(See also "Doyle, Later")
Saw Doyle today. At least, it could've been him; I didn't hang about to see if it really was. Hard to believe we used to be partners. I remember all that crap he used to spout. Listening to him, you'd swear he lived in some kind of bleedin' fantasy-land, where you could trust that the next bloke you saw wouldn't do you over for a quid, or a fag, or just for the fun of it. Self-interest? According to Doyle, it's a dirty word. We were supposed to be doing the job we did for the good of the country, not for what it paid.
And back then, I sometimes believed he might be right. But back then, I was a fool. Must have been, not to have learned better from what I'd seen, where I'd been, what I'd had done to me. Even as a kid. My da certainly beat it into me enough times: you can only count on yourself. Anybody else says you can rely on him--it's time to start wondering what he thinks he can gain from it.
I knew what George Cowley wanted when he took me on. He wanted someone who'd follow orders--most of the time. Someone who could kill for him when it was necessary. Someone he could hang the blame on if whatever chancy venture he'd undertaken attracted official displeasure from above. The mistake I made was forgetting to remember that.
My da booted me out when it suited him; Cowley did the same. Oh, he made sure that it didn't go to trial. Probably reckoned that CI5--and him--would come off looking a little shady if one of his hand-picked agents was sent to gaol for murder. Even the murder of a piece of filth like King Billy. More like disposing of vermin in my mind, but I couldn't convince anyone else of that. Suppose I should be grateful. Suppose I should be grateful Cowley didn't shoot me himself, too, when he got to that clearing and found me, and what was left of Billy.
Back to Doyle, though. Made it clear what he thought of me, back then. The funny bit is that I'd thought he believed what he said about us bein' more than just partners, about us watching out for each other even when it wasn't a matter of bullets flying about. But like I said, I was a fool. Hell, I even felt bad about leaving Doyle behind when I left.
Took me a while to realize that I'm better off without him.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Dark Fantasies 3, Maverick Press, 1995