'Diawl!' Aneurin could have kicked himself, if he hadn't already been kicking the cat.


The surveillance operation was already going wrong and it was only half an hour after closing time. The streets, gleaming from the light rain falling on Aneurin's uncovered head, were empty, barring old Prothero sleeping it off in the Post Office porch, of course. Harmless enough, old Prothero had been sleeping there for years and the coppers didn't even bother to move him now - not that there ever many coppers about these days. Prothero was supposedly from a well-off family and had been a wonderful pianist in his day. Although he had a home, it seemed that even he couldn't face the mess in it most of the time.


That bloody cat had to appear suddenly, didn't it? Aneurin knew he shouldn't have drunk that third pint of Twm Tomkins but the Cwrw Nadolig was his favourite and soon the springtime beer would replace it. Had to make the most it, didn't he? The cat cared nothing for cwrw, he meowed maliciously and disappeared around the corner, seeking more congenial company at the back of Woolworths.


Aneurin tucked himself into the doorway opposite Y Gegin Fach, his eyes checking the length of Jackson's Lane for any suspicious movement. 'Shouldn't have had that beer... got to concentrate, Aneurin bach.' Time was that cat wouldn't have got near him but age and a weakness for the beer had dulled his senses; he knew he couldn't afford any more mistakes or he'd be sent to the old spies' home in Llanfihangel-ar-Arth, a fate worse than death. He shuddered at the thought.


'Calon lan... yn llawn daioni...' A drunken voice sang the old hymn. The sound was coming from King Street.


Aneurin tensed, wondering whether to risk a look, but the voice, repeating and not getting further than the first line of that glorious refrain, faded into the distance, probably heading towards Nott Square and one of the late-night drinking dens in Little Bridge Street. Besides, the target was likely to come from Red Street, in the other direction.


'Relax, Aneurin bach - you're getting jittery in your old age.'


That was his last thought before a blow from behind knocked him flat. He felt neither the hard cobbles of Jackson's Lane, nor the ropes that bound him. Nor did he know anything about being carried gently to the waiting van and taking the long drive to the seaside.


His attacker had some sympathy as he watched his accomplice drive the small blue van away. 'Duw, duw, Aneurin, you've really lost your grip, boy bach.'


He shrugged, sighed and headed toward Red Street and Guildhall Square, humming under his breath, 'Calon lan... '