Cherringham - Too Many Lies
Cherringham - Too Many Lies
1. A Village Divided
Jack turned to glance at Sarah, sitting next to him in the packed Village Hall. It was standing-room only.
Up front, the Parish Council sat at a long table. Some chatted, but most of them were looking out at a crowd drawn here by a controversy. One unlike anything Jack had experienced since he moved to Cherringham from New York City.
Back home, in the NYPD, he had been used to dealing with crowds of hostile people - making sure that nobody got too upset.
To the left, the front rows of the hall were occupied by a group of people literally on the edge of their seats. Villagers of all ages, many of whom Jack recognised.
Dotted among the group were signs on wooden sticks, currently resting on the floor, but obviously ready to be raised at a moment's notice.
And that was where Sarah kept looking.
Because amid that fired-up, tightly wound group, and ready to turn this meeting into an explosive show, sat Chloe, Sarah's daughter.
Chloe, now aged twenty-one, and back home in Cherringham, was clearly making her own decisions on things.
"You okay?" Jack said, leaning close to Sarah.
"I am not ," she said, turning back to him. "That group ... I mean, yes of course, I understand their position. But ... to be honest, I'd like my daughter to stay out of this."
"Well," Jack said, smiling, "think that ship has sailed."
"And that guy? Their leader?"
Jack nodded. He knew that Sarah was referring to the organiser the group had hired to help them save the venerable Village Hall building.
Ever since he had shown up on the scene, the temperature of this battle about building repairs, money, preserving the past, and the future of the ancient village of Cherringham, had turned fiery.
A lot of people - Jack included - didn't like that.
Finally, with the chatter from the audience reaching a crescendo, Jack saw the current Parish Council Chair, their friend the lawyer Tony Standish, stand up.
He attempted to start the meeting.
"Excuse me," Tony said, in a voice that might possibly have garnered attention in a courtroom, but not here.
Sarah saw Tony look at the other council members with an expression of "what do I do?"
He should use a megaphone, thought Sarah. Or at least a big gavel to rap on a solid chunk of wood.
Tony tried to raise his voice.
"If we could have everyone's attention now - please!"
Not bad, thought Sarah.
And finally, the noisy crowd stilled.
Tony looked surprised that he was able to effect such a change. Now, with their grumbling attention, he could proceed.
But as he did, Sarah shot another look at Chloe, sitting close to the "Save Our Hall" group's organiser, Syms.
Handsome, charismatic, and a good ten years older than Chloe.
All things that made Sarah uneasy.
Even though she kept reminding herself that, after Chloe's breakup with her French fiancé Pascal, well, her little girl wasn't so little anymore. She was an adult. And now, back in the village where she grew up, she was clearly showing it.
For now though, the "Save Our Hall" group - as tense as they looked, perched on their folding chairs, ready to spring into quick action - remained quiet.
Tony moved to the business at hand.
"This is - as I'm sure you all know - not a meeting proper of the Parish Council. It is an informal hearing . A chance for us all in the village to learn more about the umm ... challenging plans for this, our very own and dearly-loved Village Hall. And for you to umm ... share your views with your council members before our crucial vote on th