The day had started well enough for Larry, considering he’d been out most of the night. He’d heaved himself out of bed at 11.00, scratched and farted and waddled off to the bathroom to finish the job. As he shaved, he vaguely remembering enjoying the favours of Sukie at some stage in the night, before he fell into a dead sleep. Good lass that, always up for a bit, made him feel welcome (well, when she was in the right mood)! Earned a bit too but never forgot which side her bread was buttered on. Best thing was, she always left early for her cleaning job, so he never had to listen to any whingeing and moaning first thing.
He dressed, went down the hall into the kitchen and poked around in the fridge – bugger all worth eating but he scarfed the rest of the milk, burped and decided he would (as they say) take breakfast out. Picked up his phone and rang Des.
‘ ‘ere you up, you lazy git? We got work to do.’
‘Wot? Oo’zat? That you, Larry?’
‘Nevver mind oo’zat, get your ass down Starbucks pronto!’
Des was Larry’s gofer, an innocuous looking little twat, but therein lay his big advantage; he was so obviously a few pence short of a Pound that no one ever suspected him of being capable of anything untoward. And this was how Larry was able to get the best use out of Des. He would be sent poking around some of the big houses on the nice side of town. Stupid as he looked, Des actually had a good eye for detail and could spot vulnerable windows and doors and not only memorise where the security cameras were but was good at knowing the limits of their coverage. If he was spotted or challenged, no one ever saw through his plaintive plea for help in looking for Monty, his little lost Yorkshire terrier. For the promising houses, where there was no obvious security coverage at the front door, he would ring the bell to enquire if they had seen Monty. If no one answered, they would go onto a mental list for Larry.
They’d had good pickings after dark last night and Larry had managed to fence the choicest bits around a few of the dodgier pubs. He was now well up on the week but wanted to get a bit extra in hand; he’d promised Sukie they’d have a week in Tenerife and he didn’t think he could put it off much longer. He thought they needed some quality time away together, anyway.
Half an hour later (he got delayed chatting to the postman – always a useful contact) just as he was pushing through the door to enter Starbucks, he almost bumped into his nemesis, DI Georgina Gently. They’d had several run-ins over the years, the most recent ending with his being banged up for eighteen months. She had her phone to her ear with one hand and in the other a takeaway Grande.
‘Curious,’ thought Larry, ‘either she didn’t recognise me or she chose not to! Probably getting too big for her boots.’
Looking around, he saw Des getting stuck into an enormous burger. ‘Curious, indeed. The little bugger, usually waits for me to put me hand in me pocket.’
Larry ordered his usual and plonked himself down next to Des.
‘ ‘ere, you come into some money, then?’
‘Wot? No, me mum bought this for me. She’s just gorn orf down Asda.’
Larry fixed him with a steely gaze.
‘You know that woman that nearly split her drink down me going out of the door just now? You seen ‘er before? The one wearing that Puffa jacket?’
‘Nah, never seen ‘er before’ responded Des, taking another great bite out of the burger, looking up innocently at the large, ruthless looking figure looming over him, as he chewed.
Larry stared back at him but got nothing more than Des’s usual vacant expression as he chewed noisily away at the remainder of the burger.
‘OK, then, listen up.’ Des changed the subject glancing around to see if anyone was within earshot, ‘Those “places” you checked out yesterday, over by the park, let’s go through the details one more time before we make the final selection and “go searching for Monty”.’
They then proceeded to run through the shortlist of possibles that Des had checked out over the previous couple of days. The most promising targets were along a parade of large Victorian terraced houses which backed onto the park, separated by an alleyway and blocks of old stables, now mostly converted to garages. The beauty of the situation was that all the rear entrances were hidden from view of anyone in the park. The possibles were lacking obvious security cameras and Des had received no reply at the same time the previous day.
They ran through the plan again. Des would knock on the rear doors of the targets “looking for Monty”. Larry would be waiting, parked on the main road fronting the properties. As soon as he received a three-ring call from Des, he would drive around to the rear, park up and gain entry to the targets, using the tools he kept in the car. Clear on the plan, they left the Starbucks, jumped in Larry’s old Volvo estate and drove over towards the targets. No one ever raised an eyebrow at an old Volvo in the neighbourhoods where they worked.
‘OK, off you go!’ Larry instructed and got out the newspaper he then pretended to read.
Ten minutes later, his phone buzzed three times and Larry drove around and parked in the alley behind the first target. He nodded to Des who was loitering at the far end of the alley to keep watch and set about forcing the first door. Inside he was delighted to find himself surrounded by very high quality furnishings and was soon dropping choice pieces of ornaments, small paintings and jewellery into his carryall that he knew he could fence easily. It took his practiced, smooth approach only 20 minutes to fill the bag.
Pulling the door closed with the bag over his shoulder, something, behind the house, caught Larry’s eye…
DI Georgina Gently was leaning against a police car parked in front of the Volvo, talking to Des who was looking decidedly sheepish. She quickly stepped over to him.
‘Hello, Larry, your friend Des has been telling me all about his dog Monty; you don’t happen to have seen it inside any of these houses, have you?’ She was grinning from ear to ear.
He looked around to see a second police car pulling up to block off the other end of the alley