Hello, Mei Li.
I'm Ray Doyle.
Can't stay very long--
If I sit too long in this bloody chair I'll wear myself out.
And that watchdog of mine
(You see him, just outside your room,
the tall bloke trying to burn you down with his eyes?)
-- well, he'd flat-out kill me if I relapsed.
'Course, he'd wait till I was back on the job,
certified by Macklin and Ross and all that,
But he'd kill me all right.
And he'd do a better job than you did.

See, that's why I came in here.
Dragged your whereabouts out of Cowley.
(Asked that great berk of a partner of mine,
but he'd as soon see you vivisected.
Wanted to vivisect me when he found out what I wanted.)
Bit ironic, us in hospital together, innit?

They tell me you'll live, that you'll recover.
You've got full diplomatic immunity.
So you'll go home in a month or so,
officially absolved of any little unpleasantnesses
you may have performed whilst in England
(like shooting three men, and killing one of them).
And you'll go home a hero.
Mei Li, Slayer of General Lin Foh the Butcher!
Mei Li, Avenger of Her Father's Death!

Mei Li, scarred for life by a copper's bullets.
Mei Li, botched assassin of an unarmed CI5 man
whose only crime was witnessing your friend's death.
(You figured that out halfway, didn't you?
'S why you didn't put the gun to my head when you had the chance.
Shot me shoulder instead -- your way of saying "sorry.")

You made a right ball's-up of the whole thing
from start to finish, Mei Li.
Didn't even handle the gun right!
Murphy will be out with his flesh wound for a few weeks.
Only thing you managed to do right was kill Lin Fo.
Now will that make your father come back to life?

Stupid thing you did, leaving me alive,
if you'd wanted your tracks covered.
'Cos I told my partner who it was that shot me.

Yeh, I was all over machines and needles,
with every fucking tube in this bloody hospital up me nose,
And I didn't know your name or where you lived,
And I couldn't say anything,
And I was this close to packing it in.
But I told him who shot me.

Want to know how I did it?

Ah. That's amazement I see in those almond eyes of yours.
You don't believe me, do you?
Well, it's God's own truth.
I just wiggled me finger.
And my partner -- he knew.
'Cos we're the best, my mate and me, that's why!

We are that close.
Close enough that an eye twitch got his attention in the ICU.
Close enough that a finger wiggle told him who shot me.
CI5 looks after its own,
And my partner looks out for me and I for him.
And I'll tell you, Mei Li,
you are fucking lucky to have diplomatic immunity--
because if you didn't,
by now that bloke outside
would have fed me your heart and liver
to keep up me strength.
And he'd make it look like "natural causes," too.
So if I were you I'd steer clear of tall white men
with short black hair and blue eyes
from now on.

And know that I'd have hunted you down like a mad dog
if you'd shot him instead of me.
And I'd have read his eye twitches and finger wiggles
to lead me straight to your door.

Do I hate you?
Ah. Christ. That's a different story.
'Spose I should hate you,
But it seems so pointless.
Been too much death, too much killing,
too much guilt.
Almost killed meself with guilt over this--
just wanted to stop fighting the pain, the grief,
the uglinesses I have to do for the job.
(Know what saved me? My mate and my boss.
Even in my dreams they kept bullying and badgering me
to make sure I didn't just lie down and stop breathing.
CI5 looks after its own.)

Maybe I should feel bitter that you're going home free,
but I don't.
I'm just numb right now.
(Wish my body was numb, the PT's killing me.)
I'll probably start hating you once you're safe on home soil.

And I'll hate you something fierce if I don't get passed
by Macklin and Ross.
A nicked heart's nothing to sneeze off--
it could invalid me out of active duty
and I'll be stuck at a fucking desk or down in Records,
or on the dole.
And my Bodie will be out on the streets
without me to watch his back.
Yeh, I'm frightened about that!
'S my job to keep pathetic little martyrs like you
from killing innocent people
in the name of freedom and justice!
Go to Belfast and see how well that works, why don't you!

Aw, Christ, Bodie mate, I'm sorry.
Didn't mean to scare you like that.
Yeh, you're right, I'm just tired,
had more than enough here.
I know, I know,
but I had to do this.
One more quick thing, please.

Do us all a favor, Mei Li.
When you go home,
go back to brooch-making
and leave killing to the professional assassins.
Revenge is too fucking expensive by half.

That's all I have to say to you.

All right, Bodie.
You can take me back to my room.

-- THE END --

Originally published in Chalk & Cheese 9, Whatever You Do, Don't Press!, 1991

AUTHOR'S NOTE:This is the poem that nearly got me lynched at a Pros panel at MediaWestCon 1992 -- how dare I let Mayli live!

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