by Brenda K
"What you writing?"
Bodie was still a nosy bugger, Doyle decided as his partner sailed in through his front door. Always had been and always would be. Always asking questions with that air of casual curiosity that wasn't half as casual as it seemed.
"Poetry," Doyle said airily, deciding that the truth would most definitely sound stranger than fiction. With a bit of luck Bodie would take it for one of his snarky comments and forget it.
"Right. And for an encore you're going to illustrate it in watercolours?"
"Course. Maybe even do it in calligraphy, on parchment. Did you get the beer?"
"Raymond, would I forget the essentials in life? We can't all be life's great artists, y'know. Besides, that's why they all starved in garrets. Never thought about down to earth stuff like eating or drinking."
"Right." Doyle nonchalantly picked up the bottle opener, hoping Bodie would be distracted by a beer. Miracles did happen.
"Little git at the off license tried to short change me," Bodie added. "He isn't going to starve any time soon. Why poetry anyway?"
There he went again, Doyle grimaced inwardly. Tacking the question like an afterthought. And he'd keep on doing it until people caved in. Well, better get it over with then.
"Poetry, like I said. You're the one who's always spouting it. Go and get the takeaway out before it dries out, Bodie."
"Biryani. As ordered."
"Excellent." Bodie beamed and headed for the kitchen.
Doyle carefully stowed the notebook away, hoping the whole poetry thing would be forgotten once Bodie got interested in his favourite occupation of feeding his face. Knowing Bodie, however, it wouldn't. There was nothing as irritating as his partner when his curiosity was aroused.
Right on cue, a few minutes later, Bodie quirked an eyebrow and waved the bottle of beer in the air.
"You weren't kidding, were you? About the poetry."
"No," Doyle said shortly, having come to the conclusion in the meantime that the only thing to do was to make the best of this and enlist Bodie's help. "I've got to produce some. Except I haven't actually written anything. Bloody hard, this poetry lark, but it's for a good cause."
Bodie paused to shovel in a few forkfuls of rice, and then grinned.
"Sucker for good causes, I am. Generosity personified. Need any help?"
Bingo. Doyle cheered mentally.
"For a bird, right?"
Doyle sighed, and gave in. "Yeah. It's for Amanda. She says men who write poetry are sexy. And it's her birthday next week, so I said I'd come up with something. Cheaper than champagne and posh restaurant at least. And stop smirking."
"Ah," Bodie said, smirking blatantly. "Shouldn't be difficult with a name like Mandy. Lots of rhyming possibilities there."
"Peasant. And she doesn't like to be called Mandy."
"Ah. Posh, is she?"
"Out of your class, mate. Most definitely."
"So how far have you got?"
"Nowhere," Doyle admitted miserably. "Thought I could maybe just quote something and pass it off as mine, but all I remembered from school is stuff about tall ships."
"Masefield," Bodie said. "Not terribly appropriate, no. Is she a Keats girl? Tennyson?"
"Dunno. And don't think I haven't heard of either."
"Wouldn't dream of it. You know me."
"Now I'm hurt," Bodie said, looking anything but. "And me who was going to lend you my Penguin book of poetry. Really useful, that."
"Quote bits of it at appropriate moments, do you?"
"'Course," Bodie said. "Goes with the image of tough guy with unexpected depths. Birds can't get enough of it. And better than trying to write it meself. I mean, Tennyson didn't have to shoot people for a living, so why should I try to write about wandering lonely as a cloud in a field of friggin' daffodils?"
"I remember that one as well," Doyle nodded. "Second year of senior school. Although I must've missed the friggin' bit."
"So," Bodie was suddenly brisk. "You want something nice and slushy?"
"Sounds appropriate," Doyle nodded. "I do remember 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day' but couldn't remember any more. And she might recognise that."
"Thou are more lovely and more temperate. Rough buds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath... hath... bugger," Bodie trailed off. "Me mind's going."
"No comment. And we've got buggered leases to go with the friggin' daffs," Doyle said. "Room for improvement on that, I'd say. Another beer?"
"Please. We do need something a bit more to do with love than wandering over dales and hills looking at flowers," Bodie said thoughtfully. "Dr Wossisname at school didn't do many love poems except a few classics, though. But tell you what - I'll have a quick look-see through the book. Bound to find something in there."
"The idea was for me to write it, though, like I said," Doyle sighed mournfully, taking a thoughtful swig. "Serves me right, really."
"Another literary type, is she? Like..."
"Like Ann," Doyle answered for him. "No. Well, not really. She's just... into blokes who write poetry."
"So you said," Bodie nodded. "What's she like? And why haven't I met her yet?"
"You'll meet her if you keep your paws off. And if you don't start asking her to state her credentials halfway through the meal," Doyle said, aiming for casual but unable to avoid the edge to his voice. "Or judge her like you did Ann, right from the start. She's not Ann."
"Oh ye of little faith," Bodie shook his head. "Look...with Ann..."
"With Ann you were acting on Cowley's orders," Doyle said, softening a little. "Fair enough. But you didn't exactly warm to her, which was pretty obvious."
"Not my type," Bodie said carefully.
"I thought your type was anything female and available, or however you put it."
"She wasn't your type either," Bodie said softly. "Snooty, to start with. But I could have forgiven her that."
Doyle stiffened, then decided to let it drop rather than let this turn into a post-mortem. Besides, Bodie had a point about Ann, although he'd not noticed the snootiness at first and then made an effort to ignore it when he did. Was Amanda like that? Hard to say, Doyle decided, because it was early days yet.
Time to steer Bodie back on course.
"So you really think the only thing to do is to nick somebody else's poetry? You can't knock off a few lines, can you, because I'm buggered if I can."
"Me? Maybe a limerick," Bodie admitted. "But look, if we pinch something she won't know the difference."
"And what if she's got the Penguin book of poetry as well?"
"True. Well, there's always a solution. Got another book of poetry somewhere - more obscure stuff."
"Oh yeah? Obscure as in erotic? That's not exactly..."
"Nah. Obscure as in obscure. Can't even remember where I got it. Some bird probably left it - had one who was into poetry meself. What was she called?"
"Not Amanda," Doyle grinned. "Tell me she wasn't called Amanda."
"Don't think so. Describe her."
"Well..." Doyle hesitated, sketching out female curves with his hands. "Sort of... average size except for the tits which are... quite something. Blonde. Blue eyes. "
"Sounds familiar. What does she do for a living?"
"Nosy bugger. Well, she's not a nurse, barmaid or air hostess, which cancels out about ninety percent of your conquests. She's... come to think of it I don't know what she does. Works in an office somewhere."
"Bloody cheek. Katy's a nurse, but she's nice."
"Oh yeah? Wedding bells?" Doyle couldn't resist.
"Hardly," Bodie grinned. "You know me, but she's still nice."
"Sarah. That's what mine was called - the poetry one. Worked for the inland revenue. Knew it'd come back to me."
"Inland revenue?" Doyle chuckled, although fully aware that Bodie in turn was neatly changing the subject. "No, don't think Amanda's changed her name, so that's all right then. And she's definitely not into anything as sordid as screwing the population out of their money."
"Now, now," Bodie waggled a finger. "Tax collectors have hearts, she used to say. Even filled in me forms for me. And she was stacked."
"Sounds like the ideal woman," Doyle sniffed. "So. Can I trust you to find me something that'd do?"
"Of course. But it'll cost you. Bring her to the pub tomorrow night, and I'll bring Katy. Might inspire me to find something appropriate if I get a feel for her. Well... not that sort of feel..."
"Nosy bugger. But all right. What does Katy think you do?"
Bodie told him. Doyle snickered.
"And Amanda? What does she think you do?"
"Researcher. Nice and vague, that."
"Deal, then. Any more of that curried chicken?"
"That's mine. You've eaten all yours."
"Consider it part of the payment, Raymond my lad."
Doyle eyed the foil carton, sighed, and pushed it over.
"So," Bodie asked.
"So?" Doyle said, concentrating on the file, which was no easy matter when Bodie was in Formula 1 mood.
"Wipe that smirk off your face, Bodie. If we weren't in a hurry, I'd wipe it off for you."
"Me?" Somehow, mid-three-point turn, Bodie managed to exude innocence.
"You. Obscure my arse, that poem. She knows it."
"Goodness me," said Bodie primly, narrowly avoiding a taxi. "More literary than either of us thought then, our Amanda."
"She's not our Amanda," Doyle snapped. "She never was your Amanda, and as of last night, she's not even my Amanda."
"Oh dear," Bodie said, with a complete lack of sincerity. "What's up? Just because she caught you out on passing a bit of poetry off as yours?"
"You knew. Admit it."
"That it wasn't obscure. Admit it. You're a bloody menace, that's what you are."
"Raymond, my lad, if she throws a wobbly just because you're not a poet and she recognised it, she's not worth it. It's the thought that counts, not a bit of Coleridge you appropriated."
"You appropriated. She wrote a sodding thesis on Coleridge, let alone have the Penguin book, which was where you swiped it from, and why I'm bloody sure she knows it. And I'd like to bet if I dug a bit deeper, I'd find you'd been playing twenty questions with her when I had to call in while we were in the pub so you know damn well what she knows about poetry. Particularly since that call was - apparently - a mistake."
"To err is human," Bodie said solemly.
"To err, when it's Central, is usually when somebody bribes them. What's the idea, Bodie? Find it funny to screw up my love life, do you?"
"Love life?" Bodie snorted. "Definitely not your type, that one. Ann Holly all over again, she was. Only worse."
"And you think that gives you the right to make me look a prat? This might come as a surprise, Bodie, but I don't need a bloody keeper. Just keep your nose out of my business in future."
"Look..." Bodie actually slowed down a little. "She had it coming. You can believe it or not, but she came onto me while she was on the phone and Katy was powdering her nose. So for all her literary posing, she's a tart."
"Eh?" Doyle stared at Bodie.
"You heard me. Until then, I'd really have found you a bit of obscure poetry. And if you don't believe me, look at this."
Bodie fished in his pocket and extracted a small piece of paper with a telephone number scrawled in what was most definitely Amanda's writing... plus two words: 'can't wait'.
"Oh," Doyle said, taken aback. "Well, that does change things a bit, I suppose. Although Ann wasn't a tart."
"All right, she was snooty, and Amanda was a tart. Happy now?"
"If the poetry thing hadn't worked, I'd have told you, for what it's worth."
"Before or after you got her to bed?" Doyle asked.
"After, of course."
"Honest bastard," Bodie protested. "She is stacked though. So... we going to watch the match tonight? My place?"
"Is this an apology? Or a consolation prize? Or just changing the subject?"
"No," Bodie shook his head. "Well..."
Doyle relented, watching Bodie struggle to combine penitence and pride, and finally gave in. After all, Bodie didn't know the full story yet.
"You get the food, then. Least you can do."
"You get the beer?"
Doyle settled back in his seat, pretending to concentrate on the file again. Bodie actually started humming to himself, clearly delighted he'd got away so lightly.
"You going to call her?" Doyle asked, keeping it casual but curious all the same. "Just out of interest and because of her bra size?"
"Hardly," Bodie said, a little sharply. "I might engage in a little healthy competition with you, Doyle, but I do draw the line at women who like two-timing me mates. Good tits or not, I have some principles. If she hadn't come on to me, it might have been different."
"Glad to hear it" Doyle couldn't hide a grin at this piece of Bodie-logic.
"Besides, tits aren't everything and she's not my type."
"Or mine," Doyle said simply, deciding that honesty went both ways.
"That's all right then," Bodie cheerfully threw the car around a bend. "Did you a favour then, right?"
"We did that poem at school as well. Just so's you know. I didn't actually give it to her because I knew she'd know it. Didn't even go round there. Just called her to say it was off. Permanently."
"How did you find out she'd done her thesis on Coleridge, then?"
"Did some checking of my own. Like with the poem, because it sounded familiar. So once I realised it was Coleridge, I put two and two together and realised you were doing it on purpose."
"Oh," Bodie said, fingers tightening just fractionally on the steering wheel.
Doyle enjoyed his unease for as long as it was reasonable, then chuckled.
"But you're right. She's snooty, and I'm not a bloody poet, so I finished it. My decision. And that's the way I'd prefer it in future, meaning without your help, if that's all right with you?"
"Fair enough," Bodie nodded, relaxing slightly. "Still wish I could have seen her reading a bit of Coleridge with your name under it, though."
"Prat yourself for falling for the whole 'poetry is sexy' thing in the first place."
"Did buy myself a book of it, though," Doyle added. "And decided that quoting a bit here and there could be useful for that 'hidden depths' stuff you were on about."
"A man needs all the help he can get," Bodie chuckled. "Including friggin' daffs, eh?"
"And darling buds of May," Doyle nodded. "And before you ask, you are not going to pinch me chicken, or I'll tell Katy you aren't an expert on nuclear fission. That was a bit far-fetched, Bodie. Admit it."
"Yeah. And there's a problem," Bodie sighed. "Her dad's a physicist. So that's history as well... had to break up before she asked me yet again to drop in and discuss particle accelerators with her old man. And stop bloody laughing."
"Just funny. But yeah, she's nice. So it's a shame - but still funny."
"Cheers. You like her, though?"
"Definitely. And before you ask I didn't put her up to any of that. I mean, I didn't give her the third degree, unlike some people you could mention. Oh, and she's no tart - or at least she didn't come on to me. Which is amazing considering I'm poetry in motion."
"Poetry in motion my arse. She's got taste," Bodie sighed, then avoided Doyle's mock punch. "Knows a good thing when she sees it. Think if I come clean, tell her I'm just a humble researcher, she'll have me back?"
"Send her a poem," Doyle suggested.
Bodie just grinned.
-- THE END --