THE CHRISTMAS CARD.
Monday 24th December 1979. One day until Christmas day. Just one more day of work and then he could relax. Two days off. Although Ray would still be on call, hopefully it would be a peaceful Christmas. Even terrorists, extremists and criminals needed a day off...Didn't they? After all this was a time of religious festival and goodwill to all men!.
Looking out of the first floor window of his flat, Ray saw Bodie's gold Capri parked at the side of road outside. Bodie was behind the wheel, patiently waiting for Ray to put in an appearance.
"Gotta go" Ray spoke quietly in to the empty room.
Picking up his keys and slipping on his jacket, Ray made his way out of the flat. Running down the stairs to the ground floor. He reached the outer door in a few seconds. Glancing to his left he caught sight of the shelves above the large radiator. They had been compartmented in to boxes, pigeon holes, for the tenants mail.
Seeing an envelope sitting in his, Ray reached out his hand took it. A Christmas card?
Giving it cursory once over, he put it into the inside pocket of his jacket to open later.
Opening the heavy stained glass front door Ray stepped out in to the cold damp frosty air. He shivered and pulled up his collar.
Making his way down the slippery path to the waiting car, he looked up at the dull grey sky. And hoped that Bodie had the foresight to turn on the car heater.
"All right mate" Bodie enquired as Ray got in.
"Yeah... looks like it might snow" said Ray raising his eyes heavenwards " could be in for a white Christmas"
"Oh yeah till it turns all brown and slushy" Bodie replied
"Philistine!" said Ray with a side long look and a slight smile.
Pulling away from the kerb side with a squeal of tyres, Ray settled in to the warm seat of the car and reached out his hand to turn on the radio. Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmas Time filled the car with it's melodious notes.
Wonderful or not, he was just looking forward to a couple of days well deserved rest and relaxation. He had been invited round to Jax's for Christmas lunch. Although he hadn't confirmed either way yet, looking to keep his options open. He wondered what plans Bodie had and asked the question.
"Me?... got Suzie lined up haven't I, a few drinks in the local, then back to her place for roast turkey and a bit of stuffing! "Bodie replied suggestively.
"Nice!" Ray said sarcastically. Rolling his eyes.
"What about you?" Bodie asked.
"Been invited to Jax's"
"NICE!" Bodie retorted giving a smirk.
Suddenly remembering the card in his inside pocket Ray took it out and examined the writing on the envelope. He wasn't much of a card sender and wondered who could have sent him one through the post. The handwriting looked slightly familiar, but he couldn't recall.
Next he looked at the stamp and saw it had a USA post mark.
There was only one person he knew in America and that was Anne...Anne Holly?.
It felt quite bulky as if there were more than a card …..maybe a letter too?.
Bringing back memories Ray thought back to that time. He had been suspended on association. CI5 had been investigating her father Chas Holly on drug smuggling activities. Going through her letters that time in her apartment. Trying to find evidence of her innocence. Anne had unexpectedly returned after forgetting her purse. Ray still remembered the guilt he had felt at being caught going through her private mail.
But he couldn't tell her the truth, and she had thought he didn't trust her.
When a link had been established between Holly and Wally Conroy the man seen at Anne's apartment block Ray had reported in to CI5. Well he couldn't leave it at that could he?
He had seen a photo at Anne's connecting the two, they had been in the RAF together.
Unfortunately, she had overheard them questioning her father about her involvement.( Cowley had to be sure).
She had run out of the building and Ray after her.
She had accused him of not trusting her, not loving her enough. But she hadn't trusted him either had she? She should have known that he was only trying to protect her.
He had tried to explain, told her that he'd never for one minute believed she had been involved.
But she had left just got in her car and drove away, leaving him stunned and heartbroken.
Watching from George Cowley's office window Bodie had seen the scene played out. He rushed out to console Ray, draping an arm around his shoulders at which Ray had flung angrily off. Then instantly regretting his actions. They had gone to the nearest pub and got helplessly drunk.
Over the months, and with Bodie's help Ray had gotten over Anne and hardly thought about her now.
Maybe she was right, maybe he hadn't loved her enough. After all he hadn't gone after her, or tried to stop her from leaving had he?
The song on the radio had changed, Boney M's Mary's Boy Child was now coming across the airwaves bringing Ray out of his reverie.
Ray became aware of Bodie watching him and looked across.
Pulling in to the car park of CI5, Bodie asked
"Are you gonna open that, or just sit staring at it all day?"
"Who's it from anyway?
... didn't know you had any friends"
"Oh no one important"
Looking over at Bodie Ray realised that he had everything he needed right here. Friendship companionship, someone he didn't have to explain his motives to. Someone who knew without a doubt that he always had their best interests at heart, and for now that was enough. And it was true Anne wasn't important to him any more.
Getting out of the car they entered the building. Climbing the staircase to the upper floor and George Cowley's domain.
Passing Betty's office Ray spotted an electronic shredder on her desk. He walked across turned on the machine and fed the envelope and it's contents in to it's greedy jaws. Watching as it was reduced to slivers of insignificant bits of card and paper.
Bodie noticing, but knowing when to keep stum said nothing, walking on to Cowley's door.
"Well come on then, lets see if the old man has got us a Christmas bonus!?" Bodie quipped.
"You must be joking mate!" Ray retorted.
Knocking and entering Cowley's office still smirking, the old man looked up from the mountain of paper work littering his desk. Running a hand distractedly through his thinning hair he observed these two men. His best agents.
"And what are you two grinning about?" he growled
"Well it is nearly Christmas Sir!" Bodie replied expectantly, rubbing his hands together,
"I hadn't noticed Bodie" Cowley sighed resignedly,
"Something wrong Sir?" asked Doyle
"You had better pour yourselves a drink gentlemen" Cowley said heavily.
Handing over a document marked urgent and top secret into Doyle's reluctant hands,
"Christmas is cancelled".