Again Blythe Spirit, or Gay Ghost
May 30, 1982
Part One: A Very Sad Funeral
Raymond Doyle stood by a graveside, not listening, in a rather determined fashion, to the short burial service being conducted by an earnest looking Anglican priest by the unlikely name of Tucker McIntyre.
It was a sad scene which he and his CI5 partner, Bodie, had been through more times over the years than he cared to remember.
This time, unfortunately, the funeral was significantly different.
This time, the agent being bid a sad and fond farewell by his colleagues and grieving partner was one William Andrew Philip Bodie. Smug, arrogant, devilish Bodie, who had always looked good whatever he wore, was dead. And that was a fact that his partner, Raymond Doyle, was having a very difficult time dealing with. This service for example - somehow it lacked any basic taint of reality as far as Ray was concerned.
Oh, they had known, on the odds, that in their chosen profession, this was how it might end. Probably would end. At some far off, future date, too distant to be a bother or cause for any significant worry. As their chief, George Cowley had said, more than once, until it happened to you, you always thought you were immortal. Until...
Doyle stared ahead sightlessly, studiously ignoring that gaping trench in the ground into which they had just lowered his partner, and his mind ran over the same track that it had occupied it for days now - why, if Bodie had to die, had he had to go in such a stupid fashion??? Run over by a bogus Good Humour Ice Cream truck while on stake-out duty.
Of all things ...
Doyle abruptly became aware that the service, such as it was, had ended, the CI5 agents in attendance had mostly drifted away, heading for their cars, going gratefully back to work. Just damned glad it wasn't them getting a headstone and a wreath from the department.
"Doyle, hadn't we better let these gentlemen get on with it?" It was George Cowley, impeccable as always in grey suit and matching raincoat. The gentlemen in question were the men waiting to begin filling in the grave. Doyle nodded. That was not something he wanted to stick around and watch. He turned away from the sight and started walking slowly down the gravel path, towards his car. Cowley fell into step beside him. He winced as he heard the dull thuds the shovels of earth made as they hit the coffin.
"It takes a great deal of time," Cowley's voice, up to the eyebrows in heather, held an oddly gentle note.
"I suppose so." Doyle's voice was flat. They had reached their respective cars. Cowley glanced at him sharply, seemed about to say something, then changed it to "If you need some time off..."
Startled by this unusual coming from George, Doyle was almost vehement in response. "No, I'll be back on duty tomorrow." He didn't want anymore time to sit around brooding. It wouldn't help, and of late he'd begun to have his eyes play tricks on him. Like now. A movement in those trees just ahead. He blinked several times. Nothing.
Cowley continued to watch him carefully. "Alright. But make that the day AFTER tomorrow." He turned and got into his car.
Cowley glared. "Wednesday morning, Doyle, 8 a.m. sharp. And that's an order. If you show up tomorrow, I'll boot you out of HQ myself." The limo roared away, leaving Doyle, at last, totally on his own.
He glanced around him once again, and his mind resumed its recent nasty habit of playing tricks on him. He could have sworn he'd caught a glimpse of Bodie's familiar face peering through a large clump of rather obnoxious pink hydrangea bushes some distance from where he stood. In the time it took Raymond Doyle to blink, the illusion had disappeared.
He shook his head wearily. Home at once, he decided. There were several bottles of interesting liquids to be got through. If that didn't work, he would try Cowley's patented method for all ills. Lots of pure malt scotch.
Bodie, or rather, Bodie's ghost, watched his partner roar off, spitting gravel. Bodie paused to consider, rather irrelevantly, that Doyle could have drawn something a bit more classy from the department car pool than a mere Ford Cortina. After all this was HIS funeral.
Bodie was having a difficult time adjusting to being, well, non-corporeal. At first, he had been unbelieving. The Good Humour truck had born down on him, while he was in the process of crossing the street, and run him down in a matter of seconds. He hadn't had time to think anything dramatic like "This is it" or "My time has come," All Bodie had time to do was look shocked, and think "Oh my god." Well, maybe, considering the circumstances, that last bit was the most appropriate of all. At first, he had just lain there in the road, rather squashed by the experience, then he'd sat up, not realizing, and decided that had a miraculous escape. Until Doyle had come charging up, shouting, then knelt by his body; it was rather eerie Bodie had thought, to stand there looking down at oneself... And then he had realized what had happened. He tried to get Doyle's attention, but was too new at what he'd come to think of as being "not all there," and he couldn't manage it.
So, he'd spent the last three days since his "death", flitting about, trying to accustom himself to his changed circumstances, and wondering if this was IT. Sure, he'd always scoffed at an afterlife, but surely there was something more to being dead than...THIS. Still, being Bodie, he had put the time to some good use. For one thing, he had managed to become visible, or at least it worked with some people, and then again, with some people it didn't. Feeling rather lonely, suddenly, he decided to turn up at Doyle's flat. Hopefully, he perfected doing whatever it was that he occasionally managed to do, well enough to appear to Doyle. He very much wanted to have a talk with his partner. For one thing, he didn't much care for his headstone....
Doyle had been attempting, with a depressing lack of success, to get drunk. He had progressed through all the bottles of interesting liquids, and had now arrived at the pure malt scotch stage of existence.
However, with all due respect to Dewar's fine brand of whiskey, it wasn't working.
If anything, Ray felt more disgustingly sober than he had at Bodie's funeral. Poor Bodie... Doyle was in the act of pouring out another tall glass, when he became aware that he was not alone. He raised his eyes and was greeted by a sight that made him drop his glass, and turn white as the much overused and proverbial sheet.
His partner, Bodie, the one who was supposedly dead, was lounging on the arm of Doyle's only really good easy chair, immaculately dressed in black turtleneck sweater and slacks. He was smiling sardonically, and one eyebrow was raised.
"Rather a surprise, aren't I?"
Doyle closed his eyes. He'd obviously had more to drink than he thought. Obviously, of course, he'd never known pure malt scotch to make him hallucinate, but there was a first time for everything. He cautiously opened his eyes.
Bodie was still there.
"You're dead," Doyle said bluntly.
The apparition nodded. "Yeh. I suppose I am. It's taking some getting used to."
"You are dead. I'm seeing things." Doyle felt compelled to say something along those lines, if only to try to hang on to his obviously slipping grip on reality.
Bodie slumped back into the arm chair. "I KNOW that. You don't have to rub it in. Must you keep sitting there telling me I'm dead over and over. It's hard enough to get used to."
Doyle decided that as long as he was hallucinating, why not go along with it? Surely it wouldn't hurt, and it was rather nice to be talking to Bodie again. He leaned back against the sectional sofa. "I just buried you this morning. I suppose, I've got 'dead' on the brain. What are you doing here?"
"Talking to you." Bodie paused and looked rather pleased with himself. "I've been practicing for days you know - ever since it happened. At first I couldn't materialize at all, and then I could just manage it; you're the first person I've been able to speak with."
"Lucky me." Doyle's voice was dry. "What I meant was, why aren't you, er, well...." He floundered around, not knowing how to put it.
"Passed on? Gone to my reward? Crossed over?" Bodie filled in for him. "Well, I don't actually know. I've got a rather nasty feeling that this may be it."
"You can't be certain."
Bodie looked indignant. "May I remind you, I'm the one who is, as you keep pointing out, dead. Don't you think that if there was anywhere to cross over TO, I would have crossed???"
Doyle sighed. "I guess so."
Bodie, however, was off and running. "By the way, since we're on the subject - what kind of headstone do you call the one I've got?"
Doyle blinked at him owlishly. "What?"
"Headstone. I know that the budget's been cut back, but really - couldn't you have picked out something more ... suitable?"
"Like what, a statue of you done in marble, with an inscribed gold plate attached?"
Bodie looked thoughtful. "Well....that might have been a bit much."
"Look, Bodie - we did the best we could, ok? I wasn't exactly up to picking out elaborate headstones. I'm sorry." Doyle began to forget that he was talking to a hallucination.
"And another thing - surely the department could've come across with a better wreath. After all these years, and they send THAT."
Doyle glared. "And what was wrong with the wreath we sent?"
"Too small. It could at least have had a few roses in it. And the service was far too short. Where did they get that McIntyre chap who read the service anyway?"
"I don't know. I think he's visiting from America, a friend of Cowley s or... wait a minute. I'm sitting here, arguing about funeral arrangements with the ghost of the guy whose funeral it was!" Doyle felt distinctly out of his depth. "It's crazy."
Bodie, however, was not finished. "And another thing. Sneakers at my funeral? With a suit? If you had died, would I have gone to YOUR funeral wearing a tweed jacket, blue shirt, beige khaki's and SNEAKERS??"
Doyle forgot entirely that he was arguing with an illusion. "I always wear sneakers! They were brand new! Besides, you're dead - what do you care about my shoes?"
Bodie lounged back looking smug. "It's the principle of the thing, Doyle."
"You are dead. Principles don't matter when you're dead." Doyle insisted.
"Back to throwing that up to me, are you?" Bodie fumed. Then abruptly, he grinned. "Just wait till you die, Ray, see if you like it, if Cowley wears sneakers to YOUR funeral!"
Doyle opened his mouth to reply with some suitable comment about ungrateful dead people, when a sudden image of the immaculate Cowley rose up before him, in vivid detail, wearing high top sneakers. He stared at his partner for a moment, and then they both began to laugh. Doyle stood up, intending to walk over and take a good look at Bodie, continuing to laugh as he did so. The room dipped, then twirled, then did a rather alarming samba.
Doyle was still chuckling over Cowley' s sneakers when he passed out.
"That's what I like about you, Ray," Bodie's ghost muttered as it straightened Doyle out on the couch, "you have such ingenious ways of making exits."
Part Two: Working under Odd Conditions
It felt good to be going back to work. If nothing else, it would keep him from dwelling on the extremely odd dream he'd had after drinking himself blind the day of Bodie' s funeral. It had seemed so real but Doyle was a man of sound common sense. And common sense dictated that the ghost of your partner did not turn up in your sitting room, just hours after you buried him, complaining about everything from headstones to footwear...
Mentally shrugging it off, Doyle took a seat in the briefing room, and prepared himself to concentrate on what Cowley had to say.
George was ripping along, at length, about a terrorist group now operating with rather explosive success, on his turf. Doyle caught a movement out of the corner of his eye, turned his head slightly, and got the shock of his life.
Bodie! Just like in that scotch induced dream of his...
This can't be happening to me. He stared hard at the illusion, hoping it would go away. It didn't. Bodie only grinned wider and waved. He was still wearing his black outfit, and was lounging up against the wall of the briefing room. Doyle took a deep breath, and turned his attention to Cowley. Maybe if he just ignored it, it would go away.
"Really going on about it, isn't he Ray?"
Doyle jumped slightly, glancing around him wildly, but none of the other agents seemed to have heard Bodie's comment. Oh God. Murphy, who was sitting next to him, did glance at Doyle rather oddly, though.
Studiously, he prepared to go back to ignoring the apparition.
"I'm really here you knew."
Doyle turned to stare at Bodie, who smiled, then wriggled his nose in a rather good imitation of Rabitus Transylvanius, a rare large breed of American rabbit. Oh double god. They're going to come and take me away, Doyle thought. I've had it. Now I'm seeing things while cold sober.
"Yes, I'm actually here. You're not seeing things. This case looks interesting. Pity, I'm not alive to help you with it."
Doyle glared at him. "Will you shut up?" he hissed. Bodie rolled his eyes and looked highly offended. Then he went back to making faces. Doyle glared harder, and motioned him to knock it off. Murphy was really giving him odd looks now.
"Anything the matter; Doyle?" Murphy kept his voice low as so not to attract Cowley's attention.
"Huh? Oh, no. No, I'm fine." Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Bodie had gotten bored with simply making faces and had progressed to crossing his eyes preparatory to looking crazy.
"God, Ray - you could at least pay some attention to me!" he complained.
"For god's sake - shut up!" Doyle said to Bodie. Unfortunately, it came out a bit louder than he intended.
Cowley stopped mid-spiel. "Do you have something better to offer in the way of briefing, Doyle?"
Doyle could actually feel himself blushing. "Uh, no, sir. Sorry sir. wasn't talking to you, sir." Bodie, the fiend, was doubled over laughing.
"In that case, Doyle, I would suggest that you wait to discuss whatever it is with whomever it is, AFTER the briefing."
"Of course, sir."
Bodie shrugged his shoulders in a 'who me, what can I do?' sort of way. And dematerialized.
Somehow, Doyle got through the remainder of the briefing without causing further disturbances.
Afterwards, Cowley called him into his office, as Ray had known he would.
"Are you certain, Doyle, that you're quite... ready to go back to work? Bodie's death hit you very hard."
Doyle considered telling the chief the truth. "Well, sir, you see, Bodie's ghost turned up in the 'briefing room this morning and I..." No, Cowley would, rightly, think he was round the bend, and he'd end up in the Shady Rest Home for Terminally Bewildered Secret Agents. Instead, he said "I'm sorry about this morning, sir. It won't happen again. I'm fine. I want to get back to work."
Cowley eyed him, making up his mind. On one hand, Bodie and Doyle had been an exemplary team, the kind of partnership that very rarely, too rarely, came along, even on his handpicked and matched squad. It was only natural that Doyle would take Bodie's death badly, would need time to adjust... on the other hand, glaring at walls and talking to them was very odd behaviour in anyone's book....George made his decision. "All right. I'm putting you on stake-out duty, with Murphy. Starting now."
Doyle stopped holding his breath. "Thank you, sir."
"Well, don't just stand about my office, Doyle, get going!"
Counting his blessings, Doyle went.
Even taking the fact that he was, well, not-corporeal, in the usual sense, into consideration, Bodie was spending the day, in an unusual bout of introspection and depression. What on earth, pardon the expression, was he going to do with himself for what looked like being an infinite amount of time?
True, talking to Ray (and getting him into trouble at the briefing) had been very satisfactory, but he couldn't flit about like this for the rest of his "life"; he'd already semi-mastered appearing and disappearing at will, and had moved up to solid materialization, meaning that he could now, for example, shake hands with someone, and, he presumed, anything else he might deem suitable. Although he hadn't put the latter theory to the test as yet (mostly because he hadn't quite got the hang of being visible to all the people all the times he chose). In point of fact, so far the only person he'd been totally successful with was Ray. Still, he supposed given practice and time, that would become perfected as well. One did not, he admitted, get into this ghost business wholesale all at once.
What was really depressing him, was a nagging suspicion that something, somehow was very wrong. He had the sneaking feeling that he really wasn't where he should be. The trouble was, he couldn't shake this conviction and he couldn't figure out, just where it was he was supposed to be. A vicious circle.
After deciding to cheer himself up by "blinking in and out" of the nearest pub - The Rose and Otter - Bodie ran into his second unpleasant discovery of the day.
Ghosts, no matter how substantially materialized, cannot drink. That is to say, he was perfectly capable of picking up his glass and downing the contents, but that was it. He was unable to decide where the drink went after that, but it hit neither his head nor any other part of him, and so, the effect was rather less than downing a glass of water.
An altogether unsalutary and disheartening realization for him, one must admit.
He resorted to rather childishly and sullenly materializing and dematerializing in the men's room, saying things like "Your money or your life" or "I'm the private detective your wife hired," and then, while his unfortunate victim was in no position to do anything but stare, fade into thin air as it were. This activity slightly improved Bodie's bad humour, and led several formerly staunch patrons of the place to henceforth and immediately swear off booze for life.
He grew bored with this sport after a time and decided to drop in on Doyle instead. His (former?) partner was on a stake-out somewhere in Hampstead along with Murphy.
This might be a good time to see if he was visible to anyone other than startled pub patrons and Doyle.
As for Doyle and Murphy, they had spent a totally uneventful evening parked - discreetly - some distance from the Hampstead home of a certain actor whom Cowley suspected as being involved in someway with the terrorists they were after. So far the actor in question had done nothing more illegal than take his rather large and somewhat overweight sheepdog for a job around the block. Murphy had stared at the fellow through narrowed eyes, then offhandedly remarked that "he's got Anthony Andrews' hair". With this observation Doyle had to agree, and nothing more exciting had happened since.
"Getting a bit long in the tooth to be a groupie, aren't you, Doyle?"
Somehow Ray wasn't in the least surprised to turn and find his erstwhile partner sitting comfortably in the backseat. Murphy, bored to death, had decided to grab a quick nap, and he slept peacefully, oblivious to Bodie's presence.
"It's a stake-out. You remember those, don't you?" He kept his voice soft, not wanting Murph to get the idea old Doyle was in the habit of talking to himself.
"How could I forget? ... Cowley thinks he's involved?" Bodie sounded disgusted.
Ray shrugged. "He thinks there's a connection."
"What do you think?"
"I think that so far the only suspicious movement he's made is to take his dog for a run wearing a sweatshirt that reads 'Howers Are It'."
"Which means... ''
"Absolutely nothing." Doyle concluded.
Bodie appeared to be considering the situation. "I'll go have a look inside. Invisibility has its uses."
"How will you get in?"
Bodie looked smug. "Through the door - it's another talent I've recently acquired. Walking through things."
"Must come in no end handy when you forget your keys."
Doyle watched curiously as his partner faded out. He shook his head. Some day he might get used to Bodie popping in and out, but now it really was unnerving to watch him just disappear.
He turned to find Murphy regarding him very oddly.
"Uh, Doyle... who were you talking to just now?"
Raymond Doyle sighed, and began to cast about in his mind for some sort of believable explanation. He couldn't think of anything that didn't sound...weak, if not downright silly.
So he just smiled at Murphy, looked innocent, and said "You must be hearing things, in your sleep."
Murphy started to argue with him, then changed his mind. If Doyle WAS a bit, well, off it, due to Bodie's recent untimely demise, there was no point in HIS rubbing it in. Still adding it all up...first Doyle had been glaring at and talking to the briefing room wall, then later on in the locker room he'd appeared to be having a disagreement with Bodie's locker, and still later on he'd seen Ray, while in the process of taking a Capri out of the car pool, turn to the empty passenger's seat and say irritably "Oh shut up, I'm driving!" And now this...
Bodie, meanwhile, was calmly and invisibly making his way systematically through the downstairs portion of the said actor's home. He was presently completing a search of the library, but so far he'd turned up nothing more subversive than a thick volume entitled "Cooking Without Eggs". Other interesting items included a bound set of the complete scripts from the TV show As the Tardis Turns, and several books by someone named Sarann Whrapp whose philosophy, judging by the dust jacket blurbs, revolved around "burning one's karma and taking it with you to the other side." Surprise, surprise thought Bodie wryly. There ISN'T an other side to take it to. But that was hardly his problem at the moment.
Doyle and Murphy remained outside, watching. Murphy had just reported in to HQ that there was nothing to report, and Ray was beginning to wonder if Bodie was even coming back. He couldn't decide if he hoped he would show up soon, or not at all. Judging from his performances of the last two days, one more and good old Murphy would be telling the chief that he, Doyle, was ready for permanent rest leave.
"You can call this portion of the operation off." Bodie had resumed his place in the backseat while Doyle wasn't looking. Unfortunately Murphy was, and he was staring, mouth open, obviously at a complete loss for words.
"Something surprise you, Murphy?" Bodie's eyebrow was raised all the way to Eton and back.
"My god," Murphy managed.
"I haven't met him yet," Bodie was at his smuggest. "But I'm working on it."
Doyle sighed. "Why can we call this part off?"
Murphy continued to go into shock.
"'Well, he's not in on it. Nothing to do with him. The only vaguely terroristic thing he's into is vegetarianism and meditating."
"Well, then..." sputtered Murphy.
"...however, the housekeeper bears watching." Bodie concluded as though Murphy hadn't said anything.
"You're dead!" Murphy finally managed. "I was at your funeral! I was there when we carted you off to the morgue! You are dead!"
Bodie signed sadly. "I can see I'm going to have to go through this all over again." He shook his head mournfully. "It seems to be my lot to wander about, homeless, not being able to do so much as take a drink, and having my former friends constantly throwing up to me the unfortunate fact that I'm dead. Explain it to him, Doyle."
Doyle did his best.
"You two realize, of course, that Cowley's going to think that we're all nuts," Murphy said as the three of them made their way to George's office.
"Well, he'll think at least two of you are nuts, I suppose," Bodie corrected helpfully.
"I'm definitely going to have a word with God about you when this is over," Doyle threatened.
"Don't be so pessimistic. George is a reasonable man. Once he sees me, he'll have to believe his own eyes."
"If he can see you." Murphy was gloomy.
Cowley stared at his two operatives. They SEEMED perfectly sincere in what they were telling him. Murphy's ears usually twitched slightly during practical jokes, and he couldn't detect any movement today. And Doyle would hardly be party to something like this, still
Asking him to believe that the reason they knew the actor in question was clear was because Bodie - dear departed Bodie, had flitted inside the house and gotten the goods on the man's housekeeper! And then flitted back to them and reported....
It was a little too much.
"And you say this isn't the first time, you've, ah, seen Bodie since the funeral?" He stared very hard at Doyle.
"Well, no sir. He showed up at my flat right after the service, then he was here the day of the briefing."
"And I heard Doyle talking to him in the locker room and in the garage, and then during the stake-out," Murphy concluded.
Cowley shuffled some papers. "I see."
"We really did see and talk to him, sir. Honestly." Murphy was very earnest.
"I'm sure you are." Cowley continued to stare hard at his agents, thinking. "I don't suppose he's, well, anywhere about this office at the present time?"
Doyle spoke up. "Actually sir, he's waiting in the outer office."
"With Betty," Murphy added helpfully.
"Of course." Cowley said, his voice acquiring more heather by the second. "Would you ask him to come in then?"
Doyle went to do just that. What he saw stopped him cold. The outer office was empty.
"Well, Doyle? Where is he?" Cowley had joined him in the doorway.
Doyle looked helplessly at Murphy. Murphy looked rather ill.
"I swear to you, sir, he WAS here. He must have, er, stepped out for a moment."
"4.5, I do not find this at all amusing. I realize that you have been under a great deal of grief induced stress these last few days. I should not have allowed you back on duty as quickly as I did, but nevertheless I DO NOT FIND THIS AMUSING." Cowley turned his gaze on hapless Murphy. "As for you you have no excuse for going along with this...whatever this is!"
"But sir, I..."
"Enough! Doyle - you are on sick leave until further notice. Dr. James will have to interview you. As for you, Murphy - I will forget this little charade. Don't let it happen again. Now, get out, both of you." Cowley disappeared into his office with a final glare for both agents.
"Great! That's great! He's going to get the department psychiatrist to certify me crazy - and I can't say I blame him! Two men walk into your office asking you to meet a ghost - who then conveniently disappears!" Doyle was outraged.
"Yeh, he took Betty with him too, didn't he? I wonder what that noncorporeal bastard is doing right now, I just wonder!" Murphy was no less upset.
"The old man probably thinks I put YOU up to this... just wait until I get my hands on Bodie!"
"When I find him, Murphy, I'm going to..." Doyle paused.
"What?" Murphy prompted.
"Kill him." Doyle snapped.
Part Three: ...The Things I Do for England
"Look, I said I was sorry! What do you me to do? I got to talking to Betty and..."
Doyle turned to his partner and glared. It was a Raymond Doyle killer stare, and it had stopped tanks in its tracks before now. It effectively shut Bodie up.
They were in the Capri, Murphy driving, and they were taking Bodie to see Cowley.
"You," Doyle bit out, "are just lucky you're dead."
"Here we go again," Bodie said unwisely.
"Because if you weren't already dead," Murphy executed a corner with professional smoothness, "Raymond and I would kill you. Have you got any idea how it looked when we dragged Cowley into Betty's office, expecting to find you, and voila! NOTHING???"
"I suppose it did look kind of odd." Bodie conceded.
"I suppose it did." Doyle was grim. "So now we are going to Cowley's flat, with you, completely visible I might add, and you are going to convince our noble leader that Murphy and I are not ready for the rest home. Got it?"
"Calm down, Ray," Bodie said. "I'm easy."
"That's what worries me."
Cowley's flat, this quarter anyway, was in an unassuming apartment block in Chelsea. It was just after 3 in the morning and he was wakened from a sound sleep by the determined ringing of his door bell. Now what?
"It's Doyle and Murphy, sir. May we come up?" His agent sounded apologetic, but firm, so Cowley sighed and said that they might do so.
"Well, Doyle, what is it this time? The ghost of Henry VIII show up with useful information?"
"Bodie, sir." Cowley looked up, and, for the first time in a lot of years, was truly surprised. He wouldn't admit to shock.
"You are dead." He stared at Bodie unbelieving.
"Yes, sir. So everyone keeps pointing out, sir."
"I was at your funeral."
"I know, sir. So was I. There, I mean. Sir."
They had moved inside and were standing in the middle of Cowley's sitting zoom.
"Well, then what in blazes are you doing here?"
"I haven't the slightest idea, sir. Bodie was contrite.
"Haven't the slightest...what do you mean, you don't know?"
"I just don't know. May we sit down, sir?" Despite being a ghost, Bodie looked rather tired. It was getting wearing, trying to explain something he had no answer to.
Still, he gave it a good try, with Doyle and Murphy jumping in to help at appropriate spots. When they were finished, Cowley, sat back, a very thoughtful expression on his face.
"So for whatever reason, you' re....stuck here, for want of a better word."
"That seems to be the case.
"Well, what are you going to do about it?"
"Yes, DO. You can't just...flit about London aimlessly."
"A person of no fixed abode," Doyle put in helpfully.
Bodie gave Doyle a mean look. (It was one he'd had laying around for some time.) "I know that," he said replying to Cowley's remark, "but I don't know what I CAN do."
"It seems to me, 3.7, that you could get back to work." Cowley was beginning to see the possibilities inherent in this premise. The more he considered the idea of having an operative who could move about at will as Bodie could, the more he liked the concept.
"Back to work, sir? You mean - with Doyle? Just like before?"
"But how - what about the others?" Doyle couldn't help pointing out.
Cowley sighed. "Use your head, Doyle. It's very simple. As far as the rest of the squad is concerned Bodie is dead. And will remain so." He paused, putting his ideas in order. "As far as they are concerned, you will now be teamed mainly with Murphy here. As far as I am concerned, operatives 3.7 and 4.5 are still a working partnership. "
"With my help, as the occasion demands." Murphy concluded.
"Precisely." Cowley was smiling now.
Bodie turned the idea over, considering it from all sides. On one hand he still had the nagging feeling of not belonging, of something not quite fitting, but this was overshadowed by the realization that, for him, things could go on, in the main, exactly as they had before. And that was a lot better than being an aimless ghost with no fixed place of abode.
"I like it. It should work," he said aloud.
Cowley raised eyebrows. "'Should work, 3.7? It is my idea, of course it will work." The small mantel clock chimed 5 a.m. Cowley stood up.
"It's time we were leaving," Doyle said gracefully.
"Yeh," Murphy agreed.
"I just got comfortable," Bodie protested.
"Out, the lot of you. I'm a busy man. It's time we were all at work." Cowley began shepherding them towards his door.
"It's 5 o'clock in the morning!" Bodie was indignant.
"An excellent time to start the day," Cowley assured him as he ushered them into the hallway. "And thanks to you, Bodie, the three of you can go straight to HQ and begin running files."
"Files, sir?" Murphy looked distinctly unhappy.
"Of the housekeeper! Find out who she is, who else she may be connected with and how..." Cowley was smiling broadly. "Be in my office with something to report at 8 o'clock." The door closed.
5 a.m. and they had three hours of running files to look forward to! Doyle was, disgusted. If Bodie hadn't taken off with Betty earlier today... .yesterday, they could have been done with this by now. With BETTY ..of all people... Doyle grew indignant.
"It's all your fault!" he informed Bodie. "Taking off...if you'd stuck around yesterday we'd be done by now. But no... you and your housekeepers!" Doyle grumbled steadily all the way to the car.
"Is this anyway to talk to the deceased?" Bodie protested. But he was enjoying himself. Things were back to normal.
Well ... ALMOST...
-- THE END --