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Seeing is Believing

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Title: Seeing Is Believing
Author: lbc

William Bodie walked down the street, outwardly calm, but his interior was a mass of nerves. He was lost. He had not been on this street in years, but he had thought that he remembered exactly where Dr. Baxter’s office was and now . . . well, he was lost and the mere thought that he could not handle even this simple task was so humiliating that he stood there staring into the once familiar space rather than admit that he was defeated.

“Is there a problem?” An unknown voice burst upon Bodie like a sledgehammer even though the voice didn’t really speak loudly, it did have a commanding presence about it. It was a busy street, but Bodie could clearly hear the question while pretending to ignore it for a few seconds before bursting forth with, “I’m just fine; I don’t need any help.”

The unknown voice remained silent for a few seconds then quietly said, “Sorry,” and clearly began to leave Bodie’s side. The voice had an amazing quality to it because Bodie could immediately register the feelings conveyed by that one word. Bodie suddenly felt a blackness of the unknown overwhelming him as he realized that he did need help and at least this stranger had offered his services instead of ignoring him as so many Londoners had done.

Before he could analyze his actions, Bodie spoke out with a commanding voice as he said, “Wait . . . please. I seem to be lost.”

Bodie could hear footsteps approaching him. They seemed to be coming from boots with heels, but he couldn’t be sure; it had been several years since his hearing had been so deliberately tuned to a constant awareness of danger when he could hear the slightest footfall. In his past Bodie had trained all his instincts to the maximum sensitivity because anything less might mean his death or capture. Now, even though he had left those dangerous times behind, the darkness all around him had forced him to refine his senses anew in order to survive in an everyday world. It was true that the darkness was no longer complete due to the chip of bone in his head often shifting, but in the past few years he had developed almost super senses to compensate for his blindness. He had prided himself on developing the ability to memorize, using his cane, corridors and even crowded sidewalks after only one walk down them, but this was confusing. Why wasn’t the doctor’s office where he had remembered it to be?

“Where was it you were going?”

“I thought Dr. Baxter’s surgery was somewhere around here. I thought I took the correct tube to get here,” as Bodie mentioned an address.

Bodie could almost hear a smile in the interesting voice that had been talking to him for the past few minutes. “That happens a lot; this city changes sometimes. What you’re looking for is now in a courtyard space nearby so we could walk it or do you prefer a taxi.”

For a moment Bodie seemed puzzled and then he said, “Well, considering the mess I’ve made of trying to get here maybe I better take a taxi.”

“That’s fine, but I don’t mind taking you to the address; it’s probably only a few minute walk . . . that is if you trust me to lead you on this safari?”

Bodie stiffened for a moment as his thoughts turned to all his years in Africa, but his good sense immediately realized that the mysterious stranger was not referring to an African safari. Forcing himself to stop overreacting, he said quietly, “If it’s convenient for you?”

“Sure, I’ve got the whole afternoon free. You ready to go?”

Amazingly, walking together seemed quite natural. There was none of the awkwardness that Bodie had experienced as he tried to adapt himself to his new status in life. The two men quietly talked about a changing London when, in the shortest amount of time, they arrived in front of Dr. Baxter’s address.

“Well, here we are.”

Bodie had to take the stranger’s word for their location and what the sign said. There was a large, bronze plate on the front door indicating Dr. Baxter’s name and his chosen field: Opthalmology. Bodie seemed to hesitate; his body rigid with apprehension but he took a deep breath and allowed the mysterious stranger to open the door for him.

An older woman rushed forward, obviously bustling with relief, “Oh Mr. Bodie, it’s so good to see you. We were afraid that you got lost. The Doctor realized that he hadn’t told you about our shift in location since the last time that you were here.”
“That’s all right, Miss Johnson, as you see I got here, thanks to the kind help of this gentleman.” Secretly Bodie was pleased that his memory had not failed him. He had spent the last few years concentrating on remembering people by their voices, and his identification of Miss Johnson increased his confidence in his growing arsenal of survival techniques.
Miss Johnson seemed faintly puzzled and relieved at the same time as she looked at the tall, slender, curly-haired man who stood very much in the background of the lobby. Taking a deep breath she tried to regain her calm as she said, “Well, the Doctor’s very busy today so let’s see if he’s ready for you; he’s been ranting and raving about where you were all morning and yet you’re only a few minutes late. You know how he is. Please follow me.”
Bodie turned to look behind him as if to say something to the stranger but it was drowned out by the significant demand, “MR. BODIE! Are you coming?”
Giving a tiny shrug with his shoulders, Bodie merely said, “Thanks,” but the wistfulness in his demeanour spoke volumes as he turned to walk down the corridor, the gentle tap barely discernible.
The curly-haired man stood staring for several seconds but was stopped as he turned to leave by a booming voice, “SIR?”
Stopping immediately as if used to such a routine, the slender body turned to see a white clad man coming towards him with a badge of identification with the name BAXTER prominent, Bodie’s doctor said, “I’m sorry I don’t know your name, but I’m Dr. Michael Baxter, and you are?”
“Ray Doyle.”
“Are you a friend of Mr. Bodie’s?”
“Not really, I met him on the street, and he seemed confused by the address so I brought him along.”
“Oh.” Baxter seemed to be disappointed by the response but he recovered quickly. “I’m sorry; it’s just that I was hoping that Mr. Bodie had brought a friend along. Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this, but he’s not going to like what I have to tell him after I examine him, and I thought it might be nice to have a friend here - - you know, as someone to talk to or something.”
“You mean he’s going to be permanently . . .”
“No, no, I didn’t necessarily mean that. He’s a very stubborn man. I want him to visit a specialist in this kind of problem, and I am sure that he’s going to refuse and well, become indignant and walk out. He’s done it before. I hate to ask this, but would you be able to remain here for a little while?”

Doyle was silent for a moment and then he said, “Of course, I’ll just wait here.”

Baxter seemed quite relieved at Doyle’s response but merely nodded and turned to go back towards his medical rooms, saying something like, “Once more into the breach,” as he departed.

Doyle sat down and waited, frankly wondering how he had got himself into this situation.

Just a few minutes later Bodie’s fast moving body rushed through the doctor’s office with every appearance of having done so many times. The scowl on Bodie’s face showed his fury. It was obvious that Dr. Baxter definitely knew his patient’s limits.

Bodie seemed to have little trouble locating the door and exiting the premises without even attempting to acknowlege Doyle. Doyle stood for a moment stunned by Bodie’s rapid departure but then he pulled himself together and quickly followed the sightless man.

Looking down the street, he quickly picked out the tall man who was using his obviously well-trained body to push his way through the crowd. It was especially easy to spot Bodie because the pedestrians on either side of the man with the cane seemed to automatically give way to the tall man moving so authoritatively. Bodie’s sense of location was working so well that Doyle’s tall, thin legs had a bit of trouble keeping up with the speeding man. Not sure where Bodie was going, Doyle was content to follow and keep the stricken man in sight.

Suddenly, Bodie stopped in the middle of the walkway as if he were puzzled. Dropping his head to his chest, he stood stock still for several minutes, allowing Doyle to catch up with him. Doyle was slightly winded but he noticed that Bodie hardly seemed to be in distress. Breathing heavily, Doyle stopped by Bodie and asked, “Is there something I can do?”
Bodie seemed slightly surprised by Doyle’s arrival but was too deeply involved in his own problems to answer Doyle quickly. Finally, Bodie said, “Why are you still here? You expect me to pay you for being my bodyguard or something? I can take care of myself; I’ve had to for several years.”

Doyle’s face filled with consternation as he spoke so quietly that Bodie could barely hear, “Gee, sorry I bothered you. Just thought you might need help. After all you are stopped here in the middle of a London street like a barricade and people having to go around you.” Doyle immediately turned and walked off at a steady pace.

Bodie continued to stand there, obviously confused about what to do. Suddenly a heavy body that smelled unclean and reeked of beer brushed against him, demanding money to “help” ease his various pains. The past roared up to hit Bodie in the face as waves of memory swept over him. He had been in many dives around the world and had individuals in various states of inebriation run into him, breathe on him, and even vomit on him. None of those incidents had really bothered him (well maybe the vomiting did a little), but the mere darkness of the situation rendered him almost paralyzed. He knew he should be reacting the way that he had been taught, getting rid of the man immediately but he couldn’t because something stopped him - - was it fear or had almost four years of blindness made him less of a man or what?

“You gonna give me some money or what, mister? You look like you’re loaded.”

Suddenly a quiet, calm voice said, “Okay, mister, here’s some money, now stop bothering the gentleman and go buy yourself something.”

“Thanks, mister. Hey, what’s wrong with him? He think I was goin’ to stick a knife in him or something?” As the less-than sober man walked away, he staggered slightly waving the paper in his hand.

Doyle stared at Bodie but said nothing. After several seconds, Bodie said, “I could have handled that; you didn’t have to interfere.” Bodie whose sense of hearing had sharpened over the last four years could hear Doyle expel a deep breath. “I’ve just always been able to take care of myself, and now I seem to have to depend on others so much of the time, and I don’t like that.”
“Well, don’t bother feeling bad about your rudeness. After all, I’m just a stranger and what difference does it make if you’re rude to me? So long.”

“Wait, please. I want to thank you for the help. You’re right; you’ve done nothing to give me an excuse to be rude to you. How about I buy you a cup of coffee to make up for it? Is there a place around here we can go?”

There was silence for several seconds and Bodie knew that Doyle was going to refuse him; then Ray Doyle did something that completely bewildered the already mixed-up Bodie. “You like spag bol?

“Do I like what?”

“Sorry, I didn’t know you didn’t speak Italian.”

Bodie could hear the laughter in Doyle’s voice so, taking a deep breath, he asked, “Maybe it was because you speak such bad Italian if that was supposed to be spaghetti Bolognese?”

If Bodie could have seen Doyle’s face, he would have noticed the embarrassment displayed on the handsome features. “Yeah, yeah, that’s what I meant. Well, do you like it?”

“Haven’t had it in a very long time - - don’t see much of it where I’ve been.”

“Great, well my place isn’t too far away so how about we go there, and I’ll treat you to the greatest spag bol you’ve ever had.”

“Is it meal time?”

“No, but what difference does that make?”
Feeling his specially designed watch, Bodie said, “It’s a bit after 16 00, why don’t we get some coffee first and then we can have your Italian creation.”

“Great, I make better coffee than most of the places around here so why don’t we do both things at once.”

“You certainly are a very modest man, Mr. Doyle. What will I have to do to earn all of this?”

Doyle sounded faintly angry as he said, “Not a damn thing except stop taking out your anger and frustration on me. Now you comin’ or not?”

Bodie hesitated for a moment. What was it about this man that put his back up so fast? Making a decision that he didn’t know whether he would regret or not, he began to follow Doyle but soon realized with so many pedestrians on the sidewalks, he was having trouble following the tall, slender body. About ready to yell at the man to slow down, he almost ran into Doyle when the mysterious man suddenly stopped and turned around to look for his follower.

“Sorry, I forgot that you might be unable to follow me, in this crowd.”

“No problem, takes more than a thundering herd to lose me.”

Doyle looked at Bodie and knew he was lying but said nothing. Determined to stay at Bodie’s side, Doyle slowed down and as inconspicuously as possible set his pace to match Bodie’s. After a few minutes, Doyle said, “We are here.” Following Doyle’s instructions, the two men entered the flat. Bodie found that it was cooler than outside and after so many years in the tropics it felt good to a man who had contracted malaria in the humidity and heat of Africa.

“Sit down and I’ll get us a beer.”

“I would prefer some of your superior coffee, if you don’t mind. I’ve kind of got used to drinking hot beverages when it is warm outside.”

“You think it’s warm outside; me, I’d say it was hot as hell.”

“No, Mr. Doyle, I’ve been in hell and it’s definitely not as hot as that.”

Doyle looked at the man for a moment and realized that he believed him. This man must have had quite a past. “I’ll get the coffee and start the spag . . . spaghetti.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

Doyle didn’t hesitate, “Set the table and make up some salad.”

Bodie didn’t seem to be befuddled at all. “Could you show me the loo, and I’ll get started.”

A twinkle showed up in Doyle’s gorgeous green eyes as he tried to say as subtly as possible, “Hmmm, I usually set the table in the kitchen not the loo, is that a popular tradition where you’re from?”

Bodie stared at where Doyle’s voice came from and said in a very British, upper crust voice, “But, of course, my good man, we aristocrats always eat in the loo.

Doyle smiled and said, “Well, I guess we lower classes eat in the kitchen ‘cause we are kind of messy, but heavens, if you’re so dropsy that you have to eat in the loo, please have at it.”

Suddenly, the spoon that Bodie had been using with his coffee flew somewhat in the general direction of Doyle’s head but it was clear that Bodie knew what he was doing and had not endangered Doyle.

“Hey, you could have wounded me.”

“Doyle, if I had wanted to hit you, I would have. Now where’s that loo?”

Both men ate a hearty meal. At first Bodie seemed a bit hesitant over eating in a strange environment but he quickly adapted and even ate three helpings of the Bolognese. “Hope you weren’t planning to make that your breakfast or anything for tomorrow?”

“Nah, I usually have muesli or something like that.”

“So you’re one of those health nuts, huh?”

“I wouldn’t say that, but I do like to eat healthy if I can, but there were a lot of times when I was on the job and couldn’t eat anything but junk food.”

“Might one ask what your job was?”

“I’m a writer now.”

Bodie realized that Doyle had not answered his exact question, but he allowed that to pass and asked, “You mean you write magazine articles, or something else?”

“Mostly books.”

Bodie didn’t press for further information. The two men sat back and relaxed, talking little, but the silence was comfortable until Doyle asked, “You gonna tell me what made you so angry at Baxter’s?”

Bodie sat up, his entire body totally rigid. “It’s really none of your business, but he thinks I’m crazy, and I could see if I WANTED to even though I got a chunk of bone in my head that probably has a lot more to do with my poor sight. Now he wants me to go to a psychiatrist so he can shrink my brains or something.”

“And are you?”

“Am I what . . . crazy?”

 

Bodie could hear the disgust in Doyle’s voice as he said, “No, are you going to the psychiatrist’s so that you can get some help?”

“I don’t need help.” Bodie’s face reddened slightly as he realized that he was talking to the man who had given him help all day. He waited for Doyle to bring up this fact but the man changed the subject slightly.

“It’s not always easy to face one’s fears.”

“Is that what you think this is?”

Doyle noticed that Bodie seemed to indicate the long scar near his left eyebrow and figured he might as well jump into the fire now that the fat was burning.

“Is that a war wound?”

“How old do you think I am?”

“I didn’t mean the big one, but people can get wounds just as easily in small wars.”

“Yeah, there are a lot of dirty, little wars that people like me get involved in and don’t always walk away from . . . whole.”

“There are all kinds of wars, and they don’t have to be in faraway places.”

“What would you know about wars and killing? Don’t all your characters kill only the bad guys and only with a clean shot?”

“You know, I’m getting really tired of hearing you feel so sorry for yourself. At least, you did walk away from your war; I know a lot of guys who didn’t.”

Bodie stood up, “And I’m getting real tired of you being so holier than thou about what I’ve done when all you’ve done is made war on your typewriter. I’ve got to go. Thanks for the meal and helping me make less of a fool of myself.” He immediately and unerringly headed towards the door, found the knob and was out of the flat before Doyle could really respond.

Well, Doyle, you really messed that up.

Doyle went out to the kitchen and finished cleaning up. He spent the rest of the evening trying to work, but actually thought more about the man who had rushed out into another kind of darkness. The evening went slowly but Doyle finally went to bed and slept badly. When he did get to sleep, he constantly saw images of white canes dragging helpless individuals along and bells ringing as the sightless tried to stop the canes.

Suddenly Doyle woke up as he realized it was his phone ringing. Answering it in a very garbled voice, Doyle gave his number which resulted in Dr. Baxter identifying himself. “I’m sorry, Mr. Doyle, but I’ve been trying to locate Mr. Bodie. He failed to go to the appointment I set up for him with Dr. Percival, and I was just wondering if he might have stayed . . . with you last night?”
It took a moment for Doyle’s brain to clear, but finally he mumbled, “Nah, I’m not Mr. Bodie’s favourite person right now. He stormed out of here about 8 30 last night and I haven’t seen him since. You mean he’s not at his hotel?”

“Well, he wasn’t answering his phone. Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this, but Mr. Bodie’s hanging on by a very slender thread. I had genuinely hoped when he returned to this country after so many years that he had decided to get some help, but I guess I was wrong. I’m sorry I disturbed you.”

“No problem, I have to meet with my publisher later today so maybe I can go by the hotel and see what’s going on.”

“I would appreciate that. Mr. Bodie is a stubborn man, but I think he’s met his match with you. Good-bye.”

Showering quickly, Doyle put a call into his publisher and postponed the meeting to later in the day. Something told Doyle that he needed to find Bodie as soon as possible. Making a quick trip to Bodie’s hotel, Doyle used his considerable charm to find out Bodie’s room number and rushed to the lift. Getting off on the second floor, it was obvious which room was Bodie’s because there were a few bags and some other materials sitting out in the hall and door was open.

Carefully, Doyle approached the open door and knocked softly on it. Seeing the handsome man moving a few boxes into a carryall, “Doyle asked in a clear voice, “What’s all this then?”

Bodie stopped in the middle of trying to shove the last of his boxes into a container and stared at where he thought Doyle was. “What are you doing here? Can’t get rid of you, can I?”

The ever blunt Doyle immediately confronted the issue, “Why didn’t you go see Dr. Percival?”

“THAT’S MY BUSINESS.”

“Are you running away again?”

“What right do you have to say that? You don’t know me; you know nothing about me, so I’ll thank you to take your self-righteous, scrawny body out of here so I can finish packing.”

“Where you moving to?”

“Timbuktu . . . Kuala Lumpur . . . Lhasa Apsa, who knows? Now just get out of here.”

“How about a nice flat here in London so you can be close to Dr. Percival?”

“Do you never give up? I AM NOT GOING TO GO GET MY HEAD SHRUNK. Nearly had that happen one time in the East and I did not like it.”

“I’ll make you a deal. You go once to the psychiatrist, and I promise I’ll leave you alone after that. You won’t see Doyle anymore, how’s that?”

Bodie’s face lit up with a smirk, “You forget Mr. Doyle; I don’t see you now.”

“My mistake. You won’t have to hear my voice ever again. Now isn’t that quite a deal?”

“Sounds okay, I promise I’ll go see Dr. Percival so you can now go on your way. Adios, muchacho.”

“Oh no, it doesn’t work that way. I’m going with you so that I can see that you keep your part of the bargain.”

“Now, why on earth would you do that?”
There was silence for a moment or two and then Doyle said in a strange voice. “We all have scars, Mr. Bodie. Your scar is apparent and obviously left you disabled, but maybe you don’t have to be that way forever. Some of us have scars that aren’t so readily apparent, and maybe that’s why I want to go with you.”

“Mr. Doyle, I told you that I’ve been to hell and back and I’ve seen things that you couldn’t or wouldn’t believe. My scars are deep and extensive, and I can’t believe you could ever possibly understand the baggage I’m carrying, so I’m going to call your bluff. What scars do you have that could even begin to match perpetual darkness?”

Doyle stared at the tall man, incredibly close to walking away from this man who disturbed him to the core of his being; then Doyle took several steps forward towards Bodie as he carefully unbuttoned his shirt. When he was in Bodie’s personal space, he stopped and seemed to hesitate again.

“What are you doing?” The Doyle aroma was sending an exhilarating feeling through Bodie’s entire body as he struggled not to step back from the alluring man who stood before him.

“Give me your hand.”

“What?”

“Give me your hand.”

Bodie made a slight move with his hand and Doyle grabbed it before the man could change his mind. Placing the calloused hand on his chest, Doyle carefully ran the sensitive fingers up and down the middle of his chest where there was a corridor of scar tissue which almost split the chest in two. On both sides of the enormous scar was chest hair that was almost as alluring as the scar which seemed fairly recent.

Bodie’s fingers knew instantly what he was feeling. He had seen and felt many scars but this was the longest ones he had ever felt. He knew instinctively what it was, “Open heart surgery was it?”
“Death is what it was. Had me on the table to open me chest to remove two bullets in my heart and then I died. Hasn’t been the same since they re-started me, I guess. Had to quit my job so I became a writer. Now about you startin’ again with your scar?”

Although Bodie would never admit it, he was badly shaken by Doyle’s story. The man had been dead and yet here he was. “Sometimes I wish that my scar had killed me; would be a lot easier.”

Doyle took a step back in disgust, “You really are something. I’ll bet there are men who’ve lost arms, legs, and other body parts who would love to trade places with you, especially since you might have the chance to regain some more of your sight. Haven’t you got the guts to go even once to see what you can find out?”

“There are all different types of guts. I’ve been told to have hope so many times; I’m afraid to hope. If I thought I would see just by going to this doctor that would be one thing, but Dr. Baxter says I also have to have an operation to remove a piece of skull to relieve the pressure on my eye so there’s a lot more to it than just one visit. I’ve learned to live with a bit of light sometimes, so put that wherever you want.”

“Granted, but you’ve got to take the first step, and I’ll be right there, if you want me to be.”

“Why would you do that?”

“I remember how I felt lying in hospital for weeks and being told I had died. Just take a chance and remember; you won’t ever have to hear my voice again, if you go this time, I promise.”

“All right, all right, I’ll call Dr. Percival and set up an appointment.”

“Don’t have to; I made one for you for tomorrow at 10 00. I’ll even pick you up so you won’t have any trouble finding it.”

Bodie grimaced, “Gee, you’re so thoughtful. All right, but there’s no need for you to pick me up; I can get there on my own.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, but if I’m going to exile myself from your presence, I do want to be sure you get there.” Doyle turned around to leave but noticed Bodie’s luggage and other things, “Are you going to move back in here?”

“I don’t think I can; there’s some sort of convention going on in this area and they need my room. I’ll see if I can get another room.”

“Forget that. If they need your room, why would they have any other rooms available? Come back with me to my flat tonight and stay, and then maybe we can find a flat for you to live in once we’ve seen the doctor.”

“If I move in with you, how will that keep me from not hearing your voice ever again?”

“You’re right; okay, I’ll promise to keep me mouth shut all day tomorrow after the appointment while we look for a flat for you.”

“We?”

“Sure, you can’t trust these real estate people sometimes; they tell you one thing and then you find it’s another. Now, I’ve got to go see my publisher so I’ll take some of your stuff, and you take the rest and we’ll go to my flat and then I’ll leave you blissfully alone while I go pay a visit to the man who pays me.”

“You’re crazy, but I’ll give it a try for one night and one visit to the psychiatrist. It will be worth it.”

“You mean because you’ll be rid of me?”
“No, because when the psychiatrist sees you, he’ll know I’m sane and you’re the one whose address should be BEDLAM.”

“Very funny . . . very funny”. Seeing some people hanging around the open door, Doyle turned to Bodie and said, “Now have you paid your bill ‘cause I think they’re about ready to throw us both out of here.”

BDBDBDBDB

Hours later Doyle returned to his flat with some takeaway. Hearing Bodie moving around in the second bedroom, Doyle yelled out, “I brought Chinese; if you don’t like it then you can fix your own or call for something else.”

Bodie came out of his bedroom, seemingly at ease with the new floor plan that he had only had a few hours to get familiar with. “When you’ve eaten grubs, and other delicacies, Chinese is tame. I’ll get us some coffee or do you want a beer?”

“No, coffee’s fine.”

“I called up a real estate guy and he’s given me a list of a few locations that I might find convenient for my ‘special’ abilities. That’s the way he put it anyway so you don’t have to go with me tomorrow.”

“I’m going with you to the doctor’s so I might as well look at flats too.”

“You’re crazy but let’s eat.”

It was quite apparent that Bodie was an expert with chopsticks, almost inhaling the food. After the two men had devoured everything that Doyle had purchased, they sat back and relaxed. Bodie was about ready to go back into his room when Doyle said, “Hey, aren’t you going to stick around for the pudding?”
“I’m kind of tired; what have you got?”

“I call it a CHOLESTEROL MONSTER, but its other name is a Swiss Roll.”

Bodie stared at Doyle for a moment, “How did you know that’s my favourite pudding?”

“I didn’t really, but you look like a Swiss Roll man so I took a chance.”

“Go on, you’re lyin’ to me.”

“I DO NOT LIE. Do you want some of this stuff or not?”

“Definitely, cut me a large slice; it will help restore my emaciated body.”

Hearing Doyle chuckle, Bodie asked with great indignity, “What’s so funny?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say you were exactly emaciated.”

“I could show you pictures from a few years ago and you’d have to eat that statement. Okay, give me a slice that’s only three inches wide or so; I’ll sacrifice to keep this spectacular body fit and trim.”

Doyle cut him a slice and handed it to him, making sure that Bodie knew exactly where it was. Doyle continued to stare at the man as he devoured the chocolate roll.

After a few minutes with his mouth still full of the delicacy, Bodie asked, “What’s the matter with you; what are you staring at?”

“How did you know I was staring at you?”

“I could hear your neck creak as you moved it in my direction, and those meatless bones on that scrawny body tend to scrape together every time you shift around.”

Doyle snorted but let that exaggeration go. “What makes you think that I got a scrawny body?”

“I can feel you and sense you, and you feel scrawny. ‘Course it also helped when I felt your chest. I could practically feel your ribs through your skin. You always that way or did havin’ two bullets in your heart do that to you?”

“When I was younger I was known as The Seven Stone Weakling. I guess I’ve always had a small frame, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stand up for myself.”

“You mentioned that you became a writer after your injury. What were you doin’ to get two bullets in you?”

“Bein’ stupid. Someone came after me, and I let my guard down and next thing I knew I was in a pool of my own blood with milk splashed all over me.”

“Why’d they come after you?”

“You sure are nosy. You got to get up early for that appointment, so we better call it a night.”

“Okay, but be sure you carefully store that Swiss Roll, ‘cause I might get hungry in the night.”

Doyle headed towards the kitchen to take care of the Swiss Roll, and Bodie headed towards his bedroom, but just before he entered the room, he turned and yelled at Doyle, who was just going to his bedroom. “Hey, Doyle, you didn’t answer my question, ‘What were you doin’ to get two bullets in you?’”

Doyle was silent for a moment then he said in a quiet but clear voice, “I was a copper of sorts. Good night.”

The two men were ready the next morning well before it was necessary, but neither one of them seemed to want to mention Doyle’s revelation of the night before so they ate a breakfast of tea and toast and then left to make the trip to Dr. Percival’s office.

Doyle sat in the waiting room while Bodie was escorted into the doctor’s office. Within a few minutes, however, Dr. Percival came to the door, asking for Doyle to come in and join them. Bodie was sitting almost rigid on one of the chairs, with an appearance of extreme anxiety.

Holding out his hand, Dr. Percival introduced himself. “Hello, I’m George Percival and you are obviously Ray Doyle.”

Doyle wondered what the doctor meant by the word, “obviously” but said nothing as he looked at Bodie, sitting across the room. Doyle nodded his head then asked, “Is there something I can do?”

“Well, actually there is. I don’t exactly understand it, but Mr. Bodie has asked me to . . . “

Suddenly Bodie’s voice interrupted Percival’s as he demanded, “Open up your shirt.”

“What?”

“You heard me; open up your shirt.”

Doyle did not understand what was going on, but he opened his emerald green shirt to the waist and held it open slightly.

Bodie spoke to Percival, “What do you see?”

“What do you mean, Mr. Bodie?”

“JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE!”

“All right, I see a lot of chest hair and a very noticeable scar running down his chest. Is that what you wanted me to see?”

“Yeah, that’s what I wanted.”

Suddenly, illumination struck Doyle in the gut and in his emotions, and it was difficult to tell where it hurt more. Struggling to get the words out, Doyle said, “You . . . you . . . didn’t trust me even though you felt the scar with your hand. You had to have a ‘seeing’ person tell you the truth.”

Only Dr. Percival could see the anger and humiliation on Doyle’s face. Percival wanted to say something but starting to button his shirt, Doyle spoke first in a voice so cold that the temperature in the room seemed to drop by several degrees.

“Well, now that I’ve passed the test, I’ll let you two get on with your appointment ‘cause I’ve got a lot of work to do.” Doyle was obviously upset so he turned around and exited the room without stopping to say anything further.

Percival turned around and looked at Bodie, “You’re a very hard man, Mr. Bodie. I won’t ask you why you did that. You’re the one who’s going to have to live with it.”

“I already live with a lot worse, but it’s better to hurt him now than later.”

Dr. Percival had met many different personalities in his long years dealing with various human problems, but what he had just seen sent a shiver down his back. “Well, shall we get started?”

Hours later, Dr. Percival sat at his desk, writing up his notes about the Bodie meeting. He was sure that Bodie knew exactly what was causing him so much pain that blindness was easier to deal with than sight, but what truly bothered him was Bodie’s relationship with Doyle. The two men claimed to barely know each other and yet Percival could swear that Doyle had already accomplished more to get under Bodie’s skin than any other person ever had, and that’s why Bodie was fighting tooth and nail to ward off the Doyle influence. Percival was certain that was why Bodie had been so cruel to the man who had helped him so much. What were the two going to do now? Bodie had told him that Doyle was putting him up at his flat, how would the two men get along in such a confined space?

BDBDBDBDBDBDBDBDBDBD

Doyle had tried to type some more on his manuscript but nothing would come. He kept thinking of what Bodie had done and his legendary temper grew exponentially. In a moment of stupidity, Doyle had even given Bodie a key to the door of his flat. Maybe he could put on the latch and that would keep the bastard out of the premisis or maybe he could just dump all of Bodie’s stuff out in the corridor and let him feel a little of the humiliation that Doyle was feeling.

Looking at his watch for the thousandth time, Doyle heard a key in the door and without thinking, rushed to the door and opened it. With the door wide open, Doyle stood standing in the doorway, giving the impression that he was not at all happy to see the tall, handsome man. Unfortunately, Bodie totally missed the impression. He merely asked, “Can I come in and get my stuff?”

“Find a flat, did you?”

Exhaustion was obvious in the man’s face as he whispered, “No . . . no, not yet, but I’ll find a hotel and go there.”

“Did you forget there’s a major convention in town?”

“Okay, then I’ll sleep on a bench; done it before.”

“Have you eaten?”

Bodie hesitated because he couldn’t honestly remember when was the last time he had done so, only the Swiss roll had made an impression on him.

“I ate here this morning, didn’t I? Does that count?”

“Get your arse in here; I’m experimentin’ with a new Italian recipe and you can be my guinea pig.”

“Considering the bugs and other critters I’ve tasted; yours couldn’t be any worse.”

Doyle backed away from the door as he said in as sarcastic a voice as he could muster, “Gee thanks.”

Bodie entered hesitantly, feeling around for something with his foot. Doyle stared at him for several seconds and then asked, “What you feelin’ for?”

“I thought maybe my stuff would be all piled up here in the entrance way so you could give me arse the boot.”

“I’ve hauled that stuff once; you’ll have to do it the next time. Now why don’t you go freshen up, and I’ll put supper on the table.”

Although Bodie wasn’t exactly sure what the “Italian” was; he had enjoyed it, but he hadn’t enjoyed Doyle’s silence. As they finished washing up, Bodie turned to Doyle and said, “Okay, why don’t you slug me now and get it over with.”

“That would be too easy. You’re going to stay here tonight and then you can go look for a flat tomorrow - - without me. You kept your word and went to the appointment, now I’m keeping mine - - I’m out of your life as of tomorrow morning. When you find a flat, I’ll have your stuff sent to you if you let me know the address.”

Silence pervaded the kitchen as even in blindness, Bodie could feel the pain and anger that Doyle felt. He had meant to hurt Doyle; it was the only way he could stop the man from breaching his defenses, but he hadn’t counted on the despair that he would feel. The fact that he would have nothing more to do with Doyle after tonight made Bodie feel as if he had been very stupid and had made a very bad mistake.

“Okay.”

Bodie walked towards his room where he planned to do his packing so that he would be ready tomorrow when he found a flat. As he walked down the hallway, however, his foot hit something and kicked it down the corridor. Walking further on, Bodie tried to find whatever it was that he had kicked, but suddenly he heard Doyle’s voice say, “Never mind, I’ll get it. It’s just a book that I was reading and left in the wrong place.”

Doyle leaned over and picked up the book, saying nothing further, but Bodie couldn’t let it end this way so he asked shyly, “What book is it?”

“Oh, it’s just a book by Ray Duncan called Trailing the Unknown.”

“Trailing the Unknown? But that’s his new book, it won’t even be available for purchase for several months, how’d you get it?”

Doyle stood in silence for several seconds, thinking rapidly, then he answered, “I have the same publisher as he does so once in a while they send me a copy of a book to critique, that’s all.”

“I’ve read all of his books.”

“You’ve read all of them? How did that happen?”

“You ever hear of braille?”

“Oh! Of course, how stupid of me.”

“Of course, I usually have to wait a while to get the book in braille so sometimes I listen to the audiobook instead.”

“Do you like his writing?”

“He’s very good in the areas where he sticks to police procedural types of things, but he’s definitely weak on dealing with anything that goes on outside this country. He needs to do more research or get someone to help him. I almost laughed my head off in one story, The Plotter’s Revenge. That one really needed work on the hero’s efforts to track the guys down outside of England. Somebody ought to tell him.”

“Yes . . . somebody ought to tell him, but now it’s time to get to bed if you’re going to go flat hunting tomorrow. Do you have an address?”

“Nah, Slattery is going to pick me up and take me to the places.”

“Slattery - - that’s your real estate guy’s name?”
“Yeah, I’ve never met him so I really don’t know what to expect.”

“There’s plenty of food in the frig so be sure to eat before you leave, ‘cause it might be a long day. You might not be too lucky on your first visit.”

“Thanks, mum. Can I take that homeless Swiss roll out there?”

“Your arteries must already be clogged with the stuff but go ahead.”

“Great, now how about you read some of that new book to me before you tuck me in?”

“Ha!Ha! That would be a violation of my agreement with my publisher who lets me read but not share some of those books.”

Doyle went to his bedroom and went to sleep almost immediately, but somewhere in the night, he was awakened by screams of terror. Rushing into Bodie’s room, Doyle found the man sitting up in bed, screaming and waving his arms as if to ward off something that threatened him. His sightless eyes seemed to be looking everywhere as if all the terrors of this world were haunting him. Doyle tried to get close to the man but his waving arms made it difficult to do so. Finally, Doyle threw himself at Bodie and wrapped his body around the terrified man who finally seemed to break free of the nightmare that had invaded his sleep.

“It’s all right; it’s just me, Doyle. You’re safe.”

Bodie suddenly went rigid and tried to shake off Doyle’s clinging body. “I’m okay now. Just had a bad dream. You can go back to bed.”

“Your heart is beating about a thousand thumps an hour. You need to relax. I’ll get us some hot cocoa, and you can tell me about it.”
“That’s the trouble, I can never really remember it, but I just know it’s something from my past.”

“Probably that Swiss roll fighting it out with those three helpings of that cacciatore that you ate.”

“Nonsense, but that cocoa does sound good. I’ll get out of these sweaty things while you go do that. Maybe you could read me a bedtime story, mum.”

A few minutes later Doyle came in with two mugs of cocoa and the new book. “All right, drink up and then I’ll read a few pages from this Ray Duncan book.”

“I thought that would be violating an agreement or something?”

“I think the agreement can stand a bit of erosion. Now lay back and let me read for a while. Bodie listened quietly as Doyle read, but after a few chapters, Doyle looked up and noticed that Bodie was sleeping in a comfortable position on the bed so he quietly left the room.

The next morning, Doyle entered the kitchen and found Bodie munching on the remains of the Swiss roll. “That’s not a very healthful breakfast.”

“Does we growing boys a lot of good. ‘Sides that muesli might start a fire due to its dryness and cause spontaneous combustion. That’s how them wildfires get started.”

Doyle snorted for what seemed like the thousandth time since he had met Bodie, “My muesli is NOT dry. It’s good for you, but I’m glad you’ve sent the Swiss roll to its just reward because I was afraid that it might hang around here, attracting all kinds of creatures.” Looking at Bodie devouring the helpless cake, Doyle added, “Of course, it already has attracted one creature and look what he DID to it.”

“Okay, okay, I better get ready ‘cause Slattery will be here soon.” As Bodie headed out of the room, he turned and said in a quiet voice, “Thanks for reading to me; it helped a lot.”
“Bodie, I got something to tell you. I have some old buddies on the force still so I checked with them about Slattery and, well . . . his reputation isn’t the best. How’d you find out about him?”

“Let’s just say a former colleague of mine recommended him.”

“Did this colleague really hate you or something?”

“You mean Slattery’s that bad?”

“No, I don’t mean that, but I’m not sure what he describes is what you get.”

“Well, how about you coming with me?”

“I thought you wanted to get away from me?”

“Well, I kinda do, but you deserve some reward for the help you’ve given me so I thought this might be a good way to repay you?”

“Whaat? Going along with you while you’re trying to find a flat? How’s that helping me?”

“’Cause I’ll let you read that Ray Duncan book to me and you’ll see what a real writer can do.”

“What a reward! All right, I’ll go with you to two flats and that’s it. I’ve got to work on my manuscript.”

“Maybe we’ll like the first flat and won’t have to go any further?”

“I wouldn’t count on that, but if that happens, I’ll read five chapters to you, in return for releasing me from my generosity.”

“Great, now go get ready.”

Eight hours later the two exhausted men returned to Doyle’s flat. They were starving, frustrated, and totally worn out from listening to Slattery try to sell Bodie on seven different flats. None of them pleased Doyle, and therefore, none of them pleased Bodie.

Bodie’s face was white and his whole demeanour was of exhaustion as he slowly managed his way into the flat and towards his temporary bedroom.

Doyle looked at the crestfallen man and said with a great deal of concern, “You sure you’re all right?”

“I told you I was. Just tired that’s all.”

“Okay, what are you interested in for supper?”

“Nothing, I’m just going to have a bath and go to bed.”

Now Doyle knew that something was wrong. In the few days that Bodie had been staying with him, Doyle had watched the man eat a great deal, including a whole Swiss roll so what was wrong with the man? Saying nothing, Doyle let Bodie go freshen up while he prepared some small snacks in case Bodie changed his mind.

Thirty minutes later, Doyle went to check up on his temporary visitor but found the bedroom in darkness, with the difficult to see image of Bodie’s body lying prone on the bed. Just about ready to leave so Bodie could rest, Bodie spoke up and asked, “You going to read to me?”

“You going to feel like it?”

“Wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t.”

“Okay, but how about some food first?”

“What have you got?”

“Well . . . .”

“How about some tea and toast, that will hold me until you can make me a full English brekky in the morning.”

“Not expecting much, are you? By the way, I contacted one of my friends who’s a realtor and he said he’s got several flats you might want to look at, as early as tomorrow, if you like. I’ll go get that toast.”

For a moment there was silence and then Bodie said in a very strange voice, “I’ve changed my mind. Don’t think I can eat the toast. I’m too tired to listen to the book tonight, and I got to get up early to go to Dr. Percival’s. Thanks for the offer. Goodnight.”

Doyle was stunned, what had he said or done that had upset the man? One minute he’s planning to have tea, toast, a full English breakfast, and a story, and then NOTHING. What was going on?

“Goodnight,” said Doyle quietly closing the door as he left.

Doyle went to his own room, not being able to face any food himself, but he was not ready to go to bed. He was tired, but he really needed to work on his manuscript so he forced himself to work on it for a few minutes, but then realized that his typing might be disturbing Bodie. It seemed strange after so many years of living alone to suddenly be worried about someone else and their preferences. Now what was he going to do?

The next thing Doyle knew dawn was peeking through the curtains that he had not quite closed. He heard a noise out in the lounge and after years of being cautious after being shot, he instinctively sat up and rushed out to do battle. When he got to the lounge, he stopped as he spotted Bodie stacking up his packed luggage near the front door. “What are you doing?”

“You’re so anxious to get me out of here that I thought I’d be ready after I look at your friend’s place. Got lots to do; I don’t have time to go looking, visit Dr. Percival and then come back and pack.”

“You’re in a big rush, aren’t you? It isn’t even 6 00 am.”

“Let’s just say that I’ve got a natural instinct for when I’m not wanted, so I’m just aimin’ to please my landlord.”

“So that’s it.”

“That’s what?”

“It’s what I said last night that upset you.”

Bodie turned to face Doyle even though he couldn’t see him, “Let’s get one thing straight, Doyle. I was not upset then nor am I upset now; I’m planning ahead so I can be ready when I find a flat that I can move into. Nothing you do upsets me; this was just a temporary arrangement, and I’m glad that your friend has some flats for me to look at. Now, shall we drop the whole subject ‘cause I have a lot to do today?”

“Of course, I had almost forgot that you are the man who needs nobody and certainly doesn’t need my help. Dave said he would be here about 9 00 if that’s all right with you? I didn’t know when you were seeing Dr. Percival.”

As Bodie withdrew into his soon-to-be-vacated bedroom, he whispered, “That will be fine.”

At 9 00 am promptly, Dave Emerson showed up and was introduced to Bodie. The two men left soon after as Doyle’s nonchalance disappeared and the thought of work faded into the mist of his thoughts.

Several hours later, Bodie came dragging into the flat. His face was white and he looked strained. Doyle met him at the door, but wasn’t sure what he could say to him to relieve the haunted look in the sightless eyes. Finally, he fell back on an age-old cliché, “See anything you liked?”

“Your friend, Dave, is a good salesman. I’m ready to sign the papers which I’ll do after I have my appointment with Dr. Percival tomorrow. Thanks for the introduction.” With those words, Bodie slunk into his darkened bedroom and collapsed on his bed in a prone position.

Doyle didn’t know what to say now that Bodie was leaving him. They really hadn’t had a chance to build a relationship or even be friends. In fact, Doyle wasn’t even sure that Bodie liked him or that he even liked Bodie, but the rapidity of all these events shook Doyle to the core. Ever since he had been shot, his life had changed so much that he felt like he was being swept up in a cyclone.

Hours later, Doyle went to the doorway of the darkened bedroom to check on Bodie but decided to walk away for fear of waking the man on the bed. Suddenly, a voice came from out of the darkness, “You’re Ray Duncan, aren’t you?”

Doyle stopped, paralyzed in the doorway; then he whirled around and said, “No, I’m Ray Doyle, but I do write under that name. How did you find out?”

“I went into a bookstore and found one of your books. It had your picture on it, and I asked the clerk to describe the author. He said that Ray Duncan had curls, a scrawny body, and a beautiful face, so I knew it had to be you.”

“Why’d you bother to do that?”

“Just wanted to find out what you were hiding?”

“YOU WANTED TO FIND OUT WHAT I WAS HIDING? My old gran would have said that was the pot calling the kettle black.”

“You already know that I have my troubles trusting people so why are you surprised that I would make an effort to verify who you are?”

“All right, maybe I should have told you, but remember I’m not the only one holding things back.”

Doyle badly wanted to discuss his books with Bodie, who had made a lot of sense about some of his criticisms, but he lost his chance to ask when Bodie plunged on ahead with another example of the royal chutzpah.

“Now can I ask a favour of you?”

“Brother, you got chutzpah and a half. What do you want - - another Swiss roll?”

“Sounds good, but what I really want is - - well, I want to see you.”

“I . . . I don’t understand.”

“Can I put my hands on your face so I can see you?”

“I don’t know why you would want to do that but go ahead.”

Bodie moved closer to him and then gently, almost lovingly placed his sensitive fingers on Doyle’s forehead and worked his way around Doyle’s face, lingering on the two cheeks and the Cupid’s bow lips. When he dropped his hands to his sides, he whispered, “The clerk was right; you are beautiful.”

“Get away, you are blind, if you think this mashed up face is beautiful; it isn’t even really all mine. Did you get a load of the lump in my cheek?”

Doyle took Bodie’s hand and gently ran it across the protrusion in his cheek. He said nothing until Bodie asked, “How’d that happen?

“My old man slammed me up against a wall after hammering me with his closed fist.”

“Why on earth would a father do that?”

“When you’re drunk, anything makes sense. I was in hospital for over a month with both eyes covered as they tried to save the sight in me eye. Had several operations to put that side of my face back together again, so what you feel isn’t exactly me.”

“We all got a past, don’t we, but you seemed to come out pretty good from it. You’re a famous author, and you’re beautiful. Can’t ask for much more.”

Silence reigned in the space around the two men for several seconds; then Doyle stood back and said in a strange voice, “If you only knew. Blindness isn’t always the worst thing that can happen to a person. I know I was only blind until they took off the bandages, but there are some things I’d rather not have seen.”
“You got your sight back, so it’s easy to forget what constant blackness can mean for a lifetime. “

“I’m too tired to argue with you, Bodie. You want something to eat?”

“Nah, I’m going to take a shower and then go to bed early; got lots to do tomorrow. I’ve arranged for a vehicle to pick up my stuff and deliver it to my new place so I won’t need the Doyle Moving Service again.”

Doyle stiffened as he realized that Bodie had already begun to cut him out of his life. Well if that was the way that he wanted it; Doyle would cooperate. Once again Doyle cursed himself for lowering his barriers to let this man in.

Doyle said nothing so Bodie turned and headed towards the shower. Doyle left the room, promising himself that he would work on his manuscript after eating a small supper, but once again the words didn’t come as he tried to type. Staring into space, Doyle rushed to answer the ringing phone, in case Bodie was already in bed.

The caller was Dave Mitchell. “Ray, Bodie told me that I could call him at your place if I needed to talk to him. Hope it’s all right.”

“S’aw right, Dave, Bodie went to bed early, is there something wrong?”

“Well, I just wondered if I misunderstood. Bodie didn’t seem to be too thrilled with any of the flats I showed him so he said he would get back to me tonight about his decision, and I . . . I haven’t heard from him.”

“Wait a minute, Bodie hasn’t accepted one of the flats?”

“That’s right. He refused to sign a contract today because he said he needed time to think.”
“Well, I’ll talk to him and get him to call you. Thanks for ringing up.”

Doyle hung up and stared at the phone, why had Bodie lied to him? Before Doyle could do anymore, the phone rang again. It was Dr. Baxter’s office calling to confirm Bodie’s arrival at the hospital first thing in the morning for the surgical procedure that had been planned. Doyle thanked the caller and hung up, now totally befuddled by the message. Doyle was sure that Bodie said he had an appointment with Dr. Percival tomorrow so how could he be having surgery as well?

Quickly dialing Percival’s number, he was informed that Bodie definitely did not have an appointment the next day; in fact, Bodie had made it clear that there would be no more appointments with the psychiatrist.

Doyle’s temper had been steadily rising with each phone call. Without really thinking, he turned and rushed to Bodie’s room but stopped on the threshold as he saw the handsome man sitting on the side of the bed, holding his head in his hands.

Without looking up, Bodie asked in a hoarse voice, “You found out, didn’t you?”

“Why did you lie to me?”

“It was easier. I’m going to have the surgery to remove a bone chip and if that doesn’t let me see; then that’s it. I’m outta here.”

“So you make up stories that you’ve found a new flat, you’re still seeing Percival while you actually just disappear into the setting sun, is that it?”

“Something like that, I guess.”

“Damn you, Bodie. Damn you. Why didn’t you tell me about the bone chip surgery being scheduled?” Doyle said no more, just turned and walked back down the hallway.
Several minutes later, Bodie walked down the corridor as if he were walking the last mile to the gallows. He had hoped he could get out of the flat without a major confrontation with Doyle, but, as usual, his luck had left him. Now he would virtually leave the comfort of this flat right under Doyle’s beautiful nose.

Ray Doyle had lain awake all night, trying to decide if he was going to confront Bodie or not. Doyle had never run away from anything. Even his cheek injury had been the result of standing up to his inebriated, hot tempered father. Could he do less now when it might mean Bodie’s future?

Doyle came out of his bedroom and found Bodie waiting for the taxi to come so that he could go to hospital. Doyle put his hands in his back pockets and stared for several minutes. He was sure that Bodie knew that he was there, but neither man said anything until Doyle, as usual broke the silence. “Where ya going after the surgery?”

“Doctor figures I’ll be in hospital for several days and then I’ll have to wait to see if removing the bone chip helps. After that . . . well, we’ll just have to see . . . or not see.”

“Why do you always run away? Can’t you stay here and face whatever happens. After that, you can get a flat and have a very good life here.”

“You plannin’ to be my nursemaid or something?”

“No, but I was thinkin’ that you could be the man who is my advisor on my stories. You said yourself that I was weak on events going on outside of this country. Why can’t we work together on my stories? You’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things that I will never do, so why can’t you use that knowlege to help me?”

“Thank you for your charity, Mr. Doyle, but if this surgery doesn’t work, I’m going somewhere where I’m not the only person who is blind.”

“What does that mean? Thousands of people are blind, but they haven’t given up like you.”
“Don’t you know; I gave up four years ago when I wiped out a village of women and kids and caused the death of the woman I loved. The blindness is just an excuse not to look at myself, or to see the disgust in peoples’ eyes, just like there is in yours.”

“I’m going to hospital with you.”

“NO!”

“I’ll just follow you if you don’t let me go with you.”

“NO!”

“You’ll find that I can be three shades of ugly when it comes to stubbornness. I will come to hospital each and every day that you are in there, and I will read to you, and you can tell me what a lousy job I’m doing, and then when you walk out of there, I’ll bring you home with me until you find out what it is you want to do with your future. I won’t let you throw your life away because you made some mistakes. The man, who doesn’t make mistakes, isn’t human.”

“You sound like Percival, but don’t you see I’ve known all along why I’m blind, and I’ve found that it’s a very safe place to be because no one expects anything of me.”

“Then why are you having the surgery?”

“What?”

“Why-are-you-having-the-surgery?”

“That’s easy. I hope that removing the bone chip will relieve the physical pain because nothing will remove the emotional pain.”
“Did you really love her so much?”

Bodie laughed a hollow, grief stricken cry and said in a hoarse, strained voice, “That’s what’s really funny; I only thought I loved her, but it was another merc that she was really hung up on and I only provided her with some entertainment. I’ve never really loved anybody, and the feeling was definitely mutual.”

“Has it taken you four years to build up to feeling this sorry for yourself or did you always feel like a murderer?”

“What would you know about it or anything, and don’t tell me about the burdens of being a copper.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, but you don’t hold the monopoly on killing innocents, and numbers don’t count. Kill a hundred or kill one and it is still just as soul destroying so get off your high-horse, Mr. Bodie. I wish you luck with your surgery.” With those words, Doyle turned and walked back into his bedroom.

An hour or so later, Doyle walked into his lounge and found it empty so he knew that Bodie had left for the hospital. He called Baxter’s office to inquire about the time of the surgery and found a message waiting for him from Dr. Baxter. It was terse and to the point:

“DOYLE, GET YOUR ARSE DOWN TO HOSPITAL - - NOW. HE NEEDS YOU.”

Doyle rushed to the hospital and sat waiting for what seemed like hours, but finally Dr. Baxter appeared, his face drawn and severe. Spotting Doyle, he walked over to him and said, “I see you got my message?”

“How . . . how is he?”

“Well, I got the bone out and cleaned up the mess. The guy who did the original surgery must have been a butcher, but I’m pretty sure that it is not the bullet damage that is causing all of the blindness. It’s your turn now, Doyle to see what you can do.”
“What are you talking about? He’s quit Dr. Percival, and if he can’t help him, why would I be able to?”

“Simple, Mr. Doyle, he cares about you.”

Doyle gave one of his famous snorts, almost choking on disbelief. “Yeah, he cares about me like a flea on a dog. Wants to be sure Old Rover is around to keep him going.”

Dr. Baxter studied Doyle for quite a while and then folding his arms across his chest, he said with a slight smile on his face, “Oh, and is that why he talks about you all the time? You impressed him as Ray Duncan, but you grabbed his loyalty as Ray Doyle. He hasn’t had much of a life; in fact, I would say that you have the potential to become the family he’s never had IF you would want to do so?”

“Oh sure, that’s why he told me that he was moving out and never wanted to have anything to do with me again.”

“I’m convinced that he thinks that he will hurt you somehow, and he’s trying to avoid that by pulling away from you, when he wants just the opposite. After he comes out of recovery, I want you to be there for him as much as possible.”

“I’ve already told him that he can stay with me, but he’s sure that this surgery won’t let him see and so he’s going to disappear into the darkness that threatens to swallow him.”

“You’ve got one foot in the door, throw your whole body into it and you might be surprised what luck you have. I firmly believe you’re the only one. Don’t give up on him like so many have.”

“You got more faith in me, Doctor, than Bodie has, but I’ll try. I’ve asked him to work with me on my books, but he didn’t seem too thrilled with that idea.”

“Continue to use the leverage of your new book to keep him with you. He’s definitely hooked on Ray Duncan.”
Doyle looked puzzled at the way that Baxter had phrased his last words, but he said nothing, just nodded and shook hands with the man who seemed to know more than he was saying, although if Doyle had been honest with himself, he would have had to admit that he was jealous of Ray Duncan which was absolutely ridiculous.

For the next several hours Doyle sat on an uncomfortable chair near to the bed that Bodie lay on. His eyes were both bandaged and he had been sleeping fitfully as if, even in sleep, he was seeing images in his mind that disturbed him or worse.

After much hesitancy, Doyle reached over and gently took Bodie’s hand, holding it lightly in his own. Almost immediately, Bodie seemed to relax and settle down in the narrow bed. The two men had remained connected by their hands for well over an hour by the time Dr. Baxter entered the room to take a look at Bodie’s vitals, and then left with a smile on his face which Doyle could not see.

Finally, Bodie began to move around and after he seemed to be more cognizant of where he was, he whispered, “Doyle?”

“That’s right, how’d you know. I’ve just been waitin’ for you to wake up. How ya feelin’?”

“Got a bit of a headache, and my eyes feel like they’re in a cage.”

“I don’t wonder why. Your eyes are all wrapped in some bandages. Dr. Baxter was here a little while ago and said that if you are a good boy, you might be discharged within a few days. Just got to make sure there’s no bleeding, etc.”

“Yeah, still be several weeks before I know. I better find a flat right away.”

Doyle stayed silent then said, “You’re staying with me and don’t you start arguing. I have to finish that Duncan book before you can leave. I always keep my promises, now you get some rest.”

“You . . . you going to come back?”

“Sure, in fact, I might even read a chapter to you tonight if I get a good report on you.”

“How about bringing in some food to me? Their menu here is very limited, and I have to regain my strength.”

“What would you like?”

“A cheese and pickle sarnie and a Swiss roll.”

“You got it; now go to sleep.”

Several hours later Doyle returned to Bodie’s hospital room weighed down by a substantial cheese and pickle sarnie and the biggest Swiss roll he could find. He was sure that this roll could either feed the Foreign Legion or Bodie, but he wasn’t sure which could eat it faster.

It was obvious that Bodie sensed that he was in the room as he quietly announced, “I smell the chocolate of a Swiss roll.”

“Yes, but you don’t get any of it until you’ve eaten the rest of your supper, and you have to eat some of the other food on your plate.”

Whinging in absolute perfection, Bodie whined, “But I’m hungry for the Swiss roll first.”

“Eat your sandwich and have two bites of everything else on your plate when it’s brought around, and I’ll give you a big slab of the Swiss roll and tell you some really good news.”
Bodie thought it over for a moment and then agreed, promptly shoving a large amount of the cheese and pickle sandwich into his mouth. Although his mouth was full of cheese and bread, Bodie managed to ask, “What’s the good news?”

“Well, I talked to my editor, friend, and confessor today, and I found out he’s very impressed with the suggestions that you made about changes in my new book to make it more realistic, and he liked the idea immensely so you’ve got a job if you want it.”

Bodie seemed to ponder the idea for a long time; then he asked a question that totally threw Doyle into another dimension. “What’s this editor and general dog’s-body look like and can you trust him?”

“Well, of course, I can. I’ve known him since we were in school together. He was always standing up for me ‘cause, as you say, I was a bit scrawny. We’ve been friends and have trusted each other since we were wee tykes. He knows what’s good enough to publish, and I think you’re really going to like him. As for his age, he’s about my age so let’s just say that neither of us has seen 40 yet.”

Although most of Bodie’s face was covered, Doyle could still tell that Bodie was upset and fairly bristling in the small hospital bed. “I’ll bring Murph by in a day or two so you two can meet.”

“You told him that I was blind and that if this surgery fails, I’m out of here, didn’t you? I’m what’s known as a poor risk so why don’t you tell him not to worry about meeting me. Who knows after a few days, I might be out of the country.”

“What are you talking about? Dr. Baxter told me that you’ll have to wait several weeks before you can remove the bandages and know whether the removal of the bone pressure has helped you.”

“All right, all right, that’s true, but I don’t want to interfere with my recovery by being worried about some guy that I don’t know and probably won’t like, and him telling me that my ideas for his best-selling author’s books are a load of horse manure. He’ll probably tell me to take this body and make an egress which will be better for all of us.”

“You haven’t even met Murphy. He’s a really great guy. You can take my word that he’s trustworthy. Just rest for a day or two and then you can meet.”

The part of Bodie’s face that could be seen had taken on a hard appearance, “I SAID THAT I DON’T WANT TO MEET THIS GUY. Just because you like him doesn’t mean I can trust him. Now could you please remove this food so I can find a comfortable position and get some sleep.”

Doyle looked so crestfallen that he couldn’t think of a thing to say. He cleared up all the food, wrapped it again, and headed out the door without saying a word. As he exited Bodie’s room, he ran into Dr. Baxter but almost passed him by because he didn’t really feel like talking to anyone, not after the vocal beating he had just taken from Bodie.

Dr. Baxter immediately observed that Doyle was upset and stopped him, “What’s the matter, Mr. Doyle?”

“You know anybody here at the hospital who would like a Swiss roll?”

“Yes, thank you very much. We have some children and some staff who will enjoy it very much, but didn’t you bring it for Mr. Bodie?”

Doyle’s face hardened even more as he stared at Baxter, “Let’s just say that Mr. William Bodie’s passion for Swiss rolls took a nose-dive for some reason, and that yours truly is not terribly popular AGAIN with the man.”

“Why that’s ridiculous; you are the only person that Mr. Bodie trusts and wants to have by his side. What happened?”

“I thought I was bringing him good news; my editor has offered to meet him and talk about him joining me in writing my new book. His expertise would help a lot to improve the realism of my books. I thought he would really be thrilled, but instead, the room turned all cold and he turned huffy and virtually told me he didn’t want my offerings; he just wanted me out of there. So here you see me.”
“What’s your editor like?”

“You sound like Bodie, that’s what he asked. Murph’s a really nice guy that I’ve known most of my life. We were in school together and then we both joined law enforcement, and when he left, he went into book publishing and here we are. I really thought Bodie would be thrilled; instead I’m treated like a leper.”

“What’s this editor’s name?”

“Murphy.”

“Not Colin Murphy?”

“Yeah, you know him?”

“Indeed I do. He worked for CI5 for a while. He’d chauffeur George Cowley around when he came to visit some of the patients I had helped. He’s quite a unique young man. You’re lucky to have him as a friend and colleague. I can’t understand why Mr. Bodie was so upset, but maybe he’ll cool off. I have to go now, but I’ll see him later on, and see if the clouds have cleared.”

As Baxter walked away, he smiled once again. He hadn’t told Doyle the truth. He did know what was wrong with Bodie, and it was a good thing that Bodie couldn’t see Colin Murphy at this moment or Bodie would have been even more upset about the Doyle/Murphy relationship than he already was.

Doyle went to his flat, trying to figure out how he was going to explain this change in plans to Murphy. Here Bodie had the chance of a lifetime and he was going to walk away from it, for whatever reason that that birdbrain had invented. Doyle just couldn’t figure the man out.

Doyle didn’t really want any supper so he decided to work on his manuscript when the door buzzer sounded loudly. Opening the door, Doyle stared at a man who was obviously a messenger or hauler because he had some moving equipment with him.

“Is this the Doyle residence?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“We have been assigned the job of moving some luggage and other things of one William Bodie, who is supposed to be living here.” Seeing the boxes and luggage that Bodie had previously stacked up, the man asked, “Is that the stuff?”

“Could be, but let’s see your bona fides.”

“Huh? If by that you mean my paperwork; here it is. It’s all in order. Come on, mister, we got lots of other pick-ups to do today.”

Doyle looked over the papers carefully. He really didn’t want Bodie leaving his flat. He knew that Bodie was going to need some looking after once he left hospital so he decided to stall these haulers as much as possible. “I can’t read the signature on this document requesting the haul, and it says that it’s supposed to be stored. I’m not going to make myself liable for damages or accusations of theft by letting this stuff go without a personal face-to-face meeting with the person who authorized this removal. Tell whoever this is supposed to be to come here and face me and tell me their authority to issue the removal of Mr. Bodie’s things.”

“Look, mister, we just work for this hauling company; I’ll turn your complaint over to my boss, and he’ll have to deal with it, okay?”

“All right, but be sure that your boss knows that I only want to talk to whoever authorized this deal since I happen to know that Mr. Bodie is in hospital due to very recent surgery.”

“Okay, okay, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from somebody. Can we leave now?”

“Yeah, thanks for coming.” Doyle said those last words in his sweetest and most accommodating voice.

As he walked back into the lounge, his mind was concentrating on two things: when was Bodie going to kill him for throwing up barriers to him vacating the premises, and who was this person who had stuck his nose into Bodie’s threat to leave.

Doyle sat down to type and lost himself, as he often did, in the telling of his story, so he cursed when he heard someone pounding on the door, thus interfering with his concentration. Walking to the door, and after opening it, he stood there with his hip canted as if he were daring the well-dressed man to cause him trouble. “Who are you?”

“I am Thomas Teasdale, and I hope you are Ray Doyle.”

“I don’t know why you hope that since I don’t know who Thomas Teasdale is.”

“I am William Bodie’s solicitor, and I am the one who signed the order for removing Mr. Bodie’s things from this flat - - as per his request, of course,”

Doyle was stunned for about half a second then he stood absolutely erect and said, “Come in. I couldn’t read the name on the form, and since Bodie’s already mad at me, I didn’t want anything taken out of here without a clear verification.”

Teasdale stood staring at the slender man who could easily have fitted into a Raphael painting. Seeing Ray Doyle told Teasdale a lot. Perhaps he shouldn’t be so quick to demand that Bodie’s things be removed from Doyle’s flat.

“May I come in?”
“Yeah, you sure got here quickly.”

“I have known Bodie for many years, just as I knew his father. Now there was a man that I could understand you going tooth and nail with, but Bodie’s not like his father, thank goodness, so I’m glad to see you looking out for his interests.”

“You’re glad?”

“Of course, when I first came here, I was expecting to see someone who would be demanding a huge fee for taking care of Bodie’s things, but I’m usually a good judge of character, and I suspect that you have Bodie’s best interests at heart.”

“Oh, he’s got one of those, does he?”

“One of what?”

“A heart. He hasn’t really shown it around me very often.”

“He’s not really the easiest men of to get along with, especially since his blindness.”

“You mean his personality was different before he was shot?”

“Mr. Doyle, are you aware of the background to the situation in which Bodie was shot?”

“I gather he was fighting in some foreign area and got hit in an attack or something?”

“Not quite, I’m sure you’ve never heard of a mercenary named Krivas, but Bodie joined up with him. Bodie being fairly young didn’t realize what the job entailed and after he met a girl named Cecilie, he thought he was in love. Krivas wanted her and killed her right in front of Bodie and then turned the gun on Bodie and shot him in the head. Bodie survived but he has been blind ever since. I’m telling you this because I think you are good for Bodie, and I would like him to stay with you while he is recovering from surgery.”

“Why do you trust me, if Bodie doesn’t?”

“Are you sure about that? I’ve visited him a few times, and he talks about you constantly. Will you please keep the luggage and other things here? If they go into storage that will just give Bodie a reason to leave this country.”

“All right, but considering how he feels right now; how are you going to get him to come and stay here for several weeks?”

“You let me worry about that. Just remember, Mr. Doyle, Bodie is a stubborn man, but I suspect that you are just as stubborn and I KNOW that I am.”

Shaking hands, Teasdale promptly left with Ray Doyle standing in the doorway, watching the man walk away at a brisk pace.

Doyle tried to restart his efforts to work on his manuscript, but somehow it seemed more difficult without Bodie there to give him suggestions as he wrote. Why couldn’t the sod understand that he would be doing Doyle a real favour if he stayed at the flat and used his expertise to help in the writing of his books?

 

Lost in his thoughts, Doyle almost jumped out of his seat when the buzzer sounded. Wondering if there was a conspiracy to keep him from writing, Doyle went to the door with a fair amount of hostility which was promptly dissipated by the appearance of Colin Murphy.
“Murph, you look horrible. Did some lorry run over you?”

“Yeah, a lorry named Bodie.”

Walking into the lounge with Doyle, Murphy looked like he was checking out the flat for any hidden booby traps as he literally collapsed into the nearest chair. The tall, handsome man still looked much as he had done when the two had worked together in law enforcement, but there was an edge to Murphy now that was different from the edge that working on the streets put on a person.

“What the hell happened? Why did you talk to Bodie?”

“He sent for me.”

“Whaat?”

“Yeah, he sent me a message that he wanted to talk to the man who you said was your friend as well as making all the decisions about the Duncan books. I almost died laughing when I heard that. Since when have I ever made decisions about your books? I know you had to get my permission to bring Bodie into the deal, but you’re the one who makes the decisions, so why did Bodie want to see me, you ask? Well, it seems as if I am the villain in this piece, and Bodie gave me a going over as well as being forced to undergo an interrogation that rivaled George Cowley in his heyday.”

“I can believe it. Bodie was so hostile when I introduced the idea to him.”

“Well, he wanted to know everything and I do mean everything. He even got me to tell him about Philip.”

“Whaat? You told him about your lover? I don’t believe it.”
“I had to ‘cause I was within an inch of being personally flattened by those well-trained fists of his. He demanded to know what my intentions were towards you. I told him that I hoped to make you a lot of money, and that I had no romantic interests in you, but that we were best friends and . . . and . . . well that we had once worked for CI5.”

Doyle’s jaw dropped as he realized what it must have taken to get that out of Murphy. “Why did you do that?”

“Well, he started out by telling me about the big thug he had throttled somewhere and that guy made me look like a shrimp. It didn’t take much for me to figure out what he was not so subtly hinting at. How he knew my size, I don’t know, but I knew he was tellin’ the truth. I am certain that he was prepared to do battle with me if I had not proven that I was not interested in you sexually so I told him about Philip which seemed to placate him, but then just as I was leaving, he announced that I was to ‘bring Philip by the flat’ once he had been released from hospital. I think he wants to vet our bona fides as lovers. Heaven knows what we’re going to have to do to prove that we sleep together.”

Although Doyle felt like laughing, he didn’t. Murphy’s words just didn’t sound like Bodie. The man said he would leave if the surgery wasn’t successful, and now he seemed to be hinting that he might be willing to work for Murphy. What was going on?

Doyle, facing the need to find out the truth, decided to confront Bodie and discover what was going on. Doyle could honestly say that he never avoided necessary confrontations, but when he arrived at hospital and entered Bodie’s room, he had to admit that he had a moment of trepidation.

Bodie immediately turned his head to look at whoever had entered his room, and after hesitating momentarily, he questioned, “Doyle?”

“Yeah, it’s me. How do you do that? Know who has come in?”

“Your irresistible aroma is how.”

Doyle chose to ignore that even though it sounded very much like Bodie was saying that he smelled. Waiting a second, Doyle asked, “I hear your checking yourself out of this resort?”

“Yeah, if I can find my clothes, I plan to break out as soon as possible, but I can’t seem to find them. “

“You want me to look?”

Once again Bodie hesitated but then he nodded, “Yeah, you might as well go ahead. My search was a waste of time.”

Doyle spent a few minutes looking but found nothing. “Me thinks someone has absconded with your clothes so that you can’t go running around in your birthday suit.”

“Wanna bet? They don’t know me ‘cause I did more than that in several places around this planet, but you really don’t see anything, huh?”

“You want me to bring you some from your luggage?”

“That’s a good idea, but why would my stuff still be at your place? I thought it had been picked up.”

“Well, there seems to have been some red tape that hasn’t been ironed out yet.”

“Have you talked to Murphy?”

“Yeah, he dropped by this morning to let me know that he and Philip will be by to see you after you return to the flat.”

“Is there really a Philip or did you just dig someone up to act as a ‘lover’ so I will be fooled?”

“Why should we try to fool you? Murphy and I have always been close, but we’ve never been lovers. I guess it was because we were partners at CI . . . . school and everything so we can trust each other. He’s known me for a long time so we trust each other and Philip is a really great book editor so we get along very well.”

Bodie said nothing for several minutes and then he whispered, “Now I get it; you and Murphy really were partners in CI5. You weren’t just a copper; you were among the elite. No wonder those parts of your stories are so readable. Why didn’t you want me to know that you were with CI5?”

“I guess ‘cause I didn’t always like what I had to do. Cowley wasn’t above sending us on some pretty hairy and difficult ops. He always told us that it was our duty to keep this island smelling like lavender or something like that. I’m afraid too many times, the areas around where we were often smelled like shite.”

“Thanks for telling me. I’m not trying to compete for the dirtiest, mind-destroying situations, but I can honestly swear that I saw and got involved in some things that would blow your mind. When I arrived at my first merc location, I thought I was going to have to put a gun to my head ‘cause I couldn’t stand it. I was fifteen when I arrived, and within six months, most of that stuff didn’t even bother me anymore.”

“Why didn’t you get out earlier?”

“The years flew by. I didn’t want to come back to England. I did all kinds of things and then one day, I met up with Krivas and you know the story from there. Those years with Krivas destroyed what little soul I had left. I think he really believed he killed me so he and his group just walked away. When I woke up, I could hear the buzz of flies and other insects; smell the blood of Cecilie, and I knew that I was in real trouble, but luckily a missionary found me, and took me to the local medical facility. I existed, but I haven’t been able to see for almost five years.”

Doyle stared at the bandaged man; then said quietly, “Are you ready to go to my flat?”
“You never did explain to me why my stuff hasn’t already been picked up. What happened to Teasdale?”

“Well, we talked it over and agreed that you would be better off at my place than on your own.”

“Oh, he did, did he? I knew you had a silver tongue, but I didn’t think anyone could get around Teasdale.”

“See this scrawny body is pretty formidable, you know. If I could stand up to George Cowley for more than five years, I can stand against anybody.”

“Even me?”

“I think that we can put up with each other for the three weeks that Dr. Baxter said to wait. Maybe you will decide to act on the suggestion to become the expert which my books so badly need. You won’t have to stay at my place if you want to find your own, but it’s a place to start.”

“All right; go get me some clothes and I’ll finish up here. Do you have a vehicle?”

“Yeah, I borrowed a car from a friend. It’ll get you to my place, and then we’ll go from there.”

BDBDBDBDBDB

An hour and a half later, the two men entered Doyle’s flat. Doyle carried Bodie’s luggage and the previously ‘missing’ clothes which had finally showed up just as the men were ready to leave.

“Are you hungry?”

“Nah, I would just like to wash the hospital smell away and then lie down for a while.”

“Sounds good. Is there anything that I can help you with?”

“I remember where most things are so let me explore a bit. Feel free to do whatever you need to do.”

Doyle decided to make himself a cheese and pickle sandwich and knowing the bottomless pit that Bodie called his stomach, Doyle decided to make a few extra. Listening for Bodie to come out of the shower, Doyle prepared the food and then began to munch. Within a few minutes Bodie joined him.

“That was fast.”

“When you’ve been in the military, you learn to shower fast; can’t seem to break the habit. What’s that I smell?”

“Well, assuming that you’re not talking about me, I would say that it was a cheese and pickle sarnie.”

“Oh, smells good. I remember that you’re a pretty good cook, at least with spaghetti Bolognese.”

“Yeah, it’s my specialty; would you like a sarnie?”

“Maybe I could force just one down.” Bodie promptly grabbed the one that Doyle had placed in his hand and had it swallowed before Doyle had taken another bite of his own sandwich.

Seeing the decimation of the poor helpless sandwich, Doyle innocently inquired if Bodie would like another one which promptly resulted in the Bodie horde attacking like the locusts in the fields. After several sandwiches and a partial Swiss roll that Doyle had frozen previously, Bodie slumped back on the kitchen chair and patted his flat stomach. “That was good.”
“You better relax for a while before you try to sleep.”

“Guess you’re right. Why don’t you read to me; then I can go to bed.”

“Aren’t you tired of that story?”

“Nah, sides I want to hear all the mistakes you make in the overseas sections.”

“Stop being so smug. Go in and brush your teeth and get in bed while I wash up and then I’ll be in to read - - one chapter, that’s all.”

“Awww, that’s not fair, mum, I’ve been a good boy. You just don’t like it that I correct your mistakes.”

“You say one more word about my mistakes, and I won’t read even one word to you.”

Bodie took off down the corridor that he knew very well by now. Doyle stopped and smiled as he heard a giggle or two coming from the man who hadn’t had a chance to be a child in his earlier life.

Finally, after reading five chapters to Bodie, Doyle insisted that Bodie get some rest. As he left the room, Doyle hesitantly told Bodie that he had invited Murphy and Philip Andrews over for supper the next night to fulfill Bodie’s demand to meet the so-called “lover”.

Bodie nodded but remained quiet since he was the one that had demanded this confrontation. Doyle gave him a concerned look, but merely told him goodnight.

The next evening, the meal went very well. Both Murphy and Andrews charmed Bodie and seemed to convince him that they wanted his expertise in all of Doyle’s upcoming books. Bodie wouldn’t commit himself, but when the two men left, Bodie seemed to believe that neither man was a threat to his relationship with Ray Doyle.
Sitting in the lounge, Bodie looked up when Doyle handed him some coffee and a piece of Swiss roll. Bodie smiled briefly and asked, “Where do these things keep coming from? I try to search them out, but I never find them.”

“Didn’t you know that I have a Swiss roll tree out back, and they just keep appearing on its little branches?”

“Hmmm, got to get me one of those trees for my new flat.”

Suddenly, there was silence, Doyle felt devastated that Bodie was still planning to move out on his own, and then Doyle realized that maybe he should be happy because this might be Bodie’s way of telling him that he was planning to stay in London for a while and not just run out, especially if the blindness remained.

“All right, but you need to rest up for a while before you begin looking for a flat. I’m coming up to a section of my new story where I’m really going to need some of your legendary expertise.”

Bodie got a super smug look on his face, while pretending to file his fingernails across his chest as he announced, “Oh dear, just one more person trying to milk me for my superior knowlege.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you have a real ego?”

“Of course, anyone who is jealous of me.”

Doyle wanted to retaliate, but secretly he was so pleased to hear Bodie’s banter over a thing like his ego that Doyle sat back, very pleased with life in general.

“What you doin’ smirkin’ over there, landlord? You don’t believe that my expertise is much in demand?”
“Oh, I believe that you are much in demand; I’m just not sure what for, and how did you know that I was smirking?”

“You’re so easy to read just through your voice inflection. Had to learn that in my job.” Bodie stuck out his tongue like the little boy he had never been, and said in a whinging voice, “I am well-known in many fields of endeavour so you just watch it or one of these days, I’ll be the author and you’ll be my secretary.”

Doyle gave out one of his legendary snorts and stood up. “On that note of total inanity, I am going to bed. I have to work tomorrow.”

Hours later, Doyle lay in bed, listening to the quiet in his flat. His contentment didn’t last long as he heard movement and sounds in the loo. Not thinking too much about it, he started to turn over when he suddenly realized that the sounds seemed ominous. Rushing out the bedroom door, Doyle found the door to Bodie’s room closed and locked. Knocking on the door, Doyle yelled out, “Bodie, what’s the matter?”

“GO AWAY!”

“Are you sick? Do you need help?”

There was silence which turned Doyle cold. He was about to break down the door when he heard the click as the door opened. Bodie came out, looking like he had taken on a Tiger tank singlehandedly and lost. “Just go back to bed; I’ve just got a touch of my old complaint. I’ve taken me pills so I’ll be better soon.”

“Your old complaint?”

Bodie just barely made it to his bedroom when he turned to Doyle and whispered, “Malaria,” and then collapsed on the floor.
Doyle reacted quickly as he had been trained to do. Virtually picking up the man, he deposited him on the bed, wiped his face, took his pulse, and covered him with a blanket. Although it was late in the evening, Doyle didn’t hesitate to call a number which would connect him with his own physician, and within minutes, Paul Simpson was looking at the supine man on the bed.

After a thorough exam and some vitals, Simpson turned to Doyle and asked, “You said that he mentioned the word, malaria. Who would know his medical background?”

“I guess Michael Baxter, who operated on him recently for the bone pressure on his brain or his optic nerve or something.”

“I know Michael, what medicine does he have now for his malaria?”

“I don’t know; let me check his medicine.”

By the next morning, the information about Bodie’s malaria was in the hands of Dr. Simpson, thanks to Dr. Baxter’s detailed medical information about Bodie. Simpson even talked to Baxter and they agreed that Bodie was suffering from one of his frequent but mild attacks of malaria which was a situation that he had endured since the months spent in an African gaol with virtually no medical facilities.

Simpson had packed up and was getting ready to leave. He was tired, but he saw the concern on Doyle’s face so he sat down to reassure the slender man. “Apparently, he has these attacks fairly often but they aren’t nearly as serious as the original attack. That must have been a real hellhole he was in in Africa. It’s a wonder he survived. He knows how to handle this so listen to him. Keep him in bed, and don’t let him become dehydrated. I’ll call you every day and you can give me an update.”

“Thanks, Paul. I owe you one.”

“You owe me several, but we’ll talk about that later.”

Doyle stood watching the doctor go out the door and towards the lift. Turning, he went to check on Bodie. Seeing the man move around in the bed in a disturbed state, Bodie held out his hand as if looking for something, so Doyle walked over and took the hand which seemed to be what Bodie wanted and then Doyle sat down in the chair near to Bodie’s bed, prepared to wait out the sickness that had attacked Bodie again.

By the next morning, Bodie’s fever was down and the man seemed coherent. He felt around in the bed and found a tray with some toast on it. Since the toast was still warm, Doyle must have just placed it near him.

“How’d you know I was going to wake up?”

“You were kind of restless after I went out to make some breakfast so I thought you’d be waking pretty quick.”

“Thanks for the food; it’s great, Could I have some more tea after I go to the loo?”

“Sure, you sweated out plenty of liquid so drink as much as you want.”

“What time is it?”

“Well for you military men, I would say that it is 10 hundred hours. “

“Thanks, I’ll be out in a few minutes ‘cause a bath would feel good right now.”

Giving Bodie a few minutes of privacy, Doyle checked on breakfast and then got a thick, warm towel from the warmer and headed towards the loo where he knocked politely. Bodie was standing in the shower, holding onto the wall, his body shivering.
Doyle was filled with fear that he should never have allowed Bodie to be alone like he had. His voice filled with concern, Bodie asked, “Doyle?”

“Are you all right?”

“Just more exhausted than I thought I would be.”

“Are you done with your shower?”

“No, I barely got started and I started shivering so bad, I thought I was going to collapse.”

“Would you like me to help you a bit?”

“Thanks, I would like that.”

Doyle removed his clothes and stepped into the glassed-in shower and put some soap on a cloth and began to rub it over the smooth chest of the sightless man. Doyle was extremely glad that Bodie couldn’t see his red face. Surprisingly Bodie began to purr as Doyle’s talented hands caressed all over Bodie’s body. When Doyle ducked down to wash Bodie’s strong legs, the sensation was almost beyond bearing.

Suddenly, Bodie burst forth with, “I’ll do that,” as Doyle got near to his penis which was quivering in ecstasy.

Doyle smiled with understanding, but still asked, “You sure?”

“Definitely, now can you find me one of those warm towels?”

“Of course I can.”

“You got time to read me some of the Ray Duncan book?”

“Oh, I might be able to find some time, but how about you giving me some suggestions while I read; is it a deal?”

“Great, now you got any of that Swiss Roll hanging around?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, after all you were a pretty sick fellow just a little while ago.”

“I have had these attacks for the last five or six years. They come and go, but I really do appreciate you helping me. I’ll skip it for tonight as long as I get me story.”

“You’re so spoiled.”

“When you’re tall, dark, and handsome, you can get away with a lot of things.”

As Doyle walked out of the room to get the book, he quietly said, “What an ego!”

The three weeks went quickly with the two men’s finding more opportunities to be together, both men seemed to follow the policy of work first with restraint in their relationship. Their friendship seemed to be well on the way to overcoming many difficulties.

Finally, the day came for Bodie to dutifully report to hospital to have his bandages removed and to discover if his vision had returned. Dr. Baxter was waiting for them and immediately asked Bodie to follow him to his office. The two men walked slowly down the corridor when suddenly Bodie realized that Doyle was not behind him so he stopped and looked around as if he would be able to see the man. “Aren’t you coming?”
“I thought you might prefer to do this on your own.”

“Nah, you’ve put up with me these last three weeks, you might as well be in on the pay-off.”

“Great, I’m right behind you.”

The three men entered Baxter’s office and sat down. It was obvious to Doyle that Bodie was awfully nervous, and why shouldn’t he be? In the next few minutes, he might have his sight back.

After asking Bodie several relevant questions, Baxter began to remove the bandages, warning Bodie not to open his eyes when the gauze pads were removed. As the room was darkened, Doyle stared anxiously at the man who had come to mean so much to him. Finally Baxter told Bodie to open his eyes slowly, but when Bodie did so there was no reaction to his surroundings. After a few seconds, Bodie whispered in a heart-broken voice, “Guess it didn’t work.”

“Can you see anything, even what seems to be less darkness?”

Again Bodie hesitated, but he replied, “Now that you mention it, it doesn’t seem so dark in here. I certainly can’t see, but the blackness . . . isn’t so black.”

“Great, I didn’t expect you to be able to see immediately, if you are still troubled by various events in Africa, but we’re one step closer. “

Bodie stood up, “Thanks, doctor. Send me a bill. I’ll let you know my new address by the end of the week.” Bodie carefully and calmly walked out of the room while Baxter and Doyle continued to look at each other.

“I’m sorry that it couldn’t have been better news, Mr. Doyle, but what did he mean by him moving to a new flat?”
“We’ve avoided talking about it these last three weeks, but he said he wanted to be on his own, no matter what the decision was, but I think he’s getting tired of having me around. He calls me his babysitter.”

“Maybe you better follow him; holding in his feelings might not be such a good idea.”

“Right.” Unfortunately, by the time Doyle got to the waiting room area, Bodie was already gone, apparently picked up by a taxi.

Doyle was furious with the stubborn man; he only hoped that Bodie had gone back to his flat. Doyle had visions of Bodie wandering the streets of London, trying to forget the terrible news that he had just received.

Doyle rushed to his flat, but there was no one there. Now, what was he going to do? He decided to wait, after all Bodie had left his clothing and other things here. He had to have them, didn’t he?

Several hours later, someone knocked on the door and while Doyle hoped it was Bodie, he knew that the man had a key so why would he knock?

Going to the door, Doyle opened it to discover his friend, Dave Emerson, standing there. “Well, Dave, what a pleasant surprise. How are things going?”

“Great, but I’m not here for a social call, I’ve come to pick up Mr. Bodie’s things. He called me a while ago and asked me to pick up his clothing . . . you see, he’s taken one of my flats for a few weeks or more.”

“Oh.” Doyle found that he could say nothing more. All of his hopes had crashed as he heard Dave’s words.

Dave stepped inside, obviously cognizant of Doyle’s unhappiness. Emerson tried to reassure him, “If you want my opinion, Bodie’s not happy about the whole thing, but he told me what he found out at the doctor’s so I can’t really blame him for wanting some time alone. He did say that he was going to stay in the city until you and he get some book done, whatever that means.”

Doyle’s green eyes brightened with that information. At least, Bodie was planning to honour his commitment, and that would give him an excuse to see him again. Maybe they could still work this out?

“Can you tell me where he’s living? I’ll need to go over there and let him hear the rest of my story.”

“Yeah, here’s the address. “ Emerson handed Doyle a small slip of paper and then headed towards the boxes and luggage that had been temporarily dumped there. Luckily Emerson had a car so the two men were quickly able to load Bodie’s meager stuff. Doyle waved good-bye as he looked at the small piece of paper once again. It was his only link to Bodie for the moment. Doyle knew that he would have to tread carefully so that Bodie didn’t pack up and leave London.

Two days later, Colin Murphy contacted Doyle to ask if he was ready to work with Bodie once again. Frankly, Doyle felt like throwing the story in his face. Let him finish the story since the remainder dealt primarily with the overseas element. Bodie obviously wanted nothing to do with Doyle except to help write the story. He wanted nothing else and Doyle decided he would give him nothing else. Why should he keep beating his head against a wall? Every time Doyle thought they were making some progress something would happen and now that Bodie thought he knew that he would never see again, he was ready to run as far away as possible. Doyle really didn’t understand why the man bothered sticking around to finish the story.

Taking a shower and changing clothes, Doyle felt totally exhausted and full of despair. Bodie had become an important element in his life. Since that day that Doyle had helped the confused man standing on the street, Bodie had become a part of his life and now in a few short weeks Bodie would walk out of his life for good, but for now he had to go through the torture of seeing the man and working with him.

Arriving at Bodie’s new flat, Doyle was filled with trepidation. He had the partially completed manuscript with him, but he felt concerned by the reception Bodie would give him. After all, it was Bodie, who had walked out on him.
Knocking on the door, it was opened fairly rapidly by Bodie who was dressed in a pull-over and perfectly matched coordinated cords. He looked devastatingly handsome, and even though Doyle had dressed in his green moleskins, emerald green shirt, and a well-tailored jacket, he felt shabbily dressed compared to Bodie.

Not knowing what to say, Doyle stood there staring and practically drooling over the man standing before him. Bodie, however, took the initiative and said, “Come in.”

Doyle entered and immediately noticed how everything in the flat was designed with a sightless person in mind. It was obvious that Bodie would be much more comfortable in this sort of flat than in Doyle’s. Sighing, Doyle made the most practical comment, “Your place looks really comfortable.”

“Good, I haven’t exactly seen it, but your friend, Dave, described almost everything to me.”

“Well, you certainly made a good choice. Have you got rid of your headache yet?”

“Yeah, and my malaria has gone away just as it came. Are you ready to read to me?

“Yes, I am. I’ll just sit on the sofa so I can put my papers next to me.”

For the next two hours, the two men were completely engrossed in reading and discussing the story. Finally, they were both happy with what they had agreed upon. Doyle slouched back on the sofa for a moment and then began to clear up his mess. “Thanks a lot for the help. I think we made real progress. I don’t know how many more times we’ll have to meet. I think what we did today has given me the right idea in the way to finish up the story. Is there any particular day that would be better for you to meet again?”

“No, pretty much anytime is fine. I might have to go see Baxter, but that shouldn’t be for a little while.”

“All right, if I don’t get writer’s block, I’ll call and let you know. Thanks again for helping me.”
“Don’t you want something to drink?”

“No thanks, I’m kind of busy so I’ll get on my way. Good to see you’re getting along so well.” With those words Doyle left the flat.

Bodie stood staring at the blackness which had almost turned to grey. He knew that Doyle was angry with him. Bodie had been determined to keep Doyle at a distance, but now he began to wonder if he had made a mistake about that.

Doyle walked out of Bodie’s flat in a fury, and he wasn’t quite sure why. Bodie had never promised him anything and there were times when Doyle wasn’t even sure that he liked the man. He hadn’t expected Bodie to throw himself on the floor in gratitude for all that Doyle had done, but the barricade that Bodie had erected against any breach that Doyle might try and make, was swiftly thrown up in an aggressive manner that spoke volumes about how Bodie really felt.

Doyle kept walking and walking to try and quell the feeling inside of him. By the end of his marathon he had decided that he would make every effort to be done with the manuscript within the next two visits to Bodie’s. He didn’t want to continue this agony any longer than necessary.

Fortunately, a writer’s block did not occur. Doyle felt that the next section of the story was well done and would be better once Bodie offered his expertise on the pages that Doyle had written. Doyle was also convinced that it would take only one more session with Bodie after this one to finish up the story. All that had to be done then was the meeting with Murphy and the editors of the publishing house.

Doyle felt exhausted, frustrated, and disturbed. He wanted Bodie to stick around more than anything, but he had been doing everything he could for the last several weeks to ensure that the manuscript would be done quickly so that Bodie could leave Doyle with as little trouble as possible. Doyle felt as if he were between a rock and hard place, and he didn’t know what to do about it.

Knocking at Bodie’s door, it was clear to Doyle that Bodie was waiting for him. He had not seen the man for almost a week and a half, but he couldn’t agree with the old saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ because it was clear that there was still a great distance between the two men. There was one difference, however, because there was a delicious smell coming from the kitchen area. “Something smells good; you takin’ up cooking now?”

“Nah, this is catered. I . . . I thought you might like some food while we talk about the new section of the book.”

“That was very thoughtful, thanks.” Honestly, Doyle couldn’t understand why Bodie was going to the trouble. Eating might add another 15 minutes to the time that Bodie would have to endure being around Doyle, and since the man obviously wanted to spend as little time as possible with him, why did he bother to have something catered?

“Help yourself.”

Doyle reached over and grabbed a small plate to put a few items on, but he definitely didn’t overdo it. He kept telling himself that he was only here on Bodie’s sufferance and he didn’t want to wear out what little welcome he had been given.

“All right, I’m ready to read. I think if we don’t have too much trouble with this, we can finish in one more visit. Of course, I don’t know who the editor will be so that might still be a problem.”

“Right, just remind me what’s going on.”

For the next two hours, the two men read and made suggestions and ideas with very little thought to the hostility that lurked in the air. Finally at the end of that time Doyle smiled although Bodie couldn’t see it and said, “Well, I think that’s going to be all for this time. I think we will be able to finish up after a bit more research. Your information on the mercs has helped me a lot or I’m just finding I can read your mind a bit better. Thanks for the food and having me.”

“Do you have to go already? I’ve got plenty more food so we could have supper and talk some more.”
Doyle nearly fell into the trap, but then he stopped himself. “Thanks, that’s really nice, but I’ve got to be going; got things to do. Thank you, Mr. Bodie for helping me with this book. You’ve taught me a major lesson - - don’t write a book without knowing something about what you’re writing. So long now.”

Doyle almost rushed to the door and let himself out without giving Bodie a chance to say anything. After the door closed, Bodie just stood there staring in the greyness, badly confused about Doyle’s behaviour, but then he realized that the way that he had treated Doyle and his seeming lack of gratitude must have hurt the man more than he had expected. Bodie had spent his whole life avoiding others and now, because of his continuing blindness, he had hurt the man he least wanted to injure even if it was necessary.

Doyle, on the other hand, wasn’t confused at all as he walked mile after mile across the quiet city. He had finally had his eyes opened; he had to get this book project done and done quickly before he made the biggest mistake of his life and told Bodie the truth.

DBDBDBDBDB

Murphy sat staring across his desk at Ray Doyle. He knew this man better than anybody did. He had known him since their youth, and he knew, without saying, that the man was hurting, and he suspected why Doyle was hurting.

“I’ve read the next segment of the manuscript. It’s really great. Bodie’s perceptions in various places have really made a difference. I think you’ve changed as a writer because now you’ve seen the other side and that’s allowed you to present a more in depth portrayal of the situation. Are you sure that Bodie wouldn’t be willing to continue on with the series?”

Doyle looked up and stared at Murphy with the coldest green eyes he had ever seen. “Considering how Bodie feels about me, he can barely stand to be in the same room with me. We’ve got one more session to get through so if you can read it as fast as it’s done, that will free him to be on his way which is clearly what he wants.”

“Are you so sure? Maybe he just wants to free you from the burden of a blind man?”
The fire in Doyle’s green eyes flamed up as if his whole being was filled with the magma of pain. “He’s made it very clear that he didn’t want to stay at my place even for the few weeks that it would take to finish the book. You should see him when we’re alone and working. He can hardly wait to get me out of the flat so he can be alone. I tell you, Murph, I’ve had it. I’ve tried my best to go along with him and be there for him, but he’s a loner who wants to be alone. I know the blindness hasn’t helped, but it’s time to break up this pathetic partnership.”

Murphy nodded and said, “I know he’s wearing bandages now, was his blindness getting any better before the operation?”

“He told me that the darkness hadn’t seemed so dark in the last few months, but his doctor is convinced that it’s a combination of his psychological attitude and the fact that he had that bone chip moving around in his head. Maybe with the bone removed, it will be better, but what about his psychological problems?”

“Okay, okay, I just think if you two could sit down and talk that maybe you could clear up this misunderstanding ‘cause you’re the one who got Bodie through so much of this.”

“Yeah, and if I could make him see, he might be willing to have some gratitude, but I can’t take it anymore. I’m tired of being the target for all his pain.”

“All right; you’re planning to see him so you can finish the manuscript, and I’ll read it as soon as possible and then you won’t have to deal with him anymore. How’s that?”

“Thanks, Murph. Tell Philip, Hello.” Doyle walked out with his body slouched and his head down. He was clearly miserable and Murphy couldn’t exactly blame him.

Murphy buzzed for Philip Andrews to come in. As his tall, blond haired lover walked in, Murphy smiled at him, silently thanking Philip for their loving relationship. “Well, it’s exactly as I suspected. Doyle’s in love with Bodie, and Bodie’s throwing up all kinds of barriers and, of course, the blindness doesn’t help.”

“Those two sure are stubborn, aren’t they?”

“That’s for sure. Thank you for not being so stubborn, sweetie.”

“You call me that one more time, and you’re going to regret it.”

Murphy smiled, “What will you do?”

Philip’s blue eyes twinkled for a moment then he said, “I won’t fix that Greek dish you like so much for dinner tonight.”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Oh, wouldn’t I? By the way, is it okay if I leave now so I can do all the preparations for our Greek festival?”

“Sure, I should be home on time so have that food and that body all ready for me.”

As Andrews walked out with a smile on his face, he gave what sounded to Murphy like a very lascivious laugh.

Several hours later, Philip Andrews was still waiting for Murphy to come home. It was well past the time that Murphy had promised and the food sat on the table shriveling away. Andrews kicked himself for not trying to get a hold of Murphy before now. He was on the phone, hoping that he had gone to Doyle’s and had forgot the time.

The phone rang and rang. Doyle wasn’t home either. There was nothing strange in that, but it added to his concern. He was just about to phone Bodie to see if the two men were there when the phone rang. Thinking it was Murphy, Andrews rushed to the phone, “Forget about seeing your nancy boy again. He and his partner are having a little visit with me. I’ll tell them you said ‘Hello.’”

Andrews almost dropped the phone when he heard the message. There was now no one on the line, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out that someone had both Doyle and Murphy. Andrews had no more had hung up than the phone rang again. Hoping this was all a mistake, Andrews anxiously answered, “Hello.”

“Mr. Andrews, this is George Smithers from CI5, I’m calling to talk to Mr. Murphy if possible. “

“He’s not here and I just got the strangest phone call. Someone I didn’t recognize said that he was having a visit with Colin and Ray Doyle. Does that make sense to you?”

“I’m afraid it does. I was just calling to warn Mr. Murphy that one of their old cases has exploded in our faces because a man named Sam Jordan has escaped from prison. He pledged at his trial to get both men, and now it looks like it might have happened. I’ll send someone over right away. We’ve begun the hunt and have several leads, but well . . . well, to tell the truth, the man is a murderer so we really need to get to them right away.”

Andrews sat there staring into space for a few minutes; then he remembered Bodie. Bodie should know what was going on. Picking up the phone, Andrews crossed his fingers that Bodie would be there.

“Yes?”

Andrews felt relief and dismay that he was talking to the blind man, how could he tell him this kind of news? “Bodie, this is Philip Andrews, I’ve just got a phone call from CI5, it seems one of men from Murphy and Doyle’s old cases just escaped from prison and has somehow managed to capture the two of them. His name is Sam Jordan and he just called me and told me that he has them.”

“What’s CI5 doing about it?”

“They say they have several leads, but frankly I’m not reassured by that.”

“Wait at your flat; I’ll be over there in 10 minutes. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I’ll wait here.” Andrews hung up the phone, suddenly feeling a bit better just knowing that Bodie would be involved.

Bodie actually made it to Andrew’s flat in eight minutes. Bodie didn’t waste time by asking Andrews to repeat what he had already been told, but Andrews told him that George Smithers had mentioned some leads. Bodie seemed slightly dubious but he said that they had better talk to Smithers right away and find out more about these leads.

No sooner had Bodie said this than there was a pounding on the door. It was Smithers, who had decided to personally interview Andrews about what Jordan had said on the phone. Smithers was introduced to Bodie, and, for some reason, he allowed the man to stay for the interview. In fact, Smithers didn’t seem disturbed by Bodie’s presence at all.

Bodie and Andrews listened carefully to Smithers explanations of all they knew. Finally, Bodie spoke up, “We need to visit these three places that you’ve talked about. If I can walk around each of them, I might be able to help.”

Smithers looked carefully at Bodie for several seconds but then nodded his head in agreement. “All right, let’s go. Mr. Andrews, I would prefer if you stay here. We don’t need civilians in the line of fire, and I promise to keep you informed.”

Although Bodie was a civilian just as much as Andrews, George Smithers made no objection to Bodie’s company at all. In fact, in some ways, he seemed very deferential to the blind man.

Bodie said nothing as the CI5 vehicle made its way to the first of the three locations where Doyle and Murphy might have been taken. Bodie got out and walked around, saying nothing to anyone, until he finally returned to the car and said, “Nothing, let’s go on to the next site.”
The same procedure was followed at the second site except this time Bodie said after looking around, “Assign someone to stay here, please and keep a very low profile.”

Smithers did so and then Bodie and Smithers went on to the third site. More quickly than before, Bodie shook his head and said that it was not the site. Rushing back to the second site, Bodie told Smithers that he believed that this was the place where the two men had been taken. “I want you to let me go into the warehouse on my own. Your men have looked around and found nothing on the outside. You know that I’ve had experience in this sort of thing. I will know if Doyle’s there, and then you can come in.”

Smithers seemed to hesitate and then said, “All right, we’ll give you ten minutes and then we’re coming in.”

“I’m sure that you’ve secured the perimeter, but no matter what don’t let him get beyond this area.”

As George Smithers looked at the handsome face and the sightless eyes, he read Bodie’s message; it was quite possible that this whole affair was going to end badly so be prepared for anything. What could be the CI5 man say but, “Right.”

Bodie walked towards the building at a steady pace, his cane clicking on the unknown ground. The very fact that it was unknown made Bodie’s approach to the building seem almost like magic, but George Cowley had told Smithers some amazing facts about this Bodie so maybe he was a miracle worker. Smithers knew that Bodie had found someone who knew the building intimately among Smither’s colleagues so Bodie must be a genius at understanding another person’s instructions. As he slipped through the ground floor door, he took a sniff of the surrounding odors. His face did not change but he seemed to nod as if he smelled what he was looking for.

Although he only saw a very dark grey, he knew that the entire building was the same way. This Sam Jordan couldn’t have guessed when he grabbed Doyle and Murphy that by putting them in a warehouse with the electricity shut off, he was not gaining an advantage. Over the last five years, Bodie had had to develop certain senses so they were at their maximum. This talent had kept him alive in Africa, and it would get Doyle out of there safely now.
Continuing to sniff at a measured pace, Bodie quickly moved across the large room, listening and sniffing. His body was tuned to its highest sensitivity. Bodie knew that the building was probably rigged for detonation, but Jordan wanted something, and he would do nothing until he got what he wanted.

Knowing he only had a few minutes, Bodie decided to use what he had learned from the CI5 expert and head for a small storage room near the centre of the building. Entering the door to the storage area, Bodie could hear breathing. It was a wonderful sound. Bodie whispered, “Doyle?”

From somewhere in the room, another voice returned the whisper, “No, it’s me, Murphy. Ray passed out a few minutes ago; he’s to your right, I think.

Instead of immediately going to Doyle, Bodie went to Murphy and asked how he was secured. “There’s some kind of heavy desk here that I’m tied to. Got a knife?”

Bodie immediately whipped out his razor sharp knife and cut the ropes tying Murphy’s hands with one swipe. Leaving the knife with Murphy to free himself, Bodie went over to Doyle, following the map he had created in his mind.

“Ray?”

Murphy quickly followed him over to Doyle’s side. “I guess you know it’s a guy named Sam Jordan. He really hated us because we put him away, especially Ray, who wouldn’t let up until he caught up to Jordan and then put a bullet into his leg.”

“Tell me later. I don’t think we’ve got much time, and I figure the guy is somewhere in the vicinity or has this place rigged.”

Murphy handed Bodie his knife and while Bodie cut the ropes, Murphy carefully freed the injured man. Murphy and Bodie each grabbed one of Doyle’s arms and began to pull him along. Doyle returned to consciousness as they were moving and immediately understood what was going on as he groggily tried to look at Bodie in the blackness. Doyle badly wanted to say something, but his dry throat and swollen lips prohibited any talking.

They moved into the much larger room that Bodie had entered at first where the windows, which were not totally blacked-out, provided sinister shadows that Bodie couldn’t see, but he knew must be there. Motioning Murphy to take Doyle on ahead while Bodie protected their backs, the room exploded into a flashing light as suddenly Sam Jordan appeared from behind several crates, waving a gun.

Both Murphy and Doyle tried to cover their eyes as the bright light seemed to engulf the entire room, and while they could hear the maniacal laughter of Sam Jordan, they could see nothing. “Thanks for coming out into this room, gents. Couldn’t let this stranger get you two out of here. I guess I’ll have to use plan B and just shoot the three of you and let the blast sort of hide the deed.” Jordan began to take aim at Doyle and Murphy, who were huddled together, thus taking his attention off of the man who was taking advantage of the darkness a few feet away. It hadn’t dawned on Jordan that the third man was not affected by the bright light the way Murphy and Doyle had been. He hadn’t seemed to notice the bandages that Bodie was wearing and that mistake cost him his life as his voice told Bodie where he was. Bodie’s knife flew through the air to Jordan’s throat almost as if there was a target painted on it. The only sound for the next few seconds was the gurgling sound that Jordan made as he collapsed with a sliced carotid artery.

As the sounds of death spread throughout the room, Murphy and Doyle seemed stunned by Bodie’s accuracy with the knife, but Bodie reacted quickly, “Take Ray and get out of here, before the building comes down around us.”

The three men made it to the door just as Smither’s men arrived. Without stopping, Bodie, using his best command voice, shouted, “There’s a bomb; get out NOW.”

They only had a few seconds but it was enough. The building almost seemed to implode as the worn-out infrastructure of the building seemed to collapse in on itself. Everyone tried to take shelter because there was debris flying but those nearest to the collapsing building received the most scratches and abrasions as well as the need to fight off various materials pelting their bodies.

The ambulances began to arrive even as the debris was still settling down. Murphy insisted that Doyle ride in one of the ambulances, although Doyle had wanted to check on Bodie. The ambulance was already half way out of the parking area by the time Murphy and Smithers got to Bodie, who was still lying on the ground with his hands over his face.

“Bodie . . . Bodie, are you all right? What’s the matter?”

For several seconds Bodie said nothing; then he whispered to Murphy, “Quit shouting; I’m not deaf. Help me off with this jacket, my arm’s sprained.”

Murphy began to follow Bodie’s instructions exactly, but he stopped and stared at the man who was obviously in pain, yelled out into the air, “Come on, come on, got to get this jacket over me ‘cause this bright light is killing my eyes.”

Fumbling with the jacket, Murphy got it off Bodie and helped him put it over him, just as the medical people showed up to check on the downed man. With a quick check, one of the medical personnel said, “Come on let’s get this guy in an ambulance; he’s got a broken arm.”

Murphy helped Bodie into the ambulance and then sat down beside him. The vehicle began to move as the medical personnel worked quickly to make Bodie and the barely scratched Murphy more comfortable and then left them alone. Murphy seemed hesitant, but then he tried to ask, but Bodie beat him to it, “How was Doyle?”

“Jordan really hated Doyle ‘cause he was the one that shot him, but our sunshine is a tough guy; he was hurtin’ but more worried about you than anything.”

“He needn’t have worried; I’ve done this a thousand times before it seems like.”

Murphy’s handsome face looked puzzled at that statement, but they were just pulling in at the hospital so both men remained silent.

The next few minutes were a blur. Murphy’s injuries were easily administered to so he hung around to find out about Doyle and Bodie. Tired after his ordeal, Murphy sat down in the waiting room area, hoping to see both Bodie and Doyle in their rooms after they had received attention. Murphy had been allowed to clean up and been given a tunic by a sympathetic nurse when she had seen his shredded shirt which seemed to have taken the brunt of the blast. He began to nod off when three figures came rushing into the hospital from different directions. One was George Cowley followed closely by George Smithers and suddenly a third man appeared who Murphy didn’t know and then disappeared into the interior of the hospital.

Cowley had obviously been briefed by Smithers about what had occurred. The Scot rushed up to Murphy and asked, “6.2, how are you and 4.5?”

Murphy almost smiled as he heard his former boss calling them by their old agent numbers which hadn’t been used in years, “Just fine, sir. Got a few bruises and scrapes, but I’m okay. Doyle took most of the rough treatment that Jordan dished out.”

Cowley’s face had turned white, but on hearing Murphy’s words seemed to relax a bit, “Yes, that’s what Smithers told me.” And then with a hesitation that Murphy had never seen before in the former Controller of CI5, Cowley asked, “How is Colonel Bodie?”

Momentarily stunned at hearing the rank, Murphy stuttered out, “I don’t know, sir. I haven’t heard a thing since the ambulance brought us in.”

George Smithers immediately spoke up and said, “I’ll see what I can find out.”

Without looking at Smithers but obviously expecting the man to do just that, Cowley said, “Good, see if you can find out about Doyle as well.”

Murphy and Cowley waited briefly, but the name Cowley must have worked wonders because first an A&E nurse came out in a relatively short time and told them that Mr. Doyle was being moved to his room at that moment even though he was demanding to be let loose from this den of whiteness.
Both men smiled at the familiar words of the worst patient ever created for any hospital. Thanking the nurse, they were then approached by the stranger that Murphy had seen earlier. Holding out his hand, he smiled and said, “I’m Dr. Michael Baxter, I’m Bodie’s ophthalmologist. He’s still being attended to, but I hear that he said the bright light was bothering him, is this true?

Murphy nodded his head, “Yeah, he was in a lot of pain when we got out of the building. The medics immediately covered his eyes, and put him in the ambulance and brought him here.”

Baxter nodded and then looked at George Cowley, “It’s a pleasure to see you again, Major Cowley.”

“Thank you. Will you please let me know how Colonel Bodie is after you’ve had a chance to look him over? He’s a very brave man, saving two of my lads.”

“Of course and now if you’ll excuse me?”

Both men looked at the departing doctor as he returned to where he had come from; then Murphy turned around and said with hesitation, “Uh, sir, you called Bodie . . . Colonel Bodie? Why?”

For a moment, George Cowley’s blue eyes studied Murphy, and then with a bit of sarcasm, he said, “I’m surprised at you, Murphy. With your training, I would have thought you would have looked up Colonel Bodie’s background.”

“Well, yes, sir, but I only found out he had been a mercenary.”

“Yes, he doesn’t mention his Army work or what he did in the SAS. He saved me and CI5 during a very serious situation several years ago. Before you and Doyle arrived, I believe. A good man and one that you can rely on.”

At that moment, George Smithers returned with a reasonably pleased face. “Doyle has lots of contusions, scrapes, and bruises, but he’s going to be all right the nurse says, IF HE DOESN’T GET TOSSED OUT ON HIS EAR by the staff. He’s been complaining nonstop since he was brought in.”

Knowing Doyle well, Murphy and Cowley smiled at the news of the former agent who had seen the inside of too many hospitals during his tenure with CI5. Cowley nodded and said, “Yes, that’s to be expected; he never did like hospitals. What about the Colonel?”

“Dr. Baxter is with him now so I wasn’t able to find out much.”

“Well, Baxter is reliable. We’ll just have to wait until he gets back to us. We’ll leave now, but maybe we can see our injured tomorrow - - that is, IF Doyle doesn’t get thrown out on his ear.”

“I think I’ll stay for a while, sir. Nice to see you. It’s almost like old times . . . someone from CI5 laid up and you coming to find out how they are.”

“Yes, but that is one tradition I definitely do not miss. Good-bye, 6.2.”

“Good-bye, Mr. Cowley, Mr. Smithers.”

Murphy sat down on one of the sofas provided in the waiting room. He had begun to feel an exhaustion that totally overwhelmed his body, but he had felt like that before, even if he had been a lot younger. Looking up he saw a familiar figure coming into the waiting room. Feeling guilty that he had not contacted Philip before, he walked over and put his arm around his lover. “Sorry, I didn’t contact you. It’s been a busy time, and then Cowley showed up. I’ll make it up to you. “

“I’m just so glad to see you’re all right. Somebody from CI5 let me know what went down, so I decided to come rescue you. I guess we owe a lot to Mr. Bodie.”

“We sure do. Do you know that he’s a Colonel? According to Cowley, he’s even helped out CI5. I’m just waiting to hear about Doyle and Mr. Bodie and then we can go.”

The two men sat down close to each other and waited. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait long because Michael Baxter came out, looked for Cowley and then headed to where Murphy was waiting. “Major Cowley leave?”

“Yes, but I’ll be sure to give him any news.”

“Good, well your Mr. Doyle is resting comfortably thanks to an injection.”

“He’s in that much pain?”

“No, not really, but he certainly is A PAIN IN A CERTAIN PLACE and so the nursing staff, ‘helped’ him get some rest. You can pick him up tomorrow.”

“How’s Mr. Bodie?”

“I will need to examine his eyes more thoroughly in the morning. He got some debris in his eyes so I have cleaned them, and then bandaged both of them. Hopefully, the pain he experienced in the light means that his sight is beginning to return, but we will know more in several hours. A night of rest can only help both men so why don’t you go home and call in tomorrow, when I suspect Mr. Doyle will be thrown out of here, by popular demand.”

After shaking hands with both men, Baxter turned and left them.

Philip Andrews looked at his tired lover with great affection, “Come on, lover, let’s go home and get some rest before you have to return and confront that shaggy lion known as Ray Doyle.”

BDBDBDBDBD
Although Doyle was not scheduled to check out for another hour or so, he was up and dressed and ready to go well before Murphy arrived. Once he got his clothes, he was like a runaway bull moose wanting his own way and the way he wanted to know about was the path to Bodie’s room.

The rest of the hospital was still quiet since not even breakfasts had been served yet. Quietly sneaking out of his own room, Doyle, using the information he had found out about Bodie’s location, managed to locate the room with little trouble. He entered quietly and saw the handsome pain-in-the-butt lying on the white sheets, his handsome darkness standing out against the background.

Although Doyle could have sworn that Bodie was asleep, a whisper issued forth with one word, “Doyle?”

Doyle grimaced as he decided his skulking skills really needed some work.

“Yeah, I just wanted to know how you are and to thank you for saving me and Murphy.”

“Almost got us all blown up though.”

“Nah, you were the one who figured it out. How come you got such skill with a knife?”

“When you’re out in Africa and other places, it definitely comes in handy.”

“Well, thanks again. What did Dr. Baxter say about your eyes?”

“Well, he wants to look at them for a day or two so I guess I’m here for a while.”

“Well, if you need anything, just send a carrier pigeon and we’ll send someone to rescue you.”
“Thanks, you gettin’ out today?”

“Yeah, Murphy will be here soon and he’ll be expectin’ me in my room, so I better go. Thanks again.”

“Ray . . .?”

“Yah?”

“Nothing, I guess. How bad you banged up?”

“Lots of bruises, scrapes; you know stuff like that? How’s the arm?”

“Well, they put a cast on it, but it was a pretty clean break so I shouldn’t be too hampered by it.”

“Good, now you do what the doctors say. So long.”

Bodie said nothing more because it was obvious that Doyle really didn’t want to stay. The thing that Bodie had feared the most had happened - - Doyle was grateful, sure, but he was also tired of Bodie, and didn’t want him in his life anymore.

About a half hour later, the door opened again. Bodie wasn’t sure who it was but before he could say anything, a voice said, “Mr. Bodie?”

Bodie immediately recognized Philip Andrews’ voice. Once again his legendary voice recognition talent coming to the forefront. Feeling relief Bodie said, “Mr. Andrews, are you here with Mr. Murphy?”

“Yeah, Murph is getting Ray ready to go. There are papers and stuff to sign so I told them that I was coming down to see you. I just wanted to thank you for savin’ Murph and, of course, Ray. You sure came to the rescue; I’m glad I called you.”

“You’re welcome. Take care of Ray and Mr. Murphy, won’t you?”

“Sure but I wanted to ask you a question, if I could?”

“What is it?”

“Mr. Cowley was here checking on you and Ray and he called you, Colonel. I was kind of surprised. Were you in the Army?”

Bodie was quiet for a long moment; then he said, “It’s a long story, but I did some work for the military and that’s how I ran into George Cowley. Well, tell Mr. Murphy hello and watch out for falling buildings.”

Andrews smiled, knowing that he was being dismissed by this mysterious man, “I will, and once again, thanks.”

Bodie could hear the door close so he knew that he was alone once again. It was only then that he could let his features distort to the pain he was feeling. There was a lot of physical pain but the emotional ache was even worse. He knew that someone would tell Doyle about Bodie’s involvement with George Cowley and then Doyle would really hate him.

Despair more than blackness filled Bodie. How far they had come since that “lost” day on the street, but it still was ending the same way - - Bodie was alone, even if his sight returned completely.

Hearing the door open, Bodie stared into the greyness and waited. “Colonel Bodie?”
Even though it had been a few years since he had heard the voice, Bodie knew right away that it was George Cowley, so in a supremely calm voice he replied, “Yes, Major.”

“I didn’t want to disturb you if you were sleeping. I just came by to thank you for saving my two lads. You impressed me seven years ago when you helped us out, but this was even more impressive. “

“I didn’t do it to be impressive. I did it to save Mr. Doyle’s life.”

Cowley’s blue eyes began to twinkle as he heard Bodie call Doyle with such formality. “You didn’t know Doyle when we worked together, did you?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You two would have made a formidable team if you had got together for CI5 but that is neither here nor there. I understand you were wounded while on assignment; I’m terribly sorry to hear that. You were an excellent operative seven years ago, but your help in getting Doyle and Murphy out of that situation is very much appreciated.”

“I really don’t want to talk about it, Mr. Cowley. I did it for Doyle’s sake and nothing else. I still don’t know what the effect will be on my sight, but I’m just Mr. Bodie now so could we forget it?”

Cowley studied the man in the bed and then nodded and agreed, “Yes, of course. Well, I will leave you now. Good-bye.”

Bodie sat in his bed for a long while. His broken arm was now encased in plaster, but his eyes were only bandaged. Why had he seen the bright light of Jordan’s torch and then the painful bright light of day, if he was still blind? How long would he have to wait until he knew and what difference would it make if Ray Doyle wasn’t there to see him get his sight back?

Dr. Baxter made his rounds early the next morning so Bodie knew that he would have a hospital stay of two more days and then he would be dismissed to go to his flat and wait again. Baxter was extremely optimistic since Bodie had seen both the torch light and the day light, but he was taking it cautiously. A wait of a week seemed like a long time, but if it got his sight back, it was worth it, wasn’t it?

DBDBDBDBDBDBDBD

Many years ago, William Bodie had taken a few hours out from real war, killing, and hatred to watch on the screen in an African city’s rundown theatre an American movie called, GONE WITH THE WIND. It had an unhappy ending and lots of destruction and death, but it was all make believe. When Bodie got up and left the theatre at the end, he entered into a scene of unparalleled tragedy, death, and mindboggling destruction. He had studied many wars during his career as a mercenary, and he understood the reference of the title to a Union general named Sherman moving his huge army through a state called Georgia, and that he was the wind that destroyed much of that area’s civilization. Bodie had read a lot about this unusual general and after years and years on various foreign fields of battle, Bodie found himself agreeing completely with Sherman’s thought that WAR IS HELL. Now, Bodie never thought of it in any other way.

He hadn’t thought about that movie in quite a while until another wind came blowing into his hospital room less than one day later. As soon as the door opened and the furor of the entrant was recognized, Bodie knew that he was going to be the victim of a different type of destruction - - the anger that Ray Doyle had brought with him.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME, YOU BASTARD?”

“Good afternoon, Mr. Doyle or is it still morning?”

“Don’t you give me that you lying, deceiving bastard. I want the truth - - all of it. Won’t you ever trust me?”

“I don’t remember you telling me that you were with CI5 until recently. Seems I’m not the only one who keeps secrets.” Bodie could hear the hard breathing, and the barely controlled fury of the slender man standing near the door.
Doyle was obviously trying to calm down a bit, but his anger was right on the cusp of breaking out again. “I said that I want the truth. I did tell you that I was CI5, what’s your excuse for not telling me that you worked with the Cow at one time?”

“Hmmmm, the Cow? I wonder what Major Cowley would think of that appellation?”

“Oh he knows that, it’s not the worst thing we used to call him. Now, stop trying to avoid the issue; why didn’t you tell me?”

“I have no real excuse; I have shared my background with very few. It was really none of their business, but if you will sit down, I will tell you now. But first, I need to find out if you’re carrying a garrote or some other weapon. Did you turn in your gun when you resigned?”

Bodie could not see Doyle’s face but he knew Doyle was smiling SLIGHTLY so he figured the crisis was over for the moment. Hearing the wooden chair move slightly, BodIe asked, “Would it be possible for you to move a little closer?”

“Why should I?” But the slender man did move himself and his chair nearer to the occupied bed.

“Great, now let me tell my story - - without interruption, please.”

Bodie heard a familiar snort then questioned, “Are you comfy, Angelfish?”

“Angelfish, where’d you get that?”

“Oh, when I was younger I had an Angelfish that made that same sort of sound when he didn’t believe me either.”

“What are you talking about? Did they put some booze in your IV? Just get to the story before I pull out one of my shoe laces and do you bodily damage.”

“All right! All right! In the minimum of words, Bodie related his efforts to get out of his father’s clutches by skipping out one day when he was 14. Spending the next several years on a cargo ship, he learned to be tough, and then he found out what tough really meant. For more years than he liked to remember, he was a mercenary who worked for whoever paid him the most. The merc life included everything that he now wanted to forget. Finally, when he was in his middle 20’s he decided to return to England and so his military life began.

Silence took over the room as Doyle sat waiting for Bodie to continue, but he didn’t. “Haven’t you left out some information?”

“Like what for instance?”

“Krivas.”

Doyle knew he had hit a very raw nerve so he waited and waited, but finally Bodie continued. “Well, I was slightly economical with the truth there since I was already with SAS when I met Krivas. In fact, that’s what set him off. He figured out that I was a plant who had infiltrated his little gang and . . . well, he shot Cecilie and then me.”

“Why did he shoot Cecilie?”

Bodie looked very tired as he rested his head on the propped up pillows. “Cecilie wasn’t my lover, Doyle. She was my contact and when Krivas found out, he was furious so he took it out on both of us - - only he killed her by blowing off her face, and then went after me, and you know what happened.”

“This was five years ago?”

“Something like that. It all seems to have run together in the blackness which followed. I sort of wandered around in Africa and then finally decided to come back to England. I got a bit of money set aside so when a doctor told me I might be able to get my sight back, I figured I’d give it a try, but all I’ve seen is bright light so I guess they were wrong.”

“Murph told me about what happened. You can’t give up; you just need more time. I’m sure Dr. Baxter can help.”

“I’m not big on trusting hope, Doyle; ‘sides I gave it a shot, now I guess I’ll go back where lacking sight doesn’t result in being run down by a lorry or a taxi, and relax.”

“NO! you’re not going to run out on me. I’ve got a contract for two more books so you’ve got to stick around and be my expert advisor. You’ve got your flat, so stop running away and help me.”

Bodie looked disgusted at Doyle even though he couldn’t see him. “So all you really care about is that I help you write your books, well I’m tellin’ you right now, if I get these bandages off and I can’t see, I’m out of here.”

Doyle stood up, shoving the chair back several inches, “Damn you, William Bodie, damn you. I’m sorry I ever helped you. You are really pathetic – you just think of yourself. I don’t care if I ever write another book, but I am also sorry I ever fell in love with you.” With those words, Doyle turned and left the hospital room.

BDBDBDBDBDB

Bodie laid there stunned. He didn’t know what to do. He had just heard the words that he had hoped Doyle would say to him one day - - only not with the sorrow attached, and now Doyle had walked out of his life and it was Bodie’s own fault. Bodie threw back the sheet and scooted over to the side of the bed. He knew that he only had a gown on but he didn’t really care. Doyle was more important, and he wouldn’t be bothered by anybody pointing at him.

“MR. BODIE!” Bodie immediately recognized the voice of Sister Roberta, who had obviously just entered the hospital room. “Just what do you think you are doing?”

“I got to find Doyle. I got to tell him . . . please, I need to talk to him.”

“You are not going anywhere. You have an appointment with Dr. Baxter in the morning for an examination. You need to get as much rest as possible. I’m sure Mr. Doyle will be here tomorrow to see you. He’s very concerned about you.”

“No, you don’t understand; he hates me; I hurt him. Please help me find my clothes.”

“You are not leaving here. If you don’t calm down, I will be forced to give you something to help you relax, and I will contact Dr. Baxter.”

“All right! I’ll get back in bed. I am kind of tired.”

Sister Roberta had not known William Bodie very long or she would have been very suspicious of his easy acquiescence to her demands. Covering himself and lying quietly, Bodie whispered, “Thanks, Sister, almost made a fool of myself, didn’t I?”

Sister Roberta had a kind heart which was often blunt when she saw someone hurting, and it was obvious that Bodie was hurting, “Don’t you worry, Mr. Bodie. You get some rest and when you get those bandages off and see Mr. Doyle, everything will be all right.”

Sister Roberta extinguished the light and closed the door. Silence pervaded the room but Bodie had no intention of going to sleep. He lay there trying to figure out how he was going to get to Doyle; he had to because he knew that Doyle would not come tomorrow, in fact, he would never come again. He had to get to Doyle; no matter what.

DBDBDBDBDBD
A little over an hour later, William Bodie knocked on Ray Doyle’s door. He hadn’t realized how out of shape he was. He waited anxiously and finally the door opened. A beloved voice asked, “How did you get here?”

“My accomplice dropped me off.”

“Your accomplice?”

“Yeah, he sprung me from the joint and then made his getaway once he had dropped me off.”

“I won’t even ask who your accomplice is, but I will ask why are you here?”

“I . . . I need to ask you a question.”

“You came all this way, after skipping out of the hospital just to ask me a question?”

“Yeah, kind of dumb of me, wasn’t it?”

Doyle made a face like he had heard excuses like that before then realized that Bodie couldn’t see him. “Yeah, it is dumb, but what’s the question?”

“Could I come in to ask it; I’m a bit worn out.”

“I would think so, but come in.”

“You can leave the door open if you would like in case you want to throw me out after I ask it.”
Doyle gave a major snort and backed away so that Bodie could get in the doorway. Bodie took several steps into the flat but was stopped by Doyle’s hand stopping him from getting in any further. “That’s far enough, now what’s the question?”

Bodie took a deep breath and then asked, “Did you mean what you said at the hospital?”

“Are you talking about me falling in love with you or about me being sorry that I fell in love with you?”

“Did you fall in love with me?”

“Yeah, like a dolt, I did.”

“Are you still in love with me?”

“That’s already three questions; you said one question.”

“Just answer me, please.”

“All right, yes, I fell in love with you, and no I’m not sorry I fell for you, but I will be sorry, if you wimp out on me and run away and hide from me even if you can’t see after the bandages are removed. Now, does that answer your questions?”

Doyle got no further because his lips were being caressed by Bodie’s calloused thumb and then the ex-merc’s mouth smothered any further comments that Doyle wanted to make. This situation lasted for more than a minute until both men were gasping for breath. Although they broke apart, they stayed in each other’s arms. Doyle whispered, “I think you better come in.”

“I thought I was in?”
“Of course, you are, you dumb crud, but I mean all the way in. I’ve got some things to say to you.”

Bodie found a place to sit and promptly grabbed Doyle’s hand and pulled him down to sit next to him. “Now what kinds of things would you be wanting to say to me?”

Doyle sat very close to Bodie but didn’t touch him. “I know you’re anxious about tomorrow, but it doesn’t make a bit of difference to me. I want to be with you, and I want you to promise me that you won’t shut me out if things don’t go right tomorrow.”

Bodie’s handsome face became very serious as he thought about what Doyle was asking, “I don’t know if I can do that, sunshine. I don’t want to become a burden to you, and if I can’t see then that is exactly what might happen.”

“What are you talking about - - a burden? I would follow you anywhere; I don’t have to write ‘cause I’ve got lots of other things I can do. If you don’t want to hang around and be my writing partner then we can do other things.”

“Oh, that’s no problem, I’ve already been offered a contract to help you write your two upcoming books, but that’s not exactly what I meant.”

“Whatta ya mean, you’ve already been offered a contract; I hadn’t heard about that? When did Murph offer you that contract?”

Bodie looked rather sheepish and then sort of mumbled out, “Tonight.”

“Tonight, when did you talk with Murph tonight?”

“Well, in the car while our getaway driver was speeding us towards this humble abode.”
Suddenly, illumination hit Doyle as he now realized who had helped Bodie “escape” from the hospital. “I see, now I see, and just how did you get those two idiots to be a part of this break out?”

“I called them and explained the situation, and they were most happy to help me in my hour of need.”

“Oh brother, you must have fed them a real line. So now you are my writing partner, is that it?”

“Well, not exactly.”

“WHAT, EXACTLY?”

“Well, I am supposed to ghost write those sections when our hero goes outside the country, but I’ve also been offered my own contract to write a sort of saga of a mercenary who gets into all sorts of adventures.”

“Oh? And just what part do I play in all this?”

“Well, of course, you are the main writer in the two novels still planned and any other ones that come after in your tremendously, popular series, but I was kind of hoping that you’d be my toy boy while I was writing my great novel and just sort of lay there and inspire me.”

Doyle’s latest snort could have easily broken 8.0 on the Richter scale if it had been tested, but since he followed the snort with a major outburst of disbelief, the magnitude was never tested. “Whaaat? I’m supposed to be your toy boy? I am an award winning author who doesn’t have to be anybody’s toy boy, I’ll have you know.”

“But, Ray, I’ll be making lots of money so I can keep you in the style you’ve never had, and besides all that, you’ll have me.”

“Is that a promise?”

“I know that I’m not the greatest prize, but I promise to stick around until you get tired of me and boot me out on my arse, how’s that?”

Bodie had said those words, meaning to tease the beautiful man, but he didn’t have to be able to see to know that the teasing had fallen flat. Doyle had immediately stood up and walked across the room, saying nothing.

“Ray, I didn’t mean it; I was just teasing you. I’m so nervous about tomorrow that I am saying stupid things.”

“Well, I notice that you aren’t so far gone that you haven’t said something stupid like you love me, or anything like that.”

Bodie had his mouth open to repudiate that accusation by declaring his love when the phone rang. Doyle looked at the device as if it was slithering boa constrictor but walked over to answer it. “Doyle.”

Bodie couldn’t tell who the other person was for a moment, but it soon became obvious as Doyle continued, “Yes, sir, he’s here. Some friends helped get him out of hospital, but he’s going to sleep right away as soon as he gets to his flat, and he’ll be with you on time tomorrow.” Doyle listened for several moments and then said, “Yes, I understand,” and hung up the receiver.

Turning around to tell Bodie about the conversation, Doyle noticed that Bodie was heading towards the door so that his back faced Doyle as Bodie said in a rather loud voice, “YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAINT ME A PICTURE, SUNSHINE. I GET IT. I won’t bother you any further. Thanks for running interference with Dr. Baxter for me; he’ll probably tear a strip off me tomorrow, but don’t bother yourself about coming to the hospital.”

“STOP, YOU DUMB CRUD. You’re not getting’ out of here. I just promised Baxter that I would escort you to the appointment, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
“Well, you better come over to my flat and pick me up tomorrow morning since that’s where I’m going now. I wouldn’t want you to have lied to the doctor. You told him that I’d be home and THAT’S WHERE I’M GOING.”

“Like hell you are. You’re staying here. If you don’t want to share my bed then you can sleep in the guest bedroom like you used to, but you’re staying here, do you understand?”

Bodie turned around slowly and even though he could not see Doyle, his handsome face was totally puzzled, “Well, then why did you tell the doctor that I was going to be in my flat?”

Doyle’s face screwed up as if Bodie was a moron, but it was wasted since Bodie could not see it. “I told him that because it’s none of his business if I have the person I love in my bed or I don’t. I wanted to protect your reputation from scurrilous gossip, but now that I think of it maybe that’s what every up and coming young author needs to sell his first book.”

“I don’ need scurrilous gossip, my erudition and magnificent style will have the books flying off the shelves.”

“How are you going to train a tornado to do all that?”

“Ha!Ha!Ha!, but now that I think on it, it might be a great way of selling books, I can just see the headlines now,

FAMOUS MERC TELLS THE STORY OF HIS MISSIONS ALL OVER THE WORLD AND HIS EVEN MORE LURID ADVENTURES IN BED WITH HIS WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR/LOVER.

“And just who would that be?”

Suddenly, Bodie seemed crestfallen as he whispered, “Well, I was kind of hoping; it would be you.”

There was silence for a few moments then Doyle said in a voice filled with affection, “Well, then maybe we better get into bed now so that that headline of yours will be true.”

Bodie’s face broke out in a smile that lit up the whole room and then he stopped and said, “You did mean your bed and not the guest bedroom, didn’t you?”

Instead of hearing an answer, Bodie’s well-tuned ears picked up the very obvious sound of Doyle removing his clothing. Smiling, Bodie immediately started helping the slender man to display his gorgeous body. Doyle pushed his naked body up close to Bodie, who could easily tell that Doyle’s manhood was certainly interested in things to come.

“How about you getting’ undressed now, handsome?”

“Ray, I’m kind of modest and it’s been a very long time since I undressed in front of anybody so bear with me, will ya?”

“I’ll tell you what; I’ll undress you and that will save you lots of embarrassment.” With those words, Doyle immediately began stripping his soon-to-be-lover. At the same time, he was moving the two of them towards his bedroom. When they arrived there, Doyle led the blind man over to the bed and promptly pounced on him. The next few moments were taken up with an age-old routine of body against body. The two men were so hungry for each other that their caresses, kisses, and rubbing resulted in orgasms which totally exhausted them. After recovering themselves, Bodie began to touch every part of Doyle’s body.

As Doyle tried to reach for Bodie’s hairless chest, Bodie’s closeness allowed him to slap Doyle’s hand away. “This is my night to discover each and every inch of your body. You can do me tomorrow night.”

“Don’t think I can wait all that time. How about I take a few bites out of you to hold me over until tomorrow?”
“What are you - - Dracula, or a shark or what? You just lay there and let me do what I want, you understand?”

“Yes, Master.”

Bodie spent long, luxurious minutes using his forefinger to drizzle his way around the Doyle body. He seemed especially obsessed with the long scar that ran down the center of Doyle’s chest. Running over it repeatedly, Bodie leaned over nuzzling and kissing it. “You gonna tell me how this happened?”

“Not much to tell. A woman named Mayli thought I had put two and two together and figured out who she was so she came after me and put two bullets in me.”

“Where’d she do this?”

“In a flat I was occupying at the time. I hadn’t locked it properly and she got in and was waiting for me. She could have killed me, but something stopped her. She wasn’t a professional assassin. She wanted to get this other guy, and I got caught in between.”

Bodie became very still; then he moved his hand up and caressed Doyle’s face and then pulled him closer, holding him in an embrace as if he would never let him go.

Finally, Doyle pulled back a bit and said in a hoarse voice, “Hey, I’m okay; you got to expect things like that when you work for CI5.”

“I’m glad you don’t work there now. I’d go haywire if you were still doing that sort of thing.”

“It wasn’t easy, but then you must know what it was like if you were in the Army and the SAS.”

“Nothing was ever easy, but it was when I was a merc that somedays I felt that even just breathing made me dirty. I hated it, but I still didn’t get out. I guess that’s why when I infiltrated Krivas’ mob I felt so contaminated with what happened. I couldn’t stand to live with it. Being blind was easier; you changed that. Now, how about we clean up a bit and then get some sleep so I’ll be ready for Baxter in the morning?”

“Sounds good. I’ll get a rag.”

As Doyle walked to the loo, he heard Bodie say in a loving voice, “Thanks, Ray.”

Knowing that Bodie couldn’t see him, Doyle still turned and stared at the man he loved so much, “Nothing to thank me for; loving you is the easiest thing I’ve ever done, and tomorrow we’ll start a whole new life and after I write my two novels, I’ll be William Andrew Philip Bodie, that intrepid adventurer’s kept man.”

“Is that what you really want to be? I think you should keep on with your writin’, just emphasize the cop part more ‘cause that’s what you know best and I’ll help you with the rest. It will be the Bodie/Doyle partnership.”

“How come it’s the Bodie/Doyle partnership? I sort of envisioned it: DOYLE AND BODIE, ASSOCIATES.”

“Yeah, that’s good too. It’s sure taking you a lot time to get that towel.”

Doyle rushed to get the towel and then leaped onto the bed and promptly forced Bodie to lie supine so that he could carefully clean him up. When he caressed Bodie’s penis with the warm towel, his lover shivered slightly and moaned. Doyle leaned over and nuzzled the delicious looking organ and whispered, “You got the perfect makings for a toy boy.”

Bodie immediately grabbed the most gorgeous bum in England and began to caress it, forcing Doyle’s body down on his own. “And you’ll be the perfect kept man, but we better finish this soon or we’ll never get to sleep.”
Feeling the wetness of the towel, Bodie grabbed it from Doyle and quickly finished wiping Doyle clean while pulling Doyle into his arms. Within minutes both men were asleep.

DBDBDBDBDBD

The next day was a momentous one for the two men. A few days before, Bodie had demonstrated sensitivity to light so the doctor rhad given his eyes some further rest; now he was ready to see, and as he told Doyle, he wanted to see Doyle even if he only had one second of sight. When Dr. Baxter heard this demand, he nodded in agreement, because he had realized long ago what Doyle meant to the blind man, and if anything would help Bodie to see, it would be to see Doyle.

Baxter carefully removed the bandages in the darkened room. Bodie was ordered not to open his eyes until given permission. Doyle was standing in front of Bodie at a distance so the first sight that Bodie would see would be Doyle.

“Now, Mr. Bodie, carefully open your eyes. Your sight will be blurry and unfocused so take your time and don’t panic.”

The tension in the room was stifling and the silence almost unbearable but when Bodie finally had his eyes open, he stared straight ahead and then smiled, “Hello, Ray.”

Ray Doyle smiled back at the beautiful man and said quietly, “Hello, yourself. What do you see?”

“The face of one of Raphael’s angels.”

Doyle promptly blushed and bent his head for a second but not wanting to forfeit even a second of time that Bodie could look at him, Doyle quickly raised his head and smiled.

“Now, I don’t want you to rush this. You’re going to wear these darkened glasses and you’re going to stay out of the bright light. If you’ve ever had your eyes dilated, it will feel somewhat the same with light making your s eyes very sensitive. Be cautious. It will take some time before you will begin to feel comfortable in ordinary daylight. I want to see you again in one week, and, of course, if you have trouble, call me immediately. And one more thing,” at these words Baxter looked intensely at Doyle as well as Bodie, “no extreme exercise for a week or so. Take it easy; your eyes and your body have had a tremendous shock so give them both a chance to recover, okay?”

Both men smiled and nodded. Doyle looked like a Cheshire cat as he said, “We understand perfectly, doctor. Thanks so much.”

As the two men walked out the door of his office, Michael Baxter couldn’t help notice that Bodie and Doyle were having a very difficult time avoiding holding hands or hugging each other.

As the two men sat side by side in the taxi, they seemed contented until Bodie realized that he didn’t know where they were headed. He had never seen this area and he was afraid to ask Doyle where they were going. Seeing Bodie looking around, Doyle smiled and said, “I figured you might want to go to your own flat. I made sure you’ve got food in and that everything’s been freshened up. It must be like discovering a whole new world, seeing so many things for the first time.”

Although Bodie was overwhelmed with disappointment, he covered it up as well as he could, merely nodding at Doyle’s words. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but he had, sort of, expected to be taken to Doyle’s flat and now it appeared that Doyle was dumping him off at his own solitary, lonely flat.

When the taxi stopped, Bodie looked at the building for a moment then realized that Doyle was handing him the key to enter the flat. This should have been a major occasion for the man who had been blind for close to years, but instead Bodie was feeling very down about the whole thing. He was totally independent once again and Doyle was telling him, not so subtly, that he had his own life to lead and that life began now.

He had always heard the saying, “Seeing is believing,” and now he was experiencing it first hand, and that’s when William Bodie realized that it wasn’t as great as he had thought it would be.

Taking a deep breath, Bodie turned to look at the man that he had fallen in love with and had not even seen until a few hours ago. “Thanks for bringing me home. It’ll be a whole new adventure just discovering this place. I’m a lot more tired than I thought I’d be; think I’ll lie down for a while.”

Doyle seem hesitant but then smiled and said, “That’s a good idea. I did stock up for you so you could make yourself something. I think Murph wants to talk to you about your new book and I know I have to get busy on my next book. Let me know if you need anything.” Without saying anything further, Doyle headed for the door.

“So long, Ray. Thanks again.”

The door closed and Bodie just stood there. This was definitely not the way that he had envisioned his first day of sight. What had he done wrong? Had he said something that had hurt Ray? He knew his social skills needed work, but had yesterday’s activities in Doyle’s bed been just a gift from Doyle to bolster him while he waited to find out if he would see again? Bodie sighed, suddenly feeling exhausted and unable to face a life without Ray Doyle. What was he going to do?

In the meantime while Bodie was contemplating a new kind of darkness in his life, Doyle was storming out of Bodie’s flat. The word, INDEPENDENCE, was printed on his heart. Bodie had been independent all of his life and Doyle had suddenly realized the sacrifice he was asking of the former merc who had been on his own and independent since he was 14 years of age. The last five years Bodie had still been independent but in a different sort of way due to his blindness. Even the meeting of the two men had thrown Bodie’s independence out of kilter when he had been forced to depend on Doyle to get him to the doctor’s and in so many other ways.

When the two men had entered Bodie’s flat, Doyle had realized that he needed to give Bodie some time to make his own decisions, and he certainly didn’t need pressure from Doyle, and so Doyle had walked out and now he kept on walking, and walking. He really didn’t know how long he walked but it must have been more than an hour. Finally, he arrived at his own flat without really thinking about it and walked into the foyer and climbed the stairs without really contemplating what he was going to do. He was tired and sick in his body and mind. What if Bodie changed his mind? What if he found that now that he could see, he wanted to be independent again?

Doyle felt dirty, both from what he had done and the walking which had further drained his resources. He immediately began to shed his clothes as if he couldn’t stand them or himself. Approaching his bedroom, Doyle suddenly felt on the alert which was an instinct that he had fully developed during his time with CI5. Carefully walking towards his bedroom, he quickly reached under his left shoulder but immediately realized that he no longer had a gun. Looking around, he found a cricket bat that Philip Andrews had left there recently. Picking it up, he stealthily headed for the door to the bedroom and pushed it back while staying protected by the doorway. Peeking around the door frame, Doyle looked into the slightly lit room and saw the most beautiful sight that he had ever seen: William Andrew Philip Bodie sprawled out across Doyle’s bed, totally naked except for a small bow around his neck which said, TOY BOY.

Doyle stood there drooling and gawking at the luscious body which had previously been covered most of the time with several layers of clothes. Totally confused, Doyle forgot that he was standing there with only socks on since he had discarded his emerald shirt and his shoes when he had dispensed with his skin-tight jeans. Since he never wore underwear, he was quite a sight himself, something that it was quite obvious that Bodie was well aware of.

Smiling at the puzzled man, Bodie whispered, “Came to see your etchings and several other things.” When he said this enticing phrase, it was quite obvious that Bodie was taking a good look as Doyle’s rapidly filling cock which was in a race to match Bodie’s reaction to the Doyle body.

“My etchings and what else, big boy?”

“Come over here and I’ll show you.”

“How’d you get in?”

“Have you forgot I got a key when you were my landlord and I sort of duplicated it.”

Creeping carefully towards the bed, Doyle stopped just outside Bodie’s reach and asked, “Would you like to live together or do you need your own space, sunshine?”

“I need you, and quite frankly I don’t care where I live as long as you’re there.”

“Are you sure?”

“You’re hard to convince, Angelfish.”

“I’m just scared that I’m robbing you of your independence; I don’t want you to tell me in a month or two that you feel tied down.”

“Now that’s a great suggestion . . . being tied down I mean. How about you and I practice some of the educational stuff that you can find in the Kama Sutra?”

Doyle suddenly made a leap onto the bed and pinned Bodie to the bed in a supine position. “I don’t need to tie you down to get what I want, lover. You promised me that I could examine you to my heart’s content and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Then we’re going to love and cuddle a bit and then we’ll get a nap, and then I’ll fix you a whole English breakfast, assuming that you have that kind of food in, and then and only then will we discuss our future plans. I want you with me every day, but if you want to keep both flats that’s what will do. How’s that sound?”

“Sounds great; I want to wake up next to you every morning after a night replete with love and me adoring that golden bum of yours. To know that I can feel your body and see it at the same time is a reward I didn’t expect. We can talk about our future all you want, but right now, looking at you lying here looking like a Raphael angel, prepared to be satiated with my love, all I can say is seeing is believing.”

The End