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Its pouring What I said its raining, he said, turning away from the window and looking across

the room. Its pissing down with rain and Ive got to go halfway across town to cover a shift because someone cant be arsed to turn up to do a job theyre supposed to do. Ive a good mind to tell Luke not to bother turning up for work again, he knows I havent had a night off for the past week and he comes up with some half arsed excuse about being ill. Its bad enough to call in sick but to get his girlfriend to do it is just plain weakness. Im surprised he didnt get his Mum to write him a note. Matt crossed the room, avoiding the half eaten pizza discarded on the floor and sat next to his rather obese flatmate. So how come you have to do it? Youre just being a martyr, why dont you ring Sara or Bill? Because Sara and Bill are going out for dinner together tonight. Two years Ive had to put up with those twos yearning glances at each other and this is the furthest theyve ever got. Im not going to interrupt the course of true love, itd set them back decades, besides Garys been giving me a bit of stick lately so Im hoping to show Die Fuhrer how well Im coping with the increased responsibility. The pressures of being the assistant manager of one of Londons least exclusive bars eh, why dont you tell Gary to stick his job up his hole? As he said this he attempted to retrieve a piece of pepperoni that had somehow attached itself to his left elbow. Because David, I dont earn the economy of a small country for shifting money around between different accounts like you do and I need to demonstrate a decent track record in bar management before the bank will even consider my proposal. Why dont you sack it and come and work for me, I could get you a job as an analyst or tea boy or something, youd be on ten times what youre on now. And work my arse off for the corporate dollar, excess alcohol, meaningless sex with coked up PAs and account managers? A bit too eighties for me sorry, I know you dig the whole Gordon Gecko deal but I want to do something I enjoy. In ten years Ill have my own bar and be kicking back, getting rich off wankers like you drinking your own body weight in champagne every night. Besides, Ive got to achieve this, my family already think Im enough of a loser after my disappointing degree and my failure to sustain a relationship longer than five minutes. He stood and made for the door, pausing on the way to pick up a worn denim jacket and slightly battered umbrella from besides the door. We cant all be golden balls like you, my Mum thinks the sun shines out of your arse and thinks Im a talentless waster. Matt, youre being too harsh on yourself. You arent a complete waster, after all youve sustained a sexual relationship with your right hand for the past twenty five years, thats an achievement of sorts. Matt threw the contents of a mouldy mug that had sat on the shelf behind the door since the party two weeks ago over his sniggering flatmate. Cheers mate, dont have too much fun in front of Blue Peter, you know it can cause blindness. It was dark outside already and the rain had got stronger since his earlier inspection. Matt put up his umbrella and started towards the end of the road avoiding the potholes that were deceptively deep and had twice caught him out leaving him wet up to the knee, face down in the gutter. It wasnt just the fact that Luke had let him down that had pissed him off so much, hed been fruitlessly waiting for a phone call from the girl on Saturday night. Claire had been enthusiastic in her desire for him to phone, almost as enthusiastic as the way in which shed participated in a bit of quick bit of jiggy jiggy behind the bar after hed locked up. Now she was being decidedly cool towards him and it had really annoyed him. Shed done all the pursuing and now wasnt interested. What really annoyed him was that this was the way he usually acted towards his occasional female dalliance, was it fate or karma? Either way it was irritating in the extreme, not that he imagined it would seriously alter his way with the fairer sex. David wasnt

far from the truth, he did alright with the girls, one of the advantages of working in a bar was the vast amount of drunken girls he met, but he was beginning to get bored and thought maybe hed like someone who actually stuck around in the morning. To be honest it would be a tremendous improvement to actually wake up with someone rather than his usual early morning walk of shame before the girl realised who he was. Does this mean Im finally growing up? He thought, after 25 years and numerous conquests am I about to start the search for my first adult relationship? He doubted it and crossed the road to the tube station. Twenty-seven minutes later he walked through the doors of Finnegans and surveyed the dcor. The bar opened in his final year at university and had lured the students in with the usual method of cheap alcohol and live bands. It had cashed in on the whole Irish theme pub wave and had all manner of rubbish including scrapped bicycles and random brass instruments above the bar and hanging from the walls. It was a down market ONeills only slightly less original. Gary, the owner and Matts boss, was sitting at his usual spot, perched at the end of the bar, Guinness at his elbow. As usual he was staring at a newspaper intentedly. Fucking Soduku, I still dont get it. Its all you can get out of people now, Carol Vorderman swears by it. Evening mate, why dont you just give it up, its been a week now. Matt walked past his boss and slipped in behind the bar. Because everyone on earth seems to be able to do these things except for me and its seriously pissing me off. Anyway what are you doing in, I thought Luke was on tonight? I gave him the night off, hes not feeling too clever so I said Id come in instead. Hes taking the piss out of you mate, you need to get a grip of him. Dont worry about it, hes alright. I dont, thats what I pay you for. As long as the cash keeps coming in Im happy, I couldnt care less if you employed the Yorkshire Ripper as long as he could pull a decent pint and didnt murder his victims on the premises. Youre all heart. I know. Right, Im off now, I was just keeping the lovely Marie company for a while but seeing as youre here now Ill be off. Does keeping her company by any chance mean desperately trying to get into her knickers? Because you couldnt normally give a flying fuck about any of the staff as long as they dont siphon off too much of the stock for themselves. Where is she anyway? Shes nipped down to change a barrel. Youd best check on her actually shes been a while. Matt walked through to the kitchen and opened the door to the cellar. The smell of stale beer always got to him at the beginning of a shift, it was the worst thing about working in a pub, once youd been in for five minutes the smell stayed with you until you could get changed. Marie appeared halfway up the stairs, her hands full with bottles of lager. Hey, Matt, hows things? I thought Luke was in tonight? Dont ask, hes dropped me in it so Ive had to come in instead. How are you anyway, I gather Garys blessed you with his presence this afternoon? Hmmm, yes, hes a bit of a pest really, Im blatantly not interested in him and I keep mentioning Steve in front of him but he doesnt seem to get the hint. Marie and her boyfriend Steve were both final year medical students, she was due to graduate in a month or two and would be swapping the surroundings of the pub for the local A&E department. Matt took the bottles off her and turned back towards the bar, Marie smiled, Cheers mate Im knackered. I shouldnt really still be working here, Ive got too much going on in Uni but I need the cash. Steves been hassling me to quit but I dont have the benefit of the bank of mum and dad like he does. Well dont let me keep you, Ill finish this off and you can shoot if you like. Im sure youve got more worthwhile things to be doing like saving lives.

Thanks Matt, youre a star. Ive got so much to do, Im busier than a one-legged man in an arse kicking competition. Ill just get my stuff from behind the bar and Ill be out of your way. She squeezed past him through to the bar and gave a little smile over her shoulder. Steady Matthew, no need to start smarming one of the few female friends you have. He thought to himself. Are you ok here then? Marie had put on her coat and was the other side of the bar, Matt winked and told her to get on her way. Cheers then guys, see you Thursday. Gary punched Matt on the shoulder, You are clearly gay. Thanks buddy, what makes you say that? Shes keen for a bit of the Matt love only youre too much of a bumdigger to do anything about it. Is that your professional opinion then? Formed over years spent being rejected by the opposite sex no doubt. So you say Dale Winton, but youre stuck here on a shitty Monday night and Ive got a romantic evening planned with the lucky lady of the week. Just because youve been hanging around the home for the blind and mentally unstable doesnt make you Don Juan. You may have a date tonight but youre still a cock. A cock with one more girl on the go than you Freddie Mercury. If I see any nice dudes on the way Ill point them in this direction. With that witty outburst Gary slid off his stool, finished the dregs of his pint and walked towards the door. Matt ignored him. See you tomorrow mate, dont forget, three oclock, monthly stock check and strategy meeting. Yep, dont worry about it, I cant wait. Matt walked over to where Gary had sat and watched him disappear through the door. Great, Monday night in the most depressing place on Earth. No customers, nothing to do and the Skys broken so I cant even watch telly. The evening dragged even more slowly than normal. Matt counted twelve customers in the first three hours and had put a truly underwhelming fifty quid in the till. The crappy weather had clearly stopped people going out, not that Monday was ever busy, but between the rain and the new pub down the roads quiz night Finnegans was truly dead. At ten thirty he seriously considered closing early. At ten fifty he seriously considered suicide. There had been a brief period of excitement earlier when a few police sirens could be heard passing in the distance but that was it. Currently the bar was occupied by a random drunk of undetermined origin, possibly Geordie, possibly Scottish but he could have been Mongolian or from the Moon for all Matt cared. There was another guy somewhere up the back, balding, middle aged hiding away in one of the booths. Hed ordered some single malt they didnt have and settled for his third choice with a glass of water on the side. Hed been there some time and Matt had considered going to check on him but was reminded of the time he found a mad old man pleasuring himself some time ago. To be honest as long as theres nothing to clean up he didnt care what he was doing, he didnt look out of the ordinary, maybe a bit more respectable than the average customer but they occasionally got the odd cultured individual on the way back from the University. He was probably a lecturer or something similar. The clock finally struck eleven and Matt switched on the lights in full to signify closing time. Whats going on, youre not closing are you? The drunk leapt into action at the sudden brightness. We are mate sorry, its eleven so finish off your drink and on your way. You cant do that, you didnt call last orders. Youre obliged by law to call last orders, I want another drink! This was exactly what Matt didnt want, there was nothing worse than a stereotype pisshead kicking off at closing time. All he needed was a few bubbles to come out of his mouth and a hiccough and hed be perfect.

Look dont be an arsehole mate, Im perfectly obliged by law to tell you to fuck off. I didnt have to serve you, the state you were coming in so just finish up and do one yeah? Unfortunately he obviously wasnt about to give up that easily and started walking towards the booths. Hey, hey you pal. Did you hear him call last orders? He cant just close the bar. Matt jumped from behind the bar and tried to intercept him before he started harassing the other man but was too late. He was at the edge of the booth talking shit and making a pain of himself. Hey, hey baldy, wake up. Hes asleep, hey granddad, time for bed. Matt found the drunk poking the older guy in the side with an empty bottle that had been left on the table. Great, just what I need, one piss head and Rip Van Winkle there having a snooze when I want to get on my way. Hey, mate, you cant sleep here, you need to go home. Matt ushered away the animated drunk and tried shaking the sleeper to no avail. Right, if I give you a beer on the house, will you fuck off and let me deal with Boss Hogg here? Two? One or Ill call the police and tell them youve slipped Rohypnol in this guys drink and I caught you trying to take him into the toilets. One it is then, thats a fair enough deal to me. Matt walked him back to the bar and fished out a bottle of the non-alcoholic stuff Garyd bought months ago but hadnt been able to shift. Thinking about it he reached in and got another one. Go on then mate, heres two after all, fill your boots. Words couldnt describe the joy on the little mans face, Youre a prince among men, a real gent. I could tell that about you as soon as I came in here. Yes good, now off you go. See you again. Whilst talking, Matt successfully steered him out of the door and locked it behind him. Right then sleeping beauty, lets deal with you. He walked back to the bar and poured a glass of water from the jug that sat on the side. Are you going to play nicely or are we going to have to get wet? As he reached the booth he saw the man hadnt moved. Right, Im getting cross now, I dont care where you go but you cant stay here. Reaching over he gave him a sharp prod in the side of the head. Nothing. Moving closer to get a better grip he pulled him hard on the shoulder, he surprised himself by pulling the guy right off his seat and he landed on the floor by Matts feet. For fucks sake. The guy had left a large puddle of urine on the seat and his trousers were soaked through. You dirty bastard. Matt gave the prone figure a gentle kick in the ribs. Again nothing happened. He bent down to have a closer look and rolled the figure over towards him to see his face. As he did the mans head cracked against the floor and his eyes rolled open. It was obvious to see the man was dead. Shit. Matt jumped back. This is something I could definitely do without.

Liz put down the phone and slowly put her head down on the one clear area of her desk carefully avoiding the piles of paper scattered across it. She couldnt believe it, she didnt want to contemplate the hours shed put into Maguire, all of it wasted by a chance opportunity. He was one of the biggest names in people trafficking and prostitution in London with links far across Europe. She had first been assigned to the case off the back of her work with the National Crime Squad, it was officially established as a liaison post but she soon realised that there was considerably more to the post than cups of instant coffee and lunch meetings. The pace was hectic and she initially struggled to keep up, no one cared what youd achieved in the past, only what you were producing now. It was refreshing to work with people who didnt care who she was, where she came from or how she got there. It was recognised that there were no easy slots onto the team so if you were in you were good enough and that was it. That said she doubted her ability severely this time and it wasnt the first time. How on earth had anyone got close enough to him to kill him without any of the surveillance noticing him? He was the subject of one of the most manpower intensive investigations in recent years yet apparently an unseen person was able to get close enough to him to put three bullets into his back. She was sure the shit was going to hit the fan in a major fashion and wondered where most of it would land. As some of the guys were keen on saying, shit rolled downhill and she was just about as low down as it got in the grand scheme of things. She pulled herself up out of her chair and walked to the door of the office. It was dark, she was the only person in having opted for the night shift in order to guarantee her a night off on Wednesday for her supposed date. No night off now or for a long time, I may as well just give up on any idea of a social life. She tried to think back to the last time shed been to the pub or a restaurant without somebody from work, it was too long ago. As she waited for the lift her mind began to consider the possibilities, Charles Maguire was a big time criminal, associated with very dangerous individuals and was known to be personally responsible for the deaths of three surveillance officers in Prague even if the evidence to prosecute was insufficient. The list of people who might want to bump him off was long and distinguished but he had achieved a sort of untouchable status due to the large sums of money he made for himself and his partners. He was known to specifically take a slightly smaller cut of the business in order to guarantee his allegiances. Nobody liked him but everybody liked his money and he made plenty for the guys with the real protection. His real ability lay in his diplomacy skills and the way in which he drew a shield around himself which had so far proved impenetrable. By the time she got to the hospital pretty much everyone was there, the boss was sitting silently in the corner while a couple of the others were huddled in the corner shaking their heads together and muttering . Right, what have we got? Steve had arrived and was rallying round trying to get people moving. He was remarkably calm considering the situation. Piss off Steve, weve got a dead pimp and no suspect. Mac stood from his perch on the edge of a mortuary trolley and walked into the next room, the light glinting off the back of his bald head. He was still wearing the green aprons they made you wear during post mortems and it caught on the door handle. Fucking thing, whats the point of these, hes already dead, its not like were going to pass on any germs to him? I think theyre designed to keep the guts off your trousers Mac. Liz walked after him and caught up with him as he was just reaching the door that led to the other corridor. What happened mate? How come we didnt see anything?

He turned to look at her, started to speak but thought better of it and shook his head. She still found his features somewhat comical even in these surroundings, he was completely bald, apart from long bushy sideburns and a moustache that wouldnt look out of place in a Village People tribute band. When Liz had first met him she assumed it was to disguise his face in case he got discovered whilst tailing somebody. She had heard how the close observation guys in Northern Ireland often used that as a method of quickly changing their appearances, however she soon discovered that he actually had chosen to look like that and had worn the moustache for the best part of fourteen years. I dont know what happened, he turned the corner twenty metres in front of me and by the time I got there he was dead. Im gutted, there were so many people around it could have been anybody. Once people realised what was going on it was mayhem, were just waiting on the CCTV to see if that shows anything. It wasnt your fault, nobody blames you. She reached out to touch him on the arm. Too right it wasnt my fault, I was only following him, how was I supposed to know hed be shot in the middle of a bloody busy street with a hundred witnesses? Its just incredibly frustrating. She let him walk off and returned to the room with the remainder of the guys. The boss was getting to his feet. Right, theres no point moping around here like a bunch of sad arsed bastards, well call it a night. I want everybody in the conference room tomorrow at zero nine thirty with fresh heads and lots of ideas. By then we should have all the evidence we can muster. With that he turned and walked away, Steve talking quietly to him as they went through the door. Liz looked around at the assorted individuals left and quickly hurried after him. Bollocks to this she thought, Im off home to a hot bath and my bed.