Closely Watched Trains
by Susan Douglass
Rage was babbling up inside Doyle. A lengthy goods train rumbled through the level-crossing gate, blocking his view. He wiped summer's perspiration off his brow as the last car zipped by. Now he could see the knot of pistol-wielding men, bunched together in the railway yard, beside the tracks. Another man, dressed in a familiar black turtleneck, stood in the middle of them, hands tethered tightly behind him. He was gagged; a blindfold had been tied around the wavy dark hair.
"Yes, Doyle," a familiar voice boomed out. "I've got him, your partner." John Coogan stepped toward the bound figure. He lightly caressed the pale cheek with the muzzle of his pistol. "Big, tough man," he crooned.
Doyle pushed down his anger. He was unarmed for this operation; it was required for the part he was to play. Murphy and Susan Fischer were covering him from hidden sites. Each held a high-power rifle as well as their standard Browning pistols. Doyle was to negotiate with Coogan, pretend to comply with the demands he had phoned into the Controller. It was their only chance to grab Bodie away from the madman who held him as hostage.
It's more than that, Doyle thought. John Coogan's fanatic drive for revenge had consumed his whole life. He had frittered away his whole business to pursue the man he saw as his brother's killer.
The memory opened before Doyle. His taunt... Paul Coogan whirling around, a fist sinking into flesh. Paul Coogan clutching his stomach in pain...
Paul Coogan had been found dead. Doyle had been cleared in the inquiry. Doyle clenched his teeth. Bodie had discussed the whole affair with him. Had enveloped him in his arms in bed, after they had become lovers. Doyle had never quite been able to exonerate himself for the death. It had been something he had simply been forced to live with.
Why did he have to bring Bodie into it? Doyle's desperate thoughts lanced through him. Did John Coogan know of the depth of their involvement? Doyle had kept close wraps on his relationship with Bodie for security's sake. As for himself, Doyle would be willing to let John Coogan have him, to do what he wished as expiation for the death. If it would save Bodie, his thoughts ached. His eyes brushed the still, fettered form of his partner.
An ironic laugh escaped him. Of course Bodie had to be brought into it. Coogan and his men had waited, plotted and planned for years. The chance had come three days ago, when Bodie had gone alone on his way to an undercover assignment. Bodie had been abducted, a helpless pawn in Coogan's chess game. It was much the best way to get back at Raymond Doyle.
Coogan jabbed the gun into Bodie's face. Bodie flinched, then stumbled as sightless eyes failed to note Coogan's booted foot. "Come out, Doyle!" he shouted, seizing a shock of dark hair to pull Bodie upright. "Let's talk. That is, if you want your pretty boy here in one piece."
Doyle swallowed down the bile in his throat. Bodie's body was ramrod straight, the skin paling between twin strips of cloth. It was the powerlessness which would tear his lover apart. The image flashed across him, of the other time Bodie had been held hostage. A bomb strapped to him, Bodie had escaped from his captors, charged down the airport runway. Doyle had grabbed him, ripped the bomb from his body -- just in time.
Doyle walked forward, holding his hands up. He stopped about fifteen feet away from the crowd of men. All held pistols, .44 Magnums, aimed at his partner. There were two of them beside Coogan and Bodie, Doyle calculated. Murphy could take one, Susan would take the other. Then one of them would corral Coogan. But in order to do that, Coogan would have to be distracted, lulled into cocksuredness. One false step on any of the agents' parts would lead most certainly to a fatal bullet bursting into Bodie's body.
of them would corral Coogan. But in order to do that, Coogan would have to be distracted, lulled into cocksuredness. One false step on any of the agents' parts would lead most certainly to a fatal bullet bursting into Bodie's body.
Doyle pulled out his I.D. "'Agent Doyle, for C15," he made the official announcement. "As you requested to the Controller over the phone. I am unarmed, but I have my R/T. There are two agents covering me, the number we agreed to. We are prepared to discuss fulfilling your demands." Prepared to give him the world, Doyle thought, gazing at his partner. If it would free vou.
A twinge of shame ran through him. Bodie knew as well as he did -- C15 agents were trained to sacrifice their lives without second thought if it meant stopping a criminal or terrorist. These "negotiations" were merely a sham, a delaying tactic.
Coogan's eyes glittered. "Welcome, Ray Doyle," he said. He indicated his two bodyguards. "Randall," he nodded to the huge blond, "and Fergeson," the gawky flame-haired man. "Actually," Coogan began, "I have no demands right now. Instead, we are going to have afternoon tea. While we wait for the train. Hold them," he indicated to his two guards. The guns remained in position. Coogan walked over to a telephone pole. He picked up a canvas bag and four folding chairs which had been leaning on the pole. He arranged the chairs in a semi-circle, facing one of the train tracks.
Doyle stared at Coogan. He's a right nutter, Doyle realized grimly. There was a glow on Coogan, s face, of triumph, of long-awaited retribution. This was more than an ordinary hostage situation.
"Sit down, Doyle," Coogan invited, indicating with his gun. Doyle carefully moved himself into an end chair. Coogan sat down, along with Randall. He took a thermos flask and cups from the canvas pack. "Have some Earl Grey." He handed a cup to Doyle and poured.
Fergeson guided Bodie toward the chairs. "My heavens," Coogan exclaimed. "I didn't bring enough chairs. Pretty boy here can stand. I have other plans for him, anyway."
Doyle rose from his chair. He stepped toward his partner. Coogan moved his gun. "No, no. Hands off him, and sit down." Gray eyes glared harshly while Doyle slowly lowered himself into his chair. "Any moves on your part," he aimed the gun toward Bodie's groin. "And your mate loses his..." His eyes drifted upward. "One of my birds once took me to the Royal Opera. It was 'Madame Butterfly,' if I remember correctly." He laughed loudly, touching Bodie's pants-crotch with the muzzle. "He can play the part of Madame Butterfly!"
Doyle balled his fists. Bodie stood, his face paling. His jaw moved to clench itself against the gag.
Paul Coogan's image floated again into Doyle's mind. It's my fault, a voice repeated to him. He longed to take Bodie's gaze, to reassure him. But the blindfold formed its unyielding barrier. I'll get you out of here, mate, Doyle vowed to himself. Somehow...
Doyle forced himself to concentrate. 6.2 and 2.9 were hidden in vantage points among the flats ranged along the railway yard. If he could distract Coogan. Perhaps ...
He thrust his cup forward. Hot tea shot toward Coogan. Something moved, up by the flats -- a gunshot flare. Randall spun around. The .44 Magnum emitted two shots. A groan emitted.. from the flats. Murphy, Doyle realized. He stared at the barrel which aimed straight between his eyes.
"I told you, no funny stuff," Coogan enunciated. "Now we've gotten one of your men."
Only one, Doyle told himself. Susan Fischer was still situated. Maybe Murphy was only wounded, perhaps he could radio for help.
Or he's dead, the cold thought ripped into Doyle. My fault... He had to push the thoughts aside.
"Sit down," said Coogan. "We're going to relax for the rest of the afternoon. We're going to wait for the next train." He glanced at his wristwatch. "I believe it arrives at 5:00. Four hours from now. Just a goods train."
A shiver ran up Doyle. What was Coogan talking about now? Coogan stood up and walked toward Bodie. He extended his leg, tripping the blinded agent. Bodie fell heavily onto the ground.
Coogan pulled out a length of white nylon rope from the canvas bag. Bodie lashed out with his feet as Coogan and Fergeson grabbed his arms and legs. Bodie struggled against the grasping hands. A pistol whipped him against the ribs, then across his head. Bodie's body spasmed, then lay still.
"You bastards!" Doyle shouted. He started toward Bodie -- then was stopped in his tracks.
"Shoot our pretty boy. You know where..." Coogan instructed Randall. "..If his partner makes any funny moves. Remember ... Madame Butterfly."
His whole body shaking, Doyle sank back into the chair. He raged against his impotency; he could do nothing to extricate his lover from this nightmare. Later, he told himself. Look for a chance. Susan's still up there.
Coogan and Fergeson knelt by Bodie's unconscious form while Randall held his gun. A length of rope was wrapped, again and again -- around Bodie's shoulders, his waist, his legs. His ankles were bound, then pulled back and tied to his wrists. Bodie lay on his side, his body arched backward, bow-like.
Coogan tore the blindfold off. "Let our man see where he is," he muttered. He pulled the gag tighter around his mouth. Bodie awoke with a start, gasping for breath. Long lashes blinked widely. Doyle leaped from his chair. A .44 aimed at Bodie's groin and Doyle sat down again.
Blue eyes filled with rage. Bodie writhed and wriggled against the bonds -- then went limp as exhaustion tore at his. The ropes had held, the nooses only pulling tighter around his wrists and ankles. A brief terror scuttled across his eyes, then was masked.
Doyle's head pounded. He strived to hold his composure, to give Susan a chance. Coogan's hurting Bodie, to get back at me. The thoughts coursed through him yet again. It's my fault, Bodie. My fault.
"Help me lift him," Coogan directed Fergeson. Two sets of sinewy arms reached under Bodie's shoulders and hips. Doyle could only watch in grim horror as his lover was carried away from the semi-circle of chairs. The trussed form was laid on its side -- across the train track. More rope was looped from the chafed wrists into the cross-ties.
Coogan and Fergeson stepped back into their chairs. Coogan glanced again at his watch, then glared at Doyle. The gray eyes shined with infinite contentment. "I told you, Ray Doyle," he said. "We're going to wait for the 5:00 train."
Doyle's stomach reeled. He swallowed again and again -- he was going to vomit. Bodie lay on the track, right in the path of the scheduled train. Smothered, pale lips moaned, the dark head swayed to and fro. The lean body thrust and jerked against the cramping bonds.
"Such a tough man. So helpless, tied up there. Just like the old motion pictures," Coogan laughed, his eyes resting on Bodie's thrashing form. "Where's the shining hero to rescue him?" He pointed the .44 toward Bodie's straining hips. "Remember, don't try anything rash."
A muffled yelp penetrated Doyle's consciousness. Bodie was whipping his head. The gag was beginning to fall from his mouth.
Ray shot up. Coogan gestured with his pistol-hand, then dashed over toward Bodie's prone form. "Belt up!" Coogan's hand cuffed Bodie across the lips. He took out the blindfold cloth, balled it and stuffed it into Bodie's mouth. He wrapped the gag cloth around the dark head. Doyle could hear the involuntary gasp as Coogan tied the knot tighter than ever.
Doyle raised his hand. He would give the signal to Susan. He was expendable, for C15. Even Bodie was expendable.
"Don't signal your man," Coogan warned. "And don't try the R/T either. Oh, perhaps you'll get the quick death you long for. But your boy here ... I can shoot him in the knees, then in the hands, then ... By that time, the 5:00 goods train will arrive."
Doyle jerked his hand back to his side. No! I can't let Bodie die like that. I can't leave him. His legs were leaden as he lowered himself, aga3.n. into the chair. Between now and 5:00 he would have to watch and carefully plan. Let Coogan believe that he would get his revenge. His eyes fell once more on his partner. The cloth-bound head hung at an angle over the track rail. At least he had ceased his struggling.
Minutes and hours crept by in their sluggish course. Coogan crossed his legs, sipping his tea. The .44 rested in his grip, still aimed point-blank at the supine form on the tracks.
The ordeal of waiting, of complete inaction, cut into Ray Doyle. He had ceased his verbal jabs, his attempts to reason. His hope now rested in lulling his adversary into a bored tedium and thus into inattentiveness.
Bodie lay motionless, in his crosswise position. One rail dug into wide, muscular shoulders, the other into trim hips. His neck formed an angle as his head rested over the rail, on a pebbled cross-tie. Eyes were shut, sweat beaded the pale cream skin. Lips trembled involuntarily against the harsh white cloth jammed into the mouth. Dark strands of hair clung wetly to the forehead.
The body suddenly heaved. Lines of pain formed creases across the face. A leg curled backward, its muscles cramped in rebellion against the confinement. A low whine escaped from beneath the binding cloth.
Doyle arose. He would go to his lover, knead the muscles, end the agony. Coogan's gun shifted. "Sit down," his voice snapped out. "Leave sleeping beauty alone."
Doyle's temper triggered. "Big man, Coogan!" he growled. "Lording it over someone tied up." Another grunt emanated from the twisting lips. "Let me go to him," Doyle demanded "Can't you feel for him?"
"Did you feel anything for my brother?" Coogan retorted. "While he bent over in agony from your blow? While he lay in that cold cell, bleeding to death?"
"I'll kill you for this," Doyle sputtered.
"Just as you killed Paul," Coogan said flatly. "Face it, Doyle, you're a murderer, you killed an innocent man with your fist."
Doyle's anger deflated. The old guilt washed over him. The stricken face of Paul Coogan danced before his eyes.
John Coogan's voice taunted. "Come here, C15 man. Think you can murder me as well?" He shifted the .44 into his other hand. "Of course, there are Fergeson and Randall to contend with." He indicated the sitting bodyguards. "And my finger might twitch. Your partner..." Coogan's lips curled. "Who had nothing to do with my brother's murder."
Ray glanced toward the train track. The dark head lifted upward. Blue eyes peered at Ray -- haunting in their total dependence on his next actions. Ray sank back into the chair. He had to wait, be patient, bear Coogan's taunts. His temper had gotten him into trouble before.
Bodie's body had stilled. The muscle cramp had released, Ray was relieved. Bodie's head lolled slackly on the ground; the blue eyes shut. His excruciating pain was over, at least for now. Hold on, Doyle pleaded inwardly. He gritted his teeth, prepared to wait, to plan for the right opportunity
His body was numb. He struggled to breathe through his nose. Saliva soaked the cloth jammed down his mouth while ropes cut into his wrists and ankles like white-hot knives. A haze swirled in his head; he let it lean back over the track rail. How many hours had he lain there?
Voices echoed. Smug, caustic mutters. Another, more familiar voice which tried to speak reasonably. Shadows kept trailing across his mind, webs striving to take him into darkness. Where am I? Three days he had been hauled here and there, never allowed to sleep. He had to keep questioning, until he could make it clear to himself.
He stared up toward a raging blue sky. He was thoroughly trussed, lying across a railway track. More questions wobbled within. The next train... When does it arrive? Who will take me from here... ? Who... ?
A memory streaked across his. Thrust into a van, then pulled out. Dragged behind, a helpless hostage, hands tied behind his back. A bomb strapped to him... No bomb was strapped to him now. Nothing except a nutter who had tied him up and laid him across a track. And trains...
His panic exploded across him. He fought it. C15, his thoughts gasped. This is 3.7. Protecting Queen and country from our enemies... The dread of powerlessness, his helpless state poured through him. He struggled against his ropes, pulling, thrashing. His body rocked against steel-like tendrils which wrapped around him. Somehow, if he tried, if he fought hard enough...
His body arched against knife-ropes which held it in place. He still lay across the track, he had not moved an inch. He was trapped. Wetness flowed on his checks. Tears? My partner is the one to cry, not me. His struggles were weakening... No! The panic slammed into him again. His body thrashed anew. The ropes held him, just as tightly as they had before ...
Doyle stared at Bodie's writhing form. It was near to 5:00, the rumbling of the goods-train would soon be resounding in his ears. Several times he had tried to distract Coogan, get an advantage for Susan. But the guns retained their aim toward his partner. It would be hard for just one sharp-shooter. Perhaps Cowley had succeeded in stationing others around the yard, without Coogan's knowledge.
Bodie had stood it well for the past hours, lying half-conscious on his side for the most part. But now his body jerked and yawed against the ropes. The dark head twisted from side to side as strangled moans' crawled out from the cruelly muffled throat. The long lashes fluttered. Rage streaked across blue eyes, then was eclipsed by sheer terror.
Coogan leaned back in his chair, cradling his gun. His eyes raked over Bodie's arching and heaving body. Despair welled up inside Ray. It's my fault, he told himself for the thousandth time. Bodie is innocent -- not me.
A muffled whimper crawled inside him. Fragile control shattered into tiny shards. "Coogan!" his tears threaded through his voice. He could play the grotesque drama no longer, he could only plead for mercy. "Coogan, I killed your brother. I'm the guilty one." He held his arms out toward the tall ex-boxer. "Take me, do ;what you want." He pointed at his mate -- his lover. "Let him go." His gaze fell at Coogan's feet. "Let me take his place. Please..."
He swallowed hard. He was craven, begging the way he was. His servility had no place within C15. He would resign, if he ever got out of this alive. And he would let Bodie go out of his life. Bodie would never be able to stand his snivelings.
Laughter washed against him. "Don't you see, Doyle?" Coogan sneered. "I already have you -- and I am doing as I want." He pointed at Bodie's flopping form, a light illuminating his eyes. "He's more than your partner," the voice whispered, laced with new discovery. "He's your lover, isn't he? Look at him. How poignant. How beautiful -- his useless struggles against the fate which awaits him. Then look at yourself -- weeping over him! You two are a pair of pansies." The laughter burst out anew. "CI5 hires pansies, not men!"
The taunts dug into Doyle, clawing into him. His eyes swept the ground, catching the end of a muzzle in their glance.
The muzzle of a gun, pointed downward... Coogan's .44 had swung down by his side. Fergeson and Randall were snickering at their bass's jokes.
Doyle's mind emptied itself. He slammed into Coogan, knocking him to the ground. Two shots rang out on target, taking the two bodyguards. Doyle slung his body on top of Coogan, scrabbling for his gun. He seized the ex-boxer's thick wrist, the one grasping the weapon. A fist darted toward him. Doyle ducked, digging his fingers against the pressure-point on the gun hand.
The .44 skittered out from Coogan's open grip. Doyle scooped the gun up, cocking it, aiming it toward Coogan's head. Fury spun within him; he could settle matters once and for all. "I killed the wrong brother, didn't I?" he snarled. "Maybe I can correct that."
Doyle shook his head. C15 was not in the business of shooting unarmed men, even scum such as this. "Hands up," he barked. "You'll get a fair trial. Then we'll see you put away for quite a long rest holiday. Let's see -- kidnapping, assault..." He patted Coogan down, pulled handcuffs from his pocket. He directed Coogan toward the telephone pole and cuffed him to it. From a distance, he could see Susan Fischer striding towards him; through her R/T she told him that Murphy was wounded, but would recover. Doyle let his breath go.
A rumbling rattled into Doyle's consciousness -- bell ringings, a trailing whistle. The train... Bodie lay on the track. His cheeks were flushed, his bound form frozen into stillness. Doyle tore toward his lover. Reaching him, he grasped him by the shoulders. The blue eyes stared blankly. Roll him right off the track, Doyle snapped instructions to himself.
But Bodie's body wouldn't budge. Doyle glanced up. The ponderous diesel engine was about fifty feet away. Empty eyes filled with a weary resignation. Something was still holding Bodie to the track. Doyle would have to work fast.
"Bloody hell!" Doyle exclaimed. Ropes had been looped through Bodie's bound wrists and knotted underneath the cross-ties. Furiously, working on sheer instinct, Doyle began to unknot the ropes.
The train was ten feet away when Doyle flung off the last of the cross-tie ropes. He lunged,. pushing his' lover off the tracks. He looked up. The engine's huge face loomed above him. Clanging bells burst in his ears. Perhaps it was his fate to take Bodie's place after all? He pulled himself into a tight ball and hurled himself aside.
The train rattled by. Train-crew members glanced questioningly at the pair. Cowley could explain to them ... Later, Doyle told himself.
He grasped Bodie into his arms. His hands fumbled, hurrying to undo the choking gag, the ropes which out into his lover's skin. Unashamed tears flowed down his cheeks. Bodie's eyes also erupted as he pressed his face into the curve of Doyle's shoulder. Bodie's arms were clamped tightly around him. Perhaps people world look at them and wonder. Let them! Doyle asserted.
Bodie trembled, his shivers running through him in waves. Doyle stroked him, continuing to hold him; he was not in much better shape, himself. Hospital for Bodie, a few days off, some sessions with Dr. Ross for both of them, probably Brian Macklin's refresher course as well -- they would be almost as good as new.
Or would they? Doyle wondered. Next week, probably, Bodie's smirk would be back in place. Taller, with a broader build, he would probably sweep Ray into his arms, enfolding him. Ray had never minded that; he had always been grateful for Bodie's protectiveness. It had never made him feel less than equal with his lover.
But Bodie would have nightmares -- shadows of the fears which had clutched around him, revealed to him that he was as vulnerable as anyone else. Doyle had his own fears, his own feelings of responsibility as well. Bodie was still shaking like a leaf, clinging to him. Doyle held him -- then released him as ambulance men appeared, aiding his mate into their vehicle. He clambered inside, beside his lover.
-- THE END --