It was a wet, miserable November day, and Bodie's mood reflected the dismalness of the weather. He was having a bad spell. One thing after another seemed to be going wrong, and facing a wet, dreary day was just about the last straw.
It had begun last night, when a girl he'd been seeing for a couple of weeks, had suddenly informed him that she was going back to a former boy-friend, and didn't want to see him any more.
Then, as he was on his way home, alone, his car had broken down ! As it was something he couldn't fix himself, he had had to call for help, and accept the ignominy of a lift home, while his car was towed away to a garage for repairs.
Which meant that this morning, he'd had to call on his team-mate, Doyle, to come and pick him up. While he'd been waiting, the morning post had come, and this had included a letter from his landlord, informing him that his rent was going up.
So it was a thoroughly grumpy, disgruntled friend that climbed into Doyle's car, and his mood wasn't improved when he found out the job they had been assigned for this morning. They had to go to a stake-out right the other side of town, read the reports of the two junior officers on duty, and, if nothing more had happened over-night, to close down the operation, and bring all the equipment back to base.
In his current mood, Bodie would have liked something with a bit more action, to work off his feelings. But maybe it was just as well that it wouldn't be like that, for he might well have banged a few heads together with more enthusiasm that necessary, to vent his annoyance.
Lugging heavy camera equipment out to the car in the rain didn't help the situation one little bit.
When the job was at last completed, and the pair managed to find a moment for a coffee-break in the canteen, Bodie was still ranting on, complaining bitterly to the group of agents they had joined, about the iniquities of his life at present.
"What I need," he declared, "is a big win on the Pools."
"You don't do the Pools," retorted Doyle, who was secretly rather amused by his mate's behaviour.
"Well, on the horses, then," said Bodie. "If I had the chance of a big windfall, you know what I'd do ? I'd drop everything, go off to some South Sea island, and sit in the sun and do nothing, all day !"
This raised a burst of laughter from his audience.
Doyle, too, smiled to himself. The thought of his over-active mate doing nothing all day long, was a bit improbable, to say the least.
"Come on," he said, "We've got time to go for a work-out in the gym. You can work off some of that ill humour with me."
"Risky !," retorted Bodie. "The mood I'm in, I might just wipe the floor with you."
"You can try !," said Doyle amiably.
In actual fact, they were pretty well-matched, for his speed and agility countered Bodie's superior size and strength.
As they walked towards the gym., Bodie continued his diatribe. "I mean it, you know," he persisted. "If I suddenly had the chance of a fortune, I'd take it ! Look at Mary Collins. She grabbed her opportunity !"
"But she didn't get away with it," retorted Doyle. "We caught her."
"As I remember it, she caught you !," laughed Bodie, and ducked neatly as his friend pretended to throw a punch at him.
But Doyle's ploy worked very well. After an energetic session, in which neither emerged totally victorious, Bodie was in a calmer and happier frame of mind.
After a quick shower, they responded to the call to report to Cowley's office. Their boss had some further information for them, on a drugs and vice racket they had been investigating. So the next couple of days saw them busy on that, and Bodie's 'Monday morning blues' moans were soon forgotten.
In the middle of the next morning, Doyle received a call from a fellow agent, a man called Sloan.
"Doyle," the man said, "You know you asked me to keep you informed, if I heard anything about the Vince Gilbert gang ?"
"Yes," replied Doyle eagerly, "Tell me."
Vince Gilbert was the head of a gang they had had their eye on for some time. Although he was suspected of having more than a finger in a great many nefarious activities, he was very clever at covering his tracks, and they hadn't as yet been able to prove anything against him.
"Well," continued Sloan. "You know his man, Inky. I saw him this morning, with, of all people, Willy Tucker, who as you can recall, is an expert 'wheelman'. He just got out of prison last week."
"That's an unlikely combination," agreed Doyle.
"There's more," the man went on. "I had an eye kept on them, and what did they do ? They went out and bought a van !"
"Very interesting," said Doyle.
"It's a big grey transport van," concluded the man, and gave Doyle the number. "And at the moment it's parked in Gilbert's yard."
Gilbert ran a car spare parts business, which although legit in itself, was a good cover for his other activities.
"I've got a man keeping watch on it," went on Sloan, "and I'll call you if it makes a move."
"Right," said Doyle, "And thank you, Sloan. That's really helpful work."
He heard nothing for the rest of the day, but later on in the evening, at home, just as he was considering having an early night for a change, his phone rang. It was Sloan.
"Doyle," he said urgently, "I've just heard that Gilbert's acquired van is on the move. My man has tracked it to Melton Square, but now he's lost it. As you know that area is mostly big old warehouses, a lot of them un-used. And as there's limited parking space, most of them have garages and loading bays on the ground floor. It's turned into one of those. He's not sure which, but it has to be on the north side of the square."
"Great !," said Doyle, "I'll root Bodie out, and we'll go and have a look."
He extricated a protesting Bodie, protesting because he had just given a girl a good night out, taken her home, and was expecting his reward.
He picked him up, and they quickly made their way to Melton Square. They parked the car, and climbing out, surveyed the buildings in the dark, deserted square. There wasn't a sign of life in any of them, and no tell-tale lights to be seen anywhere. But, as Sloan's man had specified the north side, their choice was limited to only three or four. Collecting a large torch from the car, they set out to investigate.
At the first building, a side door yielded easily to a little jiggling with a skeleton key, and they stepped inside. Bodie swung his torch round the large empty area, and held on the ground behind the big double doors that would have allowed vehicle access.
"Not this one," he declared, looking at the dust and debris on the floor. "Nothing has driven in here for ages."
Doyle agreed and they left quickly.
The second place they entered seemed equally disappointing. The door they opened led only into a smaller area with some stacked boxes. A short flight of steps at one side led towards another door opposite. This, they found, led into a much larger area. It was evidently in use, for the floor was relatively clear. There were a few tyre tracks, but the large grey van wasn't there.
So they turned to exit, closing the door to leave it as they had found it. Bodie was in front as they went towards the steps leading to the outside door.
Then quite suddenly, there was an enormous explosion ! It came from beyond the door they had just shut, and also the space beyond.
Those who know, will tell you that blast can do strange things, especially in confined spaces.
Bodie, who had almost reached the door to the outside, was coughing and spluttering in the clouds of dust that swirled around him. As they began to settle, he realised that his mate wasn't beside him.
"Ray ?," he called anxiously.
"Here," came a voice, quite close to. "Help me, Bodie."
Bodie shone his torch through the gloom and was dismayed by what he saw.
The blast had demolished most of the wall of the space they'd just left. The heavy door had been blown clean off its hinges, and flung forward. It had trapped Doyle who had just started up the stairs.
Bodie hurried down to assess the situation. The door, slightly askew, had landed partly on the iron banister rail. This had folded like a concertina, but hadn't been totally flattened. This was very fortunate, for it meant that although the heavy door was pinning Doyle down, it hadn't crushed him.
By the light of the torch, Bodie could see that Doyle had his hands flat on the stone steps, and was endeavouring to push upwards to shift the weight.
"I can't move it," he said, panting a little with the effort.
"Hang on a minute," said Bodie. "Let me get into place to help."
He moved as close as he could to his friend, and added his strength to the effort, but it was still to no avail. He shone his torch a little further down, and found what the problem was. Great chunks of masonry were pressing on the lower half of the door.
"We'll need help to shift that lot," he declared. He fished in his pocket for his radio-phone.
"Damn," he said forcibly, "I've left my phone in the car. Have you got yours, Ray ?"
"I can feel it digging in my ribs," answered Doyle, "but I can't reach it."
"I'll have to go back to the car," said Bodie. "Are you injured, Ray ? Are you in pain ?"
"No, I'm all right," his friend answered. "I just can't move."
"I'll be as quick as I can," said Bodie, and charged back up the stairs.
But as he shot out of the door, and turned towards where the car was parked, someone grabbed his arm.
"Come on," said a voice behind him, "I need some help."
"No," exclaimed Bodie, "I've got to get help for my friend first. He's stuck – he can't move."
"Good,!" said the voice harshly, "Then he's a 'sitting duck' for me to shoot, if you don't co-operate !"
Bodie swung round, to find himself looking down the barrel of a gun ! By this time he'd been pulled into the light of a street lamp. So he recognised now who was accosting him. It was Vince Gilbert himself !
Gilbert backed away, still holding the gun firmly aimed at Bodie. "Come on," he ordered, and started to move back along the road.
Knowing the man's reputation, Bodie realised that the risk of his carrying out his threat to shoot Doyle was a very real one, and so he was forced to comply. As he followed his captor, he heard the explanation.
"That explosion," said Gilbert. "My stupid so-called expert over-estimated how much he needed to use. He's killed himself, and injured several of my men. I need someone strong to help me shift boxes, and you're it !"
Bodie followed Gilbert along the street, and in through the next doorway. There was the big grey van, with its doors wide open, and beyond it, a gaping hole into the next building along. He glimpsed a small man struggling to drag a large box towards the opening.
"In there," ordered Gilbert, and Bodie stepped through the gap
"Inky," said Gilbert, "Show him which boxes."
Following the little man's instructions, and under the constant menace of Gilbert's gun, Bodie was made to transfer more than a dozen large cardboard boxes through the hole, and into the van. One other man was helping, and Bodie recognised him, from the file picture Doyle had shown him, as Willy Tucker. The boxes were labelled 'Waste Paper', and were pretty heavy. Bodie couldn't think what on earth Gilbert wanted with a load of waste paper.!
As he worked, he was aware of a still form lying to one side, and a couple of men leaning against the bit of wall still standing. Casualties of the over-generous explosion, no doubt
A word from Gilbert sent Tucker to open the garage doors. Then he helped the two injured men into the back of the van, with Inky to look after them, and closed its doors. Tucker clambered into the driving seat, ready to take the van out. Gilbert gestured to Bodie, ordering him in next to Tucker. Bodie protested.
"I've helped you, as you wanted," he said, "Now I've got to help my mate."
"You're coming with us," declared Gilbert. "As for your mate, someone will find him eventually," he added callously. "Or I could go and make sure it doesn't matter," he said, waving the gun he still held. Faced with this threat, Bodie gave in, and climbed into the front beside Tucker. Gilbert followed. As soon as he was in, Tucker took the van out through the double doors and away into the night.
Doyle waited patiently. Bodie wouldn't be long. It was only a 100 yards to where the car was parked. Then he'd call to arrange assistance, and return to keep him company till it arrived.
But he didn't come back !
Doyle, alone in the dark, for Bodie had taken the torch, began to think that he was over-estimating the passage of time. But that thought didn't stay with him long. His mate should have been back by now, surely !
But still he didn't come.!
Using the edge of the step beneath him to push back his cuff, he looked at his watch. The luminous hands must be lying, he thought to himself. Half an hour had passed since his last look.
Eventually, he accepted the fact that something must have happened to prevent Bodie from returning to him. But what ? Was he having a job getting help ? But if it was that, surely he'd have come back to tell him they'd have to be patient till it was arranged.
Time went on. It was pitch-black, of course, and completely silent. Doyle began to feel cold, too. He must have dozed off for a while, for he woke suddenly with a start, feeling very stiff and uncomfortable. He became aware that his left leg had 'gone to sleep'. Flexing it gently, and moving it the little bit he could, he managed to get it to 'wake up'. The sensation of 'pins and needles' that followed was fierce and painful, but eased gradually.
He looked at his watch again. 1.30 am. He could hear no sound from the other rooms through the broken-down walls. Why not ? Surely the explosion should have been investigated by now. It must have been heard.! But, then again, maybe not. It was a very derelict area, with only a few buildings ever in use, and those only in the daytime. And there wasn't any residential property for a considerable distance round about.
But what had happened to Bodie, to stop him coming back to help him ? That thought worried him a great deal.
Cowley was in early, as he frequently was these days, with the amount of work that came his way. He called down to the duty room, to see if Bodie and Doyle were in, for they were often as early as he was. But the duty officer said that they weren't in yet. When he called an hour later, and got the same reply, he was mildly annoyed.
"Call them," he ordered, and the man did so.
The call to Bodie 'beeped' in vain on the front seat of Doyle's empty car. The call to Doyle woke him from an uncomfortable doze. He could hear the 'beep' clearly, but his fingers couldn't reach the radio-phone, trapped under his chest. So there was no answer from either of them, in spite of the operator's repeated efforts.
Sloan just happened to be passing the switch-board room as all this was going on.
"What's up ?," he asked curiously, for the duty man was a friend.
"We can't raise Bodie or Doyle," replied the man. "No-one seems to know where they are."
I might, thought Sloan, and dashed up the stairs to tap on Cowley's door. As soon as he was admitted, he quickly told his boss all the information that he had passed to Doyle the previous day. He finished up by saying "They could have gone last night to have a look"
Knowing Gilbert's reputation, he was now rather worried.
"They might have run into trouble," he said.
Cowley issued quick orders. "Take a team. Go and have a look. Report back if you find anything." He said briskly.
Sloan quickly collected a couple of men, and drove as fast as he could to Melton Square. The first thing they found was Doyle's car, with Bodie's radio-phone on the front seat.
"Well, they evidently came here," said Sloan, "but where are they now?"
But the next thing they found was a police cordon, fencing off the endbuildings of the north side of the square.
Sloan immediately sought out the senior officer in charge, and made his authority known.
"What has happened here ?," he demanded.
"There's been a big explosion, sir," replied the officer. "We began to have a look, and found a body, which we retrieved. But the damage is so extensive that we decided to withdraw until the surveyors look at it, and find if it's safe to continue our investigation."
At the mention of a body, Sloan felt a pang of alarm. He turned again to the officer.
"We had two men in the area last night," he said, "and we haven't been able to contact them. May I see the body ?"
The officer led him to an ambulance standing nearby. Sloan climbed in, and with some trepidation, turned back the covering red blanket. He heaved an inward sigh of relief. Though the body was badly damaged and would be difficult to identify, it was certainly neither Bodie nor Doyle. !
He jumped down, and spoke to the officer again. "My men and I need to get in there to search," he said firmly
"Sir," replied the officer, "My orders are to let nobody in till the surveyors have looked at things."
Sloan geared himself up to argue his authority. But just at that moment, a couple of cars drew up. The officer saw them too.
"Looks as if they've arrived," he said in a very relieved tone, and the two men hurried forward to meet the men emerging from the vehicles. They spoke to the leader of the group, while his men were busy opening up the back of the cars, and donning overalls and hard hats in an obviously well-practised routine.
Sloan showed his I.D., and explained his anxiety to search for the missing men. The leader of the group was a sensible man. He spoke quietly to one of his crew, who immediately went to the nearest car, and returned with several spare hard hats. He turned and addressed Sloan.
You can come in with us," he said, "provided you stay behind us, and don't go off on your own."
Sloan quickly agreed. These men knew what they were doing, and if Bodie and Doyle were in there, they would find them.
Carrying various tools, and some powerful lamps, the surveyor led his party into the building. They entered through the wide-open garage doors. This led them first to the gaping hole into the last building of the row. Several men climbed through, and lit up the space with their lamps.
One let out a shout. They had made a discovery ! On the furthest side of the room, they had found, lying against the back wall, two men, tightly bound and gagged.
Quickly they freed them, and helped them to the huge gap, taking them out into the fresh air, and into the care of the waiting ambulance men, who hurried forward to take charge of them.
Alerted by the shout, Sloan and his men had gazed eagerly towards the hole, but the stumbling figures helped through were not the ones they were looking for.
The crew then turned their attention to the opposite wall and peered through.
"It's done a lot of damage," reported the leading man. "Walls further on are down too, and there's a lot of debris."
Suddenly Sloan had an idea, and explained it to the team leader. He called in to base, and asked them to ring Doyle's radio-phone again. Not Bodie's, of course, for they'd already collected that.
Everyone stood still, and listened intently. Sure enough, the sound they were hoping for was heard, though faint and not very close.
Sloan was about to dart forward through the next hole in the wall, but the head surveyor stopped him.
"We lead," he said firmly, and led his team through the gap. The sound was louder now, but still not in that room. So he led them on towards the next hole.
As soon as the first men were through, excited shouts went up. Sloan and his men pressed after them, and found themselves in a smaller room. The lamps held by the surveyors lit up the surprising scene.
They saw first the fallen door, with lumps of masonry piled against it, and then they spotted something that really excited them, a very familiar dark curly head ! Sloan pushed past and crouched beside the collapsed railing.
"Doyle !," he exclaimed, and was rewarded with a feeble smile and a waving hand.
"Am I glad to see you," said Doyle, with real relief in his voice.
The team leader quickly assessed the situation, and sent most of his men back to the cars for special jacks and lifting equipment. These and their well-trained skills soon had the blocks of debris shifted. Then the many hands available made short work of lifting the heavy door off the man beneath.
Sloan quickly helped Doyle up, and supported him. He was very stiff and not too steady on his feet, but seemed otherwise uninjured. Willing hands of the other agents assisted him, as the group made its way slowly back through the various holes, and out into the open again.
"Have you found Bodie ?," asked Doyle anxiously. "He went for help and didn't come back."
"He's not in any of the buildings," declared the team leader, for his men had used their powerful lamps to check every inch of every room.
"Where the heck is he, then ?," mused Doyle.
He was resisting the attempted administrations of the ambulance men, who wanted to take him to hospital.
"No, I must get back to Headquarters," he protested.
Sloan fished in Doyle's jacket pocket, and pulled out his car keys. He tossed them to one of his other men.
"Take him back," he ordered. "I'll call Cowley and bring him up to date."
The man put his arm supportingly under Doyle's and led him off.
Sloan thanked the police and the surveying team for their help. He left them to get on with the job of safe-guarding the building, shoring up any dangerous parts of the structure, and securing it against further damage.
But although all these men were doing their jobs very efficiently, they were completely in the dark over one aspect. They didn't know as yet, that the explosion had been deliberately caused, part of a planned robbery. They had no idea what had been stored there, and that it had been stolen away by a daring gang.
The two men that they had found first, who were actually guards on night-watchmen duty, knew more than they were telling, but both had signed the Official Secrets Act, and were sticking to the rules. They would tell all they knew to their superiors, and it would be up to them to deal with it.
Sloan reported to his boss. "We've found Doyle," he said, and explained the circumstances. "But there's no sign of Bodie."
Doyle climbed wearily up the stairs to his boss's office and told Cowley all he knew.
"Are you all right ?," asked Cowley, for his man seemed very subdued.
"Yes, sir," replied Doyle. "I'm a bit stiff, but I'm not injured. I'm concerned about Bodie. If he encountered Vince Gilbert, anything could have happened."
"And I'm hungry," he added in a surprised tone, having just realised it.
Cowley smiled inwardly. This man had great resilience.
"Well, get down to the canteen," he ordered, "and then get some rest. I'll let you know at once if there's any news of Bodie."
Later that afternoon, Cowley had an unexpected visitor. He answered a call from the man on duty at the door, and a few moments later a very senior police officer was shown into his office. He offered hospitality, which was politely refused, as the man seemed very eager to get to the point of his visit.
"I didn't phone for an appointment," explained the man, "For quite frankly, the fewer people who know about this the better !."
Cowley was intrigued. What could this be about, he wondered ?.
"It's about the explosion in Melton Square," the officer began. "I hear you had a man involved."
Cowley quickly explained all he knew, from the reports by Doyle and Sloan.
"They suspected Gilbert was up to something," he finished. "But we don't know what."
"I do," replied the man in a bitter tone. "What he was planning was a very daring robbery, and it seems that he has managed to get away with it, too."
"A robbery !," exclaimed Cowley in surprise. Up till now, there had been nothing to suggest that the explosion had been other than accidental, perhaps caused by a gas leak. Though, unknown to him, experts had already established that the cause was a massive charge of explosives, a deliberate act.
"What was stolen ?," he enquired curiously, and the senior officer went on to tell him.
Probably a great many people know vaguely that, periodically, batches of paper-money that have become too worn or too filthy for circulation, are withdrawn and replaced with a new issue. The withdrawn notes are sent to an incinerator and destroyed, but naturally, this is kept very secret, and very few people know when or where this happens.
But a combination of minor circumstances had caused a bit of a cock-up !
Of the two large incinerators used for the job, one was closed down for its annual maintenance inspection. This had caused a temporary back-log, as the site was only working at half capacity.
Then, all of a sudden, late one afternoon, the other incinerator had developed a major fault, and had broken down.. So neither was working, and the boxes of notes were piling up. Experts were rushed in, and would be working all night, in the hope of getting one, if not both, of the machines operational by morning.
But when another lorry turned up, with its load of boxes, carefully labelled 'Waste Paper' as camouflage, there was no room to store them.
The staff were in a bit of a quandary, but as they were sure they would be catching up on the work in a few hours, or maybe even sooner, they decided to store the boxes overnight in another building they owned, Under guard, of course. It wouldn't be for long, and anyway, no-one would know what was there.
But somebody did !
Just how Vince Gilbert got to know, was something that would need very careful police investigation. But somehow he'd found out, and put a rapid plan into operation. But speed and inexperience had led to the explosion to allow access to the storage area to go rather drastically wrong. But still, the gang had got away with a great deal of money, still negotiable in spite of its poor condition.
Cowley listened to the story with careful attention. It explained a lot. But did it also explain what had happened to Bodie ?
Meanwhile, what had happened to Bodie ?
The van hadn't made a very long journey. It had made for the south side of London, meeting little traffic at that time of night. It had pulled into the driveway of a big old house standing on its own. This had been deserted and abandoned for years, and was fast becoming a ruin. Nobody seemed to know who it belonged to, or who should be responsible for its upkeep.
Long ago, Vince Gilbert had noticed it, and registered it as a possible place to be used for his own devious purposes. Now it would make a good hideout for his gang and their loot.
It had a very large commodious cellar, - an ideal storage space. So it was into this space that Bodie was forced to transport the heavy boxes he had loaded into the van earlier.
Gilbert's plan was to divide the money into small batches, and to get it 'laundered' in dozens of different outlets that he knew of, and gradually pile the profits into his own bank-account. If this was done a little at a time, it wouldn't attract any notice. And his gang could be given their share gradually too, so that none of them would arouse suspicion by suddenly having lots of money to spend.
Once emptied, the van was driven miles away to a deserted quarry, and set on fire. The number-plates went into a nearby lake.
After the police officer had left, Cowley put out a call for Doyle and Sloan to come to his office. They arrived together, not knowing why they were wanted, but guessing it could be further de-briefing on recent events.
But instead, Cowley quietly and succinctly let them into the picture, giving the real reason behind the massive explosion. He stressed that the information was to go no further, and knew he could rely on the discretion of these two men.
"That throws some light on things, doesn't it ?," commented Doyle thoughtfully. "But what about Bodie ?"
"I don't know any more yet," replied Cowley.
Sloan made a suggestion. "Perhaps he saw something he shouldn't, and they made him go with them," he said.
But later in the day, Cowley was given some more information, rather disquieting information. The two guards, who had revealed nothing when they were rescued, had been instructed by their superiors to co-operate fully with the police.
So both had given full descriptions of the men who had overpowered them, and tied them up. They had looked carefully through the police 'mug-shot' books, and had identified Inky Penn, and Willy Tucker, as two who were helping to shift the boxes. But they had also told of a big dark-haired man, who had done most of the work. He had gone when the van had gone, so they had assumed he was one of the gang.
This was relayed to Cowley, and, of course, he passed the information on to Doyle and Sloan. Now they knew that Bodie had encountered Gilbert.
This piece of news had its good and bad side. Good, that at least, although he had fallen into the hands of Gilbert's gang, they hadn't killed him out of hand, but had taken him with them. Bad in that they had no way of knowing how long this state of affairs would last.
Doyle went about some paper-work in the office the next day, trying to keep himself occupied. To those who knew him well, he seemed very quiet and subdued. Some put it down to the uncomfortable night he had endured, but most knew it was because he was concerned about Bodie.
Later in the afternoon, as he went for a coffee in the canteen, he was accosted by one of a group of agents sitting there.
"Is there any news of Bodie, sir ?," the man asked politely.
"No, nothing yet," replied Doyle abruptly, and turned away.
One of the others ventured what he thought was a witty remark. "Remember his tirade on Monday," he said. "Maybe he's found his windfall, and is sunning himself on some beach with a dusky maiden."
Some of the others laughed, but Doyle didn't !
He swung round angrily, and virtually launched himself at the man. He grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him fiercely."
"Don't you dare say that !" he snarled. "Bodie wouldn't do that !."
Taken aback, the man stammered an apology. "It was just a joke, sir. I didn't mean it."
Doyle let him go. "Sorry," he muttered and left the room hurriedly.
Doyle was furious.! When they had heard that Bodie had been seen helping to load the stolen boxes, the thought that that he was doing so willingly, to get a share in the money, had never crossed their minds. But now it had been put into words, and he resented it.
Murphy, who had been sitting in a far corner, had witnessed the whole thing. The others in the room looked at each other in amazement. Doyle was usually so steady and even-tempered. Of course, they didn't know what he knew.
Talk and 'scuttle-butt' abound in any organization, so, eventually Cowley got to hear of the outburst. He seized an opportunity to ask Murphy about it. In his quiet way, he usually knew what was going on.
"I've only seen Doyle's temper once or twice," Cowley commented, "but I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it. What upset him so ?"
"I think it was the implied suggestion, sir," he said thoughtfully. "that Bodie might have seized the chance to share in the money, and helped voluntarily."
"And also that Bodie might have gone off and left him, trapped as he was."
"Hm," was Cowley's only comment. It wasn't an idea he'd even considered.
Murphy went on. "It's not a thought he'd easily entertain, but he spent a lot of uncomfortable hours waiting for Bodie to come back to help him. And now he's feeling guilty because he let such an idea slip into his mind, even just for a moment."
"You seem to have a lot of understanding," said Cowley thoughtfully.
"Well," said Murphy, "Bodie and Doyle are both my friends, and I know their relationship is stronger than they let on. That's why they indulge in constant banter and teasing."
"You are quite a psychologist, Murphy," said his boss. "But keep an eye on Doyle for me, will you ? He's evidently feeling stressed."
"Well, he knows how ruthless and dangerous Gilbert is," said Murphy. "So he's worried about what might happen."
"Aren't we all," muttered Cowley under his breath.
It was about 3 am., when Cowley was woken from his sleep. He answered rather grumpily at first, but then as he took in what he was being told, he came wide awake, and listened intently. "I'm coming, straight away," he said, and swung out of bed. He dressed quickly and was soon in his car heading south. Before long he reached Blackheath Police Station, parked his car and hurried in. He identified himself quickly and was ushered along the corridor and into a back room.
His eyes jumped straight to the man sitting there, Bodie !
A rather dishevelled Bodie, to be sure, with his arm in a sling, and a paramedic kneeling beside him, putting a bandage on his leg, propped up on a stool.
"About time we heard from you," was Cowley's brisk comment, concealing the tremendous sense of relief that, although injured, his man was alive and well.
Bodie's first words were to ask about Doyle, and Cowley quickly re-assured him that his team-mate had been safely rescued and was unhurt.
Then followed a long period of explanations. Bodie told his boss exactly what had happened to him; how he'd been forced to help Gilbert's men load the stolen boxes. Then he'd had to go with them out to this old house that Gilbert knew about. He'd then been made to unload the van, and store the boxes in the cellar.
After that, minus his gun and anything useful from his pockets, he'd been locked in an upstairs room at the back of the house, and left there, while Gilbert made up his mind what to do about him.
With a great deal of patient effort, Bodie had managed, with an old nail he'd found under the bed, to scrape the paint from around a window that had been painted shut.
In the middle of the night, when the house seemed still and quiet, he'd eased the window open and climbed out. With the help of a drain-pipe nearby, and the stems of an ancient Virginia Creeper that had covered the side of the house, he was gradually managing a silent descent.
Unfortunately, when he was still a good 12 feet from the ground, the old drain-pipe had come away from the wall, and he had fallen heavily, injuring his arm and his leg. With a tremendous effort, he'd avoided making a sound at the pain this had caused him.
Luckily, the creeper had prevented the drain-pipe from falling with a revealing clatter, and as nothing happened, he presumed that no-one in the house had heard badly, he'd found his way out of the garden, and into the street. Eventually, he had met a man, out late walking his dog, and he had helped him get to the nearest police station.
The sergeant who had escorted Cowley into the room, came back to them.
"We know the house, sir," he said. "I've had a word with my Inspector. But it's too big a job for us, to tackle an armed gang. So he contacted the 'Met' and a squad should be here very soon."
"Good," said Cowley. "With a bit of luck they should take them by surprise, and grab the whole gang before they know what's hit them."
Satisfied that that side of things was being well looked after, Cowley made a phone call of his own.. The arrangement he made enabled him to drive Bodie, back into London and into the care of Dr. Fenton at St Richard's Hospital. Then he went back home to catch a few hours sleep, before going in to work.
As soon as he was in his office, he left a message with the duty officer to send Doyle to him as soon as he got in.
Then smiling to himself in anticipation, he got on with some paper work. He was interrupted by a phone call, with news that pleased him greatly. It was from the 'Met' to say they had made a raid on the house in Blackheath. Total success and no casualties, due mainly to the element of surprise.
Cowley was very pleased. They had Gilbert this time ! Caught red-handed in possession of the stolen goods, and indicted with the testimony of Bodie and the two guards, there was no way out for him.
There was a tap at the door, and Doyle came in.
Seeing the questioning look in the man's eyes, Cowley forestalled it quickly.
"Doyle," he said briskly, "I've got a job for you. I want you to go and interview a patient at St. Richard's. Find out what he has to tell you."
"Yes, sir," replied Doyle obediently, and waited for further details.
"I was called out to Blackheath in the middle of the night to talk to him," went on Cowley. And do you know what was the first thing he said to me ?.
"No, sir," said Doyle , looking puzzled.
"He said "Is Doyle all right ?"
Cowley watched the expressive face before him light up with sudden realisation.
"Bodie !," exclaimed Doyle, "He's safe,!"
"Well, what are you waiting for ?," said Cowley, enjoying the moment.
Doyle turned and made for the door. In his haste he didn't stop to close it, and as Cowley moved round to do that, he could hear him clattering down the stairs like a mad creature.
Cowley smiled to himself. Bodie and Doyle ! What a pair they were !
Perhaps now they could get back to a more normal routine, with more harmony and less stress.