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The street was deserted and quiet.  Nothing stirred; not a dog, cat nor any other human being. The only movement was the fluttering of the leaves and the swishing of the bushes that were stirred by the cool breeze gently blowing along the street.  Up above the street light flickered on and off.  The watcher turned up the collar of his raincoat whilst moving further back into the doorway he was leaning against. Tommy Doyle had been standing in the doorway now for some time.  

Looking at his watch Doyle realised it had been an hour since the man in the house opposite had turned the corner at the top of the street.   He had watched the man walk up the street, his head down, all the while being aware of his surroundings.  When he reached the house near the flickering street lamp the man stopped.  Taking a packet from his pocket he put a cigarette in his mouth.  Then returning the pack to his pocket he cupped his hands around a lighter and lit the cigarette taking a few deep puffs until the tip of the white tube glowed red; all the while surreptitiously looking up and down the street.  Satisfied that no-one had followed him he turned and opening the gate to the garden of the house he walked to the door all the while double checking that the coast was clear.  Three sharp raps followed; within seconds the door opened and the man quickly passed through without saying a word.  

Doyle had settled down to wait, lighting a cigarette of his own as he began thinking about why he was here; waiting.  It seemed to him that wayward husbands and wives were becoming his ‘bread and potatoes’ these days.  Doyle sighed, what he wouldn’t give for a good solid job that had some adventure in it instead of having to stand in cold draughty streets waiting to catch evidence of someone’s infidelity.  He sighed again.

About ten minutes later the door to the house opened and the man came out; he turned once to quietly say good-bye to the lady who remained hidden inside.  Doyle knew what she looked like for he had been back during the day and followed her too.  He moved as far back into the doorway as he could so as not to be seen.  The man on the opposite side of the road looked around and satisfied that the street was deserted he quickly left the house setting off up the street at a steady pace.  As soon as the door closed Doyle left his hiding place, following the man at a safe distance.  Keeping him in sight Doyle walked with his head down giving the impression that he just happened to be there and having nothing to do with the man.  Not that it mattered for the man didn’t look back but kept on walking a small smile flitting across his face.  He was happy.

Fifteen minutes later the man turned up the drive where he lived; Doyle was about two minutes behind him.   Turning the corner Doyle stopped for there was a lot of activity going on further up the street; blue flashing lights and people milling around.  The man had stopped then suddenly he started running, heading towards the commotion.  As he neared his house he slowed when suddenly a man stepped out, stopping him, asking who he was.  Doyle overheard the man breathlessly explain that the house with all the lights blazing was his home.  The man stepped back into the light of the nearest car and Doyle saw he was a policeman.  Oh, Oh, thought Doyle, what’s going on here.  Doyle carried on walking.  The man had been allowed to enter the grounds of the house so Doyle headed straight for the officer whom he had recognised.

“Whoa there, Smithy,” Doyle called out, “how you doing?”

The officer looked up and seeing his old buddy Doyle he sauntered over to join him.  “Not bad Tommy and you?” asked the officer.

“Fine, just fine,” replied Doyle, “So what’s going on here then?”

      Officer Smith looked around before bending his head towards Doyle he said, “Murder! Looks like the lady of the house disturbed a burglar and came off the worse. It’s pretty messy in there,” whereupon the officer shuddered. Despite his years on the force he could still not get used to finding a bloody mess; especially when the victim was a good looking woman like this one had been.

Copyright: Ann Brady 2012