A Faulty Conclusion


Ray Doyle sighed impatiently as the loosely bound bundle of magazines and treats he was balancing precariously on one hip got heavier by the moment. He was still painfully bruised as the result of his last CI5 case. His partner Bodie, however, was happily lounging around with only the occasional piteous moan whenever his put-upon partner tired of fetching and carrying for him.

Bodie had spent the last fortnight in hospital. He claimed that he needed his beauty rest since he'd been knifed, not just beaten up by a group of racist loonies. If it weren't for his own bruised and battered body, Ray could take the stairs up to visit Bodie's hospital room instead of spending an eternity waiting on the creaking lift. Visiting Bodie at the moment was nearly more trouble than it was worth.

Both the CI5 Agents were on sick leave after their wild fights against the Klansmen, but while his partner was lounging in pampered luxury in the local casualty ward, the ex-policeman was dragging endless bags of very expensive food and magazines up these wretchedly slow lifts. Not to mention dragging his aching body around town trying to dig up all the shockingly expensive treats his partner was demanding when all Doyle wanted to do was to curl up in a hot bath with Epsom salts. Bodie was like a naughty little boy perpetually calling for another cup of water, or a new toy.

If the aggravating sod hadn't landed in hospital for the holidays because Doyle hadn't properly covered his back, Doyle would have long ago told him to sod off and gone to have some holiday fun himself.

If only the ex-mercenary weren't so cute when feeling sorry for himself.

Here was the lift at last; Doyle carefully wedged himself between two hefty nurses, ruefully ignoring their curious glances at the yellowing bruises that covered the visible parts of his body. Gleefully he planned exactly how to wake Prince Charming. He hesitated in the hall; the door was closed.

Doyle nodded pleasantly as he held the door open for Bodie's dark-skinned doctor. The physician had surprisingly understood when Bodie's savage prejudices had been exposed on the operating table.

The doctor no longer looked kind or understanding. A furious light of frustrated annoyance shone from his dark eyes as he brusquely strode down the hall.

"Doctor. Is everything all right?"

The bearded doctor paused for an instant, smoothing down his white coat with hands that trembled with rage.

"All right? That man is a menace. He should be tied to the bed!" he snarled.

Doyle paused for an instant, perplexed (while a thrill of excitement ran through him as a vision of his pouty partner tied in some tasteful black leather straps flashed before his eyes). Bodie had been feeling fine just an hour ago. He'd been joking with the medical staff. What could have caused the change in his doctor's attitude? Shrugging, Doyle entered the room. He noticed the curtain separating Bodies' semiprivate room was now open. To his surprise there was no sign of his partner. There was, however, a thin-faced man with a heavily bandaged head in the formerly unoccupied bed next to Bodie's now-empty cubicle. He was carefully checking under the other pieces of furniture in a sneaking furtive way. His blazing eyes gazed unfocused at Doyle's surprised face. He gestured for silence frantically when Doyle opened his mouth to ask about his missing partner. "Shhh!"

"Have you seen a dark haired man? He would have been in the other bed?" Doyle asked in a low whisper.

"Shhh, be very quiet. We don't want the Germans to know. If they suspect that we've found out..."

For an instant Doyle actually worried until he realized the man must be joking. He smiled. "Found out?"

The stranger lurched to his feet, towering over the shorter CI5 man. "The invasion! We've got to stop them before they land."

"Land." Doyle could have sworn that the psych ward was on the top floor.

"Oh, never mind. I don't know why I even try. All of you bloody foreigners. I might as well be talking to a moose head. At least it understands plain English." He spoke in a loud clear voice, "Germans, invade, drive, hotel, now, chop, chop."

"Germans?" Doyle wondered if this was all a peculiar dream.

"Of course. It's all a German plot. Now be quiet and let's prepare to stop the invasion. Are you armed? Car? Good. Now, remember, you can't trust another soul. Well, come along now. We've got to make our escape before the Krauts stop us."

Doyle followed the towering mustachioed man with the bandaged head in a daze. Was it real? An invasion?

The injured man must be a government agent. This room was reserved for security personnel. He was obviously a little incoherent as a result of his head injury. But Cowley had been discussing the anticipated arrival of another German terrorist cell just last week. So was this a deluded madman escaped from the psych wing? Or an agent desperately trying to stop a tragic act of terrorism? Was Doyle crazy to take this man anywhere?

And where was Bodie? Did his disappearance have something to do with this injured agent? If so, Doyle's best option was to play along with whatever happened. Swallowing his sudden fear for his partner's safety, Ray Doyle set his cache of treats on Bodie's empty bed and went into full CI5 agent mode. He went along with the man, right out of the hospital, and through an intricate series of detours and backroads at the prompting of his strange new partner who kept spotting potential German terrorists enroute.

Hours later they were in Torquay, by way of a trip across cow pastures, through monasteries and a car theft. Doyle shuddered at the thought of what Cowley was going to say about that little escapade.

So now the exhausted CI5 agent sat in a dilapidated hotel full of strange guests and even stranger staff members. He felt like a fool as he accepted a whiskey offered by a doddering old military type in the hotel's bar. He felt even more foolish when the ditzy blond waitress offered to show him her "etchings," then actually produced some. He wound up buying one of what he privately considered one of the worst drawings he'd ever seen.

Fawlty Towers (or Farty Towels, according to the hotel's sign outside), was apparently owned by the raving lunatic he'd arrived with and an invalid wife. It was certainly not being attacked by German terrorists. Overrun with German tourists, which could be almost as bad, but no terrorists.

He'd never dare let anyone from CI5 realize his mistake. If anyone heard that Doyle had met a man in Bodie's hospital room apparently recovering from a smashed skull and wound up following him to a fleabag B&B under the impression that his new chum was an injured agent, he'd never hear the end of it.

So here was Ray Doyle spending Christmas Eve in the back of the beyond with a man who thought that goose-stepping around the dining room, screaming hysterically and attacking innocent dinner guests was a perfectly normal way to run a hotel. After a few more of these drinks, Doyle judged, he'd be considering it normal himself.

He sighed as a bony hand started to grope him under the table. He couldn't figure out who it was, but since all the choices were too ghastly to contemplate he lurched out into the reception area to check into a room rather than return to the seedy hotel's lounge. It looked as if he was going to spend Christmas alone, and he firmly quashed the lonely feeling; it was his own fault for following a lunatic all the way from London to Torquay.

The evening continued on into a warm blur.

Doyle decided that as long as he was spending a Christmas at Fawlty Towers, he'd be damned if he did it sober. So he was unsurprised later to find himself drunkenly climbing a winding set of steep stairs. He did register a dim flicker of surprise over seeing Bodie beside him, making the climb with him. His hallucination of a partner was as unsteady on his feet as Doyle was; he must have tried some of the elderly spinsters' rum balls too. They tended to make the walls waver in a most peculiar way. Together, he and his partner made it to a garishly decorated attic.

Things got confused after that, with the phantom Bodie rambling on to Doyle about the trials and tribulations of his pet Siberian hamster. Doyle wasn't certain exactly what this mysterious hamster had to do with ratatouille or what happened after that. He remember vaguely Bodie's teddy bear stories, but he had no idea the ex-mercenary had a pet. He wound up somehow in a bed gazing at his partner, who for some reason was now dressed in an ornate smoking jacket, wearing a little Santa beard and hat, and serenading him: "You are my sunshine...." Then after that things got really confused - and Doyle found himself enjoying a nice sing along.

Doyle drunkenly sang along, gazing owlishly at the dark-haired figure beside him on the bed. "Thaz, just beotiful."

The object of his admiration preened and raised his voice in a nasal screech; "you make me happy"

Doyle slowly succumbed to a wave of exhausted giddiness as he slumped down on the bed.

He woke up later in the chilly room, kissing Bodie, and vaguely wondering why they were both in bed like this. He shrugged and carried on. It all felt too good to stop.

Bodie certainly was different than Doyle had ever imagined. Admittedly all Doyle had done was dream for years about his rugged partner, but somehow he'd pictured something a little more... romantic? Not that it wasn't good; the physical pleasure was a revelation even in his drunken state, but there were some strange changes in getting to know Bodie as a lover rather than as a partner. Little things that he'd never noticed in all the years that they'd been partners. That garlic odor for one thing, not to mention all the grease in his hair. And when did Bodie grow that mustache?

Much, much later Doyle woke up completely -- and directly before his horrified eyes loomed an enormous-looking sewer rat. It was gazing with beady-eyed hunger at the fingers of his right hand lying near its cage.

Doyle screamed and wound up in a chaotic tangle on a bare wooden floor in a mess of cheap bedclothes and garlic-smelling breath as far from the rat as possible -- and only then did the true horror of his situation hit him as he recognized who exactly he'd been in bed with and was now tangled in the bedclothing with. His bedpartner was certainly not his partner.

His dreams of loving Bodie had been just that. It was the peculiar waiter from Barcelona with whom he'd downed several bottles of cheap sangria the night before.

A beaming smile lit the smaller man's happy face. "Merry Christmas, my sunshine."

Doyle dragged the threadbare covers over his head with a groan.

-- THE END --

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