by Dog Rose
Sequel to Afters
After "The Rack"
Raymond Doyle had been staring at the glass of scotch on his coffee table for the better part of three hours. He didn't expect it to hold the secrets of the universe, but he did hope it would stop the wheels racing in his head. Of course, he'd have to drink it first, and every muscle he owned seemed to have seized up within moments of pouring it. Somewhere, in some darkened pub, Bodie was drinking a malt scotch with Cowley. He wished now that he'd gone with them. He hadn't exactly been in the mood for a celebration, but anything was better than being alone with his thoughts buzzing round and round in Lewis Carroll's caucus race. As fast as he went, Doyle was unable to escape from two undisputable facts: CI5 was exonerated. Raymond Doyle was a murderer.
Doyle started as he realized the buzzing in his head was coming from his intercom. It took a moment for him to respond, then another slow moment to realize George Cowley's less than dulcet tones were issuing from the speaker. Then,
"Push," he said economically, and went to deal with the devil on his doorstep.
"Doyle," Cowley greeted him.
"Sir, it's late..."
"And you wanted an early night, aye, I know."
By then Cowley had insinuated himself through the door with his customary ease. And he'd brought company, who turned out to be a small, blonde young woman dressed in a pink sweater set and pearls. Incongruously, in view of the late hour, she was sporting very dark sunglasses with huge insectoid lenses. Doyle was now thoroughly nonplussed. It seemed to be his usual fate where 'Mister' Cowley was concerned.
Some faint scrap of survival instinct brought Doyle's attention to a folder Cowley was waving under his nose.
"It's the autopsy results on the younger Coogan brother. I thought you might want to see them."
"I've already seen them, sir," Doyle forced out through suddenly numb lips.
"Och, not these, ye haven't."
Doyle arched an interrogative eyebrow, and waited in silence until Cowley deigned to explain.
"I thought Coogan hurried his brother into this good earth a wee bit precipitously."
"He was burying his brother!"
"Or concealing evidence!" Doyle's face was now not only a picture, but a complete Turner landscape. Cowley hurried on before the threatened thunderclouds could break. "With CI5 free to exercise its authority again, I was able to get an exhumation order. I had a proper autopsy conducted. An autopsy by CI5 forensics. An autopsy conducted, I may add, without Coogan the elder's solicitor standing over the body."
"And twisting the results." Doyle sat down with a thump on the coffee table, leaving Cowley to seat the pink habited visitor on the settee. His copper's nose perused the autopsy folder with casual expertise, and then Doyle surfaced to glare at Cowley. "It says here that little brother's body showed evidence of a severe beating. I only hit him the once!"
"If you'll read further, you'll note that the autopsy found evidence that Coogan's baby brother had been beaten up regularly...for quite some time before he entered CI5's custody. His spleen had been damaged beyond repair before you ever laid a hand on him, laddie."
Doyle nodded, accepting this.
"That tallies with what our witness--the one currently enjoying a lovely Spanish holiday--told us. But if he was that badly injured, why didn't he show any sign of being in pain? He was stroppy, aggressive. Full of vim. Said if big brother could take it, so could he."
"He wouldn't have shown any sign of pain, Mr. Doyle. Big Brother thought it made you weak." The blonde had finally deigned to speak. But instead of the dulcet upper class tones Doyle had expected, a Scouse-edged buzz-saw of a voice that could cut granite issued from her pearly pink lips. Ah. That explained it. Cowley had turned up another witness. The Brothers Coogan had a penchant for blondes, it seemed.
"Look, Miss," Doyle said as gently as he could, "I know what Coogan said, but if he'd sustained that kind of damage , there'd be no way he could--"
"You'd be surprised how well a snootful of Columbian marching powder can conceal pain, Mr. Doyle."
At Doyle's start of surprise, Cowley nodded, and said, "Yes. Forensics turned that up, as well. A long term habit, Doyle. Little brother wasn't just selling the stuff--"
"He was using. Of course. A coke habit would explain a hell of a lot."
There was silence as Doyle absorbed this. It did explain a lot. But it still left him with the same conclusion.
"But mine was the blow that finished him Mr. Cowley. I'm still a murderer."
"No, ye're not, laddie!"
"DID YE INTEND TO KILL HIM, DOYLE?!" Cowley's voice thundered in the small flat. He could summon the fire-and-brimstone tones of his Presbyter grandfather when he wanted, and he did so now. Even Doyle, the proverbial asbestos cat from hell, shrank back from Cowley in a Scots mood.
"No, sir," Doyle said, small-voiced.
"Did ye believe ye'd hit him hard enough to kill?"
"No, sir." Doyle's voice was stronger now.
"Did ye believe ye'd done anythin' more than hurt his pride, Doyle?"
"Did ye, in fact, expect to find Coogan alive in that interrogation room? 'Full of vim' as I believe ye said?"
"Then it was an accident, Doyle. No more than an accident, when all's said and done."
"An accident?!" Doyle was indignant. "That accident cost Coogan his life! That accident--"
"Is something I'd like to thank you very much for, Mr. Doyle." Pink and pretty on the settee spoke up again.
"I think it's time you two were properly introduced, Doyle. This is...Mrs. Coogan. Mrs. Paul Coogan."
"Oh my God." Doyle felt as though he'd been punched in the gut. "I-er-I'm sorry, Mrs...Mrs. Coogan. I--"
"Don't be." Mrs. Coogan cut him off as competently as Cowley ever had. "As I said before, I'm grateful to you."
"Grateful?" Doyle said blankly.
"Very." And the beautiful blonde on Doyle's settee slowly slid her glasses down her pert and pretty nose, revealing one beautiful blue eye...and one scarred, empty socket.
Cowley's guest spoke quite calmly into the echoing silence, while Doyle tried to collect his dropped jaw.
"Your Mr. Cowley is right, Mr. Doyle. Big brother had been beating up little brother for quite some time. And little brother turned around and took his frustrations out on me. Every boxer needs a punching bag to work out on, Mr. Doyle. And I was his."
Doyle made an interrogative noise. "The eye--did he?"
"Oh yes, Mr. Doyle. And worse. I was six months pregnant when he really set to work on me. I lost the baby, as well as the eye. He left me to bleed to death, Mr. Doyle. Left me to bleed to death. Just like you left him. And whether you meant to do it or not, Mr. Doyle, I am very, very grateful." And with that, she stood up, teetering on her elegant pink heels, slid her dark glasses back up her nose, and took her leave of them. "You know where to find me, Mr. Cowley," she said as Cowley gallantly opened the door for her.
Raymond Doyle remained rooted to his own carpet, staring after the woman for a long time. Cowley turned back to face him, hand still on the door.
"Two wrongs don't make a right, sir."
"Neither do they make you a murderer, Doyle," said CI5's controller, and pulled the door shut behind him.
It took Doyle another long moment to realize the door had opened again, disgorging Bodie. He wasn't even surprised. After a night like this, he half expected the pope to turn up. A slightly soused Bodie on his doorstep was status quo.
"Hey, who was the pink flamingo I just saw leaving with Cowley?"
Doyle told him. Everything.
"Jesus Christ!!" Bodie's summation for the jury was amazingly succinct.
"I need a drink."
"I think you've already had several."
"I know. Cowley was buying. Cowley!" Bodie felt he hadn't sufficiently expressed his amazement, and said it again. "Cowley!"
"C'mon, Trouble, and help yourself to mine, then." Doyle handed Bodie his untouched Scotch, and steered his partner toward the recently vacated settee. "Go on, make yourself comfortable. You're not driving anywhere with that lot under your belt. I've enough on my conscience for one evening," he finished morosely.
"But not so much as you might have." Bodie's nose came up out of the glass, and his blue eyes gleamed. Doyle wondered just how inebriated his partner was for a minute, but just a minute, as Bodie attempted to set the glass back on the table and missed entirely.
"Christ! Mind the carpet!" Doyle caught the glass and deftly piloted it away from disaster. Waste not want not, he thought, and gulped the rest himself.
"Hey!" Bodie's little boy pout was buried in the eiderdown and pillows Doyle flung at him.
"Trust me, you've had enough...And don't start!" he added, knowing all too well Bodie's repertoire of responses to that catchphrase. Of all the varied constants that made up Bodie, his partner's bad jokes topped the list...and Doyle found that very reassuring. He smiled to himself; Bodie, his constant North star. Christ!
Doyle went upstairs to bed.
After "Man Without A Past"
Bodie and his bunch of flowers emerged from the private room, both drooping considerably more than when they'd gone in. O.K., so flowers weren't the most tactful gift for a girl who'd just been bombed by a bouquet...he hadn't been thinking. As per-bloody-usual.
He'd just been happy...so happy Claire would pull through...so happy she hadn't been hurt because of one W.A.P. Bodie's murky past.
So somebody else's murky past had nearly done her in. Not much of an improvement, from her point of view. Bodie supposed he was lucky to have been sent on his merry way with nothing more that a flea in his ear and a bundle of limp daisies.
It could've been worse. It really could have been worse. He might've been laying the petals on her tombstone. Don't cry over spilt milk. Don't bloody cry.
Jesus. He'd really thought he'd been halfway to falling in love, there. Clean break. Best thing for both of them. Best thing. Really.
Bodie swallowed hard, eyes wet. Oh, Christ. At this rate, he'd get caught dampening his daisies in a public place. Grown men don't cry, he told himself. Especially not over a bunch of bloody blossoms!
Bodie sniffed hard, once, then took himself off to visit Doyle again. Daft golly thought so much of 'em; he could have the bleedin' petals. Get a laugh out of 'em. At least Doyle would be glad to see him. Doyle was always glad to see him. Didn't always show it, mind you...
But the bionic golly was asleep. Spark out. The curls were limper than Bodie's blooms. Looked like the tablets had kicked in, then. No problem. Bodie had spent plenty of time at hospital bedsides watching Sherlock Doyle snore.
The ex-copper wasn't the most brilliant of companions when asleep, but it reassured Bodie to simply sit and watch his partner breathe. Especially when Doyle had come so close to NOT breathing. Again.
Bodie blinked, his eyes damningly wet again as he flashed back to Doyle's agony- twisted face in the doorway of the wrecked pantry, telling him to 'go on!' GET the bastards!
Bless the stroppy little bugger. Copper-bottomed, Doyle was. And call himself an ambulance, indeed! Villains secured, Bodie had RT'd for the trolley himself, and loaded a cursing, white-faced Doyle onto it. Limehouse graffiti had apparently been very educational for young P.C. Doyle.
The ribs hadn't been the worst of it. Doyle had copped a concussion, and some dodgy internal bleeding that'd had the gents in the white coats worried for a while. They should've known better. Doyle was as tough as any battered London moggy. T.S. Elliot hadn't known the half of it! Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, he and Doyle were.
This wouldn't keep his Doyle down for long. Though it wouldn't do wonders for 4.5's temper. Doyle's beauteous bedside Nightingale would be praying for her patient's discharge orders before the week was out, or Bodie'd eat the bloody flowers.
Speaking of...Bodie put the blooms gently down at the foot of Doyle's cot and looked around for one of the horrible plastic chairs that sprouted like mushrooms in institutional environments.
Bounced off the bonnet of a motor! The things Ray got up to when Bodie wasn't around to keep an eye on him. Well, W.A.P. Bodie was on duty now. One of the constants in his life, Doyle was, and Bodie intended to keep it that way. Birds came and went, but Doyle was always there. Bodie looked at the flowers, lying like a schoolboy's heartfelt tribute at the foot of the golly's bed, and laughed silently. Raymond Doyle, his one true love? Christ!
He helped himself to a dog-eared magazine, and settled in for the night.
Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer
Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer were a very notorious couple
As knockabout clowns, quick-change comedians, tight-rope
walkers and acrobats
They had an extensive reputation. They made their home in
That was merely their centre of operation, for they were
incurably given to rove.
They were very well known in Cornwall Gardens, in
Launceston Place and in Kensington Square--
They had really a little more reputation than a couple of cats
can very well bear.
If the area window was found ajar
And the basement looked like a field of war,
If a tile or two came loose on the roof,
Which presently ceased to be waterproof,
If the drawers were pulled out from the bedroom chests,
And you couldn't find one of your winter vests,
Or after supper one of the girls
Suddenly missed her Woolworth pearls:
Then the family would say: 'It's that horrible cat!
It was Mungojerrie-or Rumpelteazer!-And most of the time
They left it at that.
Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer had a very unusual gift of the
gab. They were highly efficient cat-burglars as well, and remarkably
smart at a smash-and-grab.
They made their home in Victoria Grove. The had no regular
occupation. They were plausible fellows, and liked to engage a friendly
policeman in conversation.
When the family assembled for Sunday dinner,
With their minds made up that they wouldn't get thinner
On Argentine joint, potatoes and greens,
And the cook would appear from behind the scenes
And say in a voice that was broken with sorrow:
'I'm afraid you must wait and have dinner tomorrow!
For the joint has gone from the oven-like that'
Then the family would say; 'It's that horrible cat!'
It was Mungojerrie-or Rumpelteazer!-And most of the time
they left it at that.
Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer had a wonderful way of
working together. And some of the time you would say it was luck, and some of
the time you would say it was the weather.
They would go through the house like a hurricane, and no
sober person could take his oath
Was it Mungojerrie-or Rumpelteazer? or could you have
sworn that it mightn't be both?
And when you heard a dining-room smash
Or up from the pantry there came a loud crash
Or down from the library there came a loud ping
From a vase that was commonly said to be Ming--
Then the family was heard to say: 'Now which was which cat?
It was Mungojerrie! AND Rumpelteazer!'-And there's nothing
at all to be done about that!
--From Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Elliot
-- THE END --