Lizzie is holding the phone. "It's for you. Joyce Redman. Urgent job needed for Basi Garcia. She thinks we shall need the boys."
Hard to know what to say about these two. If it is urgent you can get them through Bernard. Call him at Sarfend "Alan! You alright cock? Waja want? OK. Cost ya fifty last count. Costa livin' increase summat shockin' don' cha know,"
Truly we were getting very good interest on our humble savings so It could be more than fifty.
"About eight of them last count. Kids. Four boys and four girls. Lots of other kids going in and out. Lots of complaints on all sides. Very rude boys. The girls aren't much better."
"What about the law?"
"They've been. Gave them a warning. It's Basi Garcia's apartment in -"
"'Ang about! They don't finger Spanish. That's local stuff."
"Brits on both sides, Bern!"
"OK, who's paying'?"
"I am. Poor Basi is scared stiff, won't go near the place. I get a bung from Basi."
"OK. I'll get Ted to give you a buzz."
We wait about ten minutes. Yes, it is hard to know what to say about the two bears. Only on account of their size has the title stuck to them. More square than tall, either could fill a doorspace with no room to spare. We visualise them as useful adjuncts when deals are being done because they disappear occasionally, we assume to London or wherever the job is. Fred used to do driving jobs when he was a kid but now he's too big. "Wheelies need to be small guys," he once said. "Geezers my size need a truck."
They cleared out that infamous two into one situation at Torviscus and stayed behind to help the owner clear up the mess. And then Ted was seen with a shopping trolley doing something kind for Dolly Trotter who had broken a toe playing tennis. "Dolly, you're supposed to hit it, not kick it!"
Yet they live on the other side of the law. They do not take part in The Lions charity work, they have nothing to do with the British Club or beleaguered donkeys or dogs in need of water. They do a bit of site-clearance work in their spare time -
"Ted here. What's up?"
We arrange to meet. Lizzie is worried, not about me, about Ted. "He's such a nice man!"
"So am I, sweetest!"
"Oh, you! Just be careful!"
I collect Ted and Fred outside Mas e Menos and we walk down to Jardines del Sol. At the door we meet Basi trembling with anxiety: "No tantas voces. Durmiente possible."
"OK, Basi. No problema. Give me your keys... llaves favor." Reluctantly, knowing that persuasion is now at an end, Basi gives me the keys. We reach the first floor. I quietly insert the key and stand back. If they are asleep we've got them by the short and curlies.
A boy yells very rude words before he is grabbed and flung hard against the doorpost.
The noise stops. The silence is awesome.
"Now empty your pockets like a good boy."
Two sets of keys are recovered. A girl starts screaming in boys' language. We hear the sound of a slap. Basi hunched against the corridor wall is weeping quietly.
"Now pack your stuff, kiddies."
We are collecting a few innocent bystanders. "Please leave the corridor clear," I suggest. "Some people are coming out."
"About bloody time!" somebody yells.
Two more brief encounters accompanied by shrieks and the first boy appears with a suitcase bearing slogans. He wants to know what we are staring at.
Florid girls with the sort of make up you might see on clowns follow him out, one has a bleeding nose. One boy supported by the remaining two are the last out. Cases and clothing are thrown out behind them.
Ted and Fred appear. "All done and dusted," says Fred. "I want a drink."
I do not see myself as a violent man. Yet I really enjoyed watching that bit of aggression. Should I be ashamed of it? It took all of ten minutes including the clearing up. The graffiti was another problem. Joyce Redman will take care of Basi's bookings while her apartment is redecorated. Sometimes I feel that it is more exhausting holding my temper than letting it go. Weary with restraint I would love to hit something. I wonder how Julio would have dealt with it?
Only once I crossed Fred. He looked at me with something close to menace and said "Don't point that camera at me, squire, or I'll take it off you and throw it in the bloody sea!"