Monday 2 October 1989
I stand in my lounge and look out the window to see if Ray has turned up yet but there’s no sign of the gold Capri anywhere in the street. I have this annoying habit, according to my one-time partner, of being notoriously late in the mornings, which I have to disagree with most strongly, thereby getting us into trouble with our boss. Perhaps I should explain a bit about myself and my partner, my name is Bodie, just Bodie. Yes, I do have other names but no one and I mean no one calls me anything other than Bodie and hasn’t done for quite some time. My partner is one Raymond Doyle, him of the short temper and a guilt complex that is at least a mile wild and together we used to form very own mobile ghetto. I remember where that nickname came from – we were on the search for some Greek hotheads, with a very specialist gun, a few years ago and Ray introduced me to the concept that most of the Greeks in London tended, at the time, to keep themselves to themselves, much like a ghetto. Jokingly one of us decided that was what we were – we still are, we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves and operate as one smooth machine, it’s only when others come along and try to interfere that things tend to go wrong. The ‘we still are bit’ is not quite as tight as it used to be, too much water has passed under the bridge for us to go back to the early days of our partnership. The other thing I should perhaps explain is that we are civil servants, not the pen pushing, report writing kind unfortunately, our office is the world of terrorists, anarchists, bombers and nutters with anything and everything in-between.
Ray and I have been partners now for fourteen years and for the most part things have been good, there have been the odd fallouts and mix ups, along with the ever-present risk to life and limb – I watch his back and he watches mine, just not so much now. Sometimes things don’t always go to plan and one of us ends up getting seriously injured but we have both bounced back from such things, with an extra scar here and there. When we were first partnered I don’t think either of us thought much of the other and it took a while for the mutual respect to grow. Mind you, even now he gets up my nose something chronic and I suppose I do the same to him. Differences aside we have made our partnership work consistently over the last fourteen years despite the odd hiccough on the way. With regard to our job we both work for Major George Cowley, head of CI5, Criminal Intelligence 5, which has a very broad remit, just read the small print and you’ll see what I mean. We’ve both been in the job a similar length of time with me having a mere few weeks on Ray, I was just about learning the ropes and how to stay alive when he appeared with the next intake. For some reason, known only to God and George Cowley, they decided to amalgamate the two courses into one and some of us had to go through one Brian Macklin’s gentle hands for a second time.
Still that’s all ancient history now and as I glance out of the window I can see the gold Capri nosing her way into a parking space almost opposite my front door but as it’s still early I decide to have just one more slice of toast before heading into the office. You might say I like to wind Ray up and most of the time you’d be right but at other times he deserves to be reminded that there are two of us in this outfit. This morning I decide to be kind and I stuff the slice of toast in my mouth and finish it as I head out of the door, having made sure that the alarm is set and the locks engaged. Both of us have been caught out by not following procedure and things ended badly on each occasion, Ray with two bullets in him and me dealing with a whole lot of personal heartache, which I’m not prepared to discuss with anyone. We both managed to come back from those incidents, he made it back to full fitness and a place on the A Squad and me? Well let’s just say I took greater care of what I nearly lost and made sure nothing like that happened again however other things came along and then one day, almost exactly a year ago to the day, it became no longer necessary. You could say I became obsessive about setting locks and alarms for a while but nowadays the need for that amount of care is less. I’ve only me to worry about now and well, we’re all expendable, that’s not to say I’ve gone the other way and become lax about security, a lifetime of habits is hard to break. Where I live now is not a CI5 provided flat, I bought a house last year as promise to someone but even so the security was provided by CI5 and is way above your usual private homeowner’s locks and bolts. I keep myself to myself and try to not to socialise outside the job, in fact I have no idea what my neighbours do and I’ve perpetuated the old civil servant myth with them, though what they make of my often odd hours is anyone’s guess.
Those same unconscious habits of a lifetime kick in as I prepare to leave the safety of my home, the worst or best time for a hit, depending on your allegiance is leaving cover, so I check the surroundings quickly then jump into the Capri and we’re away.
‘Bit jumpy this morning mate?’ Ray gives me a quick once over as he pulls away from the kerb, checking his mirrors for anyone paying us any extra attention just to appease my jumpiness.
‘No more so than usual, why?’ he knows why I take the extra time to check whenever I leave cover of any sort, some of the people I’ve come into contact with over the years have a very long memory and even longer arms, even though I was an accessory, I’m still a legitimate target in their eyes. ‘Any idea what the old man wants us in and why this early? I’m supposed to be out at the training centre today and tomorrow then off for the rest of the week.’
‘Nope, you?’ I shake my head at him.
Luckily at this hour traffic is light and Ray makes good time from mine to HQ, without resorting to using backstreets and cut throughs, learnt long ago when he was a wooden top. Once upon a time I’d have wound him up something chronic about his time on the beat and the fact that he seems to think that ex-coppers are better than any other type of ex. Over the last few years I’ve decided that some things are better left unsaid, especially things that are likely to make an awkward situation worse. These days Ray and I tend only to work closely on things that need experienced agents, we have both largely come off the streets and deal with different areas of CI5. It’s not often we are called out of semi-retirement but if we are then you can guarantee that George Cowley has a bloody good reason to do so. As we pull up outside the latest ramshackle building lovingly known as HQ, I try to run through what or who has given rise to the pair of us being dragged out of our safe little empires. As far as I’m aware no one with a particular grudge is up for parole or has recently been released – most of our be-moaners and crackpots are safely under lock and key or are well and truly dead. One of the last major threats to us and other organisations was let out last year and met with an untimely accident. Pity really, as years ago me and him were quite good mates, in fact he took a bullet for me on two occasions but after six years undercover he went rogue. Drawing a blank I climb out of the car and look at Doyle over the roof of the Capri.
‘Know of any guests of her Majesty due for a bit of life on the outside?’
‘No, was thinking about that on the way here, I can’t think of anyone, most of them have either gone straight, are buried at least six feet down or are still inside. I’m sure we’ll find out what is going on as and when we need to know.’
I follow Ray into the building, wishing that whatever is going on won’t take up too much of our time, the less time I spend with Mr Raymond Doyle the better these days, things are too strained to cope with a long-term assignment. Over the last couple of years off the streets, I seem to have struck a stronger friendship with Murphy, I’m not sure if it’s the shared military background or other things that have happened but if I fancy a drink or a bit of a social evening, Murph is my first choice. Too many things have been said in the past that I can’t forgive or forget and even now I have to remember not to say anything about what happened eight years ago. I wonder if the old man has just called the two of us in or whether some of the other old hands will be in as well. Only one way to find out what’s going on and that’s speak to the man himself, that’s providing we can get past Betty – she’s been here as long as us and knows us of old. Even now, we’re both known to try it on with her despite the fact she’s been happily married for years, I for one just do it because I can, there’s no real interest there on my part, hasn’t been for a very long time. Women, as far as I’m concerned, are nice to look at but that’s as far as it goes, there’s no one waiting for me out there. Ray I’m not sure about, he’s still looking for that elusive long-term relationship but I don’t know much about what he gets up to out of work these days, he might have already found her for all I know. Our days of socialising and picking up women is long in the past and as for anything else there is no real friendship there anymore, no morning runs or sparring down the gym, he lives his life and I live mine. I couldn’t even tell you the last time we went out for a drink or socialised come to that, it must be before the disastrous Kelly op, you can’t socialise with someone you don’t like.
When we get to Cowley’s office Betty waves us straight into his office, I’m guessing by the look on his face he expected us hours ago.
‘Gentlemen. Och sit down the pair of you’ he takes his glasses off and looks us both over. ‘So how are things going with Murphy, Doyle? Making those Whitehall mandarins quake in their shoes?’
‘Well, it might help if we had a little more bargaining power, they still think we’re boys doing a man’s job, maybe if you…..’
‘Aye well, they’ll soon get the message. And you Bodie, how’s the new training facility shaping up?’
‘Really well, the fact that at last we can have everything in one place is something we should have had years ago, it makes things so much easier. Assessments can be done in less time as they don’t have to get to two different places and it means that if we’re a bit short on either the range or in the gym we can swap about as necessary. The only gripe I’ve got is we could do with more trainers, those who have actually got some real-life experience’ I pause, suddenly realising where my train of thought was heading and I shut it down before things get out of hand. ‘Brian is starting to feel his age, along with his old injuries, so we need to think about looking for some new blood. Do you want me to have a chat and see if we can maybe poach a couple of guys from the Regiment? I would like to think that they have the right mindset for what I want, their training has been developing over the last few years, with outside input. I want the training centre to be a go to place for all government departments like ours and for it to make money which can then be ploughed back into CI5.’ Budgetary constraints are always a headache for our department and if we can raise some money which we can use to fund other things then all well and good. Talk of things like this are, I’m sure not the reason we have been summoned to see Cowley.
Cowley looks first at Doyle and then at me ‘how well do you know Martell Bodie?’
Hmm not the question I was expecting ‘how well does anyone know Martell? I know where I can probably find him but beyond that?’
‘Och laddie, it’s not a test so stop beating about the bush, how long have you known him?’
‘Ok, ok, about twenty years, twenty five years why?’
‘Does he trust you?’
‘About as much as a mongoose trusts a rattlesnake,’ Cowley looks at me ‘yes I suppose he does, as far as Marty trusts anyone these days. Where is all this going, yes I’ve known Marty a long time and yes, as far as I am aware, he trusts me.’
‘Right I want the pair of you to pick up Martell and keep him under wraps for a while, there’s been a credible threat on his life, convenient as he’s just been subpoenaed to give evidence in the States in some or other CIA case. I want him alive to make that trip gentlemen, do I make myself clear?’
Christ, what a shit assignment, not only have I got to put with Doyle for the foreseeable there’s also Marty to factor in – I don’t trust myself with either of them for more than a few hours. ‘Surely, there’s someone else that can provide the right sort of security – can’t the CIA collect him and look after him over there?’
‘Aye, there’s plenty of others that could provide round the clock protection but CI5 have been asked to do it and I have decided that the pair of you are to be the ones to provide it. Is there a problem, gentlemen? How many times do the pair of you have to question my word, you will deal with whatever problems you have and Bodie, I expect you to behave.’
Monday 2 October 1989
Walking out of Cowley’s office I can feel Doyle’s eyes boring into my back, I don’t think he’s overly pleased that we have been thrown together to deal with this assignment. I try to remember the last time we really worked together on an op like this and I realise it was probably either the gun smuggling one after the Falklands or maybe the disastrous Kelly op back in ’81. Things were already beginning to turn sour during the Kelly op and we have never found the friendship we had back before then. There’s been too much hate and heartache along the way for us to go back to what we had, neither of us is prepared to open that can of worms if we can help it. I know we could probably sort things out between us but at the end of the day do I really want to go back to how things were then? Deep down I know what the answer is but I have a feeling that he is going to try and push me on things if we’re stuck together with only Marty as a distraction.
That’s another little problem that is likely to raise its ugly head – my history with one Mr Martell. Being acquaintances with a gun runner, sorry former gun runner, is a bit of a no no in my line of work but over the years it has come in very handy. I remember when Preston managed to get hold of the experimental American 180, Marty managed to procure one for us, then again he helped out during the op to take down the splinter IRA group and again after the Falklands. At the end of the day Marty is a very useful person to know, he seems to have his finger on the pulse of a lot of interesting, how shall I put it, opportunities if you’re in the market to make a fast buck. He is also, on occasion, willing to help with more legal ventures but that could just be because I’ve known him so long.
I reach the Capri first and stand by the passenger door, my equilibrium is in a bit of turmoil, so I decided to let Doyle drive.
‘Where we off to – Woolwich Ferry?’
I look at my watch and see it is only just gone ten ‘nope, not at this time of day, even if Marty has got urgent business, he won’t use that office until this evening’s rush hour. He’ll be at home I hope but there’s no guarantee that he will even have left wherever he was yet. Our Marty keeps some very odd hours and doesn’t like to be disturbed even if it is urgent. Head out towards the docks, there’s an off chance that he might be at his warehouse, I’ll give you directions nearer the place.’ I sit back and try to get my scattered thoughts into some semblance of order, this could prove to be a challenging assignment – the pair of them are going to be like bloodhounds on a scent or at least one Raymond Doyle will be once he realises that Marty and I have real history. Heading east across London is not a drive I like to make at this time of day and I’m glad the terror of Stepney Green is behind the wheel. The streets are full of humanity heading to do their dreary jobs and it would appear that not one of them has ever read the Highway Code, if the honking horns are anything to go by.
Having checked out Marty’s warehouse and found no one there we climb back into the car to face the reverse trip back across the city, this time I direct Ray to Marty’s rather swanky mews house in an up-market postcode.
‘I’m sure that must have cost a packet’ complains my companion.
‘So, what if it did’ to be honest it doesn’t bother me how much he spent on his property ‘I don’t suppose your taxes paid for it, do you?’ I don’t even try to be civil and we’ve only been together for a couple of hours, I wonder what things will be like after a couple of days.
‘I was only making an observation, there was no need to bite my head off, Christ I hope you’re not going to be like this for, well however long we’re going to be stuck together!’
I decide the best thing to do is ignore my partner, so I get out of the Capri, checking the surroundings and walk up to Marty’s door where I lean on his doorbell, long and hard. If Marty has been out ‘socialising’ as he likes to call it we might be waiting a while for him to open the door, hence the long hard lean on the bell. Out of the corner of my eye I spot movement behind the curtains so I know the man in question is at least home, whether he is alone is another matter, so I lean harder on the bell.
Finally the door opens a fraction, a less than immaculate Marty appears at the small gap ‘would you mind not breaking the door bell, some of us have only just got to bed’ he mutters as he tries to close the door but he is not quick enough and I shoulder my way in, slamming it firmly behind me. ‘And what exactly do you want Bodie, barging your way in here like some common lout? Why did you leave that partner of yours outside?’
‘Pack a bag Marty and shut up, you know exactly why I’m here. Who have you been short-changing this time? Have you been playing with the big boys and bending their rules, tut tut. I understand some very influential people want to speak to you and some others want you dead, can’t possibly think why, can you?’
‘You do exaggerate old boy, when do I ever not deliver the goods?’
I just look at him and raise an eyebrow ‘get a move on Marty, we need to be out of here sooner rather than later and before you start you can sleep in the car, that’s if you can bear to parted from whoever your latest is.’ I’m not even going to speculate who Marty’s latest bedwarmer is, I’m not even going to try and work out whether they are male or female, whoever Marty sleeps with is none of my affair provided they don’t try and keep in touch.
‘Where are we going, what do I need, how long…’
‘Shut up Marty or do you want me to pack for you, I’m sure you really don’t want me in your bedroom do you? Just get on with it and for how long I don’t know. When are you supposed to jet off to foreign climes?’
‘What’s the date today, 2? I think I’m supposed to fly out on the 9, cattle class as well.’
I look at Marty and shake my head in disbelief, here he was moaning about not flying business class or first when someone has a contract out on him, mind you it’s not the first time someone has been baying for his blood so maybe he’s used to it by now. That just leaves me with one small problem. I had not planned on being caught up in anything this coming weekend, this weekend was supposed to be set aside for remembering and George knew that. Being around other people would be bad enough but to be stuck with these two is going to be a fecking pain. They both know too much about me and are bound to have questions, so I need to be prepared to lie through my teeth and not give anything away. I know in the grand scheme of things my plans are not that important to anyone but me, yet it grates that I have got to play babysitter when it’s going to be a personal struggle to be civil to people. I had made plans to do things this weekend, there were special places I wanted to visit and to spend time by myself there remembering happier times but once again work has got in the way of that. I seem to have spent so much of my life putting work before personal matters and look where I am now – alone, watching my back for the long arm of those across the water. One day I’m sure someone will come looking and find me, not as a result of what I’ve done in the past but because of my close associations with others and what those seeking revenge lost, I’m the only one left. I’m likely to become one of the disappeared, un-mourned and buried, fuck knows where but at least two to the back of the head should be fairly painless after they’ve finished torturing me for what I know. As far as the people who will come looking for me are concerned, I am a veritable mine of information – the who, the where and how things are done is what they’re after, along with a large dose of revenge.
I look up and realise that Marty has disappeared, hopefully to sort out some basic things for the days ahead and I look out of the window to be spotted by Doyle who is pointing at his watch as if to say hurry up we’ve been here too long.
‘Oi, Marty get a move on, we need to be out of here now, before anyone realises what is going on. Come on shift your sorry arse!’ I call up the stairs to him.
Finally, Marty reappears clutching a relatively small bag, which I’m thankful for, I did think, for a moment, that I would have an argument over how much crud he was taking. ‘Right, wait there a moment’ I say as I open the door and check the coast is clear with Ray, my hand under my jacket on the butt of the Browning nestled under my arm. A nod from Doyle and I send Marty out first checking the surrounding area before I follow him to the car. By time I’m at the car, Marty is tucked in the back, Doyle in the front and the engine running, as soon as I’m in we’re off, leaving at least half an inch of rubber on the quiet street.
‘Where to?’ asks Doyle as we undertake a complex series of turns and double backs in case we have picked up a tail that neither of us have spotted. ‘Out of town or one of the safehouses?’
‘Well, depends on who might be after our guest here, care to shed any light Marty?’ I turn in the seat and look at our reluctant backseat passenger who is having trouble adjusting to the random driving and frequent turns. ‘Well, who have you pissed off recently?’ I know Marty of old and it could well be that this threat doesn’t have anything to do with the what the CIA want to talk to him about, it could easily go back to his gun running days in Africa. ‘Until we know what’s going on I’d be happier somewhere off the beaten track, what about you?’ I leave the choice of safehouse to Doyle, he probably knows which ones are active and which we’ve sold – he deals more with that side of things than I do these days, me I’m responsible for training not housekeeping. I do get involved in housekeeping but not the sort he does, mine is a damn sight messier and not a side of the job I particularly enjoy but it seems that mantle has now fallen on my shoulders. The role I fulfil goes hand in hand with the role we have as a department but it is not something for the squeamish, on occasion it can be downright fucking awful, as it can involve former friends or colleagues.
‘Makes sense, how about that place out Richmond way?’ Christ Ray, why did you have to pick that one of all the places we know of or have access to. ‘There should be enough stuff laid in for a few days to a week and I’m sure we’ve both got kit there. Right that’s decided, one of us can call it in later, give ourselves a head start.’ I sit back and try to not get drawn into the past and the last time I spent time in Richmond, it holds some very sad but special memories especially at the moment, now is not the time to start along that route. As hard as it maybe I need to keep all thoughts of last year out of my head at the moment and concentrate on the job at hand. I do not need distractions right now but how long I can keep the memories locked away is anybody’s guess, especially this week of all weeks.
Wednesday 4 October 1989
I stand looking out of yet another front window on to yet another boring street, Christ have we only been here two nights? You could cut the atmosphere with the blunt end of a plastic spoon, let alone a knife and we’ve still got more to come. To say that no one is talking to anyone must be the understatement of the century, we’re all skirting around each other like tomcats on the borders of their neighbouring territories. All it’s going to take is one simple word and then all fecking hell is going to break lose. Doyle seems to have camped out in the kitchen, at least that means we haven’t had to live on total crap. He can usually produce something edible, not up to Marty’s usual standard of evening menu and there’s no Dom Perignon to accompany it. The first evening when Doyle dished up a mix of meat, veg and potatoes Marty took one look at it and before he could start he got told by yours truly in no uncertain terms if he wanted cordon bleu cookery he could fuck off back to the mews house and take his chances with whoever had the hit out on him. Surprisingly since then whatever has been put in front of him has been eaten without a single complaint.
Monday evening, I took the opportunity to find the nearest public phone box to report into Cowley, let him know where we were and to arrange some sort of outside cover. Although the property we are in is well out of our usual areas, it’s still protocol to have two teams on most babysitting jobs. I also took the time to point out that this week had been set aside for me to take some holiday time but as usual in this mob, personal plans count for nothing, so here I am still stuck with the happy twins. I keep wondering whether I should volunteer to take a spell outside with either Murphy or Jax rather than go stir crazy in the house however I know if it got back then I’d be well and truly persona non grata. Unfortunately, Bodie, you are stuck with the situation and you’d better make the best of it, hopefully whoever is out for Marty’s blood will give up and crawl back under whatever stone they came out from. Knowing our luck, I really don’t think that is what’s likely to happen, for all I know whoever it is could be watching the place right now, protection or not. Christ I hate babysitting jobs at the best of times, they can either be as boring as watching paint dry or full on gun battles, there never seems to be anything in between. All this standing and sitting around is only going to end up with one of us losing their temper and I’m just trying to not let it be me.
At least tonight I’ve got the first watch from ten until four and then Doyle will finish the night however it means that I will, unfortunately have six hours on my own in which to think about things I’m so desperately trying to put to the back of my mind. The only consolation is that, I think, Murphy is due back this evening so maybe I can entice him in for a coffee at some point. At the moment the happy twins seem to be watching some shite or other on the TV and at least they are out of my hair for a while. Black and white comedy films have never been among my favourites, so they are welcome to each other’s company providing they don’t decide to start trading stories. Each of them knows something about different parts of my life and I have tried to keep those parts separate for good reasons. My time in Africa is, as far as I am concerned, a closed book, not because it was all bad but there are certain things I don’t want to be reminded of.
Dinner is yet another concoction from the cupboard, I have to say that stewed steak and tinned peas is not a firm favourite but I suppose it is warm and filling. It was, to some degree, worse than the bloody awful meals ready to eat that the Army seem to think are so wonderful. I wander into the kitchen and fill the kettle, hopefully a coffee might remove the last of the sludge from my mouth, I know my cooking isn’t brilliant but surely there must have been a better choice than what we had? As I stand and wait for the kettle to boil Marty wanders out and joins me.
‘So, what happened between the pair of you then? I get the impression that neither of you can stand being in the same room as each other. Such a pity as it’s put rather a downer on your friend, just when I thought he might be interesting to get to know.’
‘Leave it out Marty, it’s got nothing to do with you and if it had I still wouldn’t tell you. Oh, by the way you’re not his type I’m afraid, you’ve not got the right sort of equipment, I know your tastes are flexible but his most definitely are not.’ I have a horrible feeling that Marty is looking to find out things and I’m not getting drawn into anything, tonight or any night. ‘Look Marty, if he wants to talk to you fine but I’m not prepared to get involved, you’re on your own.’ Thankfully the kettle chooses that precise moment to boil and I turn away to make my coffee ‘you having one or not?’ I ask as I pour the water on mine ‘I’m afraid it’s only instant, can your taste buds cope with that?’
‘Oh, just fuck off Bodie’ and he storms out of the kitchen. Great I think, another reason for him to go poking around in conversations that really don’t concern him, he is likely to start one just so he can get one over on me. This assignment seems to be going from bad to worse and there’s no way to get out of it unless one of us develops a sudden case of death. I seem to recall that being quoted before and again I’m being dragged back into memories that I really can’t afford to examine now. I stand and watch the night creep in, soon be time to put the clocks back in time for winter, never my favourite time of year, even Christmas is a drag these days. Suddenly the outside door opens and in wanders Murphy, headed straight for the kettle.
‘Want a fresh one?’ he enquires and I realise that while I’ve been wool gathering, what was left of my coffee has gone cold.
‘Ta, it’s only instant though mate, much to someone’s disgust. All quiet out there?’
‘Yeah quieter than the grave, not a soul to be seen but it’s a bit nippy in the car hence a quick trip in for a coffee. How’s things in here, anybody killed anyone yet or are you all still at the watching each other to see who makes a move stage?’
‘Just don’t even go there, mate, it’s like walking on eggshells at the moment, do you fancy swapping for a couple of hours? Yeah I know, I have had it made abundantly clear to me to behave, in fact that was a certain George Cowley’s parting shot to, me both in person and on the phone. Why it should be me that’s got to behave I’m not quite sure, I would have thought that remark should have been made with regard to someone else. The pair of them are plotting as to what they can screw out of me – there is no way I’m prepared to go down that route with either of them Murph, even if I have to die to keep my mouth shut!’
‘It can’t be that bad surely? Anyway, I thought you were supposed to be off this week?’
Murphy knows exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, he is probably the only person on the squad who does and why I was supposed not to be here, caught up in some pile of shite that is likely to blow up in our faces. ‘Unfortunately, one George Cowley deemed that my presence was required on this, this pile of shite, as I know Marty of old. I hadn’t factored in that a certain other person was going to be involved until he picked me up from home on Monday morning. So, now you see my predicament, not only was I supposed to be off, I’ve now got to avoid killing either of them before they find out what I know about Marty and what happened last year. They’re both sniffing around already. Christ has it only been two days, feels like I’ve been stuck here for a lot longer.’
‘Do you want me to have a word with Ray, try and keep him off your back for a few days? I’m sure Marty is the easier one to deal with, at least you haven’t got to try and work with him, by Sunday evening hopefully he’ll be out of your hair.’
‘Do you really think that speaking to him will make any difference – if he decides he wants to hear it from the horse’s mouth nothing will stop him. Maybe I should just get it all out in the open, I mean who can he hurt now, apart from me?’ I seriously wonder even if I explain things will it change his attitude, after all the worse of this happened a long time ago and I can’t find it in me to forgive him for the things he said. ‘It’s up to you Murph, if you think it might make a difference give it a try. As for Marty well, let’s just say I think I know enough to bury him, he’s not the only one who can dish the dirt, maybe I’ll just have to play things by ear and see who tries to push things too far.’
‘I’ll try and draw Ray off, you don’t need any more hassle, not this week. Are you planning on trying to get away on Sunday, do you want me to cover for you? I was planning on popping out there over the weekend, depending on what happens but I can go anytime to be fair.’
I look at Murphy and realise that he is hurting too in his own way, he should be able to go and pay his respects but I need to go, however I don’t like to ask ‘let’s just see how things go between now and Sunday, if things stay like this then yes, I would appreciate it if you covered for me, just for an hour or so.’
‘I’ll cover all day for you, there’s no way you’ll feel like coming back. Right I’d best get back off outside else Thomas will be sending out a search party.’
‘No Jax tonight?’
‘He’ll be back in the morning with another one of the new lads, Robinson, I think?’
Thursday 5 October 1989
I hate waking up in a strange bed, always have done, once upon a time I’d have been up and gone before morning. My days of bed-hopping are long over and it’s not a habit I want to go back to, I’ve got used to my home comforts even if my bed is too large, too lonely and so very cold these days, with the only warmth in memories. This week is the first time in years that I’ve spent more than one lonely night in a strange bed and I’m finding it a real struggle to be even half-way civil in the mornings. I pull myself together, grab a clean shirt and whatever else I need and head to the bathroom. As usual there is already someone in there so I decide to head downstairs for a coffee, hopefully that might just help to restore a modicum of normality to the morning. As I turn towards the stairs Doyle wanders out of the bathroom, wet hair dripping down his t-shirt.
‘Any hot water left?’ I enquire.
‘Err, probably not, Marty was in there before me’ he replies. ‘There’ll be plenty this evening once the waters been on again, you can have one then.’
‘Great, just fucking wonderful, one of these mornings I might just get to have a shower before the pair of you hog all the hot water. I would actually like to have a shower in the morning at least one day this week’ I snap. ‘And another thing, I thought you were supposed to be keeping an eye on things still, what are you doing having a shower?’
‘Does it really matter seeing as though Jax and Robinson have arrived and taken over from Murphy and Thomas, so quit moaning. You’re like a bear with a sore head at the moment, just what is the problem?’
‘Well, where would you like me to start – being stuck here with you two, not being able to get a decent shower because people keep taking all the water, having to live on tinned food do you want me to carry on?’ I turn to walk away before I really lose my cool, I’m supposed to be the one who is level-headed but being stuck in this house for four days is severely testing my patience. ‘Just drop it, Ray, leave me alone.’ I storm back into the room I’ve been using and slam the door behind me, unfortunately a slamming door has never been good enough to keep an indignant Raymond Doyle out and he barges his way in.
‘Look, just get whatever has got up your nose out of your system and then push off and leave me in peace’ I say, ever hopeful that all he is going to grouse about is my complaint regarding hot water for a shower.
‘What’s got up my nose, don’t you mean what’s got up yours? You have been a right miserable bastard ever since I picked you up Monday morning and things have gone rapidly downhill since then. Just what is your problem Bodie, I know we haven’t worked together like this for years but I would at least like to think that this would show we can still work as a partnership.’
‘I didn’t say it was anything to do with work, mind you being stuck in this place with the two of you is enough to drive me slowly mad. Just go and do something, I don’t care what the fuck you do just, do it away from me!’ I’m standing in the middle of the room, trying to rein in my temper before I throw him out, at the moment being anywhere near Raymond Doyle is likely to end up with me having bruised knuckles and him a few loose teeth. ‘Go on just fuck off out of here, unless you’ve got something important to say.’
‘How about I spoke to Murphy this morning before he left? How about I might have something to say about what he told me? Do you think you could at least pretend to listen to what I have to say? Most people would have the decency to listen to what might just go some way to making life a bit more bearable.’
‘You say you’ve got something to say, will it change what, the last, I don’t know seven or eight years is it, bit fucking late if you ask me but hey I’ve not got anything more pressing to do than listen to you whine on about how things were never your fault. So do tell what is so important that you’ve got to get it off your chest now, I’m all ears, Raymond.’ I can’t believe that I’m stood here pretending to be bothered by whatever he’s got to say, far too much water has passed under the bridge for it to make any difference. Still, I suppose I ought to let him say his piece and then perhaps we can move on, me with my life and him, fuck knows what he’ll get out of it – absolution, I don’t give a damn what he gets. All I want is to come to work, do my job without his conscience hanging over us like some bloody albatross, it won’t bring back the friendship we had, not now nor in the future.
‘Murph told me why you didn’t want to be involved in anything this week and that you should have been off. For what it’s worth you should have probably gone sick, at least then you could have done what you needed to without subjecting everyone else to your black mood…..’
‘Oh, so me subjecting everyone to my black mood is unacceptable but you flouncing around like some prima donna, pretending to be offended is fine. If you’ve spoken with Murph then you know exactly why I’d rather be a million miles from here this week. Let me ask you something, Ray – have you ever watched someone die?’ I turn around and face him all the hate and anger clear for him to see, nostrils flaring. If he could remember back to when we worked together day and night for weeks on end, he might just realise how close I am to losing my temper once and for all.
‘Of course, I’ve watched people die, people have a tendency to die most days when you’re in our line of work…..’
‘I don’t mean like that, losing blood from numerous holes punched through them, blown up, run over, we’ve all seen that type of violent death. What I mean is have you ever watched someone die, day by day, bit by bit until there’s nothing of that person left? The losing all their memories, not knowing who they are unless they read about themselves, not being able to eat, to walk, to see unless they are within a couple of inches of what they are looking at, wasting away in front of your eyes, type of death?’ I have to turn and look out of the window, my emotions are perilously close to the surface, just saying the words brings it all back and I’m struggling to breathe. ‘Just get the fuck out before I say anything else…’
‘No, I haven’t and I can’t even begin to imagine having to go through that. For what it’s worth I’m sorry but you need to get your head back in the present and fucking pay attention to the living and the job we’ve been given. So, forgive me if I go and make sure that no one is about to try and kill our charge, maybe you could think about that instead of moping around like a bear with a sore head, mate!’
I turn around hands balled into fists and take a step towards, my partner if I can call him that, ready to pound something to a pulp, I take a deep breath and consciously uncurl my hands. ‘Right I’m only going to say this once Raymond, so listen very carefully to me because if I have to repeat myself you will regret it. You are one nasty little piece of work, you can’t bear that someone else is suffering instead of you, one day Saint Raymond, you will realise that the world doesn’t revolve around you, other people can and do get hurt in life, not just you. You do not have the monopoly on guilt and grief, your jealousy will get you into some serious trouble one day. All you want to do is wallow in the ‘poor Raymond’ world you’ve created for yourself where everyone rushes around and tries to take away your guilt, make you feel better but what the fuck do you do? You just sit back and let everyone say ‘poor Raymond, he always gets hurt, blames himself’ etc, etc. You are not the centre of the fucking universe, there are people out there who have been through a lot more than you ever have, yet they don’t keep wailing about it. Just grow the fuck up and accept some responsibility for your life! You are full of jealousy! You’re jealous of friendships, people being in love, you spend your life going around belittling people, people just like you who have dragged themselves up from fuck knows what and made something of themselves, against all the odds. You can’t stand when other people get what you think you deserve, that is at the root of your hatred. Someone came along and took away your friend, pity you didn’t look in the mirror and see what everyone else sees – a bitter and twisted, lonely guilt-ridden man. Go on get the fuck out of my room, go and spread your poison somewhere else where someone might listen to you!’ I stand and watch the look of, I’m not sure what it is play across his face, wishing that maybe he might lash out and I could take my hurt and hatred out on him but he shakes his head, turns towards the door then pauses.
‘For your information, Bodie, I was going to try and explain why I said the things I did years ago and perhaps get you to understand why I said them but I can see there’s no point you’ve already cast me as the bad guy. Just make sure you don’t fuck things up if it all goes to hell in a handcart. You’d better fucking back me up else you won’t have to worry about who’s trying to kill us.’
‘I think it’s a bit late for your apologies don’t you? And anyway, it wasn’t me that needed to hear them was it and because of your pig-headedness that opportunity has now passed.’ How I’m managing to sound so reasonable is a surprise to me, I thought I’d want to punch his lights out but now, I just feel sad and tired of it all. ‘Just go Ray, leave me in peace, I’ve had enough for now.’ I turn and go back to watching out of the window, still trying to get my wayward emotions under control before I venture downstairs to face the music.
Thursday 5 October 1989
After an hour of standing and looking at nothing in particular, I feel a bit more in control and decide to venture downstairs to see what I’ve missed. My head is pounding and I decide that this morning a coffee is not the order of the day so I investigate the contents of the fridge – orange juice or milk seems to be the only choice. I pick up the bottle of milk, checking that there is at least one other in there and drink it straight from the bottle, why waste a glass. The thought of a glass of orange juice, even after a year, still turns my stomach and if someone spills some it is likely to make me head for the nearest bathroom. Feeling slightly better I decide to make some toast but checking the cupboard I find that, surprise, surprise the cupboard is bare and I wonder if my day could get any worse. Still I remember that there should be a packet of bacon in the fridge and a couple of leftover sausages, at least I know that Saint Raymond is unlikely to have partaken of them, even in spite. I remember back in the days when we lived constantly in each other’s pocket, he would wind me up about all the cholesterol in the food I ate, yet here I am as fit, well almost as fit, as I was back then. Thankfully working out at the training centre I have managed to maintain my weight, which was a concern when Cowley took us off the streets – I have always had to watch my weight and the lack of exercise running, around after whoever, was a worry for me. I think back to the days when I was tearing around, sometimes in the company of Marty or working for him and it strikes me that I am probably as fit as I was then, if not fitter, at least in England you are not constantly worrying about what parasite wants you for lunch or a home.
Unfortunately, thoughts of Marty and life back then seem to have drawn him out from wherever he was hiding this morning and I’m greeted by his curious face. ‘You want coffee or food, you deal with it’ I say, hoping that he has already eaten.
‘I’ve already eaten. What was all that shouting about upstairs, what is going on between the pair of you?’
‘Nothing that concerns you Marty, so butt out’ I snap. ‘So, have you worked out who is likely to be behind this little adventure, I have to say it’s fecking inconvenient of you to get yourself on someone’s hitlist. Mind you I’m surprised no-one’s tried to hasten your departure long before now. Is it related to your trip to the US or does it go back further?’
Marty stands in the middle of the kitchen, I can see the thought’s running around in his head ‘do you know, I honestly have no idea who is after me, this time. It could be anyone, you know that Bodie, it could be because of something from years ago or it could be to do with something last week. Do you know, it never gets any easier, always looking over your shoulder but I guess you know all about that, still at least you’ve got the law on your side. Do you ever think back to those days running around selling god knows what to whichever side was prepared to pay the most?’
I stand and look at Marty, trying to remember what it was like, the heat, the constant bugs and threat of either getting ill or being shot by someone ‘well, I wouldn’t exactly call it fun but yeah there were some good times.’
‘Good times, what are you two discussing – life in the jungle, Gun Running for Fun?’ I can see that Doyle is now in the mood to be annoying and petty. I’ve a shrewd idea that this time he is not going to be fobbed off with some vague answers but then again it might help Marty focus on who is after his hide. ‘So, come on then, how did you two meet, was it over a copy of a gun catalogue and you realised that between you could clean up and rule the market?’
I look at Marty and shrug my shoulders, perhaps if I open up a bit about that part of my life I might just get a bit of peace. ‘I’m not discussing things stood here, if you insist on knowing I’m going in the other room, your choice.’ I don’t bother checking to see if they are following me and head into the other room. I stand by the window but not directly. I spot two cars on the road, one containing Jax and the other Robinson, hopefully they are on the ball not that I have any concerns about Jax, Robinson is the unknown quantity. Although working out at the training centre I get to see all the new recruits and old hands, it isn’t quite the same as seeing them on the streets and how they react in real life or death situations. Still from what I’ve seen Robinson and young Thomas have the makings of good agents, providing they can survive their first year on the streets. Thoughts like that drag me back into the past and another promising young agent, Tony Miller, who unfortunately wasn’t quite good enough and was killed on his first operation with CI5.
As I’m watching the world go by I hear at least one of the others come into the room, I decide to wait until I hear the other arrive, before I start talking, the wait gives me some time to sort out what I’m prepared to divulge. Life in Africa is not something I often think about, it happened and I came back to England, end of story. I think there is only one person I shared things with about my time out there. I glance up and see they have both appeared. ‘So, go on Marty, you can start the ball rolling with what you were doing out there.’
Marty looks at me and shrugs his shoulders ‘I met Bodie in some godforsaken bar in a dying colonial outpost must have been late ’64 where he was working as an escort, I needed someone to escort me and act as a bodyguard. I was already established as an entrepreneur and I was looking to expand my business but in order to do so I would be travelling to some remote places. Hence the need for a bodyguard. I had contacts in various places and I discovered a niche in the market which I knew I could fill, I just needed protection for both me and the commodities and someone who I could come to trust to act on my behalf. I came across Bodie, he seemed to be trustworthy and more than capable of looking after himself, so he became my righthand man and bodyguard, simple as that.’
‘Escort – didn’t know you were that way inclined; I hope you didn’t sell yourself short, Bodie. No wonder you’re happy if they’re under fifty, warm and come across. I’m sure some of your clients didn’t fit that description out there, not many airhostess types to be found in the jungle.’
‘For your information, I didn’t provide that kind of service – it was if they needed an escort away from their husbands or compounds, official events, that sort of thing or shopping trips, it was more along the lines of a bodyguard as Marty implied.’ There’s no need for me to go into all the gory details, Ray was close enough with his comments and why should I tell him that sometimes I did sell myself. Money’s money, no matter how it’s earnt – on your knees or otherwise. ‘I was working in a bar when I met Marty, sort of bouncer come barman come jack of all trades, both at the bar and for one or two of the other local businesses and yes, one was a brothel. It was a rather discrete affair and catered for some rather eclectic tastes, both male and female, quite an eye opener, if you’d the taste for some of the more unusual then The Exotique was the place to go. Unsurprisingly that’s where I met this reprobate. Marty made me an offer, was going to pay me far more than I could make in the town, so I took him up on it. The only fly in the ointment was that he neglected to tell me that I was likely to get shot at on a regular basis, ever economical with the facts aren’t you Marty?’
‘My dear boy, I’m sure I made it perfectly clear that the majority of your pay was danger money and damn good money it was too, you made sure of that Bodie, you’ve always been good at screwing me over one way or another.’
‘Even so, I’m not sure it made up for the regularity of being shot at or the fact that we seemed to spend a lot of time avoiding the numerous government officials that seem to spawn as if by magic out there. Minister for roads, the Army, border officials, you name it they seemed to have a minster for it and each and every one of them wanted money for turning a blind eye, especially if they thought they could get one over on the others. Some days I felt like a banker handing all the cash they wanted.’
‘Don’t be like that Bodie, you make it sound as if it was a daily occurrence, it was maybe a couple of times a month, if that.’
Doyle looks at the pair of us, trying to decide if this is all a big wind up or not ‘I take it some of what you got up to was legitimate?’
Marty looks a bit guilty ‘well, not really, strictly speaking, although we were working for the government, just not the one in power.’
‘Things were fluid out there, still are and it wasn’t always clear which party was in control – sometimes it changed by the day, you might start working for those in power and by nightfall they’d been ousted. Politics in Africa were never clear cut, it was best just to take the money from the highest paying customer.’ I try to explain to Ray ‘unless you’ve been there, you really don’t understand how quickly things can change. None of the parties cared for the normal people, everything was about making money as far as they were concerned and either staying in power or being the new party to take over.’
‘Sounds familiar, now where I have heard that phrase ‘I’m only in it for the money’?’
‘Do you know you can be a mean bastard when you put your mind to it. Let me tell you money doesn’t buy you happiness, yeah it might buy you a nice car or a new house but when it comes down to it, it won’t buy back someone’s life, make them magically better. Once I might have said that but do you honestly believe it?’ I snap at him, once again his mouth opens and out spills hate and spite. I am beginning to wonder how we were ever friends, his behaviour these days just seems to grate and rub me up the wrong way – which of us changed, maybe we both have, I don’t know. ‘Does your pay packet keep you warm at night, give you love or make you happy, if it does good luck to you!’ I turn to leave the room but Ray is up and grabs me by the shoulder and spins me round, my hands automatically clench into fists.
‘Go on, Sunshine, I’m sure punching my lights out would just about make your day. You’ve changed, mate, I don’t think I even know who you are anymore, you’re certainly not the partner I once had. You are full of hatred and self-pity; I am fucking fed up of treading on eggshells around you. So, the great love of your life died and the rest of us aren’t allowed to be happy or mention anything about her, just fucking grow up and get over it. What happened to the great lothario Bodie, the ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’, bed hopping stud of CI5, the ‘I’ll bed them if they’re under fifty, warm and still come across’ friend and partner of mine?’
‘Funnily enough, mate, he grew up unlike some people I could mention’ Marty is looking at one the then the other of us trying to work out how and when the conversation got out of hand. ‘We’re not discussing who’s changed, we were talking about Marty and life in Africa, in a vague hope that I might be able to get him to work out who might just be trying to take him out. Is there anyone you can think of Marty, who might just know you from back then or maybe has an axe to grind on behalf of a relative or a close friend?’
‘Come off it Bodie, do you honestly think I’ve kept track of all the people I’ve ever dealt with and know where they all live? It could be absolutely anyone from anywhere – they don’t have to be living here to take a contract out on me, you know that. There is a very remote possibility it’s connected with South America but I honestly don’t know. Do you know how long I’ve been in this business and how many people I’ve, worked with, or for during that time?’
I look at Marty, I’ve known him for well over twenty years and he’s a good few years older than me – like he implies that’s a hell of a long time during which to piss people off, people who are likely to be involved in all manner of things. ‘So, we’re no further forward in working out why you’re in our tender care, other than someone wants your head on a platter.’
‘I don’t know why you’re complaining, todays Thursday, you’ve only got me for another three days and you’ve managed to keep me alive so far.’
‘Life in a phrase ‘so far’, I’m still not happy that we don’t know who we’re up against – kind of makes it feel a bit one-sided if you ask my opinion.’ I say looking at Marty and Doyle. Perhaps if we knew who had taken out the contract then maybe we could be a bit more proactive rather than just sitting around waiting for something to happen.
‘So, what happened to end such a beautiful and profitable friendship?’ The sarkiness is back as Doyle tries to dig up more interesting facts about Africa. ‘Who broke it off or did you just get bored of each other’s company?’
‘If I remember correctly, I think we were due to make a delivery to some or other gentleman, I use the term in its loosest sense, can’t remember where, can you Bodie?’
‘Yeah, unfortunately it is indelibly inked in my memory’ I grimace at the memories linked to that time in Africa, thankfully one of those involved is serving time at Her Majesty’s pleasure and unlikely to cause us any further bother. ‘It was delivering a consignment to one Enrico Krivas, remember now Marty? I got ambushed with both the weapons and the cash while you were tucked up somewhere nice and safe with hot running willing bodies, not that was the first time you’d managed to avoid anything messy.’
‘So it was, I’d forgotten all about him, vile person if I remember correctly’ Marty shuddered in distaste ‘I had to come and bail you out didn’t I? I seem to recall it cost me a rather small fortune back then and Krivas was not very happy at losing his weapons, might explain why he tried to kill you, he did, after all blame you for it.’
Thankfully Marty doesn’t go into all the gory details of exactly what he had to bail me out of, one Raymond Doyle doesn’t need to know everything about the sordid and dirty side of life in the jungle and what was done in order to survive. My dealings with Krivas have already, to some degree, come to light but not everything and I don’t intend for them to be discussed anytime soon or ever come to that. There are certain episodes in my life in Africa that don’t bare to be brought to light, I’ve done plenty of things that I’d rather forget and that period most definitely falls into that category. ‘Well, at least that’s one person we can cross of the list, I just don’t know how many more to include in the club, are you sure you haven’t got a clue – is it even business related? Any pissed off husbands or wives out there after a piece of your mangy old hide?’
‘My dear Bodie, what are you implying?’
‘You are an old reprobate Marty and you know it, you’re still happy to bed anyone these days, male or female, so long as they’re willing and able, a warm body’s a warm body, yes? Do you have any scruples or not?’
‘I thought you wanted to know who might be after me not dissecting my private life?’
‘It could be because of your private life we’re stuck here’ groused Doyle. ‘You need to start thinking Marty, before one of us kills you to save whoever the bother, we could just leave your body outside for them to find, its either that or we’re going to turn on each other at this rate.’
‘Speak for yourself mate, I’m not the one winding everyone up and trying to dig into things that don’t concern them.’ I turn to walk out of the room before things get out of hand again but there’s nowhere to go and I decide that this time someone else can walk out instead of me.
Thursday 5 October 1989
I wander over to the window which overlooks the rear garden, something catches my eye, something that seems out of place. ‘Ray, get upstairs, check out the path running along behind the garages, thought I saw something.’ Work mode kicks in automatically and Ry disappears. ‘Right you, can you still remember how to shoot?’ I ask Marty and risk a glance in his direction, he nods. ‘Cupboard under the stairs, sort out some weapons for us, make sure they’re loaded. Bring a couple in here and take a couple up to Ray, try not to get in the way and make sure to take spare ammo.’ I can hear Marty out in the hall checking the weapons and sorting out a few to take upstairs.
‘Which direction did you see something?’ calls Ray.
‘Couple of doors down to the right, it was only a glimpse but I swear there was someone there, running low to avoid being spotted but maybe I was mistaken. I’ll radio in a possible contact. Marty, you stay up there with Ray, take a window each and make sure, if you do shoot, to leave one alive for Cowley to have a wee chat with.’ Having sorted out extra weapons and ammo, I can concentrate on calling it in and making sure that Jax and Robinson know what’s going on and don’t get caught in the crossfire.
Jax and Robinson can cover the front which leaves Ray and Marty upstairs with the best view and they can alert us if anyone tries anything that way, while I can engage anyone who manages to get close to the house. At least by sending Marty upstairs with a gun it will keep him occupied and out of my hair, I know he can shoot or at least he could back in Africa and hopefully he’s kept his hand in over the years. I’d be surprised if he hasn’t, what type of arms dealer doesn’t know how to use the weapons he supplies.
‘See anything out there?’ I call up the stairs.
‘There’s movement by the garages, looks like someone has decided that they’ll make a good firing point, do you want me to try and keep their heads down?’
‘Can you see what they’ve got? Can you get an idea of how many there are?’ Ideally I would like to be able to see who we are dealing with, then at least we could work out what they might be using but there are no binoculars in this house, maybe there ought to be a pair in every safe house. Suddenly I hear a woosh sound ‘incoming’ I shout, ‘did it come from the garages or somewhere else?’ I wonder, if the move towards the garages was a deliberate effort to try to wrong foot us. Luckily the rocket propelled grenade hits the garage rather than the house, yet it still shakes the building on its foundations and causes dust to appear in the air.
‘They’ve got an RPG launcher up there’ calls Ray.
‘Really, I’d never have guessed, next time give me a heads up when they let loose, anything else to see – can you see how many there are out there? I’m guessing they’re trying to soften us up before they come in close. Can you send Marty to have a look out of the front window just to check what’s going on out there and let Jax know.’
‘Looks like just the two of them on the garage roof, not seen any other movement, hang on there’s a third one trying to slip over the fence’ Ray stops talking and I can hear the bark of his and Marty’s guns as they try to engage the attacker. I can make out the sound of a third gun but I’m not sure if it’s the guy trying his luck or one of those on the roof, then it falls silent. It must have been the third gunman returning fire which means he’s either hit or dead.
‘Well he won’t be giving us anymore trouble but Cowley’s not going to be best pleased. Incoming’ shouts Ray.
This time the RPG falls slightly short and buries itself in the ground before exploding, dirt and bits of brick fly off in all directions and the rear door window bursts inwards as a result of the shock wave and debris. ‘Things are getting a bit warm down here, what’s the chance of getting out in one piece?’ Another woosh sounds, this time from the front of the house and I hear Jax and Robinson return fire, I guess that answers my question, it’s going to be a case of sit and wait for them to get bored, blow the house around us or run out of ammo.
‘Not much at the moment, whoever the fuck it is, they seem to be well stocked with ammo, that wouldn’t have anything to do with you would it Marty?’ enquires Ray.
Oh, the irony, to be targeted by someone Marty has supplied the stuff to, still it might help him focus, he might just be able to give us a clue who could be behind this. ‘Oi, Marty, who was the last customer you supplied RPG’s to? Are they a regular order for anyone or do you only send them out every so often?’
I spot Marty’s face appear at the corner of the stairs ‘no, they are a very infrequent request, I think the last lot I sent out went out of the country, so it’s highly unlikely to be that buyer. Before that? I have no idea but like I say they are not on a weekly order list.’
‘When you say out of the country, where were they headed? North, south, Europe or further afield?’
‘How should I know, you know the game Bodie, most of it is done through an intermediary, if the money is good then that’s it, I don’t ask for a detailed breakdown of where things are headed. For all I know I could sell to someone via an intermediary and the whole consignment could end up back here or in Belfast. I know that certain people act on behalf of certain groups and they’re not the sort of people I deal with nor do I want to get involved in their dirty little wars, things like that have a tendency to come back and bite you, hard. I’m fairly confident that the last order for RPG’s was destined for somewhere south of here and that’s all I’m prepared to say, client confidentiality and all that, you understand Bodie.’
Unfortunately I know exactly what Marty is talking about, nothing much has changed since we worked together in Africa, you go where the money is and as often as not you have no idea who the end buyer is, the commodity will often change hands several times before it reaches the end user. Then again we could be barking up the wrong tree and the weapons being used against could have come from a completely different supplier altogether. ‘Marty, anyone else supply RPG’s, to your knowledge or could have a shipment got diverted, anyone complained about not getting delivery from you that they’ve paid for?’
‘Actually, now you come to mention it there was a rumour that someone hadn’t received a consignment I was asked to try and supply, now who was it? It will come to me eventually; I know it was long ago but I just dismissed it as going via several interested parties so I’m not even sure where it went missing.’
‘Marty, do you want me to come up there and beat it out of you, think it could be important, our lives could depend on your bloody memory’ I snap up the stairs ‘just fucking think man!’
‘Well strangely enough, I’m finding it hard to concentrate just now, if maybe we could get out of here it might help.’
‘Not happening Marty’ I say as I hear yet another RPG whining it’s way towards us ‘incoming.’ This time the aimer seems to have got his eye in and it’s the guy out the front who manages to hit the house. ‘You ok up there’ I manage to cough out through the dust and shite floating down around me. ‘Oi, Doyle, I said are you ok up there, fucking answer me!’
I can hear coughing coming from upstairs so I guess that the pair of them, or at least one of them, are still alive. ‘Damage?’
‘The front wall looks a bit precarious; I think that someone spotted us. Now let’s see if Jax and the new kid can remove that threat for us so we can concentrate on getting out of here in one piece. Do you want to try and make a run for it if we cover you? Or do you want me to get Marty out of here while you play tail end Charlie for a change? Make your mind up and we’ll be ready either way.’
‘Which do you think poses the bigger threat – front or back? If you go out the front there’ll be four of you but out the back it’ll just be you and Marty. Go for the front and I’ll let Jax know what’s going on, I’ll try and distract our friends out the back on the garage.’ I hear Doyle explaining the plan in detail to Marty and I take up position by the damaged back door, a couple of rifles and ammo to hand. As soon as I hear the two of them start downstairs I begin to take pot shots at the pair on the garage roof in an attempt to get them to keep their heads down rather than let loose another RPG round in our direction. I hear the front door open and four guns open fire simultaneously, hopefully they will be able to keep our friends out front occupied long enough for Doyle to get Marty out of here.
Suddenly there is the woosh of yet another RPG and this time it hits the back of the house directly above where I am, the dust and dirt get into my eyes and I’m temporarily blinded then the wall comes crashing down, that’s the last thing I remember.
I don’t know how long I’ve been unconscious for and I try to move but I am stuck fast, it feels as if the whole house is on top of me, I try to shout but all I can make is a sort of croaking noise, too much dust and shite in my mouth and throat. Ok, I appear to be trapped for now, so I decide to try and work out what damage the collapsing wall has done – definite concussion, my head is pounding and I can feel a sticky trickle of blood down the side of my face and neck. I try to reach out with both my arms to see if I can move some of the brickwork off my lower body and I bite back a scream as I realise that my right shoulder is dislocated at the very least, possibly broken and the collar bone as well. I close my eyes and wait for the nausea to pass, throwing up right now is not advisable and I wonder if Doyle and Marty managed to get out before the back of the house collapsed. I think the majority of the wall fell inwards due to the fact that the back door was in a small sort of porch affair, which undoubtably saved my life. Part of me wishes that it hadn’t and another part is glad to be alive, at the moment I’m not quite sure which is better to be honest – the thought of being stuck in hospital is less than appealing. This time I move more carefully so as not to aggravate my shoulder and I find that I’m pinned down by the lintel of the door, it is across both my legs and there is no way I can even move it a fraction. At least for now the only pain I am aware of is my head and shoulder, no doubt any other injuries will make themselves known to me in the fullness of time. I guessing that at least one of my legs is broken, possibly both given the fact that the lintel is a heavy metal one.
I have no idea how long I’ve been here; I keep drifting in and out of consciousness, I keep imagining that there is someone with me, I can feel soft hands on my face telling me to keep fighting, that it’s not time to leave here yet. Eventually, I hear another voice, a familiar one full of anger at me for being such a bloody stubborn fool for not leaving the building when I had the chance. I start to laugh, I’m not sure whether it’s from relief or the fact that as usual me being hurt is my own stupid fault but I soon end up coughing which in turn aggravates all my injuries, still at least it lets my rescuers know I’m alive under all the rubble.
I open my eyes and am met with a face like thunder surrounded by a mass of riotous curls ‘oh it’s you’ I manage to croak. ‘Thought you’d be long gone with our charge; did you get them all?’
‘No thanks to you, you stupid fucking dumb crud, not only have you been a bastard to put up with this week, you have to go and try to get yourself killed just because you didn’t want to be here.’ I take Ray’s comments for what they are and I have to admit I’m a bit surprised – worry and concern are the last thing I expected from him given the way things have been between us.
‘You don’t get rid of me that easily’ I reply in the same vein. ‘I intend to stick around for a while longer yet, don’t you worry’ I manage to say before I pass out again.
Saturday 7 October 1989
The next time I come to I’m in hospital, there’s no mistaking that particular combination of smells and sounds, antiseptic and the clatter of feet on the floor, I’m sure they teach nurses to walk in a certain way just to keep patients from sleeping. I prise my eyes open slowly to find I’m in a private room, the blinds are half drawn so I have no idea if it’s morning or afternoon, all I know is that I hurt from head to toe. I try to sit up but the pain makes me nauseous and I have to concentrate on not throwing up everywhere, thankfully it would appear that I am on my own so at least I haven’t embarrassed myself. I try to take stock of what hurts the most without moving too much – shoulder, well I knew about that, head same again. Right leg feels bloody sore and if I lift my head a fraction I can see that the bedclothes are raised over a cage type thing, so I’m guessing it’s broken, my left leg just feels bruised. All things considered I don’t appear to have come out of things too badly given that the back wall of a house fell on me.
I have no idea what day it is nor how long I’ve been here, if I’m in a private room then I’m guessing at least overnight. Fecking typical, not only did I get lumbered with a babysitting job but just when the end was in sight everything went to rat, now I’m faced with weeks of downtime and rehab. I realise that I’m not going to be able to even move around for the first week or so – crutches and a buggered shoulder don’t mix; I know from experience. Fecking great, it looks like I won’t be able to go home, I’ve no one there to help out and the stairs will make it impossible to cope on my own. I wonder which delightful private facility I will have the pleasure of gracing this time, hopefully it won’t be the Hollies, mind I don’t think the old man would be that mean and send me there. I wonder if I can manage to get Murph to spring me and take me out to the cemetery to pay my respects, that’s if I haven’t missed the anniversary of Charlie’s death, I’m guessing that I probably have and that hurts so much.
I seem to drift in and out and when I next awake I am aware of someone in the room with me even before I open my eyes I know who it is and I groan to myself.
‘I know you’re awake Bodie, don’t try and pull that trick’ Doyle says from the end of the bed.
‘What do you want?’ I enquire, trying to be civil when all I want is to be left alone, I don’t even know the state of my injuries yet so being polite is not top of my agenda.
‘Thought you might like to hear what happened after you decided to play the martyr for our protégé.’
‘I’m guessing if you’re here, then both of you must have got out safely, otherwise it would be the old man here instead. So, what happened and where is Marty?’ I try to sit myself up a bit but give up due to the fact that my shoulder hurts like the devil and trying to manoeuvre with one arm and a busted leg is almost impossible, the waves of nausea come crashing back and it takes all my effort not to disgrace myself.
‘In one piece and as far as I am aware somewhere over the mid-Atlantic as we speak. Our American friends finally decided that they could do a better job of babysitting so arranged for Marty to fly out early. Before you ask today is Saturday, you’ve been out of it since Thursday, mind you are bloody lucky to be here at all, took them a while to dig you out from under all that rubble. Anyone been in to tell you what the damage is yet?’
This time I decide not try moving ‘no, why what do you know about my injuries? Let me guess all and sundry know but not me. When is the old man likely to appear and more importantly when can I get out of here?’
At least Ray tries to look a bit sheepish so in other words he does know what the damage is, which also implies that Cowley does. ‘Err, I have sort of heard but I’m not prepared for you to hear it from me, I’m sure someone will be along soon enough to tell you. As for Cowley, he’s busy back at HQ making a couple of our would-be assassins sweat – it sounds as though it was all connected to whatever our American cousins want Marty for.’
‘Look if you know what’s going on just spit it out, it doesn’t really matter whether you tell me or the doctors do, it won’t change the outcome. I take it I’m not going to be best pleased whoever tells me’ I say as I watch Doyle do an embarrassed shuffle, the news isn’t going to be the best then.
While he is thinking about what to tell me the door opens and in comes Atkins a grim look on his face, I’m right in that I won’t be best pleased in what he’s going to tell me, I’ve seen a similar look on his face in the past. Once again I’m thrown back into the past and memories I don’t have the strength to deal with right now.
‘Ah Doyle, could you give us a moment?’ says Atkins. Doyle looks at me a strange look on his face and then he is gone. ‘Bodie, so how do you feel?’
‘Like I’ve been trampled by a herd of elephants, I’m guessing things don’t look too good doc, am I right?’ Hopefully Atkins will tell me the truth, he knows I’d rather be told things straight, if it’s bad news I’d rather know without any beating around the subject.
‘Ok, you were very lucky this time Bodie, that wall collapsing could and should have killed you, the only thing that saved you was the porch you were in’ I thought that was probably the case and I nod at him to continue. ‘Concussion, which I guess you are aware of and the dislocated shoulder, plus this time you’ve managed to break that collar bone which means it will all take that much longer to heal.’
‘I kind of figured that was the case, will they do anything to prevent the shoulder going again or do I just live with it?’
‘They’ve already pinned it so hopefully that should prevent it dislocating again but that means you are going to have accept some reduced movement in it, certainly while it heals and possibly long term it depends how it reacts to physio. The other problem is your right leg.’
‘I guess it’s broken yes, hardly surprising given the size of the piece of metal that was pining me down. So which delightful establishment has been lined up for me to be tortured in this time – please don’t say it’s the Hollies? There is no way I’m going there; I’ll find my own place if that is going to be the case.’
‘No, I’ve already turned down that option for you but you will be going somewhere I’m not sure where yet. Yes, the leg is broken but that’s not the main problem Bodie, the lintel shattered your kneecap along with your leg – yes they’ve already been in and pinned that as well.’
I’ve got a nasty feeling about what Atkins is telling me – a shattered kneecap and leg are not an ideal injury for an agent to get back to full fitness from and although, I am running the training centre, I’ve a feeling that my mobility and fitness are going to be a major issue. ‘I take it we’re talking possible medical retirement? Don’t bother trying to fudge around the issue doc, there’s no way I’m going to get back to full fitness is there?’
‘It’s highly unlikely, it all depends on how the leg and knee heal but I would think you are always going to have a limp and that leg will undoubtably be weak. Coupled with the shoulder injury I don’t think you’ll be fit enough to signed off for street work, maybe not even for the training centre. I’m sorry Bodie but you know I won’t lie to you, I haven’t yet and I don’t intend to start now. The only way we will know how much of a recovery you’re likely to make is to see out the rehab and reassess things then. Do you have any questions or do you want me to come back a bit later when you’ve had time to take things in?’
‘No, I think I’d already come to that conclusion doc, the only thing I need time to think about is what I’m going to do in the future. On a slightly different note – do you think I might be able to get out tomorrow, just for a few hours, there’s something I really need to do?’
Atkins looks at me, he knows what I’m asking for and why, there’s no need to explain any further ‘leave it with me Bodie and I’ll see what I can do, provided you do exactly as you are told I can’t see a problem but you will have to behave, do you understand? I know how important this is to you but it may not be possible, it’s not my decision.’
‘Thanks doc, I appreciate it’ I say, my head is pounding and all I want to do is shut the world out for a few hours, I’ll face up to the future in my own time. I lay back and close my eyes, barely noticing the door close as Atkins leaves me in peace. I think I had already realised that my useful days in CI5 were probably over before Atkins told me the extent of my injuries. I’m forty three and to be honest this babysitting job was probably the last time I would be on the streets. At least it looks like I will have made it to the end of my career alive, rather than the alternative, hopefully I can have a retirement, a chance not many of us get in this line of work. All I need to decide is whether to stick with the rehab program which will be drawn up for me and take medical retirement or jump now and resign rather than face months of pain. At least if I go through rehab I might get more mobility and then there will be the payout however money is not the main reason. If it was I’d stick with Atkins plans but circumstances have left me fairly comfortable even after buying a house. I want to be as mobile as I can, I don’t intend to give up on life just yet although the future will be lonely, I know I owe to myself and Charlie to make the most of the rest of my life.
Just as I’m dozing off I hear the door open again but can’t be bothered to make the effort to see who it is, I have a fairly good idea that it will be Doyle come back for some or other reason. Hopefully if I ignore him he’ll go away but then again knowing Doyle he probably won’t. I just lay there and see what he’s going to do, I really can’t face talking to him right now, I’m likely to say all the wrong things, my mind is not thinking clearly and I don’t fancy discussing what Atkins has just told me with anyone right now. I hear him moving around trying to decide whether I really am asleep or not, then I hear the door close behind him and I let out a sigh.
Friday 24 November 1989
I’m standing around in the room that I’ve been in for the last six weeks, bags packed waiting for someone to come and collect me and drive me back to London. The despised crutches are on the floor next to my bag but over the time I’ve been here I have come to realise that life without them is a once longed for dream. As Atkins hinted my leg and in particular the knee, have not healed as well as they could and I am no longer fit enough to pass the medical to remain in CI5. Actually, that’s not completely true, I could remain in a desk job but I’ve had time to think while I’ve been here and I have decided it’s time to move on. The medical retirement package along with the money I’ve already got means that if I choose not to work I won’t starve for some time but I have a few ideas in mind to supplement my savings. I wonder who the old man will send to collect me, at the moment the only person who knows that I have decided to leave is Cowley and he has offered to help me set up whatever I decide when the time is right. At the moment my only plan is to go home and try to get used to the idea that my life of facing death on a daily basis is over and also that I will be facing the future on my own rather than with someone by my side.
I hobble over to the window and look out, the sky is grey, not unlike my mood when I spot the gold Capri pull up out the front of the building I guess my companion is to be one Raymond Doyle and I wonder if I can keep my tongue between my teeth for the ride home. Five minutes later there is a knock on the door and before I can say anything it opens and a head appears.
‘You ready then? Do you need a hand with anything?’ says Doyle as he wanders in.
I pick up the crutches and gesture at the bag ‘just that, can’t quite manage both’ I reply as I head out of the room, thinking to myself that it’s high time he did his fair share of the donkey work. I seem to recall that whenever we were given stakeout jobs or such like it was always me doing the fetching and carrying, like on the job involving the gay youth centre and President Ojuka. There is just no way I can carry a heavy bag, use the crutches and negotiate the few steps out of the building, quite how I’m going to manage the stairs at home is yet to be seen but there is no way I’m moving unless I really have to.
‘I’ll see you out by the car’ says Doyle as he disappears ahead of me.
Thanks mate, I think to myself, don’t worry about me. I follow at a slower pace, none of this rushing around as I’m likely to go over, another reason why I won’t stay on, I’ve far too much pride to become the butt of the jokes that will undoubtably be made of me. I’m fairly happy to have made it out the other side of my career in almost one piece and I intend to try and make the best of my life without falling prey to other peoples warped sense of humour. By the time I make it out to the Capri my bag is packed away in the boot and Doyle is sat tapping the steering wheel, engine running. I cautiously lower myself into the passenger seat, mindful of not hitting my knee on the dashboard, the number of times I’ve done that in the past I know how much it hurts, with a damaged leg it doesn’t bare thinking about.
‘Where to – home or HQ?’
‘Home, I don’t need to go to HQ, everything is sorted’ I reply, not looking at Doyle, I can feel his curious gaze at my answer. ‘There’s no reason for me to go in, I’ve already spoken to the old man and he’s arranged for Murph to clear my locker there and out at the training centre.’
‘What do you mean, clear your locker?’ he says as he pulls away.
‘What I said, clear my locker, I’m not coming back to work, I’ve taken medical retirement, I’m walking away or should that be hobbling away.’ There I’ve said it, there’s no going back now.
‘But, I thought you’d be offered an office job, something like Murph and me. So, what are you going to do?’
‘For now, absolutely nothing, just try and adjust to life on the outside, so to speak, not be looking over my shoulder every five minutes waiting for someone to take a shot at me.’ That is not exactly true but I’m not explaining any of that to Ray. The security systems that were installed at home will remain, Cowley has agreed to that due to the fact that I will be a target in some eyes until the day I die. Most agents get the pleasure of walking away and living a fairly normal life after CI5 but that luxury is not one that I will be afforded, there are too many people out there who still want what’s inside my head before they kill me. Me and my long associations have guaranteed that there are some influential people still out there who will pay an awful lot of money to see me scream for mercy before they put two rounds in the back of my head. Directly and indirectly, I have cost them dearly over the years and they would love to make me pay, simply because they cannot get to anyone else and they know that breaking me would go some way to appeasing their bosses.
‘You can’t be serious?’
‘Oh, I am, deadly serious – there is nothing left that I can do that would make it worth me staying on. Sitting at a desk would be a slow and painful death for me, I’ve been active since I left home, look at my life, when have I ever not been involved in some sort of dangerous job? Can you see me sat at a desk, Monday to Friday, nine to five, not only that my leg and knee couldn’t take it. I’m not going to be like the old man, tied to the job until I die, I want to live the rest of my life on my own terms, doing what I want not what I’m told to do.’ I pause, I realise that I’ve heard the very same words but the sentiment is exactly the same – it’s time to do my own bidding not what the powers that be tell me to do, sending me here, there and everywhere whenever they see fit. I tip my head back against the headrest and close my eyes, trying not to get drawn back into the past and memories while I’m in the car.
I must have dozed off, as I come to when the car stops and I realise that we must have arrived back in London at my house. I sit in the car for a moment unsure of what if anything to say, do I invite Doyle in for a drink, a farewell Scotch or do I just get out of the car, walk away and get on with my new life? I open the door and slowly climb out, I’m stiff from sitting down for so long but eventually I get my feet under me and move towards the front door, I hear the drivers door shut followed by the boot. By the time I get the door open and the locks sorted Doyle has dumped my bag in the hall and is standing there looking confused.
‘So, I guess this is goodbye?’ he asks.
‘I suppose so, I don’t think I’ll be dropping in for anything, I’m sure if the old man needs to get in touch he will or he’ll send someone on his behalf.’
‘Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?’
‘As sure as I’ve ever been’ I reply, to be honest there’s nothing left to say, even after fourteen years I think we’ve both run out of things to say to each other, unless he decides to rake up the past but I think my decision has shaken him more than he’s prepared to admit.
‘Well if you’re sure, good luck’ he reaches out to shake my hand – is that what our friendship is worth now, a handshake?
‘Thanks for the lift, I appreciate it.’
Then just like that he is gone and I close the door behind him and on my old life, I walk slowly down the hall ready to make a start on the rest of my life.