'21st August, 1979'. Bodie wrote the date and sighed. "I tell you, mate, this date will go down in the annuals of history."
Doyle glanced sideways at him. "Don't you mean annals?"
"Probably." Bodie checked his watch and added the time to his notebook. "I mean, honestly! Why tonight? Why does Cowley have to pick on us tonight?"
"I'm beginning to think you have some bad karma somewhere."
"Me? Could just as easily be you. More likely in fact; I'm usually so much luckier than you," Bodie retorted indignantly before catching his partner's grin. "But why tonight, eh?"
"I know you're disappointed about missing the match -"
"Disappointed? I'll say I am. First chance I've had all season, ticket bought and paid for, and Cowley scuppers it all."
"There'll be another match."
"Watford against Swansea? Not this season there won't, and maybe never again. They should never have sold Dennis Bond, you know."
"He's a great player. But they've still got some good ones; Ian Bolton and Steve Sims. They'll make First Division yet."
"As long as I get to see them."
Doyle wasn't going to put up with Bodie being grumpy all evening. "Well, there's nothing we can do about it. When we're finished here we'll go for a curry, or a few jars. Why not talk to Betty tomorrow and see if she'll reclaim the ticket on expenses for you?"
"She'll never do it. 'That would be misuse of the department's budget, Bodie'."
"We're here now, so let's try and make the best of it."
Bodie grunted. Doyle was right, there was nothing he could do about it, but the loss of his evening was infuriating. "What are we supposed to be watching for, anyway?"
"Movement." Doyle pointed to the small industrial unit at the end of the road. "Any movement. One of Murphy's informants told him it was being used to store weapons, and that they'd be moved tonight." Doyle waited, anticipating the next question, which followed instantly.
"So why," Bodie glowered, "are we sitting here instead of Murphy?"
"That's the best question you've asked all evening. When Cowley called he didn't tell me, and since I was more concerned with trying to salvage our evening I didn't ask. Not that it helped; Cowley simply reminded me we belong to him body and soul and to get on with it."
"I'll give him 'body and soul'," Bodie muttered. "And I'll have words with Murphy tomorrow... Why tonight?"
Closing his eyes in mock-anguish, Bodie slumped back in the seat. "Wake me if you see anything."
Bodie asleep was better than Bodie moaning, Doyle supposed. His own plans for the evening hadn't been quite as organised as Bodie's, just a casual arrangement to meet some old mates for a drink. The fact that this would make the third time he'd had to pull out was what infuriated him. Anyone would think he and Bodie were the only agents CI5 had. It seemed they were the only agents when Cowley needed someone to dump a last-minute job on, anyway...
An hour later, Bodie was quietly snoring and Doyle's legs were going to sleep with the inactivity. The houses around them had one by one acquired occupants; lights going on in various rooms. The car had garnered one or two curious looks but no one had tackled them, even if they did look like criminals casing the joint.
He was hungry, as well. He'd planned on getting a meal before going out to the pub; Cowley had put paid to that idea as well. He had no idea whether Bodie had eaten - although having already eaten never usually stopped his partner - but he could do with something...
A couple of kids rounded the corner ahead of them carrying familiar paper bundles and obviously eating with relish, and Doyle's stomach gave an enormous rumble at the thought of fish and chips. As they walked past the car the smell wafted in, and Bodie awoke. "What's that, chips?"
"Where's the chippy then?"
"No idea. Don't suppose it's far though, those two hadn't eaten much." Doyle could have done with the exercise, but stood no chance against his partner's pursuit of food.
"I'll go and see if I can find it." Bodie was out of the car in an instant, and waved to Doyle from the corner. Doyle stuck his head out of the window to hear him. "It's just along the road. Won't be long."
About as long as it took Bodie to consume one bag of chips before returning with another, Doyle supposed. Still, at least he wouldn't have to pay.
He decided to stretch his legs and got out to wander up and down. One of the houses opposite still had the curtains open, and he could see several candles lit around the room. The day had been quite cool for the time of year but the girl inside was just opening one of her windows, and she smiled out at Doyle.
He automatically smiled back, but hoped she wouldn't get curious about him lurking outside, and turned to scan the industrial unit. When he glanced back, she'd gone and he saw a light come on in the bedroom.
Doyle leaned back against the bonnet, pondering the information they'd been given. The unit looked completely deserted - as in, hadn't been touched in months deserted, not just empty at the moment. If Murphy had been given a bum steer he'd be happy to help him track down his informant.
Bodie returned with the precious food, and they both sank back into their seats, eagerly tucking in.
"I think Murphy was set up, you know."
"You mean we were." Bodie paused just long enough to wave a chip at Doyle. "Maybe he'd like to pay for my ticket. If this is a complete bust that's the least he could do."
"You could ask him." Out of the corner of his eye, Doyle caught sight of something flickering and casually glanced across, remembering the house with the candles...
Except it wasn't just the candles; the open window must have blown the curtain into a candle and it was now was ablaze. Bodie had spotted it in the same instant, and together they leapt from the Capri and ran across the street.
The bedroom light was still on, the girl was probably still upstairs and unaware of the danger. Without pausing, Doyle crashed into the front door which fortunately sprang open at the first assault, and within a few seconds he and Bodie had pulled down the burning curtain, and smothered it with the second to extinguish the flame.
"What the hell is going on?" The pretty girl was hurrying down the stairs, hastily wrapping a dressing gown around her. "Who are you? Oh..."
"Your candles got carried away." As a precaution, Doyle was busily blowing the others out. "'fraid your curtains will need replacing."
"Sorry about the door," Bodie smiled charmingly. "We didn't have time to wait for you to answer the bell."
She was still shocked at the near miss. "That's okay..."
"I can fix it for you, if you like," he offered. "My name's Bodie." He caught sight of Doyle's resigned face over the girl's shoulder. "And this is Ray."
"Ray." She acknowledged him with a glance before her gaze returned immediately to Bodie. "So why were you sitting outside in your car? I saw you earlier."
"Ah well, that's a bit of a secret. Why don't we get a coffee, and I'll explain it to you..." Putting an arm around her shoulders, Bodie jerked his head at his partner.
Doyle took the hint; Bodie didn't need him around. Bit much, after he was the one who got the bruises knocking the door open.
He returned to the car and retrieved his abandoned chips. They'd gone cold. Maybe Bodie was right about him having the bad karma; otherwise he'd be the one inside, getting a coffee, and possibly more.
Contrary to his expectations, Bodie appeared after about only ten minutes. "Didn't she fancy you after all?"
Bodie ignored the gibe. "Don't be jealous, Raymond. She's got a friend she's promised to bring along for you tomorrow night."
"I might have plans." Doyle glanced sideways at Bodie. "All right, I don't have plans. As long as her friend isn't a dog."
"That's not important, anyway. Listen -"
"It's important to me," Doyle interjected.
"Will you listen to me? I told Donna why we were out here. She's seen some lads coming and going by the back way into that unit which is by a lane from the main road."
"So, we won't see anyone while we're sitting over here."
"Where should we be sitting?"
"In her garden shed." Bodie grinned. "There's just a low wall between her garden and that lane..."
"I didn't think things could get much worse. I should have stayed in the car." Doyle was squashed into a corner against the lawn mower and even with Donna bringing them drinks at regular intervals, this had rapidly turned into one of the most appalling stakeouts they had ever done.
Bodie, squashed into the opposite corner with rake, spade and fork handles carving a series of grooves into his back, wasn't sympathetic. "At least it's fully dark now. If anyone is intending to make a move, it shouldn't be long."
Doyle was about to reply when they heard a car, moving slowly. Bodie craned his neck to look out of the small window. "It's a car in the lane. In fact, it's a transit. Could be our suspects."
Drawing their guns as they went, the partners slipped out of the shed and using the shadows for cover crept up against the wall.
Voices carried clearly in the quiet night. "Let's get the stuff into the van and over to Johnny's quicksharp."
Bodie risked a look. "They're at the door of the unit. Carrying torches; can't see any weapons."
Bodie nodded in reply and took another look. "They're inside. C'mon."
By the time the two emerged, each carrying a large box, Bodie was beside the door of the unit, Doyle waiting by the van. He snapped on his torch as they approached.
"Police! Hold it right there!"
The men both froze, and by the light from the torch Doyle could see that they weren't much more than the lads Donna had described. "Put the boxes down slowly, and get your hands on your heads."
"Slowly, he said!" Bodie reiterated from behind, as one saw Doyle's gun and dropped his box in alarm.
"We ain't done nothing. Don't shoot us...!"
Doyle waved them to the side of the transit. "Hands up against the side. Don't move until we tell you."
Once they were safely positioned, the partners frisked them. "Clean." Bodie eyed Doyle. "I'm beginning to think this is still a blow-out... "
"Watch them." Doyle snapped his torch on again and moved to check the boxes they'd dropped. One was already open; it was full of packs of cigarettes. Ripping the other open, Doyle discovered the same again.
Inside he found a light switch. The only things in the unit were more brown boxes: more cigarettes.
Heading back outside, he whirled one of the lads around. "What's with the fags? Fall off the back of a lorry?"
"Yeah... our mate, asked us to keep 'em just for a few weeks. He's got a pub, sells 'em under the counter..."
Doyle holstered his gun. This pair were nothing more than petty crooks...
"Morning, lads." Murphy breezed into the VIP Lounge smiling. "I hear you caught a couple of crooks for me last night."
After they'd handed the thieves over to local plod Bodie had insisted on going for a meal and more than a few drinks and Doyle had ended up sleeping on Bodie's sofa, and neither of them were in the mood for Murphy's joviality. "Yeah. We caught a pair of light-fingered kids, not the gun-runners you said were there."
"Not my fault," Murphy protested. "My informant is usually reliable."
"Tell him to get it right in future. Better still, make sure you're the one who gets to sit in a garden shed." Doyle still had a crick in his back, although it could just as easily have been due to Bodie's sofa as Donna's lawn mower.
"I can always rely on you two. I'll go and call him now." Murphy headed for the door, just as Jax came in.
"Mornin'. How was the match, Murph?"
"Good. I've got to make a call, I'll tell you about it later..."
Bodie raised his head from reading the paper as Murphy left. "Match?"
"He had tickets for the match at Vicarage Road last night. S'why you two got called in to cover that job."
"He went to the match? He made me miss it and went instead?"
Doyle levered himself to his feet just in time to catch Bodie's arm before he could follow Murphy. "Take it easy. He didn't know."
Wrenching his arm free, Bodie bowled towards the door. "That's just it. He did know..."
Doyle rolled his eyes at Jax and hurried out after his partner. He'd better catch Bodie before he played football with certain parts of Murphy's anatomy. There had to be a better way of getting their revenge anyway...