigate it. What could possibly be their motive?”
Jon had to admit that he was struggling to discover a real motive, other than that they were being spiteful, and wasting his time. He asked William if he would be prepared to draw Amelia into the church, so that she could be confronted with the details of his investigation. The vicar pondered that for some time, then replied.
“I can see no harm in that. I will ask her to come and see me tomorrow, and make up some story about church business. Then you can ask her about the letters, and I will be there to witness what she has to say. Meanwhile, go back to your hotel and relax. I am sure it is all a lot of coincidence, a fuss about nothing, my friend. Come back here tomorrow at midday, and I am sure you will have an answer, and be reassured”.
Shaking his hand, Jon assured him he would be back the next day.