Maude Lexington sat silently at a table in the Hangman’s Noose, observing the people around her whilst discreetly writing in her notebook.
Maude was very good at being invisible. She sat silently in the background whilst everyone else crumbled around her, only to ruin their reputation by writing a play that portrayed them in a disparaging manner.
She did it everywhere she went. She couldn’t help herself, despite getting into trouble whenever she did it.
That was the reason she was currently in Lower Strangling; to escape from the chaos that ensued at her school in California after she put on a brutal play about her own life, featuring many of the people in the audience.
But now, she was going to write a play about these villagers minding their own business, and they’ll never know how she knew so much about them.
“Here you are, ma’am, your Throckmorton Ale,” John said as he gave Maude her beer.
“Thanks,” Maude said, taking the beer from John.
“Are you ready to order food?” John asked Maude.
“I am yes, Cod and Chips please.” Maude said.
“Very well,” John said before walking back to the bar.
Once he was safely behind the bar, Maude got out her notebook and continued to observe the surrounding people.
The local vicar was sitting alone at a table, writing in his own red notebook.
At another table, two women were sitting opposite each other; probably a couple. They were discussing various things.
Somewhere else, a family was having lunch. The father was a man in his mid-fifties with grey curly hair, his wife a slightly younger woman with blond hair. Their children were ten at the oldest.
There were several people like this around Maude, all of them blissfully unaware of the play they would soon have staring roles in.
Maude looked at the bar. Clearly, the people sitting at it were friends of John, because they were conversing merrily with each other.
It seemed like the perfect place for her to write her plays in solitude. She was certainly going to check if there were any places available. After a while, her fish and chips arrived. She thanked John, then dug in.
It was the best food she had in a while. The Brits had yet to disappoint with pub food and culture.
As she ate, she looked out of the window.
Lower Strangling was a pretty village, a quiet village. Very much like her, really.
She made a mental note to find out whether any cottages here were for sale, just in case the reaction to one of her plays ever forced her into exile.
After she had her lunch, Maude went for a walk around the village.
Just then, she bumped into Simon; the vicar who was writing in his notebook earlier.
“Ah, good afternoon.” Simon said.
“Afternoon, Reverend.” Maude said.
“Are you enjoying our village?” Simon said.
“Yes, I am. In fact, I’m tempted to move here.” Maude said.
“Oh, right. Well, if you do manage to get on the property ladder, then you’d be more than welcome here.” Simon said.
“Good to know.” Maude said.
“Anyway, I’ll let you continue your walk. There is a lot of work to be done. I recently found some Nazi memorabilia in my attic and I’m trying to find out who it belonged to. I’m concerned it might take me all year, even more.” Simon said.
“Oh, right, ok.” Maude said. “Well, I‘ll see you around.”
“And I, you, I hope.” Simon said. “By all means, enter the church. I am in there most of time should you wish to know anything about the building.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Maude said.
With that, Simon bid Maude goodbye and blessed her, and she bid goodbye to him.
And so Maude Lexington continued to walk around the village, planning a play in her head about a village vicar who finds a Nazi in his ranks.