Darts to You
by Debra Hicks
"Where're we going?"
Ray smiled sideways at me. "You'll like it. Trust me."
Trust the little sod? With my back, my life and the family jewels but not with an evenings entertainment. "Doyle, the last time you choose the spot we ended up at an all male strip club..."
"You asked to go!"
"Not as a participate!"
Even from the side I could see an evil grin light those beautiful eyes. "What about the time before when..."
"When we ended up in that French brothel?"
"It wasn't all that..."
"Not remembering how we got there..."
"And wearing nothing but upstairs maid uniforms?"
That shut him up, for a minute.
"How about your birthday? The one in New Orleans?"
"Oh, the one where we ended up in the gay bath house..."
"Which was promptly raided by the local coppers..."
"And since we'd also managed to get our pockets picked we had no ID, money, clothes or even condoms and had to call..."
"Then of course there was that camping trip when the two cows decided to fornicate in the middle of..."
The car slammed to a stop, Ray spun toward me, eyes narrowed dangerously. "Bodie, if you don't shut up and enjoy this evening I'm going to take you home and put you to bed."
"Promise?" I leered.
I gave him my best, patented little-boy-lost look. "Sorry, mate."
Ray only gave me a dirty glance. (Funny how that look doesn't work as well anymore.) But then he smiled. "I love you, you dumb crud."
(Okay, maybe it does work.) I returned his smile, gave it exactly two beats then said, "Where're we going?"
"Darts? You brought us all this way for a dart tournee?"
Actually, I didn't know how far he'd brought us. We were in a section of London I didn't recognize, which was unusual.
"You love darts."
"But I hate tournaments!"
An unholy, mercenary glint, that put me to shame, came into those
intriguing green eyes. In the same tone Ray used in describing his
latest idea of a decadent new position, he said, "The first prize is an all expense paid trip to Florida, for a week."
"Florida?" I asked, "Disney World?"
He nodded. I grabbed his hand and sprinted for the door.
"Ah, Bodie," he jerked me to a stop,"this is a doubles tournee."
Doubles? The only thing Ray could hit with a dart was his own gorgeous arse. I recognized the feeling of set up.
"I say, jolly glad to see you gentlemen could make it."
I leaned my head against Ray's shoulder. (Which is better than pounding it against a wall.) "Tell me it's not..."
"Hallo, DM," Ray said cheerfully.
The real situation hit like the kick from a .45 Magnum (Borrowed that from a Philip Marlowe novel.) "Let me guess," I said quiet calmly, "DM is my partner for the game."
"Bravo, Bodie, nice insight," the mouse quipped. Ray just smiled, a little nervously, I was pleased to note.
Three, straight forward, easy-to-execute responses to being teamed with a six inch high mus musculus (floored Ray with that one) for a dart game came to me - scream, cry or tell Ray to fu... then I thought for something else. Leaning down I put myself close to the mouse.
"Can you shoot darts?" I demanded.
DM crossed his arms and looked indignant. "I'm British!"
If there was one thing I had learned about the white wonder it was that he was good at whatever he did. With visions of Mickey and Snow White dancing in my head I bowed lowly.
"After you, partner."
With looks a amazement from both permanent and temporary better halfs, I started for the door. "Penfold parking the car, is he?"
"No, I loaned it to him to use for a date."
"A what? The hamster went on a date?"
Like any good partner DM immediately came to Penfold's defense. "With a lovely lady hamster named Daphian. He'll be by later to pick me up."
The idea of Penfold on a date was too mind numbing to even consider. So I considered it. What would a hamster do on a date? The same thing as any red-blooded, all-English male would. He was, after all a manly hamster. I tried to imagine him doing some of the things I... I knew when to stop.
"Hope he bought a new suit," I final stammered.
The place looked like every other typical English pub - almost. There were three things about the place that struck me as odd; there were women; there was a neon sign over the bar and there was a strange feel to the place. Now I have nothing against women; watching them is my second favorite sport, after watching Ray, or Murph, or Mel Gibson or... but the traditional English pub was not the place of dates. Second of all there was this neon sign behind the bar that said, "The best and the most secret." Not only is it strange to see a neon sign in a pub but this one didn't make any sense.
Finally, there was the feel of the place. The atmosphere seemed friendly enough on the surface but it was charged like the wind off the Bay just before a big blow. (Sam Spade.) I thought of mentioning this to Ray but just then the entire place started saying hello to DM.
I was getting the distinct impression that everyone in the world had known about the white wonder but me.
"Shall we have a bit of a warmup?" DM questioned, after getting away from the crowd.
He stepped forward, tested the weight by resting the dart on his shoulder, let fly - hit the elk head above the board, the beer sign underneath the board and the booth seat next to the board.
I stared at DM, Ray stared at me, Ray stared at DM, I stared at Ray, DM stared at me and I stared at DM, then back at Ray for good measure.
"Ah, yes, well, just a tad out of practice," the white spy said with more than a hint of embarrassment.
It was going to be a long night. In a situation like this there is only one response.
"Three beers, keep, one in a very small glass."
I decided within a few minutes of the first match that the fate which watches over handsome, gay, British agents (and singular white mice) had decided that we both needed a holiday. We actually won the first match. The fact that the other team failed to show up might have helped. I bought the first round, Ray the second.
No one in the house seemed to think it odd that a team hadn't shown. The only reference I heard at all was from a slinky looking blonde sitting in the booth next to us who made some vague comment about "a ghost can't throw darts anyway." I had learned by now not to ask. I ordered another round, wondering when the tight fisted little sod was going to buy a round. (The little sod in this case being four legged.)
There was no such stroke of fortune on this round. Two men eased out of the other room where another round of games was going on. There was no mistaking the accents as American, a mixed team, salt and pepper. They were older, streaks of gray showed in the black's hair, the other was completely silver, aside from that they both looked like they could hold their own against the golli and I. (Might have trouble with the mouse.) It struck me then that everyone in the pub seemed to be in remarkable good shape, no beer guts, no sagging muscles.
"DM!" The black one eased over and gave the mouse a high five (high four?) "My main mouse. How's it shaking?"
"Quiet well, thank you. How are you two?"
"Couldn't be better," the silver haired one said as he shook hands with the one eyed spy. Only then did they notice us.
We shook hands.
"Kelly," the white one said, motioned to his partner, "This is Scotty."
I did the intros for us, brought another round and the game began. The newcomers halfed the darts.
"Now, my main man," Kelly started, "it is time for you to show me the prefect, beautifulness of your game."
Scotty laughed just a little nervously. "Ah, yes, the.."
"Yes, yes, the beautifulness..."
He studied the board very seriously for a moment, aiming over the feathers let fly. It hit the edge of the board, bounced off and landed in his partner's beer. Kelly stared into his mug for a minute then retrieved the soggy projectile and held it up in front of his partner.
"I thought you said you could play darts?"
"I didn't say that."
"No, no," the other corrected, "I said maybe we could win a little vacation playing darts."
"With throwing like that?" The other's voice went up just a touch.
"You're the pro - think you can do better?"
"Step aside, I say sir, and let me show you how it is done!"
He threw, the dart struck firm in the wall just under the board. The man's chin dropped to his chest. Scotty was having trouble not smiling; he went over and put his arm around his friend.
"Well, Kel, there's always the Senior's Tour."
The rodent, to my surprise, bought the next round.
We took them in two games (pardon the expression) straight. DM seemed to be getting warmed up, hitting the board more than missing it. By the last throw he even broke a thousand. The Americans bought us the winning drink.
As DM started in on his mug, a sly little voice in my head (you know the one) reminded me of my desire to find out an answer to the eternal question of whether or not mice get drunk. I suddenly found myself in a fairly familiar position -with my arse on the horns of a moral dilemma, which is just as painful as it sounds. Which did I want more - an answer to my question or a ride on Space Mountain?
"I say, gentlemen, we have two more to win." The mouse chimed. "Let us press on."
He's so British sometimes, it's enough to make a person ill.
Ray slid up to me, put one hand on my hip and without any warning leaned forward and kissed me full on the lips. I staggered back in shock. The nutter just smiled.
"Ray," I hissed, "what the hell are you about?"
"About 5' 7" actually," he quipped. He moved closer, I moved back.
"No one here cares, Bodie."
That stopped me for a moment. Did the golli mean that... "Do you mean ..."
Green eyes went wide. "A gay pub? No, sunshine, it's just that most people here are better at keeping secrets and minding their own business."
That was almost as cryptic as the neon sign, so I did what I also do when puzzled over something I can't hit - I ignored it.
"I say, Bodie," the mouse demanded (nothing worse than a demanding mouse,) "Stop the public exhibition and fetch another round."
"He's right, mate." Doyle slapped me on the arse. "Two more and it's Mickey Mouse time for us."
I fetched another round.
By the time I returned there were two men standing next to my love and the mouse. They were about the same height, both dark haired, both well built. I slid around the booth to join them.
"Bodie," DM started, "I'd like you to met..."
The slighter of the two took one look at me and made a move I was very familiar with - he was reaching for a gun. I went for mine.
And so did the rest of the pub! Ray, the mouse and I suddenly found ourselves looking down the barrels of the most impressive collection of hardware since Dirty Harry had an estate sale.
"Er..." It's amazing how fast the lightning reflexes disappear in the face of that much metal.
Ray, the stupid, loveable idiot, jumped in front of me. "Hold it! Just a misunderstanding, honest. The mouse can vouch for us."
The mouse can vouch for us! "Doyle, what the hell..."
Ray grabbed me by the arm, jerked me in to the watercloset, and slammed the door. He collapsed against it with a whoosh of relief. "Bloody hell, Bodie, are you trying to get us killed?"
"Doyle, what he hell is this place? Where did all those guns come from? Does the Cow know about this?" (I always suspect the Cow first, saves a lot of time.) "This place is full of agents, isn't it?"
"Of course, that's who they cater to, agents, spys, a few select civilians. DM brought me here a few years ago. Now, what the hell made you go for your shooter?"
"He went for his first!" I sounded like a kid caught slapping his sister.
"The one with the darker hair and nice eyes." (Oooppss.) Ray stared at me. "And they aren't nearly as nice as yours!"
I had stepped into this time. I had better win the trip now or I would be spending the rest of the winter paying for that last remark. Before I could dig myself in any deeper the door swung open.
"Gentlemen," the mouse started, "I have explained the misunderstanding to the crowd, all is forgiven."
"Forgiven?" I yelled. "He tried to shoot me!"
"Ah, yes, well, a unfortunate case of mistaken identity. It seems that you look remarkably like someone he once arrested."
At this point I didn't care if the bloke outside thought I was Darth Vader, as long as I could get away from Ray until the remark died down, sometime around 2010. I slipped past him.
When we came back out the man who had drawn was still watching me suspiciously. DM went for another beer. The other one only smiled and extended his hand.
"Willie Caine," he said, then pointed toward his partner, "This is Gambit."
"Crane?" I knew that name. "Don't you work for SIS?"
"Yeh," he nodded. "Neil Burnside."
I shuddered. "What a bastard."
Ray kicked me under the table. He was right. You don't call a man's boss a bastard unless you work for him. If Caine called the Cow a bastard I would have either hit him or kissed him depending on my mood.
He took it well, only laughed. "He is just a bit tight."
"Could open a coke bottle with his ass," the one called Gambit said softly. (I like someone tough enough to need only one name.) DM laughed, sort of, actually he sort of giggled.
"He could learn to relax a bit," Caine conceded.
"Perhaps you should introduce him to DM," I suggested. "He seems to be a fun-loving chap."
"Never work," Crane said. "Neil would never see him."
"See him?" I was confused.
"You have to be in the right frame of mind for it," Gambit said seriously.
This was getting too esoteric for me, so I changed the subject by asking Gambit, "Work for SIS as well?"
"No. Work with them," He nodded toward a man and woman in the back. It was the hot blonde I had noticed before.
The man in the bowler tipped his hat, she smiled, I smiled and Ray kicked me in the shin again.
"Right. Let's play," DM said with enthusiasm as he took a sip of his beer. He threw a prefect 160.
This was getting annoying. Did all small rodents have an unlimited capacity for alcohol? Penfold had at least had the good grace to get drunk. DM was showing no sign of anything but enjoyment. I threw a 123.
I managed not to jump when Penfold suddenly appeared on the table next to my arm. Several people nearby waved.
"Penfold," I did a classic double take. The little bloke was wearing a tux! "You look great."
"Thank you." His whistle gets worse when he's embarrassed.
Willie had just thrown a 146. DM threw another 160. I managed 156. We took the lead. I rejoined Penfold. DM hadn't noticed his partner yet, he was engaged in a serious discussion with Ray about something.
"Crumbs! A 160!"
"Yeh, not bad," I admitted reluctantly.
"Come on, Penfold, it wasn't that..."
"Penfold, do get a grip." Chirst, I was sounding like the rodent.
"How long's the chief been playing?"
"About two hours."
"Penfold!? What is so exciting about DM playing darts for two hours?"
"It's not the darts..."
I stopped him to take me turn. I threw 142, DM threw 160. My blood pressure went up another notch. I know he was on my team, and that trip was looking very nice but did he have to be that good at it!
I returned to Penfold. "What's..."
"Crikey, Mr. Bodie, the chief can't throw darts unless he's drunk."
"Drunk? But he's not..."
"Oi, mice don't get drunk like people. When mice get drunk whatever they're doing they get better ..."
"You're telling me the drunker he gets, the better he throws?"
"Exactly. Has he been giggling?"
"Yeh, like when you goose Mr. Doyle?"
"I never, and yes, he has."
"Oh crumbs, it'll all hit him soon."
"What happens then?"
"Zip, zing, wham."
Zip, zing, wham - that didn't sound good. I slid over toward Ray. "Ray, mate, we have a problem."
That Fate that I mentioned earlier took that minute to change her mind. DM took three huge hops across the table, spun around like the Tazmanian devil, ran down the table leg, up the table leg, jumped to the wall, circled the dart board, bounced back to the table, spun around one more time, fell flat on his back and started snoring. Zip, zing, wham.
Then it happened. (A different it.) Everyone in the building got a call on every possible means of communication, resulting in the most impressive collection ofrings, beeps, tweets, whistles and shrills since Garbo took Manhattan (Nero Wolfe.) Everyone grabbed for something, R/Ts, W/Ts, cellular, wristwatches, pocketwatches, pens and...
"Ray, there's a bloke over there talking to his shoe."
"Well," Ray was unimpressed, "at least he won't lose it that way."
Even Penfold whipped out a small radio that was chripping like a cuckoo clock. "Colonel K! Have to run - off to save the world. Talleyho, cherryo and all that!"
"Same here, mates," Caine said. "Catch you at the next match."
"Gambit," the fellow in the bowler said in a very, very British accent, "we're needed."
"Penfold! What do we do with DM?" I hoped he wasn't going to say what I think he was going to say.
He did. "You'll have to take him with you." Then he darted (ouch) away.
In thirty seconds, Ray, myself and the snoring, black patched rodent were the only ones besides the barkeep in the building.
Ray had taken out his R/T and was regarding it with dread. Minutes passed. Dread turned to puzzlement in those wonderful green eyes.
"I wonder why we haven't been called?" he asked.
I tried to turn away before he looked up; little golli can always tell when I'm up to no good. I didn't make it.
"The Cow said always keep the R/T's with us, Ray."
"But he didn't say anything about the batteries."
"Bodie!" He did his best to sound outraged but he was giving me that smile that said I was not only forgiven but in good standing and would later be in good laying.
DM snored a little louder.
It all worked out. The barkeep decided to give us the trip by default. (And I only had to threaten him once.) We packed up DM and went home.
An unconscious Dangermouse has advantages; he can't berate you for lack of patriotism when you take the phone off the cradle; he can't interrupt what ever debauchery you have planned for the evening; and he doesn't give advice on sexual position. We spent the next few hours in blissful ignorance of what the rest of the world was doing.
Much later, with my love dozing under a mound of blankets, I wandered into the kitchen. The light over the sink was lit and the water was running. I came a little closer, peered over the edge.
"Please... don't do that," DM pleaded.
He was sitting under the facet, letting a slow drip of water run over his face. He looked like a Chicago garage on St. Valentine's Day. (Marlowe, again.) Awful didn't come close.
Lowering my voice in sympathy, I said, "You look rough."
"Did we win?" he asked.
"No worries," I said in a brilliant Australian accent, almost as good as my Cagney.
"Can't you do anyone besides that Wayne chap?" he said peevishly.
"Do you always look this bad after a dart game?" Can a mouse have a beard shadow? I was beginning to feel a little guilty about this. "Why did you do it?"
"For Penfold," he shifted, moving out of the sink and drying off on the nearest hand cloth. "Daphian wanted to go to Disney World. Now, Penfold can take her."
Sigh. Okay, I'm a sucker for romance, even one involving a hamster that was probably still a virgin. I know it, Ray knows it, the Cow suspects it and if anyone mentions it I'll punch them.
"Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Ice?" he asked hopefully.
"Be right back."
As quietly as possible I took a single ice cube out of the box. I started for the cupboard, stopped. Contrary to popular belief most English homes do not come equipped with a mouse-sized ice pack. So, what could I put ice in that was small enough, held water and was pliable? I went into the bathroom.
I was almost finished when the door opened. Ray was standing there, blinking blurrily at me. I smiled at him.
"Wha're you doin'?" he mumbled.
I held up my inspiration. "Stuffing ice into a condom."
He blinked twice, turned, threw his hands up in the air, went back to the bed and disappeared back under the covers. I love it when he does that.
DM was sitting very forlornly on the edge of the table. I lowered the pack, keeping quiet in sympathy.
"Good grief!" Suddenly the mouse jumped up, held onto his head for a minute then started searching that Batman style belt of his. "Somewhere here, I think... Yes!"
He pulled out this vial of nasty looking green stuff. Without a word he upended it and swallowed the whole thing. This transformation was almost as good as the one in the bar. He turned three shades of green, then went purple, spun around once and sort of - zinged again. Next he was standing there with hands on hips, looking perfectly normal. (Or as normal as a one-eyed, talking mouse can get.)
"Wonderful concoction! I really must thank Dr.Quackencluck when I see him." He started toward the window, flipped me a jaunty salute. "Thanks ever so with the..."
"You have a hangover cure!?!"
"Naturally, can't wait. Worlds to save and all that." He shoved the window open.
"You have a hangover cure and you never told me..."
"Dreadfully sorry, old man, only works on mice." He stepped outside the window, onto the ledge. "Do stay available. Sounds like a big op. I may need...."
I slammed the window, snapped the drapes closed, sprinted into the bedroom, banged the door closed, crawled in with Ray and pulled the blanket over my head.
-- THE END --