Second extract from first chapter of this thriller. Set in the 1960s
| The House Near Fallowfield
extract from Chapter One.
Novel set in the 1960s
The knock on the door woke her up. She had not drawn her mother's curtains over the bay windows and although the room was in darkness anyone looking in would be able to see light from the fire and the flickering TV. She got up, turned on the light, went out into the freezing hall to answer the door.
‘Good evening. I saw there was someone home and thought I might introduce myself and see if you needed anything. I'm your next door neighbour. You must be Frances Cooper. But I think we've already met. In the pub, on Friday. You remember? I thought you were American because of your cigarettes. My name's Albert.’
She would hardly have recognized him. He was considerably taller than he had seemed earlier when sitting in the pub, with fair hair, cut in a classic short, back and sides hairstyle. He had a kindly, handsome face and she immediately warmed to him.
She smiled when she spoke to him;
‘I used to live here. Before I went to America. I don't remember you. What happened to Mrs. Davis and Uncle Willy? They used to live next door.’
‘Oh, she passed away and the old fellow went into a home. About two years ago. That's when I moved in. So. Do you need anything?’
‘Would you like a cup of tea? Come into the lounge. It's cold out here.’
The two armchairs were positioned at either side of the fire. Immediately, in front of the grate, was a hearth rug and then the sofa with a small coffee table. He sat down in one of the armchairs. She brought in the tea service and some digestive biscuits she had found, on a small tray.
She sat down in the other chair and poured the tea.
‘My husband was from Iowa. We met when I was at university. We married and lived there, for three years. Until he died. Then my parents had this accident. And I decided to come home. I went to the funeral yesterday. And here I am. Freezing in this house. I didn't remember how cold it got.’
‘Nice and warm in America?’
‘Not in Iowa. It's much colder in winter. But the houses all have central heating. It's only cold if you go outside. In England you can go out for long walks in the country in December. Back there it's all snow and ice. I went out to Fallowfield this morning across the river.’
‘Well you didn't walk long you came back in a taxi.’
He paused, realising that the remark had been a mistake. She glanced up at him first with suspicion and then reproachfully.
‘I forgot for a moment what it’s like to live on this road. My mother sometimes described it as a goldfish bowl.’
‘I'm sorry I shouldn't've said that.’
‘It's OK. I came back in a taxi because I was frightened and didn't want to walk back by myself.’
She recounted her little adventure.
‘Quite the Dick Barton, aren't you?’
‘Who?’ she asked.
‘Dick Barton, the detective, on the radio.’
‘I wouldn't remember. But I had to find out.’
‘And you did very well. Why do you think he was following you?’
‘Don't know. But something else has been puzzling me.’
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