The thud of willow against leather echoed across the village green, it was mid August and Jonathan Williams (or JW as his friends called him) sat in the Cricketers inn trying to cool down after his spell in bat. “Top up?” asked Tom the landlord picking up JW’s half empty glass, JW could see the beads of condensation on the cold glass, shaking himself from his reverie he replied “not today Tom, the Major wouldn’t appreciate me slurring my words at this evening’s service, besides I have to pick Wendy up from the train station later on”.
Wendy was JW’s wife, they’d met many years ago during a dark time in his life before he’d answered the calling that eventually led him to become a man of the cloth. She’d helped give him the strength to deal with the demons that inhabited his world and that had lurked there from his childhood, he hadn’t banished them but at least they’d come to an uneasy alliance.
Draining the last of the cool liquid in a single draught, JW stood and picked up his copy of the times, the crossword half completed, he couldn’t seem to concentrate today, normally he’d have finished it in an hour, must be the heat he thought, that and being caught by one of the fielders just before his century. “I must get back to the vicarage Tom, Fred the gamekeeper left a nice brace of pheasants for Wendy and I a couple of days ago, they’ve been hanging in the pantry, should be about perfect to eat now”. He left the pub and walked down the dusty lane towards the vicarage thinking how best to serve the pheasants, his mouth salivating at the prospect. First things first though, call Wendy to see how long before she arrived at the sleepy little train station in the next village, she’d called earlier to say that her train would be late, something about a signal failure at Victoria, pop the pheasants in the Aga, then jump in the Morgan to collect her, dinner, and then the evening service at the church. Aren’t Sundays wonderful thought JW, little did he know.
JW and Wendy had arrived at the little village in Sussex a couple of years ago after being the resident vicar at an inner London church, his life was very different here, he enjoyed the rural life but missed the friends he’d made. Wendy took to it like a duck to water, she’d grown up in the country and if truth be known she’d disliked living in London, she was a good sport though and never complained whilst they were there. Living here added to her commute in the mornings and evenings but it was worth it for the peace and quiet she said.
As JW ambled down the lane kicking up dust clouds from the chalky road the telephone started ringing in the study at the vicarage, breaking into a trot he covered the last few yards in double quick time. “Williams here” said JW as he picked up the telephone handset, nearly dropping it in his haste onto the Royal Doulton bowl his in laws had bought as a present for their wedding, not that JW would have minded, he’d always thought it hideous, “Think nice thoughts JW” he said to himself. Wendy’s voice sounded distracted on the other end of the line “Jonathan, I’m afraid there’s been a bit of a problem at this end, it’s….”, the phone went dead.
The afternoon wore on and JW was now getting a little anxious, he’d finished the dishes, tidied up, written the evenings sermon, and got the pheasants ready for the oven and Wendy still hadn’t called him back.
The telephone rang in the study, at last he thought. “Jonathan, I’ve had a call from the PM and have had to return to the office, I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon all being well, remember to lock the doors and set the alarm”, trying to keep the disappointment from his voice he arranged for her to call him when she was on the train. You know, thought JW, I guess I’ll never get used to her being the head of MI5. Roast pheasant for one it is then, how odd that she mentioned locking the doors and setting the alarm though.
Being married to the head of MI5, JW was now used to some of Wendy’s security arrangements, the occasional glimpse of armed security personnel, her own service revolver she carried sometimes, the sophisticated alarm system installed at the vicarage where they now lived.
After finishing dinner, JW washed and tidied up, and then made his way to the Church. Full house tonight he thought, don’t fool yourself JW it’s probably because the Church is the coolest building in the village, chuckling to himself he made his way to the pulpit. Tonight’s service was from his favorite passage of the bible, Matthew 5: 38-48, forgiveness, he’d trod this path a while ago and it was this that had reconciled him with his childhood.
After the service was over and he’d said good night to each of the congregation JW made his way back to the vicarage. As he walked back the night was closing in and he could hear the bark of a pair of foxes in the nearby copse, it all seemed so very peaceful, the only thing missing was Wendy to share it with him. Arriving home tired, JW turned off the lights in the house and trod wearily up the stairs, he got into bed, his last thoughts before falling asleep was that he’d forgotten to set the alarm.
Unknown to JW enemy agents were getting ready. These were no ordinary agents though, these represented another force entirely and they knew of JW and Wendy and they were on their way………….