Disclaimer: Characters from The Professionals are Mark-1 Productions Ltd
and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.

Doyle's Day Off

          He hadn't set the alarm. Just for once, there had been no need: he had a Day Off.
          So of course, he'd woken at the usual time anyway. And even more typically, given how often he was forced to get up on cold, wet and dismal mornings, today was brightly sunny and after a few minutes he realised that going back to sleep was a non-starter.
          Doyle stretched out, determined not to get up just yet though. If he couldn't sleep, at least he could have a lie-in. Relax, listen to the radio, and maybe read a bit.
          Reaching out, he flicked the switch on the radio, and some inane DJ banter filled the room. His plan for the day was to do absolutely nothing, and Doyle grinned to himself in pleasure.
          Bodie wouldn't understand that. Bodie, on his infrequent days off, always had something organised, usually with a girl in tow.
          The DJ's repartee seemed to getting fainter, and Doyle remembered with irritation that he'd forgotten to buy replacement batteries. OK, so he'd do without the music for now.
          Picking up the book closest to hand Doyle settled back to reacquaint himself with The Warden. It was years since he'd read it, probably while at school, and his sudden desire to re-read came not from any literary passion but having found several of the classics dumped by the dustbins the previous week.
          He had barely refreshed his memory of Mr Harding and Dr Grantly before there was a ring at the door.
          Should he ignore it? He wasn't expecting anyone - it couldn't be Bodie, his partner had taken off to places unknown the previous evening. Must be a mistake. Barely had he found his place on the page again before the bell repeated its summons.
          Muttering in annoyance, Doyle headed for the door, collecting his jeans on the way. He was tempted to open the door just as he was, but knowing his luck it would be a nun collecting for charity...

          It wasn't. "Mornin', hope I didn't get you up." Thrusting a parcel at Doyle, the postman sketched a farewell and without waiting for a reply started for the stairs.
          "You did," Doyle called after him, while looking at the parcel. "Hold on! This isn't for me!"
          "Isn't it? Sorry mate." Retrieving the package and checking the number the postman went upstairs to deliver it to the correct flat.
          Doyle slammed the door behind him and padded back towards the bedroom, changing his mind halfway. Now he was actually up, he may as well make tea. However, running the tap to fill the kettle was a bad move, and shoving the kettle on he ran hotfoot to the bathroom...
          The doorbell rang again, making Doyle jump. Before he could get out of the bathroom it rang again, and as soon as he was physically able Doyle leapt towards the door - ready to lambaste the postman, because it had to be him - and wrenched it open.
          There was no one there; just a solitary parcel on the mat. He could still hear someone going downstairs.
          "Oi!" he shouted.
          "They're not in, mate," the postman shouted back, voice getting fainter as he retreated. "Don't mind taking it, do yer? Marked urgent, see, I don't want to delay it..."

          Doyle gave up, picked up the parcel and took it in, dropping it by the front door. As long as they didn't come bothering him until later.
          Standing in the kitchen, he took a few deep breaths while waiting for the kettle to finish boiling. It wasn't going to spoil his day off. Sloshing water onto the teabag, he opened the fridge - recoiling as the waft of sour milk hit him. He cautiously shook the carton; it not only smelt bad, it sounded bad.
          Black tea, then. He could get some milk later; there were probably a few other bits of shopping he needed anyway.
          Back in bed, he propped himself up and found his place in the book, but part way through chapter 3 he remembered he hadn't particularly enjoyed reading it: it might be great literature and full of ethical and moral questions but it was heavy going - some might say boring.
          The second book in the pile was another Trollope, this one from the Palliser series, and Doyle bypassed that immediately. He hadn't given up on many books, but those had been unreadable.
          Next up was Jane Austen. He'd never managed to read any Austen - today was a good a day as any to start.
          Or not. Within ten minutes Pride and Prejudice joined the rejected pile on the floor.
          Just a Dickens left now - the Pickwick Papers. Doyle could remember some humorous bits in it, but in common with most of Dickens' work the style was plodding, and it really wasn't what he was in the mood for.

          Finishing his tea he pondered the rest of the day. In spite of his intention, it didn't feel right to be doing just nothing. Maybe he should be more like Bodie, and plan something rather than just wasting his free time - he had precious little of it after all.
          OK, so what could he arrange at short notice? Angie would be working so there was no point in calling her. Maybe a film.
          After ten minutes rooting around for the paper, Doyle concluded one of the things he should be spending the day on was tidying up. But it was much too nice a day for that, that really would be a waste of his time.
          Nothing but Disney films. Was it the school holidays again?
          His stomach rumbled, reminding him of the need to get some shopping; he'd have to go out even if just for that. Right, shopping first, then maybe he'd see where the mood took him.
          Checking a few of the cupboards Doyle realised the cornershop wasn't going to suffice. He would have to head for the supermarket; one of his least favourite chores, which was why his cupboards were often empty...

          It had taken him ages to do the shopping; he'd decided he should buy as much as possible in order to defer his next trip for as long as possible. One trolley-full later, it had taken far too long to get through the checkout. The assistant was slow, and all of the little old ladies in front of him in the queue insisted on counting out their pennies and reclaiming vouchers and chatting about the price of things. He was generally a patient man, but it was enough to make you scream...
          Finally, with his wallet considerably lighter, he'd emerged from the shop, only to find his car blocked in. Tooting the horn a few times didn't have any effect and he checked again to see if he could get out. There might be enough space but he was bound to scratch the car, and whereas he wouldn't be particularly bothered about damaging the heap which was blocking his path - they probably wouldn't even notice! - Cowley's certain reaction to scratches on the Capri wasn't worth the effort.
          Fortunately for his blood pressure, the driver returned within ten minutes. Doyle had been ready to leap out and give them a piece of his mind about inconsiderate parking and wasting other people's time, but the young, harassed mother with two toddlers was already looking so anxious and apologetic he reined in his temper.
          When Doyle finally got back into the flat it was after one. The day was running away from him and so far he hadn't done anything. Thrusting frozen food into the freezer, chilled foods into the fridge and everything else into random cupboards, Doyle headed for the door again. Reading the paper while waiting in the car he'd seen a film on in the West End, if he hurried he could catch the afternoon showing.

          The tube was hot and busy. The journey between Caledonian Road and King's Cross had been slow; the driver had made an almost unintelligible announcement through which the words 'apologise' and 'delay' were just about discernable, but not the reason for the problem.
          After packing a few more people in, they left King's Cross just as slowly. Uncomfortably gripping the overhead rail with the blood slowly draining out of his arm, Doyle glanced at his watch - the film would have started before he got there at this rate - and the train lurched to a sudden stop.
          Even though he didn't use the tube frequently Doyle knew this was probably a common occurrence for daily travellers. He glanced around the carriage; no one else seemed concerned at the delay, and he swallowed down on his impatience.
          For at least ten minutes. By then, a few other people were looking at watches and beginning to meet each other's eyes in a sharing of a common predicament.
          "How long are we going to be stuck today then?" The speaker was looking mock-cheerful. "Take your bets now: it was nearly an hour last week..."
          He should have taken the bet; they had been sitting in the tunnel for over an hour and he'd missed the beginning of the film. Deciding to get a meal first, Doyle went to the next showing, which meant it was rush-hour when he went to get the tube home.
          After the earlier delay, Doyle had deliberated on whether to take the bus back rather than the tube. But it would take longer, and lightning didn't strike twice, after all...

          Doyle hadn't seen it coming so had no chance of avoiding the slap. He lurched backwards against the people packed in behind him, a few of whom let out yells of annoyance.
          Rubbing his face as he righted himself, Doyle found the girl he'd been standing behind was now facing his way and glaring at him. "Keep your mucky paws off me!"
          He felt himself flush scarlet as the whole carriage was paying attention. "What?"
          "You heard me! Why do you perverts think you have the right to grope girls? Just leave off!"
          People were now looking embarrassed, particularly the other men wedged in around Doyle and the girl.
          "But it wasn't me!" It was obvious from their expressions that no one believed him. He tried to reason with her. "Look, I'm not so desperate I have to get my thrills on the underground."
          "You men are all the same." She wasn't going to listen, turning away and moving back, and Doyle gave up. People were still staring; it'd be better not to give them any more to look at.
          The train pulled into Kings Cross, emptying considerably, and Doyle's accuser moved as far as she could across the carriage away from him. Feeling more conspicuous now, Doyle was glad he was getting out at the next station.
          After the extra long tunnel, Caledonian Road finally arrived, and Doyle started to move towards the doors - only to find the girl also moving towards them. Hell. She was getting off at the same station. She'd think he was stalking her, or something...
          Fortunately she didn't look back, and Doyle waited until the last second before jumping through the closing doors. He deliberately sauntered towards the exit tunnel, and as he'd hoped the lift doors were just closing behind those people who'd left the train. Relieved, Doyle pressed the lift button and waited for the second lift to descend.
          Emerging into the station he glanced cautiously around, wondering if the girl would still be there complaining about him or something, but the foyer was empty.

          All he wanted to do now was get home. The whole day had been disastrous; once he was indoors with the door locked maybe he could relax...
          Pouring himself a scotch as soon as he got in, Doyle flopped onto the sofa - then spotted the parcel. Better go and see if the new neighbour was in, before he was accused of trying to steal it - the way the day had been going, that was a horrible possibility.
          He looked at the name on the package as he walked upstairs: 'Miss S Wilkinson'. 'Miss' was promising - but she would probably turn out to be an ancient battleaxe...
          It was worse than that. He recognised her instantly, it took her only a few seconds longer. "Are you following me?!"
          It was the girl from the tube train. Doyle backed away, instinctively. "No, I'm not, honestly. I live downstairs. The postman left this with me earlier."
          "Thank you." She held out her hand dubiously, taking the parcel at arm's length and beginning to close the door.
          "Look, it really wasn't me, on the train, touching you, I mean..." That was a bad way to start. "My name's Ray."
          She held the door half-closed. "You were behind me."
          "So were several other men. Give me a break, eh?" Doyle tried a boyish grin, the sort Bodie used to wheedle his way out of trouble.
          It didn't work. She scowled and closed the door with a parting shot. "I'll break your arm if you try anything again."
          Win some, lose some. It wasn't Friday the 13th, was it? Oh well, back to the scotch and decide what to eat - at least he had some food in for a change, even if the prospect of a night watching TV on his own wasn't that appealing...

          The phone was ringing; it was Cowley. "Doyle, I know you're supposed to be off-duty until tomorrow, but I wondered -"
          "I'll be right there." Doyle grinned happily to himself as he locked the door and headed for the car.
          Days off? You could keep them.

© Carol Good - June 2005