Frugal Tart



The informant wheezed through his tracheal compression, eyes bugging from sockets.

Bodie squeezed one last squish on the fleshy gullet for good measure before he released his hold a few notches.

The beleaguered grass eyed Doyle hopefully. But there appeared no particular sympathy in that quarter, either, so he piped up. "Told you. 'S like I said, just heard it from a business girl. I got no more'n what she said. Heard it when we were, you know, 'Doing It'. Wouldn't hold back nothing from you gents, now would I?"

"Sure you would, if you thought it would pay," Bodie dropped the man abruptly to the pavement.

"This business girl got a name?" Doyle jabbed their source, mid sternum.

"Sure, but you're not gonna credit it none," the informant ran the grubby heel of his palm under his nose, smearing what was lingering there with further grime. "She's known as Lispy Lil."

Doyle wrinkled his brow incredulously. "Never heard of her. Where's she turn her corner?"

"Oh no. She dun do the CPS. Dun need to, does she? Got her clientele all lined up posh. Classy bit of action."

"And she tricks to the like of you?" Bodie sneered skeptically, eying the pudgy, balding runt from scalp to toes.

"Professional courtesy. I'm in her good graces, see? Tit for tat for tit," the grass chuckled, cupping his hands before his own rather prominent breasts for emphasis.

Bodie stifled a shudder at the inelegant image. "Services rendered? In exchange for what, drugs?"

"Naw. Not her scene, ner mine neither. No, it's gossip, see? Chit chat. Part of Lil's stock in trade, so she needs a steady supply. Word of the latest comings and goings and comings." Again the round man emphasized his words with a lewd gesture.

Bodie was edging a step back in spite of himself.

Now the grass was hitting his stride, though, and continued explicating with considerable relish. "Specializes in Conversation Pieces, does Lil. Talk whilst performing the act. Turns some blokes on, see? A little lisp kink. She-chatter while they gat her. Me, I can take it or leave it," and the rotund man drew himself up to his full, less than impressive height. "Both of us being into the news of the day, business wise, we exchange thoughts during the hip action, that's all."

"I see," Bodie chuckled, already imagining the direction this information might lead next.

"What?" Doyle sputtered.

"It'll have to be you," Cowley repeated adamantly. "The information is vital. I want it, as soon as mortally possible. Sooner, even."

Bodie grinned at his partner's discomfiture, then ratcheted it down to a mere smirk in reply to the Old Man's scowl.

"Why me?" Doyle's outrage was palpable. "After all, it's Bodie's grass, his bloody lead."

Cowley stared pointedly at his subordinate's appearance. "Which other member of A squad has such an abundant place of concealment for a wire, when standing forth in his altogether?"

"Swear, I'm going to shave me head."

"After this operation is successfully concluded, feel free to do so. In the meantime, those golden locks are worth their weight in platinum. You're to meet with Tully in Com Support in exactly ten minutes. Carry on, you two." Cowley reapplied his reading glasses to his face and began sorting through the files cluttering his desk.

Bodie dragged Doyle out into the hallway before murmuring in his ear, stirring angelic curls with his lips. "Just be grateful that your altogether is so very abundant, sunshine. After all, the Cow could have suggested placing the wire in a more uncomfortable place. The word 'shove' springs to mind."

"Shove? I'll show you shove!"

"With illustrations?"

They jostled each other all the way down three flights of steps, tumbling and sliding, wrestling and chortling until the high ceiling of the stairwell echoed with rebounding sound.

Tully had wanted to wear earphones.

Bodie could see why.

The particular shade of vermilion the radio tech's ears turned was quite striking, and very seasonally festive at that, juxtaposed as it was with his crisp green shirt collar. Considering the man's recent haircut, which he'd just confessed to his fellow agent was all due to his singing in the choir this month, the flaming reaction was impossible to hide.

Bodie and Tully were securely ensconced in the surveillance van, listening to the fascinating sounds transmitted from the tiny microphone nestled beneath Doyle's curls.

Earlier at headquarters, Ray had complained quite vocally about the waterproof adhesive used to fasten the wire to his scalp, said it gave him a rash.

Innocently, Tully had inquired, "Just localized break out, or all over?" This perfectly professional question was accompanied by a head to toe body scan that lingered only marginally at crotch level.

Bodie had then to restrain Doyle from murdering the man. At that time he'd muttered, "The bloke's just doing his job, relax."

Now, watching Tully squirm, Bodie wasn't at all certain of that. The sight was rather amusing. Not as entertaining as a video of Doyle's current situation would have been, but still it was worth the hardship of having to suck up diesel fumes in the chilly van, while listening to triple X dialogue over the high performance speakers.

Or more accurately, monologue.

Indoors, Lispy Lil was talking for all she was worth, rather determined in her pilgrimage to ascend Mount Doyle to the heavenly summit. The scant gasps and moans escaping from Ray didn't count as human speech.

Bodie was sympathetic, really he was. His partner was striving to maintain prolonged physiologic evidence of participation, long enough for the girl to reveal the one and only piece of chatter in her repertoire that was of current, vital CI5 interest. Poor Ray, opening his usually eloquent mouth only on brief syllables, valiantly urging the hooker's thoughts to politics, when she'd clearly got her entire mind, nay her very soul, fixated on holiday shopping.

"Fancy travelling all the way to France, just to buy lingerie. Her real name's Mary, and she was born in Stoke Poges, but professionally, she goes by 'Marie'. Suppose she feels the need for Parisian knickers to help get her into the role. But the expense! Personally, I think it's a shameful waste, when she spends ninety nine percent of her work day naked. Might as well shop at Selfridge's and save on time, money, and sheer bother. Or even Marks and Sparks, as much as her yawning johns would know the difference. Let's take this shirt right off, shall we? Such scrummy shoulder muscles."

"Oh, ah. About the, erm, ambassador?"

"Yes, well Marie's not his type at all, you know. Some men have the good taste to go for a wholesome looking lass. Mind you, Selfridge's is just crammed at this time of year. I shouldn't set foot inside their doors until the 15th of January, which is a pity, because their gift wrapping service is second to none."

"The, eh, arrrgh, liaison officer?"

"Don't know what sort he fancies." There came the sound of a large belt buckle, clattering as it dropped to the floor. "But personally, I like to do the gift wrapping myself, so it's done right and proper."

It sounded to Bodie's ears as if Lil were far more intent on unwrapping at the moment. Sure enough, there went the sound of Doyle's zipper.

"Uh, urggg, the embassy, last Thursday?"

"Just step out of those now. Coming along nicely, aren't you, love?" Slurp. "Absolutely certain you only want a hand job? As I was saying, I don't see any harm in keeping the gift wrapping, if it's been gently unfastened. It's quite a savings, reusing the paper, and then you've more left to spend on presents, so where's the harm? Well, just look at those thighs and calves. Into jogging? And a nice taut belly and bottle. Very nice ensemble indeed. Oh dearie, you are a yummy treat."

"Ah, oh, the um, uh..."

Tully had assumed a frozenly rigid posture, all ten fingers clenched between his knees. His eyes were slammed shut, while an intensely personal agony decorated his face.

Bodie's own hands had started this session well behaved, nestled in the warmth of his jacket pockets. Sometime during the radio programme, however, they developed a wicked will of their own and now kept restlessly emerging, trying to descend and migrate toward the fiery heat of his crotch.

Lil cheerfully nattered.

Meanwhile Doyle had abandoned verbalization. His panting breaths accelerated audibly, interspersed with amplified wheezes. Next, a steady crescendo went from tenor moans right up through to alto groans. And then came one final, culminant, perfectly pear shaped "Ahhh."

At last there were mere gasps, punctuated by damp sounds quite near the microphone. Either Doyle had geysered high enough to frost his curls, or Lil was doing something naughty like...

"Better than clotted cream." Licking her fingers, whilst nuzzling Ray's ear.

That mental image was nearly enough to undo Bodie's resolution. Balling his fists, he proved he was formed of stern stuff indeed. Controlled breathing through to calm, he ultimately felt able to relax somewhat in his seat. Turning, he opened his eyes upon the hilarious vision of Tully, still writhing in a futile attempt to settle his disturbed anatomy.

"Now then, Mr Doyle, tell your Lil all about it. You know good and well you can't get away with undercover lover in this town. Not since avenging Ann Seaford and rescuing her daughter, right? A real hero for us ladies in The Business, aren't you?"

"Heh. Tell that to me boss," Ray chuckled ruefully, as refastening flies and belt buckle hardware sounded over the surveillance van speakers. "He never listens to me."

"Well, your wise old mates outside can tell him three things, then." Lil's voice got very distinct as she pressed lips nearer the curl-bedecked microphone. "One, your boss' best bet's on the Undersecretary Without Portfolio. Two, I hope your boss enjoys this festive recording in the spirit in which it's offered. And three, thanks ever so much for the pressie, sir. I truly enjoyed unwrapping it."

Bodie and Tully exchanged looks that partook equally of laughter and chagrin. Even if they'd been made, it was worth it to hear the Old Man had been taken for such a royal ride.

Still, Bodie reflected. Maybe Cowley would enjoy listening to the surveillance tape, all the same.

"Don't I get any?"

"Told you before, I'm on the sweets list."

Bodie certainly could approve someone placing Doyle on a sweets list, all right. He eyed his mate, who had his sleeves rolled to reveal slender fingers fragrant with fresh butter and a snowy drift of flour right up past his wrists.

Now if only someone would put Bodie on the savouries list, fasten the pages together, and the two partners could make a meal of it.

"It's for the American supper party after our supervisor's December meeting at the Youth Center. You know, where I teach self defense."

"Should think you 'd be baking mince pies, not gooseberry this time of year."

"Froze a lot of gooseberries away when they had 'em cheap at the Co-op. Besides, start offering wayfarer's pie too soon in the season, and people get bored with it."

"Can't imagine ever going off sweet mince," Bodie declared wistfully. "Meself, I can eat it all twelve days and still want more."

Doyle turned to face his partner's dewy eyed pathos. Naturally susceptible to that come-on, was Ray. "Mince-stuffed Bodie, on the holiday menu, ey," he grinned, before returning to his pastry. "Think I might like to partake."

Bodie watched Doyle expertly forming the round of shortcrust, using a scrubbed wine bottle in place of a rolling pin. There were few modern conveniences in Ray's kitchen. He made do with an old ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon.

The oven was warming nicely. Sipping from a little noggin glass of whiskey, so was Bodie. He licked his lips as the pie took shape.

Doyle's lethally agile fingers wielded a sharp knife, trimming the extra crust from the edge of the pie plate. When the gooseberry pie was perfect, he carefully gathered the pastry scraps together, forming two smaller rounds of dough.

"What's that going to be?" Bodie sucked a drop of drool from the corner of his mouth. "Or are you just wanting to play patty cake with the leftovers?"

"Pat it and prick it and mark it with a 'B'. Then put it in the oven for Bodie and me."

"Truly? How soon will it be ready?"

"Mere moments, me lad. Good things come to those who wait." Doyle got busy cleaning the dishes, murmuring to himself somewhat absently. "Good things come in small packages. Good things come. Oh come all ye. Come tomorrow. Come good. Good come. And there it is." The large gooseberry pie, still in the midst of baking, filled the kitchen with forbidden fragrance as Ray grabbed the smaller sweet out to cool.

"What's inside?"

"Just a layer of currants, sprinkled over with brown sugar and cinnamon. Baked between two circles of extra pie crust. Simple thing. Saves throwing out perfectly good pastry scraps. No waste. Grandmam would call it a 'frugal tart'."

"Oh, aye?"

"Aye." Doyle touched the very tip of his tongue to the dessert. "Mmm."


"Course." Doyle showed Bodie where he'd carved 'B' into the cover of the tart.

Bodie pounced on Doyle and drew him right onto his lap, sweet, savouries and all. Ray began feeding him small portions of pie, drawing out the process enticingly, pausing to nibble crumbles directly off Bodie's broad chest.

"Hey, this is terrific."

"Well I did use best butter on that pastry. And shortcrust is always lighter if you don't abuse it. Touch it briefly and gently, that's the way."

"You mean, it's better for a quick hand job? Sounds somehow familiar, hmm."

The glitter in Doyle's eye as he shifted to straddle his partner boded some mischievous frolic in the offing.

Bodie sat back comfortably, ready and willing to take whatever Ray dished out. He captured a hand, sucked at the traces of butter lingering on fingertips.

Chasing crumbs of sugar with his tongue, Doyle unbuttoned his partner's shirt. "Such a messy eater," he chastised between licks.

"Only on the most delectable morsels, mate," Bodie decided to have a taste of tender flesh underlying Doyle's earlobe.

They were both generating some serious kitchen heat at last, when Doyle suddenly burst out with a gale of laughter.


"Just occurred to me."


"That's the second frugal tart I've shared with you today."

Doyle proceeded with devouring him, while Bodie savoured the pun.

-- THE END --

December 2007

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