NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
much loved elderly member of the village of vernham, mrs emily bunkerton apparently goes missing. worried fellow villagers set out to find her...

Many thanks to fine actress Joanne Rothery for reading my little story so beautifully. www.mandy.com/actor/profile/joanne-rothery

Created: March 23,2020

Submitted: March 23, 2020

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Submitted: March 22, 2020

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NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

 

After 3 weeks, with the long trail of milk bottles leading from the front door of Mrs Emily Bunkerton’s little cottage out onto Low Street, the villagers of Vernham became quite concerned about her. Even Milko the milkman had grown suspicious by this time that something wasn’t quite right. The blue tits became increasingly bored with pecking the silver bottle tops to naughtily drink the cream off the top. It didn’t seem like theft anymore; the thrill had gone.

Rumours about Mrs Bunkerton’s absence spread like influenza around the village of Vernham. Had she gone walkabout and become lost? Unlikely, although very elderly, she knew the village like the back of her hand, she had lived there since she was born. There had been unidentified flying objects flying over the village; had she been beamed up by some extra-terrestrial beings? Again, unlikely. More likely the UFOs were drones obtained by the two small children of the village when they visited a toyshop in the town of Busted. Technology is lost on the majority of Vernham’s villagers, so the sight of drones flying over them would seem uncanny and disconcerting. Had she won the ‘Big Prize’ at bingo in the neighbouring village hall of Velstrum, and left Vernham to live a life luxury in the Algarve? Also, unlikely. The ‘Big Prize’ as it was called, was only £100, so wouldn’t be enough for fares to travel to an airport, let alone zip off in a jet to somewhere.

After all these silly ideas and gossip bandying about, not a single person thought that the poor woman may have had a nasty fall and come to harm, taken ill, or perish the thought, passed away.

No, there was something very strange about Mrs Bunkerton’s absence.

The last time Mrs Bunkerton was seen, had been three weeks ago, leaving Milly and Molly Goldsworth’s tearoom ‘Comfytums’. Milly and Molly found Mrs Bunkerton in an unusually odd frame of mind. Mrs Bunkerton arrived later than usual at the tearoom. Normally she would arrive at 10:02am precisely; this particular day she arrived at 10:15am. Instead of the usual pot of tea and Welsh Rarebit she would normally order; she ordered a black coffee and a slice of toast with margarine and jam. Oh dear, Mrs Bunkerton did seem out of sorts. When Molly and Milly said “Goodbye Emily, see you tomorrow.” She merely replied “Maybe.”

Eye witnesses in Low Street confirmed seeing Mrs Bunkerton fleeing from Comfytums as though demon dogs were nipping at her ankles. It appeared that she was running away after catching sight of the daily visit of a small herd of cattle walking down Low Street. Nobody knew where the cattle came from or went to; they just appeared every day. Mrs Bunkerton had never before shown fear of these cattle, in fact quite the opposite as she used to demonstrate how much the cows enjoyed being petted and fussed over. Something very strange was happening to Mrs Bunkerton.

A little while ago, Vernham became a Neighbourhood Watch area; with the idea of bringing the village community together and looking after each other. This scheme would involve the police, and in this case local bobby and exhibitionist PC Sweetman, who when asked about the scheme, told inquisitive villagers that he thought it was a spare watch that anyone in the community could borrow should their own timepieces let them down. Most folk didn’t worry about wearing watches anyway. Basically, if the local pub The Grummet and Nut was open, it was after 11:00 am, if Ye Olde Sweetie Shoppe was closed it was teatime and when the pub was closed at 11:00 pm it was time for bed. However, if the Neighbourhood Watch scheme was explained properly to the villagers, it is possible that someone could have been watchful enough to see if Mrs Bunkerton was okay before the trail of milk bottles grew to the length it had become.

It was time to take action and investigate the apparent disappearance of Emily Bunkerton. The villagers peered into the windows of her cottage, turned over items in the garden to see if they could find her body and looked inside the shed should she be in there. Miss Somerton-Jove, out on day release from Merry Meadow, the home for the elderly, confused and downright disturbed, helped by smashing the cottage windows with a rock from Mrs Bunkerton’s beautiful rockery to go indoors and investigate.

 

“Mrs B, Mrs B! It’s Miss S-J your friend. Is everything okay?” shouted Miss Somerton-Jove with rare concern.

Miss Somerton-Jove climbed up to crawl through a smashed window, in so doing, snagged her burgundy bouclé jacket on a shard of glass at the bottom of the window frame, fell through the window frame and momentarily hung until the shard snapped, landing indoors with a thump as she hit the floor.

After 2 minutes of repeatedly calling ‘yoohoo, yoohoo, Mrs B, it’s Miss S-J!’ Miss Somerton-Jove entered the kitchen to find Emily Bunkerton cowering on the floor by the refrigerator. Mrs Bunkerton had been overcome with fear as strange faces pressed up against the window looking for her, watching people overturning objects, digging up her beautiful garden and finally smashing her windowpanes.

It transpired that Emily Bunkerton had been perfectly safe on her own at home. Just over 3 weeks before, she had been to the Velstrum Surgery to see Doctor Harding, regarding the results of an allergy test to determine the reason behind her irritable bowel syndrome, a condition she had suffered for a long time, as many a villager downwind of her at times had experienced. The allergy test showed that Mrs Bunkerton had an intolerance to dairy produce, she was lactose intolerant and her dietary lifestyle had to change. Consequently, Mrs Bunkerton became recluse so to avoid any contact or temptation of the dairy kind.

Miss Somerton-Jove asked Mrs Bunkerton why she hadn’t cancelled her milk delivery.

“Well, you see dear, one so often hears about these poor people being put out of work as a result of shoppers buying their dairy produce from shops and supermarkets instead of having a regular delivery, and I couldn’t bear the thought of Milko without a job. He has a wife and small children you know!” explained Mrs Bunkerton.

“I know how much you enjoy cheese, milk and cream Mrs Bunkerton; it must be absolute torture for you to forgo all these things.” said Miss Somerton-Jove with sympathy.

“Yes, it is indeed. It never leaves one you know, the desire for dairy produce. Last night I dreamt that I was eating a scone with clotted cream and woke up with an awful taste in my mouth. I had been chewing on a tube of antiseptic ointment that I keep on the bedside table in my sleep.”

Milko the milkman visited Mrs Bunkerton partly through concern, but mostly because of an unpaid milk bill. Mrs Bunkerton had no objection to paying the outstanding bill and explained to Milko about her lactose intolerance. Milko assured her that it was not a problem and that there were alternatives such as soya milk, or even lactose free dairy produce, all of which he could deliver. This news came as a great relief to Mrs Emily Bunkerton, she could enjoy milk, cream and cheese again without embarrassing herself in public.

Mrs Bunkerton thanked all those concerned about her welfare, but requested that in future, they rang on the doorbell or knocked on the door to see if she was home, rather than go through all that forensic malarkey based on the assumption that she had gone missing.

© John Saunders 2020

 

 

 


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