AN EYE FOR AN EYE by Marion Twyman

“What the whole lot, the whole sixty five thousand? You’ve got to be joking”. As David said it, he knew deep in his heart that it was not a joke. His brother, Graham, the vicar of St Williams, was distraught, sitting with his head in his hands. “Whatever shall we do” wailed Graham “Its taken years to raise that money, and now its gone, just like that. We trusted her, how could she ?”
“Perhaps it’s a mistake” said David, trying to console him. “How do you know for sure that Margaret has misappropriated it?”
“She hasn’t been seen since Friday, missed Sunday’s service for the first time ever” Graham replied. “and she’s not answering her phone. We’ll have to call the police. Everyone will be blaming me for trusting her”. He sank his head into his hands again.
David made some coffee, and as they sat in the kitchen drinking it, he managed to calm Graham down, and get the full story from him.
The problem started when Jim Walker, who had done a few repairs to the church plumbing, asked Graham when he would be paid, as the thirty days terms on his invoice had been well exceeded. Graham was puzzled, because he had signed a cheque for Jim’s invoice about six weeks previously. He remembered particularly, because Margaret, the Parochial Church Council Treasurer, had written ‘J.Walker’ as the payee, and the numbers ‘65’ in the amount box, then her fountain pen had run out of ink. Not wanting to complete the cheque in different pens, she had said she would complete it at home, and Graham had countersigned it in good faith. After Jim had spoken to him, he asked Margaret to check whether the cheque had been cashed, and she said she would. The next day she had gone to work as usual, and that was the last anyone had seen of her. Graham had spoken to the bank, in order to sort Jim’s problem out, and had been told that the cheque had been cashed, and it was for Sixty five thousand pounds, not sixty five pounds. Margaret had transferred the balance of the roof fund to the current account in order to meet it. No wonder Graham was distraught. Margaret Galloway had moved to the village three years previously, renting Holly Cottage. She attended church regularly from day one, and when she told Graham she worked in London as an accountant, he persuaded her to join the church council as treasurer, to replace old George Waring, who had been wanting to retire for years. Transferring everything from a hand-written ledger onto spreadsheets, her book-keeping had been impeccable until now, no one would have ever dreamed she would abscond with the funds.
Graham had no option but to call in the police, even though it upset him terribly to do so. He felt even worse when it transpired that there was no such person as Margaret Galloway. No one knew where she worked, or the name of her employer, and no one could be traced outside the village who knew her. The bank became involved, but all funds paid into her account had been cash payments, no salary cheques. The cheque payable to J. Walker had been cleared through the account of a Jocelyn Walker, who had withdrawn the balance in cash straight away and had then flown to Dublin, then disappeared .Margaret had left all her clothes and belongings at the cottage, but no papers of any consequence. It seemed that Margaret Galloway was a confidence trickster who had come to the village for a purpose, had worked towards her goal, and when the time came, she had pounced and , as the saying goes, had done a runner. All the trails were cold, and there was no trace of her to be found. Graham had learnt his lesson the hard way, and it would be a long time before he would ever trust anyone completely again.
It was about a year later that Mabel Fry, an elderly member of the congregation, knocked on the vicarage door, excitedly waving a holiday brochure.
“It’s her, Vicar, it’s that woman” she said “I recognise the mole on her neck”
Graham took the brochure from her, and sure enough, there was a picture of Margaret, cuddling a baby orang-utan. The brochure was advertising holidays in Borneo, and there was quite a substantial article about Jocelyn Walker, who had provided funds to set up a new sanctuary for the endangered animals, where she now lived.. A visit there was to be a highlight of the holiday. So that’s where St Williams’ roof fund had ended up. Graham wondered whether he should tell the police, and whether there was an extradition treaty between Borneo and Britain. Surely Margaret, or Jocelyn, whatever her real name was, an intellectual woman, judging by the well-thumbed classic novels and DVD’s of ballet and opera she had left behind at the cottage, had been punished enough by the deprivation and creepy crawlies she was experiencing in the rain forest. It would be further punishment to now take her away from the animals she had made her life. Was that fair ?
He cut himself a slice of cake. She had hardly shown fairness to the parishioners of St Williams, had she, by breaking the eighth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ Although the Bible said ‘Forgive them that trespass against us’, it did also advocate an eye for an eye, didn’t it. Yes, he would phone the police and take pleasure in it. He had another call to make first though. He dialled his brother’s number. “Hello David, Graham here. There’s someone I’d like to introduce you to. How do you fancy a holiday in Borneo?”

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About highamwriters

A group of recreational creative writers and if you ask us nicely we will let you publish some of our work
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