Disclaimer: Characters from The Professionals are © Mark-1 Productions Ltd
and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.

A Night Out

Combi Challenge Story - July 2004
Items: screwdriver, lighter, bottle of whisky, metal detector, bugs, hand grenade
Mode of Transport: Bus, taxi, tube, motor bike, Capri, tractor
Places: Safe house, newsagents, hospital, car wash, tennis court, cinema

         Bodie opened one eye and peered at me. "What?"
         "First free evening for weeks; surely you don't intend to sleep?"
         He settled back onto the sofa. "Yep."
         I wasn't going to leave it there and threw a cushion at him. "Come on, wake up. I know you can sleep for England but it'd be a complete waste of an evening."
         Reluctantly Bodie sat up. "What have you got in mind then? Nothing energetic, I hope, after the week we've had."
         "Dunno exactly. Just seemed daft not to do something." I saw I was about to lose his interest and grabbed the paper. "What about a film? Let's see what's on."
         Bodie groaned. "As long as you don't want to see Officer and a Gentleman. Tricia dragged me to see that: load of sentimental unrealistic clap-trap..."
         "The birds like that sort of thing." I'd seen it with Ellen. Amazing what a uniform can do for a girl; it had almost made me wish I'd kept my old gear. "What about that commando thing, Rambo?"
         Bodie didn't look too convinced. "If you want to. It's American, so you can't expect it to be very accurate. It'll be full of superhero types getting shot and never falling over."
         "Well, there's nothing much else worth seeing. We'll go for a curry afterwards."

         I dragged myself unwillingly to my feet. It was easier to give in and go along with him. Otherwise he was quite capable of going on all night so I wouldn't get any sleep anyway. Maybe I could snooze in the cinema.
         "Okay Doyle but you buy the popcorn."
         When we got out onto the street with a fresh wind blowing I began to feel more awake. I cocked an eye at him. "Sure you wouldn't rather go to the pub? We might find some company, female company. You won't get that at the pictures. It's all couples there."
         Pausing with one hand on the roof of the Capri, Doyle gave me a long look then stuck his other hand on his hip and camped, "Bodie, if I'm your date, then the popcorn's on you."
         A bloke passing on his bike overheard and gave us both a very funny look. "Just get in the car, Doyle. We'll go and see the damn film since you want to so badly."

         The queue for tickets wasn't as bad as I feared. The film had been running for a few weeks now. I left Doyle paying for those; it was his idea after all, while I went to stock up on the necessary supplies.
         I ran a keen eye over the sweet selection.
         "Can I help you with anything?" I glanced up at the blonde behind the kiosk. She was worth a second look and I favoured her with my best smile. "Oh I'm sure you could. Did you have anything particular in mind?"
         She shook a head slightly but the smile became more personal than professional. "I meant within the confectionary line," she replied firmly.
         "Bodie, aren't you done yet?" Doyle's voice came from behind me and I saw the blonde's eyes switch to him with interest. I hastily grabbed a couple of cans of coke, some popcorn and a large bag of Revels, handed over a fiver and pocketed the change she gave me. "We can continue our conversation on all things sweet, later," I promised her but she was already turning away to the next customer.
         "Trust you to interrupt at the wrong moment," I grumbled to Doyle.
         "Do you want to see this film or not?" he demanded. "It's about to start."
         I opened my mouth to answer him honestly but gave it up. We were here now, might as well make the best of it.

         The usherette at the door was taking the tickets and we paused as she dealt with the couple in front of us, before taking our tickets with a friendly smile. "Sit anywhere you like." It wasn't the sort of offer either of us would turn down but before I could reply someone shoved me out of the way, thrusting a ticket at the girl and storming away into the aisle.
         She frowned after him. "Don't know what his hurry is, he's seen every screening so far this week."
         The man was dressed in combat gear and I exchanged an amused glance with Bodie. "Some people get so wrapped up in these things they think they're real."
         The lights were being lowered as the Pearl and Dean adverts burst onto the screen, and we made our way to a couple of seats halfway down the aisle. "Don't hog all the popcorn," I told Bodie.
         "No, dear," he said, smirking as we garnered several 'shh's from around us.

         In spite of his pre-judgment of the film, Bodie appeared to be enjoying it, even if most of his enjoyment was derived from poking fun at the Americans.
         Just as Rambo was being locked up by the Sheriff there was a disturbance in front of the screen. "That's not right!"
         Bodie sat up straighter. "What's going on?"
         "Some idiot taking it all too seriously." I could see the man at the front; he wasn't clearly identifiable against the light of the screen, but I wasn't surprised to see he was dressed in combats. "The same idiot from earlier, in fact."
         "Tosser." Having delivered his considered opinion, Bodie sank back into the seat. "Hope the management chuck him out."
         Several other people were voicing the same view and shouting at him, but he was having none of it. "I demand justice! This man has been unjustly accused! We have to stand up to those who think they're better than us!"
         "Just what we need," I muttered. "Complete nutter."
         Someone up in the projection room had decided that stopping the film so that he could be removed was a good idea, and the picture froze. The usherette hurried down the aisle as the lights came up.
         Bodie sighed and closed his eyes. "Great. Wake me when they start the film again."
         I stood up just in case; it didn't seem likely that the usherette would manage to eject the nutter without help.
         He didn't even let her get close, pulling something from his pocket. "Get away from me! I will have justice!"
         I saw her falter and begin to back away in the same moment that I recognised what he was holding. "Bodie..."
         "Hand grenade..."

         My eyes snapped open instantly. Doyle's tone of voice said he wasn't joking and I could hear the film hadn't started again but what the hell was going on?
         There had been one brief moment of stunned silence but now the screams started and people started pushing for the exits. In glimpses between the panic stricken crowds I could see the bloke in the fatigues waving the grenade. He seemed to be still mouthing off but at this distance I couldn't hear him.
         As one Doyle and I started down the walkway towards him, working our way against the tide of people heading out to safety. Fortunately, whoever this bloke was, he didn't seem to have any intention of causing general mayhem by hurling the grenade randomly into the crowd. As far as I could see he was still raving at the poor usherette who seemed frozen to the spot.
         As we got closer and the crowds retreated, I could hear his voice, its volume sliding from hissed whisper to a scream. "This is not how it happens! This is wrong! I have to change it!"
         Doyle reached out to touch the usherette gently by the shoulders. "Come on, love. You have to get out of here."
         She jerked and screamed and the nutter took a step towards her. I quickly stepped between the two of them. "Get her away, Doyle."
         He hesitated, and pushed her up the ramp to safety but she took one stumbling step and then stood still again.
         "For Christ's sake, get her out of here! Go on!"
         "You'll be all right?"
         "Yes, now go on!"
         With a sigh of relief I saw Doyle half leading, half pulling the stupid bint up the walkway and out of the door at the top.
         I turned my attention back to the main event. He'd been watching us and when I turned back to him, he looked scornful. "You, you don't understand anything."
         Humour him, I thought. Say something, anything. I gestured to the screen where a ten foot Rambo was glaring into the camera, frozen in place until somebody flicked a switch to free him. "I know," I said soothingly. "I know that's not right. I've been there; I've been in the jungle. It's not like that at all."
         That didn't seem to be the right thing to say after all. He seemed to grow more angry and his other hand went to the pin of the grenade. "You know fuck all about it! Only I know the truth! I have to make the world see, don't you understand? I have to!"
         "Ok, ok, calm down." I raised my hands in the traditionally open handed gesture. "I don't understand. Why don't you explain it to me?"
         "It's too late for that," he said. "I have to show you. It's the only way." And he jerked at the pin.
         "Oh fuck!" I was just about to leap at him; maybe I could still wrestle it from him and fling it under some seats or something ... when a shot rang out and the bloke crumpled before me. Doyle had obviously returned and taken the opportunity. If only he'd been a second or two sooner.
         I dived on the floor and scrabbled around frantically searching for the grenade all the time counting in my head. Seven seconds, eight, nine ... I could hear Doyle calling my name as he pounded down the aisle and I wanted to shout to him to get back but there wasn't time ....

         Ten seconds, if it was one of ours and if it was primed right. I remembered Bodie telling me that before...
         Eight, seven... I'd hoped in shooting the bloke I'd catch him before he could pull the pin but the way Bodie had gone after it, the grenade must be live.
         "Bodie!" His head appeared above the row of seats. "Throw it!"
         Three, two... His arm came up, slowly - too slowly. "Bodie!" I screamed again, freezing but still too close for safety.
         No bang.
         Bodie was grinning as he held his hand open. "Nice shooting. Got him before he could pull the pin, mate."

         The doors banged open and the cinema filled with police rushing to arrest the nutter, currently rolling on the floor in agony from the shoulder wound I'd given him.
         Bodie jauntily lobbed the grenade at the nearest copper, and sauntered towards me. "We staying for the rest of the film, then?"
         "You've changed your tune. Thought you weren't enjoying it?"
         "It's not so bad. Although, you were talking about a curry, and I'd enjoy that more."
         "You're on." I'd had enough action for one night. "I'll even pay."
         "You bet you will." Bodie headed for the exit. "Oh, and the next time you fancy a night out, we'll stay in..."

© Sue Tier & Carol Good - July 2004