Tale of a Tail
by Magenta Blue
Written for the Jubilee June challenge for "Discovered in 1977" on the discoveredinalj livejournal community, to the prompt "Bunny girls"
"Cup of tea, June?" Sheila Taylor walked into the living room carrying a tray, the contents of which she set out on the glass topped coffee table.
"Oh, don't mind if I do," June was happy for a break as she set aside the white, fluffy material. She carefully tucked her needle back into her cotton spool and then eagerly accepted the china cup and saucer. A design of roses and lavender ran riot around the rim.
"Well, time for a rest I say. Have you tried these before? Ros got me into them, I'm quite fond of the orange one. Not so sure of the fruit."
June peered at the plate of Club biscuits being offered to her. She picked up one with a red playing card design. "Oh, these are the ones with that catchy advert. I haven't tried them yet, Arthur insists on Nice biscuits, you know what he is like, suspicious of new things, Arthur is. He won't go near that Chinese restaurant down the high street." She unwrapped her biscuit with pleasure.
"Oh it's not so bad, that one. The Swan, isn't it? We've eaten there, actually." Sheila was rather proud of that.
"Did you -- what was it like? Arthur thinks they are the ones behind the ducks disappearing on the pond."
"No! Although saying that, there did used to be more ducks on that pond, come to think of it, didn't there? We didn't have any duck though - we had a dish called lemon chicken. It was very nice -- plain rice though, wasn't sure of that egg fried variety."
"Lemon on chicken?" June said doubtfully around her biscuit. "Never heard of that before, and it's nice you say?"
"Very nice," Sheila said firmly. "You should try and take Arthur there, he'd like that."
"If it's more than I can do to get Arthur to like a Club biscuit, I think Chinese food might be a bit beyond him."
"Yes, I see your point." Sheila put down her cup and straightened the fluffy white material into pairs. She held a finished one up and it drooped. Both women stared it critically.
"I think we need better calibre pipe cleaners, Sheila. We'll be a load of saggy bunnies otherwise."
Sheila sadly eyed her midriff. "Yes, I think you might be right, June. Another Club?"
Benny was walking agitatedly around Cowley's office in CI5 headquarters.
"There's cocaine flowing through that area, it's absolutely riddled with it. We've narrowed the main traffic down to a potential three venues, all within spitting distance of each other. But not even a sniff of how it goes in and how it comes out."
"Well, there's probably a sniff... Isn't there, wouldn't you say?" Doyle leaned towards Bodie, innocent in everything except mind.
"Oh yes, I would definitely agree a sniff or two, sir." Bodie confirmed as seriously as he could.
"Oh har-de-har-har fellers," Benny muttered under his breath as the Minister harrumphed disapprovingly and Cowley shot a stern glare towards his two top operatives.
"And your information says that one of the suspected venues is planning something big for the Jubilee parade?" The aforementioned gentleman was quick to steer the subject back on track.
"Yes, well, the Pleasure Lounge always takes part in parades like this sort, sir. They have bunny girls that dress up and hand out cards, all part of the fun so the Lord Mayor seems to think."
"Indeed?" the Minister asked snootily, although he'd been to a few dinners where Sir Robin Gillett was guest speaker and the jovial nature of the man did shine through all his Mayoral duties.
"And the Jubilee is no different, they have a slot booked in the main parade -- could be the same thing as always, but now we know they potentially deal in cocaine, it takes on a different aspect, doesn't it? Especially as all my sources indicate the club plan to make a real killing, erm, make money, I mean sir."
The Minister pulled at his moustache and regarded Benny's scruffy beard and faded denims with distaste. Those two over there weren't much better -- the one in the checked jacket was a socialist if ever he saw one. And that other had a superior attitude that made him want to reach for his riding crop. The people George surrounded himself with... He turned fully to face the man in question.
"What do you think George? Is this worth bothering the Household for?"
Cowley eyed him steadily and then looked at the rest of his agents -- Benny leaning on the cabinet, Doyle grumpily regarding his trainers and Bodie's gaze fixed on army regulation middle distance. He knew only too well what this particular Minister thought of CI5 and it made him seethe that someone of his status could not see beyond the window dressing.
"Yes Charles, I do. If my men think so, then I certainly will agree with them."
"But, damn-it-all man... You want us to stop the Jubilee parade?" the Minister all but spluttered.
"No. But... In the light of this connection, I do want security for the parade to be placed under CI5's jurisdiction. We'll control who goes in and who goes out, with the Yard of course. And if this 'Pleasure Lounge' are planning something a bit extra, then we will be on hand to stop them -- with minimum fuss, Charles." Cowley held up his hand to appease the man.
"Why can't you just take them out of it, tell them no for God's sake?" the Minister asked waspishly.
"But I want to know what they are planning. Telling them 'no' as you put it, will not shed any further light on this and I have the feeling there are bigger fish to fry here."
"Well, you know your job, of course, George. I shall leave it up to you, the parade is yours to direct accordingly." He stood up and glanced quickly around the rest of the men. "Excuse me...uh... good day, George."
"Couldn't even say it, could he?" Doyle glared at the closing door. "Might have choked on the word."
"Quite." Cowley managed to make clear his feelings in that one non-committal word as well as discouraging any further comments. "So, Benny. Describe this 'Pleasure Lounge' to me."
"It's a members club, got the usual there -- strippers, although they call them 'exotic dancers'..."
"Means they dance with a pineapple," Bodie murmured to Doyle.
"...cigarette girls, bunny girls, all sorts of girls. Boys too, if that sort of thing is your fancy. Place is owned by Rupert Scott."
"He owns that racehorse, doesn't he? Was in the paper the other day, won the Derby didn't it?" Doyle straightened in his seat.
"Since when do you get the Racing Post?" Bodie asked.
"Knocked Flirty Gert into a hedge," was the morose answer.
Benny was incredulous. "You still betting on that old nag?"
"Don't mind him Benny, he only bets in bronze."
"Oi you!" Doyle kicked Bodie lightly, leaving a faint smudge on his trousers.
"Once a copper an' all that." Bodie glared down at his trouser leg.
"So, Rupert Scott also owns the means to explain away large amounts of money. Very interesting. What else?" Cowley untangled what he wanted from the three way conversation.
"The investigation we were conducting showed that the majority of the cocaine being trafficked in London was coming from a central area. We've located it to a possible three places near each other -- the Pleasure Lounge, a pub called the Queen's Head and a sweatshop owned by a syndicate -- makes women's clothing. All of these have links that seem a bit iffy, but my money is on the Pleasure Lounge. It has all the right connections, all the right people frequent it and Rupert Scott is the right figurehead. Shady, you know what I mean?" Benny stopped pacing and threw himself into the spare chair.
"Who've you got staking them out?" Bodie's tone was all business.
Benny twisted to face him. "I'm at the Pleasure Lounge, or at least I was until yesterday... Murphy is working the Queen's Head and Susan at Mr Lee's."
Cowley pressed the intercom. "Betty, are Susan and 6.2 in the building? Get them up here fast if so, if not, get them on the RT."
"You won't be able to get Susan, not at this time. She'll be working, the sweatshop doesn't clock out until eight o'clock. Murphy's probably here though..." Benny suddenly chuckled. "Oh I wish the Minister stayed. The Minister would like our Murph at the moment."
"As the Minister is well aware of Murphy's brother's position in the RAF, I imagine Murphy could waltz in here dressed in a tutu and no Ministerial eyebrows would rise," Cowley's reply was emphatic.
"Bloody class system again! I tell you..."
But whatever Doyle was about to tell was lost as the door slammed open.
Bodie was the first to react. "Well, don't you look handsome...Butch."
"Shut it, Bodie, I've heard it all this week," Murphy's voice was weary as he entered the room to various cat calls behind him and closed the door. More than a hint of stubble decorated his chin, and the studded biker leather jacket was the icing on a particularly dirty cake. A chain dangled loosely from his tatty blue jeans.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" Murphy looked in vain for a chair to pull up and settled for leaning against the filing cabinet, which managed to give him an even more disreputable air.
Cowley eyed his filing cabinet and wondered if he would have elbow shaped dents in it by the end of the year. He creased his eyebrows. "I want you to tell us about the Queen's Head."
"Biker pub -- lots of big hairy blokes talking about motorbikes, Motorhead, and the motormouth behind the bar -- Rita - in that order. I think they like her because she almost has a moustache."
"Well, right area as Benny no doubt said?" Murphy looked towards Benny who nodded. "It's the sort of place that the public would think fit the bill, but apart from a touch of light dealing, I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary. No big deals to warrant us, or to warrant me in this tee-shirt." He plucked at the 'War Pigs' logo on his Black Sabbath tee-shirt.
"A mine of information some barmaids can be," Benny's voice was wistful.
"Yeah. I'll do me best tonight." Murphy sighed at the thought of it, "Think she's already taken a shine to me." His voice was glum.
Doyle let out one of his infamous dirty cackles and promptly tried to stifle it as he saw Cowley's eye on him.
"And Susan's last report?" Cowley's voice was brisk.
Benny answered him. "Well she can't sew for a start. But apart from that, she reckons there's nothing in it. Well, she's going to report them for Health and Safety issues, but she hasn't unearthed anything for us. She's making her final report today on it. I guess then we'll see if it is worth her time to continue."
"And the Pleasure Lounge?"
"Classy place, classy birds, especially the bunnies. They serve the drinks and serve the punters, oh -- nothing illegal...much. Do private dances, that sort of thing. Shake their little tails, if you ask them nicely enough."
"Sounds such a hardship for you..." Doyle said, contemplating his trainers.
"Yeah, well, the sacrifices we make for Queen and country... My cover is blown though which leads us back to where we started. Someone else needs to go in."
Bodie leant forward, straightening his tie. "Well, much as I hate volunteering..."
Cowley eyed him but spoke to Benny. "Why were you compromised?"
"The bloke I was talking to, hired muscle named Kevin. He knew enough of what was going on, but wasn't that savvy. Told me a few things that panned out, so I let it be known I was a potential buyer, out for a large deal. Kevin told me a time and a date -- so that was when we planned the raid. Only there was nothing there and Kevin hasn't been seen since. I think we'll find him floating in the canal next. Shame - nice bloke, just a bit dim with it."
"Okay, Doyle -- you take over from Benny as from now. Get yourself down there tonight, scout the place out and take it from there. Benny, liaise with Doyle and Bodie about what you have so far on Rupert Scott -- Bodie, I want you to check him out further. We have barely a day until the parade, gentlemen. I have no intention of anything stopping tomorrow from running smoothly and I agree with you, Benny, this Pleasure Lounge connection with the parade has disturbing connotations." Cowley put on his glasses and picked up the intercom, efficiently ending the discussion.
"Yes sir," was the subdued murmur from the four agents and they all left the room.
Bodie poked Doyle in the back. "How come you get to hang out with Playboy Bunnies then?"
"He looks more disreputable," Benny nodded towards Doyle across the corridor. "Look at 'im -- could be into all sorts."
"Cheers," Doyle looked stormy, but brightened on catching Murphy's downcast expression. "Still, won't be all that bad. At least none of them will have a moustache - eh Murph? You looking forward to tonight, my son?" He clapped the taller man on the back, making his chains rattle.
"Yeah, like a hole in the head. I hope I don't have to kiss her, oh God..."
"Just lie back and think of Cowley," Bodie said into his ear.
It took Murphy the whole four flights of stairs to recover from his choking fit.
The snooker hall was dimly lit, which suited most of the figures pacing around the tables. Cigarette smoke curled through the air and muted conversation took place over the green tables, each pooled in their own smudgy halo of light.
Bodie deliberately missed his pot and the black bounced off the pocket. The white ball trickled just behind it.
The man he was playing with laughed unpleasantly and took up his position, swiftly sending the match to its conclusion. "Easy money, mate."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah -- a bit off my game, that's all." Bodie looked dejected, as he watched the other man pick up the note on the table.
Jamie, the bloke in question, prided himself on not being slow on the uptake, and decided there was easy money to be made here. "How about a decider? Double or quits?"
"You out to skin me?" Bodie was already chalking his cue.
"Nah mate, just give you a fighting chance. Same again -- three frames?" Jamie's South African twang was noticeable, although his leathery tanned skin was a visual indicator of days and nights spent further afield than Vauxhall.
"Alright, might as well, got nothing better going on," Bodie sighed and pulled out the triangle, deftly setting up the red balls on the green of the table. "You've worked with Benny before, haven't you? Benny Marsh?"
The other man's hands stilled as he set out the yellow ball. "What makes you say that?" His voice was distinctly unfriendly.
Bodie didn't look up, "'cause Benny once told me he worked with a snooker shark, thought it must be you."
There was a silence, before Jamie guffawed loudly and continued to place the coloured balls on their spots. "Bloody Benny."
"Bloody right though, weren't he? I better watch what I bet around you!" Bodie laughed with him, inwardly relieved he'd hit the right mark. He lifted the triangle and slotted it away, before gesturing at Jamie to take the break.
"You worked with Benny then?" Jamie took the shot, splitting the balls wildly in all directions.
"Yes, once or twice."
"Same line of business?"
Both men appraised each other, and there was a slight unbending in the atmosphere, an unspoken acknowledgment in the air.
"You out of practice?" Jamie eyed him, and Bodie knew it wasn't the snooker he was talking about.
"I work over here mostly, never stay any place long enough to get your lovely tan," Bodie pocketed the next ball and then cursed himself silently. He kept forgetting he had to play to lose.
Jamie snorted, glancing down at himself. "Too bloody cold over here, give me the hot weather and the hot locals, eh? Every time. Foul shot there, mate."
"Yeah -- your ball," Bodie stood back, waiting for the other man to take the easy shot he'd set him up with. Honestly, it took more planning this way, especially if the other bloke was useless at snooker. Bodie had his work cut out arranging where his mistakes would go so that Jamie could actually pot something.
"You got a job on at the moment?"
"Well if I had, I wouldn't be going around telling everyone, would I?" Bodie automatically moved to the right position to take his shot, then sighed and aimed slightly off centre. The ball bounced off the pocket. "Damn! Told you, right off my game."
"Nah mate, you're doing well," Jamie lied, happy to continue his lucky streak. He potted the next red, and found himself neatly lined up for the pink ball. He took the shot.
"Bad luck," Bodie watched the pink fly down the table. "Oh well, I suppose there might be room for another on this job if you are interested. Doing some work for this bloke called Rupert Scott, owns a nightclub..."
"Rupert Scott? RupertScott? Fucking small world -- I just finished a job for him, how's about that?"
"No!" Bodie acted incredulous.
"Bloody did an' all! The fucker, make sure he pays you upfront and not with his fucking girls." Jamie's next shot went wild.
"Yeah. Was promised a lot more than I got as well. But he still pays above the average, if you get me?"
"Yeah, I get you," said Bodie, wondering what the hell he meant. "Easy job, eh?"
Jamie sniffed and pulled his hand across his nose. "Easy enough, my speciality, you might say."
Bodie knew what Jamie Bierman's speciality was, and it wasn't pretty. He considered the balls on the table and wondered how long it would be before he could wrap up this game, wait for Jamie to leave and then discreetly run him in on suspicion of murder. No need to mess up his own ties with this snooker hall, came in very handy knowing this place and knowing the sort that frequented it. No doubt that was what Cowley had thought that fateful day two years ago, although Bodie had rather hoped it was his skills which had secured his place in CI5, as opposed to his dubious connections. Besides, he eyed his watch, he'd promised to pick Murphy up later to give him a getaway from his lovely Rita.
A curse and the clunk of a miss-hit ball came from the table and Bodie closed his eyes in exasperation.
The Pleasure Lounge was in full swing by the time the bouncer ushered Doyle through to the main bar.
'Go around eleven, that's when it all starts, after the pubs shut. If you pay Pat fifty quid, then he'll sign you in as a member. Used to be a pony, but apparently the price has gone up since our last 'official visit'. Tell him you heard about him from Mickey Rogers. It's the perfect cover, cos Mickey's inside, and you could easily be a hard nut fresh from the Scrubs, know what I mean?'
Benny's words of advice were so far working perfectly. Pat, a bruiser of a fellow with an ear that looked as if a child had mashed it out of plasticine, had looked non-committal until the magic words of 'Mickey Rogers' were spoken. After that he had quickly led Doyle to one side, pocketed the cash and passed him a member's card, all with several quick glances of appraisal, wondering no doubt who exactly Ray Duncan was. Doyle felt no need to explain himself, deciding that any mate of Rogers would know when to keep his mouth shut. It worked a treat.
So here he was. The club thrummed with elegance -- suited men conversing in clusters, dimmed lights pooling softly over alcove seating. Bunny girls wearing the traditional costume of bustier, stockings, high heels and bunny ears weaved their way through the crowd, pompom tails flashing between the dark, well-cut suits of the appreciative men.
Doyle was shown to a table, where he sat and perused the cocktail menu. Christ, Cowley was going to have a fit. Benny had recommended the Singapore Sling. No wonder he liked working on Drugs cases if it meant stake outs came with refreshments like this. Then again, he had been working in the kitchens, as not even Benny-scrubbed-up would pass for a punter around here.
Unlike himself, he thought, a tad self-consciously, tugging his shirt collar slightly. Doyle had no qualms about the price tag of his suit, it was CI5's budget and not his, it was just...damn it, why did he have to wear a tie? Bloody voluntary hang-mans noose, that's all that was. He stopped his hand about to try for a second tug that would surely send his tie up by his ear and instead straightened the well cut cream shirt and smoothed down the mole skin dark green trousers.
"Would you like a drink sir?" A girl paused by his table, brown doe eyes suggestive under her long bunny ears. She looked no more than nineteen -- fresh faced, pretty and exceedingly perky. Either that or it was cold in here...
Doyle coughed and looked at the menu. Oh what the hell... " Singapore Sling please."
"Very good sir," she winked at him and walked to the bar. He watched her bunny tail swing as she walked and then blinked away. Bloody mesmerising those bunny tails. Everywhere he looked he could see one flashing past...
Music started from somewhere and he realised he was sitting a few rows back from a long low stage. The music moved into a familiar riff as men and a few women took to the tables, the more enthusiastic making sure they were sitting right by the rail.
"Your Singapore Sling, sir," a female voice murmured into her ear, and a garish coloured drink was placed in front of him. He winced inwardly but smiled at his perky waitress, who licked her bottom lip suggestively before turning away.
Doyle sat back feeling rather pleased with his assignment, as the first exotic dancer took to the stage, carrying, of all things, a pineapple.
"Ah come on mate, it's not so bad? Have a Cowley Special. Guaranteed to make everything seem brighter, especially when it's his bottle," Bodie hoped for a response, but Murphy still sat there on the VIP room settee with his head hidden in his hands.
He poured the drinks anyway.
"She had a moustache!" Murphy's voice was barely audible.
"Listen, you are sure it was a Rita and not a Peter, aren't you?" Bodie nudged Murphy's elbow with the glass.
"You are not helping, Bodie! But you know that, you git. Cheers!" Murphy accepted the drink and took a healthy swallow. He pulled a face at recent memories. "She tasted like a week old ashtray to make matters worse. Christ, at least I didn't take her up on her offer of a night cap. You came along in the nick of time, mate."
Bodie laughed. "Oh she wanted you all right. You had a sure thing going there."
"Yeah, a sure thing with a moustache my brother's Air Commodore would be proud of," he made a disgusted noise and pulled a face. "You ever got off with someone with a moustache, Bodie?"
Bodie thought about it and then laughed again and shook his head. "None of my birds have ever needed to shave."
Murphy glanced at him over his whisky glass. "Oh nicely enigmatic. Alright Susan?"
Susan walked back into the room, RT at her mouth. She nodded, and then gestured towards Bodie to also pour her a drink whilst she carried on speaking to Sally.
"Well stay with him. I mean, he may not be the man we want for this, but he is working those women ragged down there and it's just not on. Besides, that shipment conversation was very suspect."
"Shipment?" Murphy asked Bodie as Susan walked back out into the corridor, glass now in hand.
"She overheard Mr Lee planning collection of 'something' for midnight tonight down at the docks. Lucas, McCabe and Sally are in position just in case."
Murphy nodded. "Could be something in it? More than what was in the Queen's Head anyway."
"Didn't she tell you anything at all?" Bodie threw himself back on the sofa with an eye on the clock. Doyle would be hours yet, the lucky bugger.
"Oh yeah, she told me plenty. About her son, about her landlord, about her job, about her last husband, about her first husband..."
"How many did she have?"
"She's had three and all of them must have been bloody blind. The only thing she didn't tell me was anything about any drugs -- apparently the closest the Queen's Head punters comes to drugs is a bloke called Steve who once sold some magic mushrooms that his girlfriend grew on a flannel."
Both contemplated that image silently while Susan came back in, RT now back in her pocket.
"What's got you pair looking like that?"
"Susie, you ever grown anything on a flannel?" Murphy sat back next to Bodie, long legs stretched out before him.
"No I have not! What a... Oh," her RT beeped softly and she continued talking to Sally, now eyeing the boys on the sofa with a suspicious glare. She left the room again.
"Can't talk in front of us -- private girls talk, that is," Bodie winked and poured another for Murphy and himself. Making generous with the old man's whisky was surely the main perk of the job.
Murphy looked at him and laughed slowly. "What -- you thinking Susan and Sally? In a rookie's wet dream perhaps."
"It's one of Lucas's fondest wishes, that one is. I have it on good authority, apparently that little fantasy has kept him warm on many a stake out. 'S'true! Ask McCabe." Bodie was laughing now as well.
"So that's the latest Cabby's spreading is it? I haven't worked out how Lucas has refrained from killing him yet."
"It's a close thing, apparently. Still Lucas did pull that bird Cabby's been going on about all month, the one at the Brewers? Think the Cab's a bit put out because she put out, if you get me."
"Ah, that makes more sense then. The one at the Brewers? Think I missed her..."
"...Well you would, wouldn't you?" Bodie placed his empty glass carefully down on the table. "No moustache you see..." he shot up and was around the table before Murphy could whack him one.
"So what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" Doyle said, sure enough of his fledgling friendship with the helpful bunny to know that she would find that hackneyed old line funny.
Maria, the bunny in question, sat by his side and giggled, leaning gently on his shoulder. "That was awful, you can surely do better than that!"
"Okay, okay." Doyle allowed a second to compose himself, holding a hand up. "Come here often?"
She pushed him and laughed. "You're either out of practice or a very good liar!"
"Out of practice," he said easily with a smile, reaching for his third Singapore Sling. He passed her the glass of house champagne he had bought for her.
She sucked suggestively on the straw, eyes bright with intent. "I can tell you don't come here often, I would have remembered you."
"Would you indeed?" His eyes showed appreciation, although there was a hint of mischief lurking in their depths that she missed. "I'd like to say the same about you, except that you seem to have several identical twins."
She giggled. "Cute, isn't it?" She reached a hand up to fiddle with her bunny ear.
'Obvious' was more the word he would have chosen, but he nodded. "How many girls work here?"
"Forty -- and all with special talents," she winked and drained her drink noisily.
"Would you like another?"
"Oh I would love one, same again please."
He signalled a waiter, who was back within minutes, setting out fresh drinks on the table as the beat of Disco Inferno sent a dozen young women to the dance floor.
She waited until he was gone before making a show of crossing and uncrossing her legs, reaching for her drink and doing her best to make her already busty bosom appear even more gravity defying. He knew full well that the pricey 'champagne' she was drinking was actually apple juice and lemonade. Nice girl or no, everyone had a job to do. Speaking of which...
"So what special talent do you have, apart from making my wallet thinner?"
"Cheeky!" She pushed at his arm. "Depends... on what your pleasure is?"
"Oh depends, does it? And what if I say my pleasure is fine wine, fine company... and a line or two. Any special talents there or am I in the wrong club?"
She contemplated him for a second before making her choice. "Perhaps you'd like a dance?"
Inwardly he sighed. He had cast but the line had come back empty. "Nah, they're not playing my song."
The beat swirled around them.
"I can arrange a private area if you are shy?"
"How private is private?" He was curious now, wondering what had suddenly sparked this line of conversation.
"Intimate, I'd say. Two seconds." She put her drink back on the table and was off into the crowd, white bunny tail flashing behind her.
He sat back and puzzled it out, sipping his drink. Disco Inferno had now given way to Boogie Nights, and his foot tapped the table leg, watching the people mill around the dance floor.
"Would you like to come this way, Sir?" Maria was back at his side, whispering into his ear. "It costs fifty pounds for half an hour, but I can assure you everything you desire will be catered for."
He looked up, and the absence of what he had half suspected to see, a big threatening bouncer, persuaded him to stand. So that is how they do it is it, under the guise of private dances?
She took him by the hand and led him through the club, weaving their way through the crowd, swaying slightly to the infectious music.
A velvet curtain was held back by a suited doorman and then the music was suddenly muted, sound falling into the plush interior. She led him into a small room with long leather red seating curving round two walls, floor to ceiling mirrors and a Singapore Sling waiting on the table.
"Very nice," he said, waiting for it.
"Well, you said fine wine, except you are drinking cocktails, fine company which I can certainly help with and...a line or two. Since you are new here, I will let you into a little secret..."
She leaned closer and put her lips by his ear.
"You need to look for the right tail."
Her breath tickled and he reacted to the sensory input, moving his head, kissing her, acting like a punter while wondering at her words.
"Your tail looks very nice to me," he said after a minute, peering over her shoulder.
She drew back reluctantly. "It's the wrong colour for what you are after. You need to look for the silver tailed bunnies -- they are the ones that have what you want."
With that, there was a discreet knock on the door. Maria turned away and opened it to let in a tall leggy blonde, dressed in a similar bunny girl outfit.
"Come back and find me?" Maria blew him a kiss and left the room, as music started from somewhere and the sultry blonde walked towards him.
"Sit down and relax," she purred, pushing gently on his chest so he sat back with a slight thump on the leather seat. She reached behind herself and unclipped her silver bunny tail, laying it on the table like a purse. "My name is Anne, but you can call me anything you like."
He reached for his drink, cool and calm whilst wondering what would be his best move. "Anne is nice, I like Annes."
"I'm glad to hear it! Now, what I like to do best is dance... For you." She ran her hands slowly down her body, pausing on her hips. "What do you like to do best?"
"I best not say. Watching sounds a good option," he sipped his drink.
She smiled. "I can also supply other things...?"
"In there, is it?" He nodded to the shiny tail. No wonder some of them had been flashing at him earlier, the silver ones reflected light like a beacon.
"If you are thinking of making a run with it, then I wouldn't advise it. But you wouldn't be thinking that, would you? Not when we can have so much fun together..."
He had already guessed part of the mirror was two-way. He didn't even glance in its direction.
"After all, you did say you wanted it...?" Her voice was now slightly uncertain.
"Oh I want it alright," he pulled her towards him and kissed her, acting eager, putting on a show. She tasted of apple juice and cigarettes. "But I want it 'to go'..."
She allowed the kiss, even though it was against the rules. It just proved how desirable she was after all. She could taste the alcohol he had been drinking and longed for her shift to be over so she could have a decent drink.
"Uh-huh-huh -- kissing or touching aren't allowed, although that was one was on me. Neither are takeaways, not for new members. We've got to verify you first."
She bent over the table, opening the silver tail and pulling out a wrap. His quick estimate was of at least ten wraps concealed in there, before she closed the tail and pinned it back on herself. Clever, very clever... No wonder Benny got nowhere working in the kitchens.
But now she was efficiently laying out a line of white powder on the table and he was in trouble. He ran quickly through his options -- no gun, no back up - after all, they weren't expecting him to hit on the source so quickly. Bloody Benny saying he looked disreputable... He could make some excuse, but they were obviously being watched and if he made them suspicious, they might change the way they do things. And they were running out of time...
She was now chopping out the line and handing him a silver straw. Her eyes looked eager. He took it, thinking back to his days studying art, thinking of his times in the Drugs Squad.
"Are you going to join me?" Her answer would tell him if they were really under surveillance.
She instinctively rubbed her nose, Pavlov's dog had nothing on this one, but her eyes flicked away for a second. "Sadly not, not this time."
It wasn't the answer he wanted to hear but it was what he had expected. Damn... He bent over the table.
Cowley had taken one look at Murphy and told him to get home and 'for God's sake have a bath, man', so Bodie had been the one to drive him to the docks. Being up past midnight had never stopped the Cow, and he had taken the opportunity to read up on a sheaf of reports in the passenger seat of the Capri, as Bodie drove them through the night.
The police lights signalled where to pull over, and Bodie drew the car to a halt, looking at the rainy scene in front of him.
A bunch of miserable looking women stood to one side, with two policemen attempting to question them. Four men had been arrested and were being led away in two police cars. Policemen were swarming over a small boat docked to the side, and McCabe and Lucas were talking to one of the Inspectors. Car headlights and flashing blue beacons lit up the area, with some night-shift workers watching silently from one side behind yellow police tape.
"Sir?" Sally materialised from around the car.
Cowley blinked and glared at his surroundings. "What the devil is going on here?"
"Mr Lee's shipment was of immigrants -- brought over here from Turkey to work in his sweatshop. It's nothing to do with the drugs case, but a lot to do with illegal trafficking. We sent three off in an ambulance, they had them all packed into that boat."
"That boat there?" Cowley contemplated it. "A bad business," he stood looking at it for a second or two longer, "but police business, after all. Is that the Inspector in charge?"
"Yes, Chief Inspector Morris. I'll take you over." Sally led him away, as McCabe and Lucas splashed over to stand with Bodie.
"I'm fucking freezing! I thought that boat would never show," McCabe rubbed his hands together in a vain attempt to get some warmth.
"Put up a struggle, did they?" Bodie indicated the blood on Lucas's face and denim jacket.
Lucas looked down at his jacket and then gingerly touched his bandaged ear. "Bullet nicked it -- bloody painful. Needed a stitch, wouldn't stop bleeding."
"Yeah -- where is my jumper? You better not have left it somewhere?"
Lucas looked at his partner in surprise. "It was covered in blood! I left it with the ambulance I think. You didn't seriously want it back did you?"
McCabe looked annoyed. "Cost me a tenner that did."
"Oh I'll get you another, alright? Better?" Lucas rolled his eyes at Bodie and they all turned to wait for Cowley. A light rain dusted the dockyard.
Susan drove up in her car, fan belt screeching slightly. She got out and came over, smiling triumphantly.
"We got him! He tried to make a run for it, which was a bad mistake," Susan grinned.
As usual she didn't have a scratch on her.
"Mr Lee?" asked McCabe.
"Yes -- he's in police custody now, squealing like a baby. Where's Cowley?"
They watched her walk determinedly across the yard.
"She's a scary woman that one, deadly in her heels," Lucas commented. "Oh God I feel sick."
McCabe looked a bit concerned. "You want me to run you home? I'll square it with the Cow."
Lucas had his hands on his knees, trying to steady himself. He straightened uneasily. "Well, I am actually staying at Janet's at the moment. You could run me there?"
"Run you into the river, more like," was Cabby's ungracious reply, but he loped off to speak to Cowley.
Lucas threw a careful glance at Bodie and winked.
"Bird from the Brewers?" Bodie asked.
"Bird from the Brewers," Lucas confirmed. "He ain't half sore about it."
They watched Cabby reach Cowley's side and gesture over at them.
"Worth it though," he concluded with a cheeky grin.
Doyle felt great. He knew he shouldn't feel great and he knew why he felt great, but the fact was he did, and since he was here, feeling great, he might as well just get on with it. Besides, they were playing great music.
He had been dancing with a short girl with red hair, he couldn't remember her name but she had been rather fun to dance with. She had looked like a shorter fatter version of that bird from Abba and they had got on famously before he had decided to get another drink. He felt stone cold sober despite all the alcohol he had been drinking.
Then at the bar he had had a long conversation with some bloke -- standing here now in the men's bathroom he couldn't for the life of him remember the finer points, but it was all about the death of disco and the rise of punk. Or something. They had talked for practically twenty minutes and both had clapped each other on the back as they moved away, each convinced they had just had an amazing insight into the world of music.
But even though a part of him, well, the majority of him, was enjoying the drug coursing through his veins, he was still aware enough to know he was on a job, what that job was and he was hoping that after this heady half hour or so that he would come down enough to sound coherent when making his report. Of course, it would be the best report ever, though. That just went without saying.
Now he was looking out for them, he saw silver bunny tails everywhere, standing out from their plain white-tailed sisters. Forty or so bunnies, twenty possibly with coke wraps hidden in their tails -- that was a lot of cocaine. Anne had told him that if he wanted a 'takeaway', the club would arrange bunnies in costume to visit him. Special costumes, of course. Silver ones.
He splashed his face again with water, trying to wake himself up a bit. Wiping down with a hand towel, he peered at his reflection and decided this was as good as he was going to get. Which was marvellous, of course. He knew that anyway. He blew a kiss at himself in the mirror as a man walked into the bathroom, catching his eye in the reflection. The man looked pleased.
"First decent reaction I have had all night! And I must say," he looked Doyle up and down, "it couldn't have come from a better looking fellow."
Doyle smiled benignly. "I'm afraid my heart belongs to another." He finished drying his hands and threw the towel in the bin.
"Are you sure, ducky? Does he know that?" The man was crest-fallen.
"Oh he knows, I tell him every night and twice on Sundays," Doyle winked saucily as he walked out, swaying his hips for effect.
"The lucky bugger," breathed the man. "Oh well, back to the playing field..."
Bodie yawned as he waited in the Capri. He checked his watch again. C'mon mate...
The door suddenly opened and Doyle slid in, long legs first before the rest of him slouched back in the seat and he banged the door shut. "'S me," he said belatedly. He grinned widely, pleased to see his partner.
"Cutting it fine weren't you? How did it go -- worth it?" Bodie looked at him critically, noticing the smell of alcohol and cigarettes, and the general rakish air exuding from his partner.
"Totally worth it -- it's all there as Benny said. It's the tails, the bunny tails the girls wear you see -- silver ones for the ones with coke in and white ones that are just plain, no coke, no nothing. Think those girls just serve the drinks -- nice drinks as well, you'd like them, right up your street they are... What?"
Bodie was peering closely at him and noting the dilated pupils, the nervous tension, the fact he hadn't stopped jiggling his leg or talking. He sat back and started the car. "Christ Doyle, the old man is going to love you. He's waiting for you to report in."
"What? Oh Bodie, you weren't in there alright? I had to do what I had to do, leave it at that. Besides, my report will be fucking fantastic. How long was Benny trying to crack that and how long did it take me eh? Eh? Well then, the old man can put that in his pipe and snort it. Smoke it. Do whatever he likes with it."
Bodie drove smoothly down the road. "You call in like that and I won't go to your funeral. I mean it!" He tried to look exasperated at Doyle's expression. "He'll guess in a second. Took me half that, didn't it?"
"Well, I was going to tell you!" Doyle was indignant. "It's not like I had a bucket, 's 'orrible stuff," he made an attempt to sit up straight, "made me dance to Leo Sayer."
"Leo Sayer? You poor thing," Bodie was falsely sympathetic.
"Just...just don't remind me. Ever again, okay? No matter what -- I never want to hear that I danced to Leo Sayer ever again, ever. Although I was pretty good..." He pulled at his lip and glanced contemplatively out of the window as they drove across the Thames, London by night lit up in all its glory. "In fact, 'm feeling pretty good about everything at the moment."
"Funny that," Bodie glanced over at him with delayed concern. "Was alright in there though, yeah?"
"Yeah," Doyle turned back to face him. "Was quite nice really, didn't seem that seedy at first, just these girls dressed up as bunnies flashing their bits in your face -- actually that sounds quite seedy, but it wasn't that bad, I had a table and they had a show -- hey! Bodie! She danced with a flippin' pineapple! You been there before?"
The car RT buzzed.
"Oh God help us, that'll be the Old Man. Look -- you talk, but if I squeeze your knee, shut up, alright?"
The RT buzzed again.
"Ray, I'm gonna hit your leg when you are talking too much or too fast, alright? It's a sure fire give away -- got it?" Bodie reached for the RT.
"Got it -- you'll hit me. Bloody marvellous, this..." Doyle muttered as Bodie answered the summons, one eye on the road.
"3.7... Yes, sir -- just got him. I'll pass you over now." He handed the RT to Doyle with a warning look.
"4.5." Doyle, in an effort to sound normal, made his voice lower than usual. He snorted with laughter.
Bodie frantically nodded and raised his eyebrows towards the RT.
"Doyle, is that you?" Cowley sounded waspish and tired.
"Oh - yes sir, it's me..."
"Well if it is you then just say so! What did you find out in this club?"
"Yes, it is in the club -- Benny was right, sir. It's the bunny girls -- there are about forty, well I think forty, she said -- Maria said, oh she was the bunny serving me, although it was Anne who had the correct tail... AGH!" Doyle rubbed his thigh ruefully. "It's in the bunny girls tails Sir."
Even Bodie could hear that tone of voice and he winced.
"The club uses bunny girls for waiters and half have the usual white tails, the other half have silver tails which means they are carrying drugs. The cocaine goes in and out of the club by that method, hidden in the silver tails -- the girls are sent out depending on what people order." Doyle shut up and glared at Bodie's hand, which had moved from the gear stick to hover threateningly over his leg. He swatted it away.
"So they traffic the drugs through the bunny girls -- very clever. Benny said the girls are hired in by Rupert Scott personally and then the money he makes is explained at the races. Yes, very clever indeed. What of the parade?"
"This bunny girl with a silver tail, Anne, she said that 'the fun part' will be when they get to Pall Mall -- it's where all those gentlemen's clubs are -- you belong to one or two down there don't you sir? What is it -- the Caledonian Club? Got to be that one, hasn't it, heard it's quite nice in there, but then again I'd only hear that, because I'm not Scottish, not even allowed to look in its hallowed halls... OW!"
"Yeah, sorry sir, the car just bumped." Doyle rubbed his leg. "Apparently the 'fun part' is when half the bunnies leave the parade to meet the crowd, and I bet we can tell which half. Anne told me to wait by the Reform Club and she'd see me there, if I wanted to do a little business." He held up a finger in admonishment to Bodie, who put his hand back on the gear stick.
"Did she now? And what of Rupert Scott?"
"He'll be there sir. I asked Anne what happens if she runs out of stock by the time she gets to me, and she said that nothing was planned until Pall Mall and that she would make sure my order was in with the boss -- he'll have to be there sir, he won't leave this up to chance. Besides, he'll have to be around to pick up the cash -- 's not for free this stuff you know, in fact it's very expensive, even including the lap dance you get, which wasn't that bad -- oh for Christ's sake, that hurt!"
"You must be in a state if a bump in the road affects you, 4.5."
"They'll be another bump in the road in a minute. Sir." Doyle was seething.
"Right, get yourself home and get a good night's sleep, what's left of it. Report in tomorrow at nine, you can have a lie in, both of you. Sounds like you might need it, 4.5." Cowley clicked off and Doyle just managed to stop himself from throwing the RT at Bodie's head. He slammed it back into its holder instead and rubbed his thigh.
"That bloody hurt! I bet you really loved that didn't you? Well, when you next have to go out undercover..." He split his jaw with a bone cracking yawn. The fight suddenly went out of him. "I'm knackered. Nine o'clock he says. Bloody seven hours away."
Bodie looked at him. "Ah c'mon then sunshine, let's get you home." He put his foot down, car now travelling down a familiar route.
"Which home -- yours or mine?" Doyle had sort of slumped down in his seat.
"Mine I think," Bodie indicated right and swung the car around. "Dread to think what drugs you'd get your hands on if I leave you alone."
"Berk," muttered Doyle, already going to sleep.
The phone rang and rang.
"Oh c'mon Sheila..." June muttered, twisting the phone cable around her fingers.
"Sheila! It's me, June. Just giving you a wake up call like you asked for. Exciting, isn't it?"
Sheila laughed. "Well, after all that I was up with the lark just like usual! I was so worried I would oversleep the alarm, but David just poked me in the back and that was it, awake!"
"Oh good! We have..." June eyed the clock on the wall. "Well, we have an hour before we all should leave -- we should get a good spot if we leave at eight shouldn't we? I mean, it doesn't start until two. And Ros's idea of Pall Mall was perfect."
"I think eight is fine, besides, the others won't be here any earlier. To tell you the truth, I am a bit worried about the tails. We shouldn't have left them to Mary -- you know what she's like."
"She is a bit scatter-brained granted, but even she cannot go wrong with pompoms!"
"Have you forgotten Daphne's birthday?"
Both women were silent for a bit.
"You are right, we shouldn't have left her with the tails. Damn! But those ears took ages! We couldn't do everything!"
"Oh it will be fine, it will be fine. Pall Mall won't know what has hit it!"
"I do hope everyone else will be in fancy dress, like it says. We won't be the only ones, will we?"
"No, and anyway, if we are, June, well then we'll just stand out from the crowd, won't we?"
"Yes..." June giggled doubtfully. "They won't be able to miss us in our outfits!"
Both women laughed.
"Turn it off!" The mound of blankets spoke but it did not move.
Bodie, wandering back into the bedroom brushing his teeth, continued to let the alarm clock beep. He watched a hairy arm snake out from the blanket and a hand knowingly pat the bedside table. The hand, giving up when it encountered an empty space, waved two fingers at where it thought Bodie might be standing and disappeared back in the blankets.
"That is what I love about you Doyle, your charm in the morning."
"Turn that fucking thing off! Please!" The voice sounded pained.
"It's on my side," Bodie said behind a mouthful of Colgate and wandered off again.
The blankets erupted and a tousled head emerged, blinking in the daylight. Doyle dragged himself over to Bodie's bedside table and thumped the alarm clock, allowing himself to thankfully crash down again in the silence that followed. Ah, bliss...
"I feel awful," he announced, eyes closed but sensing Bodie had come back into the room, smelling clean soap and minty freshness.
"At least you don't feel like dancing, or is that make me feel like dancing?" Bodie hummed a few notes as he searched through the wardrobe, looking for a clean shirt.
The wreck on the bed groaned in remembrance and then laughed tiredly. Trying to remain stern was just too much when he felt so bad. Sympathy, that was what he was after, that and a new head.
Bodie located the shirt he wanted and turned around, shrugging it on whilst contemplating his partner. Doyle was lying flat on his back with his eyes closed, hair wild, jaw blue with stubble and hairy chest out for all the world to see. The naked rest of him was sadly hidden under the blankets, but even the small bit on show made him look like a reprobate.
"Ah mate, that bad is it? That'll teach you to go off after strange women. A nice hot shower and a bit of breakfast, and you'll be as right as rain."
Doyle just groaned again and turned his head away into a pillow.
Bodie paused in the doorway. "C'mon, Murph'll be here in a moment and what will he think eh?"
"He'll think I'm your dirty secret," was the muffled reply.
"Dirty's about right..." Bodie ducked away as the pillow flew with a surprisingly good aim for someone who was supposedly feeling awful. He whistled cheerfully as he walked into the kitchen and ran the water for the kettle.
Mary was ever so pleased. "Look, what do you think? I had this old dress and it just seemed a perfect idea, especially for the Jubilee!"
The women gathered in the living room stared dubiously at what she had laid on the table.
"I thought they were supposed to be white...?" Ros asked doubtfully.
"But it is the silver jubilee -- silver, isn't it? So I thought making them out of my old silver dress would be perfect. I never did like that dress. And they've worked really well haven't they?"
"Is that one a tail? Looks a bit big for a tail..." June peered at it.
"Well, that's for Daphne. Oh I don't mean anything by that Daphne, just that, well..." Mary went slightly pink.
Daphne chuckled. "No Mary, you are quite right. I do have rather a superior bottom, so that one will be perfect. And I think silver for the bunny tails is a great idea! So, are we all ready, girls? Almost time!"
At those magic words, the women started bustling around the living room, gathering plastic carrier bags and checking their reflection in the large mirror that over-hanged the fireplace. They were all were wearing wrap around skirts that they planned to whip off once within Pall Mall and the only visible part of their costume was the white neck collar and black bow tie.
"Now have you got the bags with the ears, Bet? Excellent. Got the sandwiches, June? Got the refreshments, Ros? I think we're all set!" Sheila smiled at her husband, who had just walked through from the kitchen. "Right darling, we're off!"
He kissed her cheek. "Have a lovely day girls, give old Queenie my regards. Although we'll be right here giving her a proper salute, as befitting upstanding British men."
"A six canned salute, knowing you and my husband. But I bet you boys won't have half as much fun as us girls!" June giggled.
"Oh we'll do our best. Who knows, might even see you girls on the telly -- the parade goes through Pall Mall, doesn't it?"
"Well, that will be fun! If you see any silver tailed bunny girls, then you'll know it is us," Sheila laughed and chattering, they all made their way down the garden path. David grinned and stood at the door to wave them off.
"Nice weather for it," he grimaced, looking up at the sky.
"Shurrup," Doyle said to the room, slumped over the VIP table, head buried in his arms.
"I mean, every time I come in here, I find someone in that position. I'm beginning to think no one at CI5 likes their job," Anson continued his way to the drinks machine, peering at the options available.
"Like I said, shurrup," Doyle didn't move.
"Proper ray of sunshine he is today, don't get too close, mate," Bodie leant back on the settee.
"I have no intention, believe me," Anson selected a tea and waited for the hot liquid to splutter into the plastic cup.
Doyle sighed and straightened, blinking and rubbing his hand across his eyes. "Never again," he said and stretched his arms out in front of him, sunlight glinting off his bracelet.
"Never again what?" Anson looked for a spoon to stir his tea and found one in the sink. He ran it under the hot water tap.
"Never again anything," Doyle now reached his arms up high and interlocked his fingers, stretching his back. His green tee-shirt rippled as he did so. "From now on I'll be a paragon of virtue. And you can shut up as well."
The person to who that last comment was directed ignored it and shuffled a little further back into the settee. "What are you on today Anson? Thought you were on that Embassy job?"
"Oh yes, well I still am but..." Anson coughed in embarrassment and made a show of staring out the window at the brick walled building opposite.
Bodie exchanged a quick amused glance with Doyle. "You want to be on this Jubilee thing, don't you?"
Anson sipped his tea. "Amazing what you can see out this window."
"Got a secret thing for the Queen, have you?"
"'course he has, look at him! Bet he wouldn't mind having a closer look at her..."
Cowley banged the door open.
"...crown," finished Doyle.
"Right, since you're all in let's get started. Come on!" Cowley let go of the door, Bodie just catching it before it swung closed completely and holding it open for Doyle and Anson, who wandered past still holding his tea.
The Operations room was busy, various agents and personnel walking between computers, checking data against files, taking phone calls in muted voices.
Murphy, Benny and McCabe were in the far corner, discussing a white board with a plan of the parade route scribbled on it.
Cowley resumed his stance at the side of the board and picked up a red marker.
"The Pleasure Lounge will be sending its team of forty bunny girls in the parade, twenty with plain white tails and hence no drugs, and twenty with silver tails -- these will be the girls we want, as these tails will be concealing the cocaine. Thanks to 4.5, we know that the Pleasure Lounge plan to make their move when they get to the Pall Mall section of the parade," the red pen marked off the entrance and exit of Pall Mall. "As we all know, Pall Mall is home to many gentlemen's clubs, so it could be that Rupert Scott's main clientele is within this area. I want him and I want his clientele. With that in mind, Sally can explain the next part of the plan." He nodded to her and she walked across.
"We want to intercept the drugs, and what better way than for some of his girls to be agents? We plan to infiltrate the parade undercover and catch the buyers red handed. As soon as they reach here," she took the red marker and made a circle at the start of Pall Mall, "then they are an easy target for us. But we do need a diversion..."
"This is where you two, McCabe and Murphy, come into it. I want you to create some sort of display, some ruckus that will cause the parade to halt for a few minutes as it comes into Pall Mall."
Murphy and McCabe shared a look.
"What like -- a fight?" Murphy asked.
"Streakers!" Bodie rocked back on his heels, happy with the way things were panning out.
Neither Murphy or McCabe looked very impressed with that suggestion.
"I don't care what you do as long as you stop this parade. Right here." Cowley marked a cross on the corner of St James St and Pall Mall. "Clear it with the Commissioner, David McNee, beforehand, as we will not be the only marksmen on the route." He grinned.
"Oh great, thanks a lot sir," Murphy glowered at the white board.
"When you create a diversion, we will infiltrate the parade. After that, it's just a question of following the right girls." Sally stepped down, leaving Cowley once more at the helm of his ship.
"Thanks to 3.7, and the, shall we say, helpfulness of the hitman, Jamie Bierman, we know that Rupert Scott not only had the bouncer, Kevin Smith, murdered, but that he will be parked in St James Square, from where he plans to keep an eye on his operation. Bodie, you will keep him under surveillance and arrest him the moment we have evidence of him exchanging cocaine or accepting cash. Either will be acceptable, both would be better!"
"Sir," Bodie nodded.
"I want all of you to remember that this is a public day of celebration, we want minimum fuss and certainly no casualties! Everyone stay on channel two frequency and I want this entire operation over as soon as possible. That way we can all sit back and enjoy this special day."
Cowley looked as likely to do that as he was to take up yoga.
"Right, let's get going then," Cowley was distracted by Betty, who came up to talk to him quietly.
"So where's Lucas?" Doyle checked the sight on his gun and put it back in its holster.
"He's got a massive bandage around his head, wouldn't exactly be discreet. It's alright though, Paul said he'd swap jobs with him today."
"Only 'cause he fancies the Queen, he told us earlier." Bodie grinned maliciously at Anson.
McCabe spun around, a new morsel to play with always went down a treat in CI5. "You fancy old Lizzie, eh? I bet she's a goer..."
"Oh shut up and let's get on with the job in hand, shall we?"
"That's the line he'd woo her with," Bodie nodded at McCabe, pursing his lips.
Anson's glare was murderous.
"Oh -- Betty has just informed me. It seems the Pall Mall part of the parade will all be fancy dress, so you will all have to look the part to blend in with the crowd. Well - don't all look so enthusiastic! Betty has a few things laid out in her office, I suggest you all get along there and choose wisely!" Cowley beamed.
"Why do I get the feeling that the worse the job, the more the old man likes it?" Bodie asked Doyle as they walked down the corridor.
"He's a sadist, it's the only explanation. Oi, watch it!"
Doyle was pushed forward as Murphy clapped both hands on his shoulders to move him out of the way.
"You can be the ones left with the bloody Union Jack feather boas!" Murphy called over his shoulder.
One horrified look later and Betty's door crashed open to find Murphy, Doyle, Bodie, Benny and McCabe wedged as one in the door frame.
"God, don't all rush at once!" Betty stepped well back as the men grabbed for the least silly item on the table.
"Perfect, a Union Jack tee-shirt," Bodie ducked away from the scrum and held up the black material with a flag design on the front. He then held it even higher as Benny grabbed at it.
"Oh come on, that won't fit you!"
"Uh-uh, I'll make it fit," Bodie said grimly, holding him back with one hand.
"You mean you only got two tee-shirts? Oh sod this, I'm going to buy one myself, I ain't wearing this silly hat," Murphy held the red, white and blue plastic bowler hat.
"You expect to find a Union Jack tee-shirt on Silver Jubilee day? You'll be bloody lucky." Doyle was smug, holding his white tee-shirt.
"He is right 6.2, this is the best I could find, there really was nothing else." Betty tried very hard not to laugh as Murphy attached the hat to his head with the elastic.
"I'll just like it known for the record that I am not very happy about this, you know," he said, adjusting the hat and peering into the small mirror on the wall.
Bodie undid his holster and laid it on the desk before swiftly unbuttoning his shirt.
"It won't fit you!" Benny was sulkily wrapping a Union Jack feather boa around his neck.
"Bloody will," Bodie shrugged off his shirt, revealing the smooth creamy skin of his back. His muscles bunched as he pulled the tee-shirt on and down.
"Shows off me manly chest," he winked at Betty who shook her head in amusement, before he turned to smile at Doyle.
"Yeah, you won't be able to hide any lagers in that," Doyle grinned back, liking what he was seeing. It was rare for Bodie to wear something so tight, nice to see those powerful forearms seeing daylight for once.
Bodie was grinning himself now, picking up his holster and debating before slipping the gun out and tucking it in the waistband of his jeans, bringing the tee-shirt down and hiding it out of sight.
"It worries me when you tuck it there, you know," Doyle's voice was slightly muffled as he pulled his own tee-shirt up and over his head.
"Worried I'll hit something vital?" Bodie laughed at Anson's face as he contemplated what was left on the table. "Serves you right for being slow."
Betty, glancing up in that instant, was treated to the sight of Doyle in nearly all his glory. She blinked and looked down at her desk again, honestly, why couldn't they change in their own room? But then again... she took another sly glance up and ran her eye swiftly over his broad chest, the way the hair swirled around his nipples, the way the strength in his arms belied the narrowness of his hips clad in the tight fitting denim jeans... She quickly looked down again, feeling a bit hot under the collar. She really must get a fan installed in this office.
Doyle pulled the tee-shirt over his head, covering up what two pairs of eyes had been covertly admiring just seconds before. He stared down at the flag design and looked up, screwing up his nose. "Don't think my dad would be too happy."
"Suits you, you look all..." Bodie paused as he considered Doyle's glower. "You look all happy."
Doyle grinned sarcastically as he sucked in his stomach and tucked his own gun into his jeans. He pulled the tee-shirt down and over it, contemplating the bulge.
"You look like a pair of book-ends," said Benny grumpily.
Doyle looked up and was arrested, "Whereas with you Benny, words fail me!"
They all looked up and sniggered as Benny threw his feather boa over one shoulder. "You're all jealous, darlings," he simpered.
"It's not really dignified, this," Anson stared at himself in the small mirror, feather boa wrapped around his neck. "I mean, we don't look like we are in disguise, we just look stupid."
"He's worried she won't fancy him now," McCabe twitched the plastic Union Jack bow tie he had around his neck.
Anson shot him a glance, but turned back to the mirror and flicked at the boa. He sighed. "I think you're probably right."
"Aww..." McCabe ruffled his hair in passing as he held open the door and stopped dead. "Bloody hell!" he breathed.
Sally, Susan, Helen and Liz were standing in the corridor dressed in bunny girl costumes. Sally stood patiently as Susan readjusted her bow tie, before she patted her shoulders and stood back.
"Perfect," she said, before noticing the lads staring agog from around the door of Betty's office. "What? Cowley did give us the go ahead for this!"
"Oh poor Lucas, poor, poor Lucas..." McCabe drank in the sight of Sally and Susan in basques and stockings. "This one's worth the bird in the Brewers."
Cowley came out of his office at that point looking down at some papers and stopped, looking up as the weight of many pairs of eyes fell on him. He blinked down the corridor at his top teams.
"Very good, all of you, very good -- you all look very... uh excuse me," he disappeared back in his office.
"Well come on then, let's get going," said Susan, and her voice just about managed to mask the faint snort of laughter that was coming from behind the door marked 'Controller -- CI5'.
Pall Mall was teaming with people bedecked in red, white and blue. The authorities had closed Piccadilly Circus, which had been a slight worry, but luckily Ros worked in London, and she knew they could pop up at Green Park instead and be just around the corner.
The air was heady with excitement as they made their way towards the south side of Pall Mall, weaving in amongst families that had brought picnic tables and blankets with them, people in deckchairs, people waving flags and blowing whistles. The closer to the south side they got, the more exuberant the fancy dress of the revellers -- plenty of red-faced women decked up to look like the Queen on her Coronation day, plenty of men looking like slightly squiffy Guardsmen.
"So where shall we go, June? Here? Got a bit of space here?" Sheila paused and looked around.
"Yes, here will do." June was ready to set up camp and stop marching. "Here seems as good a place as any, and we've a great view!"
They all contemplated the road with its bunting strung from post to post.
"Perfect!" declared Daphne. "Let's crack open the wine shall we?" She delved in her bag and came up with a bottle of Mateus Rosť.
"When shall we get ready then?" Mary was eager to try out her tails.
Daphne gave her a look. "After two of these, my dear," she handed a plastic cup full of wine over to her, "and not a moment before!"
Doyle was in position, sandwiched between an elderly couple picnicking and a young family waving flags at nothing in particular. He held a can of coca cola in one hand, which was doing him the world of good, and had managed to stuff his RT down his back jeans pocket, from where he hoped he wouldn't have to extract it again in a hurry.
They had decided not to let him or Benny get up too close, as they were the ones most likely to get recognised. So here he was, at the back enjoying the sunshine and hoping the job would be swiftly resolved so he could go back to bed.
He couldn't see Bodie anymore, as he had moved further into the crowd, to be in direct position for when everything started. It was a good thing they had all split up -- if the Cow had thought sending them out mob-handed in matching tee-shirts and feather boas was the best way to detract attention... The crowds of Pall Mall, or so it had seemed, had wanted nothing more than to gawp at the six fit young men dressed up to celebrate their Queen, all the while no doubt wondering if they were already royalty, in a newer sense of the word.
Attention of that sort didn't bother him, but attention on a job was something he and the others could do without. Bodie, Murphy and McCabe had sort of melted in separate directions and he himself decided to drop back a good few feet, purposely leaving Benny and Anson to wander along alone together in their feather boas before they both realised and hastily turned away.
And now here he was, at the corner between St James St and Pall Mall. He wondered what exactly Murphy and Cabby had planned, and hoped he would be in the right place to see it. A quick glance at his watch and he could hear the cheers in the background. Sounds like the parade had kicked off already at Hyde Park, be on their way up Piccadilly soon enough. Not long to go now.
Bodie was in position, leaning on a wall at the back of the street, to all intents and purposes watching the world go by, even though he felt a bit conspicuous just hanging around. There weren't too many single males out here in the celebrating public that was for sure. Although there were of course the men tumbling out of the gentleman's clubs...
...Such as over there, two very prominent Member's Clubs, side by side. He kept a wide berth from both, having been a guest in each of them during his time at CI5. The Reform Club was currently enjoying the most expensive subscription fees in London, which was irony in itself considering its members were supposed to stand for the Reform Act. He had been there on a bodyguard job for the newly elected President of the European Commission, Roy Jenkins, keeping everything safe and sound. It hadn't been that long ago and he had decided to keep as far back as he could, just in case anyone recognised him before time.
As for the Travellers Club, well, it might just as well be called the Foreign Office's second home, so many of them spent their time there. Not that he could blame them of course, gorgeous food, or so it had smelled. God he hated babysitting jobs, not the very least reason being that no one had ever yet thought to ask him to join them for lunch!
A Ford Transit van went past the mouth of the street he was keeping an eye on. There was a quick flash of the Pleasure Lounge logo and a second later his RT beeped, Anson letting him know that Rupert Scott had parked in St James Square.
Bodie glanced at his watch and pushed forward off the wall, mingling with the crowd.
The party was going splendidly. June was on her third cup of wine and was more than happy with the way things were going. Especially now they were all prepared to get on with the festivities and show the world what they were made of!
And really, the whole crowd seemed in a very festive spirit. Earlier, she had seen one young fellow with a red, white and blue feather boa draped around his neck -- fancy that! A man with a feather boa! She couldn't wait to tell Arthur, although she wouldn't say the young blond man had winked at her before moving off into the crowd. Oh no, she wouldn't say that at all. That was for her alone.
Music had started up from somewhere nearby and she was ready to party now. God Save The Queen!
"Right girls, are you ready?" Sheila handed out the bunny ears and each woman giggled as they put on the headband to keep them in place, nodding at each other to make their ears bob up and down.
"Oh, lovely ears, June! Well done girls!" said Daphne, immensely pleased.
"Not saggy at all!" said June in delight.
"But now the fun part -- are you ready, ladies?" Sheila had a wicked gleam in her eye and one hand on her skirt. "Altogether now, one, two -- three!"
All six whipped off their wrap around skirts revealing short mini skirts and sheer stockings. The crowd around them cheered appreciatively, one drunk man dressed as a Vicar wolf whistling and two ladies dressed as French Maids clapping enthusiastically.
"Oh -- the tails! Don't forget the tails, they are very important!" Mary handed them out, along with safety pins to fasten them on. "Besides, they took me ages to make!"
Daphne wiggled her backside to make hers flip from side to side. The sun glinted off the silver material and she laughed uproariously, as the crowd around them continued to clap and cheer.
Group Captain Murphy had just entered the Officers quarters at the RAF base in Singapore, when a whisky was pressed on him and the assembled men cheered at a small flickering TV screen in the corner.
"What the devil is going on over there?" he rumbled, sipping at his drink and then looking back at it appreciatively. "Nice malt though, so am quite happy to be celebrating something, cheers!" Murphy took a second healthy swallow, relieved to be inside as a late evening thunder storm continued to rumble unabated.
Group Captain Peters laughed and waved the bottle at him, offering another measure. "It's the Queen's Silver Jubilee -- they've televised the parade and with the magic of science we are watching it live, well, almost live. Bit of a delay on."
He accepted the top-up and wandered over to the screen. Sure enough, he could see the crowds decked out along Piccadilly and the Mall, red, white and blue waving flags, cheering people dressed in their best.
"Makes you homesick, doesn't it?" one officer said wistfully.
The BBC commentator with his sing song voice suddenly broke the hypnotic tone of his voice and sounded rather excited.
"And what do we have here -- one, no -- two streakers! Fancy that, two men have darted semi-naked into the main passage of the parade at Pall Mall and oh my, now there's a tussle going on..." The camera focused in on the main part of the parade and there they were, two men dressed in Union Jack underpants, one wearing a Union Jack bow tie and the other a Union Jack bowler hat. The one in the bow tie was wrestling with two uniformed police and the other was walking around triumphantly, arms raised as the crowd cheered and whistled. The camera zoomed in for a close up.
Group Captain Murphy almost choked on his whisky as he watched the one with a hat being arrested, grinning as he was led away. He looked down, swirling his drink. "I say Peters, how strong is this stuff?"
Doyle was still wiping tears of laughter out of his eyes. "4.5," he wheezed, when he managed to get the RT out of his pocket.
"3.7 -- are the girls in place?"
"Yeah, you should see Liz doing a high kick. Worked like a dream -- I tell you, we all owe Murph and Cabby a flipping medal after that performance." He broke into laughter again and controlled himself. "Is Rupert Scott there?"
"Yes, Sally is about to go in."
"You go easy there, mate." Doyle's voice was warm as he nodded and winked at a couple of young girls who were eying him up curiously.
"You too, sunshine," Bodie clicked off and Doyle managed to put the RT away, keeping pace with the parade, pushing past revellers with a confidence bordering on arrogance, threading his way through the crowd.
Rupert Scott raised his head to see a pretty woman with large bunny ears smiling at him through the car window. He wound down the window slowly. "Yes?" His eyes took in her outfit and the silver of her tail, yet he could have sworn he'd never seen this particular face before.
"I'm out already," she reached her hand into the top of her basque and slowly stroked the skin first, before flashing a quick roll of notes. "What shall I do?"
He made a quick assessment, greed overruling the suspicion in his heart. "Come around the back of the van."
She walked around the van, breathing steadily, knowing that this was the most important part of her assignment. The fact she couldn't see Bodie reassured her even more, as she knew everything was going to plan.
Rupert Scott opened the van doors from the inside. It revealed himself and two other men, both armed. Oh...
"Well come on in then, we don't employ girls that are shy," he grabbed her arm and pulled her inside, before banging the van door shut. "In fact, we don't employ girls like you at all." His smile was evil.
"What do you mean?" she gasped. "I'm Anne's friend, she told me I can get good money today and I bloody need it!" Sally pulled away from him angrily. "If I'd known you'd be like that I would have sold it and kept the bloody money myself!"
Rupert Scott exchanged a look with his henchmen, wondering now if perhaps he had been a bit hasty. "Anne said that did she? Anne who?"
"Anne Williams, I'm her flat mate, Sandy Jones. I just need the money, alright?"
"Got yourself in trouble then have you?" His eyes raked her skin and he pursed his lips. "Pretty thing like you, yes, it can happen. And I can help, but today, well today is a special day."
Sally sat back on her knees. "Well yes, that is why I am helping Anne out -- she said it would be double money, better than the club, although she also said if you like me you'll take me on there as well?"
"Depends what your specialities are don't it eh? Eh?" The fattest henchman jabbed his elbow in the gut of the man next to him and laughed, tongue sticking out in an obscene gesture at her.
"I'll be happy to show you -- except we are losing money here." Sally reached in her basque and held out the notes, which Rupert Scott took and quickly counted.
"She's right," he said glaring at his hired muscle, "and with a head like you have on your shoulders, you are bound to go far." He locked the money away in a cash box and unrolled a sheet of paper, with a plan of Pall Mall on it and several crosses with numbers written beside them. "Right, show me your lovely backside."
Sally edged herself around and inwardly grimaced as she felt his hand slide up the back of her thighs, delving a little between her legs before detaching her silver tail. She felt her face go red.
He quickly unzipped it and, checking the crosses, filled the tail with several wraps of cocaine. He zipped it back up again. "There, let me just reattach this to you..."
She knew he was angling for another grope, as the two men watched hotly from the side and she felt an unaccustomed prickle of tears behind her eyes. It's just a job, she told herself fiercely... And any minute now...
The van doors were pulled open and Bodie was there, gun held firmly in both hands and trained with unerring accuracy on Rupert Scott. "Don't even think about it!" he yelled at the two henchmen, struggling to pull their guns out of their holsters.
Rupert Scott stared into the gun's eye and raised his head mockingly. "So, you think you've won..." He made a quick grab and before Sally knew what had happened there was a knife to her throat and her arms were pulled tight behind her.
"Don't be a fool, Scott -- it's not just me out here, you know," Bodie didn't drop his aim although his eyes registered annoyance.
Sally agreed with him, she felt a fool. He had just caught her off balance with all that unpleasant groping... The knife prickled her throat and now the other two men had their guns out.
"Drop your gun," Rupert Scott demanded.
Bodie's eyes caught Sally's and her breath caught for just a second, as she knew what he was going to do. She widened her eyes slightly in accord and then...
...and then Bodie made to drop his gun, but instead he just ducked and fired from under his other arm, catching the nearest henchman in his shoulder, blood spraying over the inhabitants of the van. Sally brought her chin down hard on Rupert Scott's knife hand as he hesitated, and when he tried to move his hand back she bit it, as hard as she could, whilst freeing an elbow and crashing it with delicate precision into his ribs. Blood spilled down her mouth but she still grimly held on despite the scream behind her, aware that Bodie had...
...Bodie had charged into the van, crashing to one side in front of her as the other henchman fired a shot out into the street where he had been standing, oh God let no one have been hurt, and then Bodie hurled the injured henchman out the back of the van, to knock the other man's gun arm up, just in time as a shot fired into the van's ceiling punching a hole through where she could see the perfect blue sky of the day winking down at her...
For a minute it was all teeth and elbows and grunts and punches. Sally gasped as someone rolled over on top of her and then Anson was at the van door with his gun, pulling Rupert Scott bodily out of the van and punching him squarely in the gut as he tried to resist, the deadliest man in a feather boa that anyone would wish to meet.
Benny appeared, gun held up but he lowered it when he saw that there was no fight left in the other man, who Bodie had laid out unconscious. Instead Bodie pushed him towards Benny, who let him fall to the floor, dragging his arms behind his back to handcuff him.
"You alright Sal?" Bodie rested his hand on her shoulder as she struggled to sit upright. He had a long scrape down the side of his arm and a cut above his eye that was steadily dripping blood, but apart from that, he looked quite lively.
Sally coughed and put a hand to her neck and rubbed some blood away. She grimaced at the taste in her mouth. "I feel like a vampire."
"Look like one too, you sure your folks aren't from Transylvania?" He grinned at her, and swiped at the blood that was trickling into his eye, smearing it across his forehead.
"Oh no," Sally groaned. "I'm supposed to be having tea with my parents tomorrow night at the Vicarage, I'll have to wear a rollneck -- in June! I dread to think what they'll think."
"Nothing wrong with rollnecks in June, is there?" Bodie asked innocently, and she pushed him and giggled, while he rocked back on his knees and laughed.
Cowley made one of his abrupt sudden appearances around the doors of the van. Sally painfully reached behind her and pulled out the rolled up sheet of paper.
Cowley pulled a face at the blood covered interior and nodded to the pair of them. "Good work -- is it all here?"
"Yes sir, and I think you had better look at this," Sally handed over the paper, hand up at her neck to stop the bleeding, blood splattered across her chest and arms.
Cowley unrolled it quickly and smacked the top of it with his hand. "This is exactly what I had hoped for." He pulled the RT to his mouth. "4.5?"
"These are the drops the girls will be making that I want you to intercept... Outside the Reform Club 3.10, outside the Travellers Club to the right 3.15, outside..."
Susan sidled up to a man waiting shiftily outside the Reform Club. He had a flag held limply in one hand and a bag over his shoulder. Dark glasses hid his eyes from the crowd.
"Did you want a bunny sir?" Susan tapped him on the shoulder and smiled brightly.
The man jumped and looked at her, quickly peering behind her to see her silver tail. "Yes, yes, now please..." he said hastily.
"Do you have the money?"
Doyle, from about five paces behind, thought Susan was very good at asking that sort of question.
"Yes, here, all of it," the man undid his bag to show a quick glimpse of bundled notes.
"Ah excellent sir -- just what we wanted to see..." she grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back as Doyle sauntered up and held his ID in front of the man's confused face.
"Your nicked. Sir," he grinned, pulling out cuffs, with an effort, from his jeans pocket. Snapping them on, he put a finger to his lips, effectively dousing the man's angry gabble. "Oh none of that, not on the Queen's day, sir... Over to you lot," he pushed him towards the two policemen who were waiting to take him away and looked at his watch.
"Next one for us is the three twenty under the pillars of the Spaghetti House restaurant -- down there I think."
"Good, and for God's sake stop pulling my tail," Susan snapped, as she started walking forward.
June and Sheila had somehow lost the other girls, but were cheering from the front of the crowd, just behind the ropes that separated the crowd from the parade. The parade so far had been very exciting, although they were both sad to have missed the two allegedly gorgeous male strippers, which had happened further down the road. There had even been something that had sounded like a three cannon salute from somewhere close by, although Daphne had said three cannon salutes were unheard of and the sounds were more than likely a car backfiring from somewhere, which didn't sound half so exciting.
And now they were right at the front and there was a whole host of bunny girls just like them coming up! They even had silver tails, some of them, which Sheila had thought just too funny for words. Although the parade had stopped just for the moment, it was being held up by a sandy haired small man and a crowd of policemen. The bunny girls in the parade had been ducking out under the ropes here and there, which June had thought was a bit odd, but perhaps they were giving out streamers to the kiddies.
It was ever so much fun, June thought as she swayed with the music, ever so much... She bumped into a man and looked up to say sorry, but the man grabbed her arm firmly and flipped a photo ID at her.
"CI5, can you come with me please?" He tugged firmly on her bare arm as she blinked in astonishment and stared up at him. He was wearing a Union Jack bow tie but he didn't look like he was there to have fun.
"What, what...?" She desperately looked over at Sheila, who also had the same startled rabbit look on her face as she suspected was on hers. A tall man with a Union Jack bowler hat on his head held Sheila's arm with the same tight grip.
"What's going on, what's going on?" Sheila's voice was wavering, and she suddenly sounded to June every bit of her forty five years.
"You know what's going on, come on, move it, we haven't got all day," the man holding June pushed her not unkindly in front of him, ushering their way through the oblivious crowd.
"Stop -- wait! Cabby, Murph -- hold it a second!" There was a shout above the cheers and suddenly June saw a blond man pushing his way quickly through, ignoring the angry shouts he was causing.
He still had a feather boa wrapped around his neck.
"I wonder if we might see your tails, ladies?"
June looked tearfully at the man's CI5 ID, and turned her back on him to display her silver bobbing tail. With a mumbled apology he unclipped it, examined it closely, and then returned it to its proper place.
Then the new arrival put his hand comfortingly on June's shoulder and stared up at her assailant. "These ladies aren't part of it, I saw them earlier, they're genuinely here to have fun, isn't that right, ladies?"
June couldn't speak. Sheila also blinked from under Murphy's hand, too scared to move.
McCabe was loathe to let go. "But they have the right tails...?"
Anson was shaking his head, out of breath slightly from his run up. "Coincidence, they're definitely not part of it. Leave them be, mate."
McCabe did so at once, and Murphy let go of Sheila, apologising as he did so.
June stared in gratitude, it was her man from earlier! Oh, her hero...
"We're so sorry ladies, there has been an awful mix up..."
There was a commotion behind them and suddenly there were the rest of the girls -- Daphne still holding her wine, Ros looking worried, Mary blinking in astonishment and Bet looking from one to the other as if waiting for someone to explain.
"Ah, I see," Cabby noted they all had silver tails and raised his eyes ruefully at Murphy.
A commotion in front of them and suddenly there was Cowley, striding through the crowd, which ebbed and flowed in his wake.
"What's going on?" He assessed the situation in that second and understood. "I see -- ladies, we are very sorry for any distress we may have unwittingly caused you..."
"No, that's okay," June found her voice. "This man explained everything..." she smiled shyly at Anson, who cleared his throat and looked a bit embarrassed.
Cowley peered over at his shoulder towards the parade, which was still at a halt. He came to a decision and turned back.
"Maybe there is a way we can make this up to you. The official parade is going to be a few bunny girls short, and her Majesty would prefer there not to be any gaps in her parade, especially on the Silver Jubilee day. Would you mind doing us all a great favour and stepping in?"
June looked at Sheila, who looked at Mary, who gulped at Ros, whose mouth dropped open towards Bet, who stared beseechingly at Daphne.
Daphne took a step forward. "Will there be any wine?" she asked in her grandest voice.
"Madam, I will buy you a bottle," Cowley held his arm out and Daphne slipped her arm through and allowed herself to be escorted towards the front of the rope.
"Would you do me the honour?" Murphy held his arm out to Sheila.
"You gave me such a fright, young man," she said, but accepted his arm with a smile.
"May I?" asked Anson to June and she felt her heart flip slightly.
"Oh you may," she smiled dreamily and held his arm to the front of the parade as people cheered behind them.
"Here, maybe you can look after this for me," he unwrapped his feather boa and wrapped it instead around her neck. She grabbed it and blushed, pleased to have a reminder of this lovely day.
The other girls giggled and followed them to where there was a gap in the parade. All the other bunny girls had been escorted out of the parade and were even now were being loaded into police cars for questioning. But Liz and Helen were still there, smiling at the new arrivals, having been quickly filled in by McCabe.
"These ladies will be joining you on the parade, and joining us afterwards for a relaxing drink. Make sure they get to see the Queen up close!" Cowley admonished the policemen walking the route and smiled at the women before ducking out of the parade.
"C'mon girls, don't be shy!" cried Liz, as she urged them to pick up the buckets full of streamers the other bunnies had left discarded.
"Shy? Don't know the meaning of the word," laughed Daphne as she grabbed a bucket and the parade started again.
All in all there had been a delay of barely fifteen minutes, something Cowley was very pleased about indeed, looking at his watch as he strode away.
David sat back on the sofa with Arthur, cracking open his fourth can of Carling Black Label.
"She's not looking bad, our Queen," Arthur said, leaning back slightly as he contemplated the Queen waving on the television.
"Not bad at all, although I always liked Margaret myself... 's why I married Sheila, she looked a bit like her when she was younger."
"You sly old dog," Arthur laughed and settled down again, watching more of the parade.
"I do hope the girls are enjoying themselves and managed to get themselves a good view," he said presently. "Lots of people out there, I wasn't quite sure if they would be okay on their own."
David gave the other man a look. "The day I say that to my wife is the day I'm in trouble."
Arthur nodded thoughtfully, David and Sheila had a far more modern marriage then what he would call his own. He knew June found him to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud at times, but he really was trying to understand. Times moved on, times changed and although sometimes he felt it was all moving a bit fast for him, he really did want to do June proud. Perhaps he'd even book a table for two at that Chinese restaurant David had told him about.
The parade went by for a few more minutes. David hummed Rule Britannia under his breath as Arthur got up to leave the room.
He then sat forward and nearly knocked his can over. "What on earth...? Oh my God!"
Arthur came back in, holding a new can of lager. "What is it?"
David couldn't speak but pointed at the screen.
There, just behind the Queen's coach, were a team of bunny girls proudly beaming and handing out streamers. And standing tall and slightly pink, was Sheila, and June with a feather boa around her neck, waving grandly at the crowd.
The sound of a beer ring pull sounded behind him and David turned, still quite speechless to find Arthur standing to attention.
"I think that calls for a salute, David, forget old Queenie. Here's to the girls!"
And they both stood, clinked cans and saluted the TV screen as on it, June and Sheila hugged triumphantly.
-- THE END --