Sentimental? ME?

Who do you think you ARE, making statements like that about someone you've never met?

You want to know what I think? THANKS for asking -- you could've tried before giving me your opinion...

I AM NOT LOSING MY TEMPER -- you'd bloody well know it if I did!

WHAT? Yeah -- well, I mean, sentimental I am not. As far as I'm concerned you're born, and you die -- and you spend the intervening time doing whatever -- or whoever is necessary for survival. Heaven is for priests and poets -- of course I don't believe in an afterlife -- or rather, not one with wings and harps and haloes, although, I'll admit, I can easily imagine Ray as a little cherub -- all golden curls, and size 9 plates! HA! -- perhaps not...

I, on the other hand, would suit the Other Place quite well, if it existed, which I seriously doubt...

What do I think about dying?

In short, I don't: in my line of work, you start thinking about popping off, and you're as good as dead already. In a way, I suppose it's a kind of talisman -- you don't think about it, so it doesn't happen. Ray could probably explain the psychology of it to you -- could've -- sorry, I tend to forget sometimes that you didn't know him. You'd've liked him, once you got used to his foul temper, his lousy sense of humour, and the agonising way he used to flirt with anything that moved. He was such a little know-all, preaching pseudo-morals at me during those early days; there were times I could cheerfully have wrung his neck... He isn't the prettiest thing in trousers, but he knows how to use what he's got to maximum effect!

Took me quite a while to work out it was all for my benefit. Yeah, Ray was wriggling his backside, and showing himself off just to get MY attention. Couldn't believe it at first. I mean, I wanted -- had panted -- after him for ages, and there he was waiting to give it to me...

I guess the nearest thing I'll get to Heaven was making love to him...

I can state categorically though that Hell isn't a place, it's a state of mind.

Bet you didn't think I was capable of such profound philosophy -- ah, all those years with Cowley's Bible-thumping, Ray's morals, and a couple of poetry books DID stand me in good stead.

How am I so sure -- about Hell?

Maybe you have to love someone before you find out. I mean really love, not just a series of quick romps, and shoving your dick up 'em every five minutes, but the sort of mutual trust and companionship -- wish I had that poetry book with me now, so that I could say it properly -- but you know, don't you, what I'm getting at?

It wasn't the first time it happened to me. I loved Marikka, but she betrayed me, and that I could never forget. With Ray, there was nothing like that.

When he died, I really didn't know what had hit me. One minute he was there; the next -- I don't remember getting home -- Cowley sent Murphy back with me I think -- I didn't know -- didn't WANT to know -- my Ray had gone, and -- even now, I doubt I'd find the words to describe the terrible no-ness where he'd been.

I didn't cry -- I just sat in my bedroom, determined to be as close to his memory as possible -- and kept staring into space... Must've looked a right idiot, but I didn't care. Nothing mattered to me, except that I'd never see Ray again.

He was buried, and Cowley tightened up on security, but the Irish are nothing if not persistent. I was thinking of Ray and that fucking bomb, hoping he hadn't suffered, when -- there's this voice whispering in my ear, and I'm wondering if I've finally flipped. Then Ray's laughing about the expression on my face, and telling me that Cowley will do his nut because I didn't check MY car this morning...

I guess that only goes to prove how wrong I was about an afterlife, doesn't it?

-- THE END --

For Jamie and Helen

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