Chapter 3


         Dave Simmons hung around at the cafe for about an hour after the squad arrived. He spoke to the screaming lady who was all bleary eyed and mascara stained with lipstick smudged to hell and back. He wrote down what she said but knew it was pointless and just a motion goer. A rag doll had more brains and gumption than she did. All he got was that she was an antique dealer, at the market and was having a coffee. She was too busy screaming to see anything then too busy whimpering. She had asked Doris for a flat white but Doris had said, “Flat what lady? This is a cafe not Harrods. You want a coffee it’s either black or it’s white, we don’t do none of those in between ones. Now what’s it to be?” Doris had no time for upmarket ladies with pretensions. And that seemed more important to the lady, the coffee, and wanted Dave to write it in his book.

He looked for Stanley and asked Doris where he was. He had said, “Where’s Stanley Doris? I thought I told him to stay put. He does understand staying put doesn't he?”

Doris had replied with a shrug, “He’s gone Dave. He had to see someone that could not wait, so he went. He said you’d find him okay if you needed him.”

“He might have asked Doris. See if it was okay or maybe had a word before he went.” Dave said, in a sort of fed up way.

“Guess he thought if he asked and you said no then if he left after you had specifically said no he would have pissed you off. If he went without asking if it was okay then he would not know if it was okay or not, would he? So could take a 50-50 punt and maybe you would not get so pissed.”

“But I had told him to stay. I told him not to get lost. That’s the same thing.”

“Well maybe he thought that was different and you saying not to get lost might have meant anything. Mightn't it?”

“Okay Doris, that's fair do’s, I’ll catch up with him later.”

Doris had watched Dave head out the door where the sun was now shining making the pavement steam. She was back on track and that exchange had made her feel great. She went off to have a word with Charlie.


His car was around the corner on a double yellow with a note on the dashboard saying, “Detective Dave Simmons on duty,” so he just pulled the ticket off the screen and chucked it in the bin. His car an old Mercedes, the one with the stacked headlights, with beat up leather upholstery and a million miles on the clock and had the reputation as the worst heap of rusted junk on the squad. He wanted a squad car and driver but they turned him down and said there was no money for chauffeurs and to use his own and claim mileage. So he kept this pile of junk for work so when he chased the villains and it got all smashed up it was not his pride and joy safely parked in the garage at home that was liquidated. And if it dragged the squad's reputation down maybe they would think again. But that was never going to happen and he knew it. These days the squad's reputation was not all that anyway so they probably didn’t care too much about it. Maybe it was because he was nearing retirement and so it didn’t matter what he thought because they suspected he thought it all a bit crap really - that he had to use his own car.

Back at the Yard at his desk in the long office with intermingled gossip with everyone on the phone, he had the phone in his hand talking when the Gov’nor came in and sat in the seat opposite. Dave looked at him while still talking, swinging his eyes up a bit, saying something into the phone about when all the forensics would be done but getting the reply that it would take as long as it took. So he said as soon as you can Jack and hung up. Saying, “Bloody forensics are on a different planet Gov. As if they’re the only ones who’re busy. You know what he said? He said if I got off my backside and got out there and caught more villains there would be less crime so less forensic work then he could catch up. Then he would have it all done by tomorrow. Fucking jerk. So Gov what’s new?”

“What’s the story with these monkeys then Dave?”

“Two of them Gov, the professional and the dummy. The pro with a sawn-off and real mean, said all the heavy words like he meant it and probably did. The other was there to collect the takings and nothing else. A dogsbody and probably younger. Quite slick and professional and certainly no opportunist operation. The one with the shotgun knows his stuff. The shot at the ceiling did its job alright. Put the frighteners right on. The way he reloaded was real smooth. They got a few thou plus the punter’s bits. This was low risk for them I think. With the mean one swinging that shotgun about there were unlikely to be any heroes. Who cares anyway? No one wants to be a dead hero just for a load of cafe money. It was an easy score. They’ll do it again that's for sure.”

“Any leads?”

“None so far Gov. We’ll be going through all the usual. Chase down the snouts, put the words about and see if anything comes up. There’s the monkey suits and where they might have come from so will be checking all the likely outlets, fancy dress stores and the like. Check the local cameras and if any passers by saw anything. Get the leg work done Gov and see what we’ve got. One thing - they timed it well. There was a lull in business as people were drifting off to work so the place was not too full so was controllable. There were still enough in there to give a good haul from the trawl of the room. It was the antique market day so a bigger turnover and all the early birds had gone and paid mostly in cash. So probably the maximum haul they could get. They would have done their homework so might be local boys and I’m working on that first.”

 After the Gov’nor left he went over to his sergeant Georgie Browne, that is Browne with an e. It was Georgie Browne with an e and he said that every time someone asked his name, he would say, “Georgie Browne’s the name, that’s Browne with an e.” Like it was so important the world would fall in if the e was forgotten. And the e was usually forgotten and that pissed him off for sure. Dave went over to him and said, “Hey Georgie. Get the team out and start shaking down all the usual see if there’s any word on the ground. Then you get round all the shops and places that might have monkey suits and check out recent sales. There was this fella in the cafe, Stanley Holloway. He left before I could get a statement so track him down will you and get an address. I want to see him tomorrow, early as I can, before he has a chance to get lost again.”

 His house was out of the city in quite a nice area. Not a big place but neat and tidy, kept neat and tidy by a woman’s touch. A lady who liked gardening and was house proud. Dave’s wife Annie was special. She was special and he told her so. Some cop’s wives whinged and moaned or played around and then left home. Annie was unusual. She did none of that. She had come into their marriage knowing what he did and the rough hours and all the other stuff that went with the job. She took it all in her stride. They had two kids and when they left home she did not leave as well like a lot of cop’s wives did. She stayed because she wanted to stay. She still got up at whatever time he had to get out, got dressed, brushed her greying bob-cut, tidied up her face with minimal makeup as she had one of those faces that were already quite smart and not too age worn and prepared breakfast. She still said to him about taking care. Don’t take chances she would say. The same words in the same way for forty years. She would ask what he was working on and he would tell her and tell her about his day when he got home. He knew she worried so he told her, saying about the monkeys and told her about the sawn-off because she would ask anyway. He told her about the screaming girl, how she couldn't take it and the little monkey and chatting to him. He also told her about Stanley how he just left and how he would be up early tomorrow to get to his place.

 She was up at six and cooking breakfast while he got ready then he grabbed his trilby from the hall rack, stuck it on his head, pushed it back a bit and left the house by seven for the near hour’s drive to where Stanley lived on the swanky side of town. Georgie had got his address and said there were no records of Stanley Holloway. Not even a speeding ticket. He was clean and paid his taxes.

Early Saturday morning and the traffic was easy so he had no problem getting there before eight. He did not mind being that early, After all it was Stanley who had left, walking out like he did, who had made him get up to make the trip. Dave thought an early nudge would do no harm.

He turned into the tree lined avenue of large houses with the early morning sun floating through the leaves with those smoky kind of rays you get early in the day before the air clears. Long driveways swinging their way up to big garages with Mercedes and BMWs lined up outside. Gardeners making an early start cutting the grass and making a row, making sure everyone was awake. That’s the problem with the help, they start early and make a row. Stanley’s house down the street a bit and set back up one of those long curving drives. One of those mock Tudor types with their black painted boards and white painted panels. Smart and imposing and looking like it was owned by a rich fella who knew how to live a bit. There were flowers out front and the lawn was cut short and was green. Dave drove up the curving drive in his old crate and parked right in front of the door with his car making the place look shabby. It leaked oil a bit and was staining the tarmac. The car door creaked as he opened it. Then walked up the steps.

 The front door of Stanley's house was one of those solid wood, oak doors with a big brass knocker that looked like a parrot or something similar which he picked up and struck the strike plate twice. He heard a door bang inside and a shuffling down the hallway then the door opened with Stanley standing in a loud Hawaiian shirt hanging over training shorts with worn out brown espadrilles on his feet that were too big because they had stretched and made him shuffle to keep them on. “Morning Dave,” he said in a matter of fact way, “Been thinking you might swing by.” Then looked at the car. “Nice pile of rust,” he said, “Is that an old Merc under all that? Can’t really tell but was it shiny blue once? Lost its lustre a bit, don't you think? Seen the motors in this street? Yours fits in real well with all those others. A class motor the Merc. Is that oil dripping?”

“Good to see you’re up. I thought I might’ve had to haul you out your pit. Yeah the Merc, great motor. Glad you like it. I was worried you might think it brought the neighbourhood down and yeah it leaks a bit. If you get the drive cleaned, send in the bill. It might push them to giving me a company motor so I can play with the flashing lights and all.”  

“It’s no problem Dave, I’m up when the help arrives next door. Get time to iron my shirt before visitors arrive. Want some breakfast? Got eggs about to go in the pan.”

“No thanks Stanley. My wife cooks a good breakfast on a Saturday if I’ve to go to work because people won’t stay put when asked.”

“Too bad. Well coffee then? Come in and have some coffee. I know you like it black, noticed that in the cafe when you were chatting with that little monkey when I brought his luggage over.”

Stanley shuffled back up the hallway throwing over his shoulder, “push the door when you’re in.” Then, “take a seat and watch me make eggs.”

Dave took off the trilby and put it on the worktop then sat down on a high bar stool at the breakfast bar with a place already laid out in the large well fitted kitchen that was bright from the sun coming in through a tall lantern light in the ceiling.  Folding doors open at the back onto what looked like a stone terrace and wide garden letting in a breeze that was cool because it was early.

“What’s with the hat then Dave? Bit out of date, isn't it? My granddad had one like that before he threw it out as old fashioned.” Stanley said in a matter of fact way.

“It’s my lucky hat. People take me for an old goat when I’m sporting this hat so I get the edge on them. I’m kind of incognito in that hat.” Dave said with a small grin.

“Like the hair then. Take off the hat and stay incognito. That’s what I call real smart.”

“That’s very good Stanley. I’ll remember that. So, nice place,” said Dave, “Shame about the shirt, looks a bit like the one that guy is wearing when he tries to get in the lift in that film The Specialist, when James Woods says, “.... and get a new shirt.” Such a great line for a loud shirt.”

“Each to their own Dave. I like loud shirts and you like rubbish hair so I guess we’re about even.”

“I asked for that eh? On your own then?"

Stanley went quiet for a bit, then said, "My wife died a while back in a car crash so I suppose I am."

"I'm sorry about that Stanley," Dave said and sensing it best not to say anything more said, "Do you always cook your eggs in a wok?”

“Sure, doesn’t everyone? They don’t stick and swish about easy. So what’s the news then Dave?”

“Hair looks smart. All tidied up from yesterday. It looked a bit scratchy then.”

“That was Doris. She told me to get my hair cut long. I wanted a number one but she said I might look like a criminal if I had a number one and said I might prick up the cops’ interest in me especially if I was going to rob a bank. So I kept it long to stay below your radar. So that was it. I just had it cut long.”

“You leave just to get your haircut then? Or was it because you wanted to have me call round and tell you how nice your house is? Doris said you had important things to do.”

“So I did Dave and I did them. Then I came home and cut the grass.”

“What d’you make of those monkeys then? See anything I should know about?” Dave said getting a bit serious.

“Not Too much. No more than you could see or anyone else for that matter. Did see two monkeys so maybe you should be looking for an unmatched pair of brown monkeys. Did notice they had brown eyes. Those beady type of eyes that crazy monkeys have. And a crazy smile. But that big monkey he had one blue eye. Bet you didn’t notice that? I noticed that when I was staring at them when I was eating my bacon bap. They do a great bacon bap in Charlie’s, you know, but you gotta ask for three rashers, that’s one extra and make sure they grill off all the fat otherwise the bap goes all slimy and the ketchup just sits on the fat that got into the bread and won’t soak in. I always ask Doris to make sure Charlie grills off the fat.”

“That’s good Stanley and I’ll try one, one time and the thing with the fat. Anything else you see?”

“I stared at those two monkeys for a time and apart from the blue eye the big one also had a rip through the eye that had been stitched up. Looked like at one time it had been in a monkey fight and been slashed across the eye taking out the brown eye so the blue one was sewn back in, in its place. Shortage of brown eyes I expect. You could try looking at the vet’s records for sliced up scrapping monkeys. They were both wearing those surgeon gloves. Did you notice that? Close fitting. Bit of an odd thing for a monkey to wear eh?”

“Suppose it is. What about the way they talked? You talked to that little monkey.”

“Nothing special there really. The big one meant all he said and would have blown the brains out of any hero. No doubt about that. That screaming lady - she shut up real quick when he shouted at her didn’t he? Had that way with his voice. Assertive and no messing. The small one was a walkover if you wanted to walk over either of them, he was the one. Spoke with no conviction like he was in the wine bar or something, just chit-chatting with the girls but said enough to do his job and the waving sawn-off gave him the authority. The whole thing was slick. That’s my opinion for what it’s worth. Professional and slick. An easy blag and they’ll do it again for sure. And it was well timed. Near the end of breakfast service so maximum amount of cash and enough punters to get a haul."

“I think you're right about that and thanks for the coffee. Give me your phone number in case I need another coffee sometime and you can give me a tour. Now I’m off to the zoo to see if they’ve lost any stock.”

“Well say hi to the chimps for me.”

“Out of interest, what d’you do other than get your haircut and cut the grass then Stanley?”

“Like I said before, I'm retired. Been retired about four years now. I’ve the gym out back and punch the bag to keep up with the moves. Run a few on the treadmill and push the weights. Stops me getting old. ”

“What you do before all that torture stuff though. To afford all this big expensive house.”

“I was an entrepreneur Dave.”

“And what exactly does that mean then Stanley?”

“It means, Dave, that I made money. That’s all it means. It just means I made money.”

When he was in his car Dave phoned Georgie to tell him to look for a monkey suit with one blue eye and a sewn up rip across the eye.


Stanley had three things to do on Saturday. Buy Katie a special present, buy Doris a special present and go and see Uncle Jimmy. When he was walking to the cafe he had just glanced down the side street and seen a white van parked in the first bay with two monkeys in the front. One was pulling on surgeon's gloves and he saw the other put a stubby on the dashboard, then put on the gloves, then pick up the gun. Stanley did not stop, just carried on walking as though he had not seen anything. He had looked up and smiled at the camera on the wall above the door of an office building which covered both the van and the junction.

He had not told Dave about the spider tattoo or the cheap aftershave and now he wanted to know more about these monkeys and the one with the tattoo on his neck who smelled of aftershave. They might be useful for something he had in mind. And Uncle Jimmy was just the person to point him in the right direction.

Then the phone rang and it was Sidney on his regular call.






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Chapter 1

Chapter 4