Benjamin Pickering was Peppercorn Patch’s guiding light – he had been the town’s saviour for many years as the local mayor. He had represented the townspeople on many occasions, particularly in fierce battles to preserve the natural environment of the town. Needless to say, he was well respected and liked in his community. He was also highly regarded by many because he was able to raise his only child, Joanne, on his own. His wife had died giving birth to Joanne.
Joanne loved and adored her father. He was the only family she had, apart from her father’s sister, Valerie, whom she had little contact with growing up. Joanne was the apple in Benjamin’s eye. Every day she reminded him of his wife, and he lived to ensure that Joanne had the best upbringing she could possibly have.
Benjamin Pickering was killed instantly when he was crossing the road one day on his way to his office in the heart of Peppercorn Patch. The red station wagon that hit him slowed to a stop and then sped off quickly, never to be seen in the town again. It was a hit and run accident that left the whole town in shock and one little twelve year old girl without a father.
Young Joanne had only one place to go – to live with her Aunty Val. Valerie Pickering owned the local pub, The Grand Hotel, and was very troubled with alcohol dependence. Joanne, although still at a very young age, learned to grow up quickly. At times she felt as if she was the adult looking after her aunty.
It was a very tough time for Joanne, however she grew to love Aunty Val. She was the only remaining family Joanne had. Even though she spent most of her time having to look after herself, she appreciated the fact that her aunty had taken her in and she had a roof over her head and food to eat – even if she did have to cook the food herself.
Thomas had also been a blessing. Joanne had known Thomas for a few years. He was in the same class as her in primary school, but they had never known each other very well. That was until her father had died.
“Your father is dead,” Thomas had whispered to her one day, “but there’s nothing to dread.”
“What do you mean?” Joanne had asked inquisitively.
“There’s nothing to fear now that I’m here,” Thomas smiled at Joanne.
“You’re a poet!” Joanne laughed for the first time since she had lost her father.
The pieces of ripped paper sit taped together on the table. Cathy Gilmore had gathered the pieces from the rubbish bin and pieced them back together again. The handwritten letter had haunted her ever since she had first read it.
“What does this mean?” Cathy asks herself as she stares at the letter in front of her. “Who could have possibly written this?”
Suddenly Cathy can hear the sound of harsh banging on the front door of her unit. She can see the handle of the door rattle as she quickly ushers the reconstructed letter into the top drawer of her desk.
“Cathy!” she can hear a male voice call from the other side of the door.
Cathy grabs her keys and unlocks the deadlock which had been latched to keep the front door secure. “Hold up!”
The front door rapidly swings open and in rushes a well-dressed man in a business suit. “Cathy!” the man shouts as he wraps his arms around her. “I’ve heard about Joanne and Richard. Are you okay?”
Cathy feels secure at last in the embrace of her husband. He has been out of town on business for a few days and she has missed him.
“I’m fine,” she says to her husband.
Her husband continues to hold her tight as she stares at the top drawer of the desk. She can’t help but think about the words written on the letter that was addressed to her:
Roses are Red. Violets are Blue. Life would be perfect – if it wasn’t for you.
The plastic binds hold Richard Evans’ hands together behind his back. He can no longer feel his arms due to the pain that has taken over.
Richard tries to look around him but everything is dark apart from a few scattered candles which have been lit and provide a dim glow. He can see the windows of the room he is in have been blackened out by thick black plastic.
From the room next to him, Richard can hear a faint noise. “Is anyone there?” Richard asks into the darkness. His voice echoes through the empty room.
Around him Richard can see large tins of paint and building tools – a construction site.
“Do you like what I’ve done with the place?” Richard is startled by a haunting voice. “I couldn’t let this place fall down to the ground.”
Richard turns his body to face the sound of the voice he hears. In the candlelight he can just make out the face of his captor.
“This building has been in my family for many years,” Richard hears the voice again. “It needed a little repairing. I’ve been here for a while making repairs. What do you think of my handiwork?”
A shiver runs down Richard’s spine as he sees the flames burning in Thomas’ eyes.
“What do you think Rich?” Thomas asks again.
Richard tries to respond but feels fear take over.
“What’s wrong, Rich?” Thomas grins excitedly. “Don’t you love what I’ve done with the place?”
“It’s…It’s good,” Richard tries.
“Just good?” Thomas seems disheartened, before adding excitedly, “Do you want to see it?”
Richard stares confused at an increasingly excited Thomas. Thomas suddenly darts across the room and rips the black plastic down from one of the windows. Both men are suddenly blinded as sunlight rushes into the room.
“Can you see it?” Thomas barks excitedly at Richard.
As his eyes adjust to the light, Richard can see treetops disappear into the distance.
“My great grandfather built this house, Rich,” beams a proud Thomas. “And I’m here to restore it!”
Both men gaze down over the quiet town below them from the house high up on the hill.
Next Episode – Monday 16th March