Chapter 2

Gap Year
Chapter 2

‘What does a vicar want with a speedboat?’

Heidi’s question pierced the crisp peace of the December morning, in stabby rhythm with her stilettos on the vicarage pathway.

Warwick involuntarily flexed his pocketed hands into fists.  The speedboat rusting on this driveway may not have seen water in the twenty years Lower Bratchley’s man of the cloth had owned it – but Warwick detested the sentiment behind the girl’s enquiry.  Clearly rural reverends were not allowed fripperies – only Upper Bratchley millionaires, like Heidi and her family.

Like Warwick and his family.

‘He won it on Bullseye,’ he explained with patronising patience.  He looked like a huffy Gestapo officer, stomping in his long deerskin coat.

‘Bull what?’

He winced again at her naggy, yappy, Yorkshire terrier voice.  His most despised dog breed.  He despised all dogs in fact – being more a cat man – but Yorkshire terriers were particularly shitty, licky, furry, yappy little mops.

Bullseye,’ he enunciated.  ‘It was a game show in the 80s.  Sunday afternoons.  You know: darts, Jim Bowen, “Let’s have a look at what you could have won!”  The top prize was always a speedboat.  Ellery – the vicar – goes on TV quiz shows.  It’s his hobby.’

Heidi’s childlike, mobile face rucked up into an ‘Ooh, you live and learn’ expression.  ‘We always watched The Clothes Show on Sunday afternoons.’

Shame you didn’t glean any tips!  Warwick didn’t say this; he didn’t need to – the distaste was loud in the dark eyes which appraised her five-foot-nine form.

Heidi adored yellow, and routinely bedecked her surgically enhanced body in discordant shades of that colour.  She’d surpassed herself today – not much weatherproof demureness for this winter church appointment.  Egg-yolk PVC jacket, beneath which a banana cowl-neck top strained to contain her silicone bosom; mustard micro skirt; margarine stiletto Ugg boots; even her svelte legs were – according to the spray tan can – Hawaii Honey.

‘You’re grumpy today, Wozzy,’ she pouted, perceptively, tweaking his chin with canary-gloved fingers.

Warwick scowled.  He jabbed at the bell – instantly, the door to St Matthew’s vicarage was unfurled by a vision in cassock and glasses.  The vision possessed no evident neck, so his perfectly ball-shaped face – which was all but covered in a hearty smile – appeared to be dolloped on top of his dog collar.

‘Come on in,’ urged the Reverend Ellery Crisp, ‘I’ve got the kettle on – we’ll have a good old natter about your wedding arrangements.’