Purgatory

by P. R. Zed


It was a beautiful spring day. The green of the grass held the promise of a lush summer to come. The trees were in bud and singing birds clung to their branches. The sun was shining, and the only clouds to be seen were not the sort that chucked down buckets of rain, but rather of the breed that scudded serenely across the firmament, their only purpose to emphasize the blueness of the sky.

"I've died and gone to hell."

"Stop your moaning, Bodie. I'm trying to concentrate." Doyle didn't move, but only looked intently through the field glasses held tightly in his hand.

"I've died and gone to hell," Bodie repeated in a tone of voice meant to emphasize the depths of his boredom and misery. "It's the only explanation."

"An obbo on a golf course hardly qualifies as hell." Doyle put down the field glasses and shot him a sceptical look.

"What would you call it, then? Stuck in a hedge, nothing to do for hours at a time but watch old duffers hit a little white ball and chase it 'round the countryside." Bodie stopped for a moment to watch as one of the said old duffers tried futilely to hit his ball out of a sand trap. "Stupid game, really. Only the Scots could have come up with it. Almost as daft as curling."

"Don't let Cowley hear you say that. Impugning the Scots and golf in the same breath? He really would send you to hell for that."

"He couldn't. 'Cause he already has done, hasn't he? I'm serving out my time in hell in penance for my sins."

"This is hardly fit punishment for your sins, mate. You forget, I've seen the sins you've committed. In fact, I've helped you commit a few of 'em." Doyle leaned forward and leered in Bodie's direction.

"Gerroff," Bodie said, pushing his partner away. He settled back and let his expert eye sweep their assigned patch of the course. Having determined that the terrorists rumoured to be making an attempt on the Home Secretary during his regular weekend golf game had not yet shown, he turned back to Doyle. "Anyway, why couldn't we have pulled the security duty guarding the Secretary?" Said Honourable was currently safely ensconced in his own home, watched over by Murphy and Ruth. "Cushy job, that."

"I think you've made one too many tasteless jokes within his hearing. Cowley's not going to put us within a mile of the old boy. Not unless we were the last two agents left on the squad. And even then he'd probably rather give his granny the job."

"Be fair, you've told just as many bad jokes as I have."

Doyle gave him a dubious look."

"Okay," Bodie finally admitted. "I'm usually the one who tells them where the Cow and all can hear them. But confess, you've got a pretty crap sense of humour too."

"I'm confessing to no such thing. I've got a rapier wit and a charming personality."

"Your wit's as dull as a butter knife and you're a stroppy bastard at the best of times."

"Then why do you put up with me?"

"No idea," Bodie said. "I must feel sorry for you."

"You've stolen my line, mate."

"No reason to feel sorry for me. I'm..."

"Tall, dark, beautiful, etcetera. So you keep saying."

"'S true, isn't it?" Bodie was indignant.

"The fantasies of the deluded."

"I'll give you deluded," Bodie said, giving Doyle a sharp poke in the ribs.

"Ow. That bloody hurt," Doyle said, rubbing his side.

"Was meant to."

"You just wait, sunshine. I'll show you what hurts."

"Promises, promises, Doyle."

"This is one promise I mean to keep."

"When?"

"What?"

"When you going to keep this promise of yours?" Bodie leaned close enough to whisper in Doyle's ear. "When are you going to hurt me?" And just like that, Bodie was no longer taking the piss for the hell of it, was no longer pratting about. Now he honestly wanted to see how far he could push Doyle, how much he could take from him. How much he could give.

The widening of Doyle's eyes, the quickening of his breath told Bodie that this was no longer a game for his partner either. Or at least not the kind of game they were used to playing.

"You'll take one chance too many, Bodie."

"Maybe you've taken one chance too few."

Doyle's eyes narrowed and Bodie felt himself examined from stem to stern. "And if I were to take this chance? Say tonight..." Doyle left the question hanging between them.

"Well, now," Bodie smiled and let one finger trail across the line of Doyle's jaw.

Doyle reached up and took firm hold of Bodie's hand. His eyes darkened and, for a moment, Bodie thought that Doyle might hit him. But then Doyle showed all his teeth in a smile. It was the smile of a hungry man who has suddenly and unexpectedly found all his favourite foods laid out before him on a buffet.

Doyle reached out and rubbed his thumb across Bodie's bottom lip. To Bodie, it was as if his senses had been sleeping until that moment, as if they'd only been waiting for Doyle's touch to awaken.

"'Bout bloody time, Bodie," Doyle said, then leaned forward in a way that left Bodie in no doubt as to what his entirely dishonourable intentions were.

Reluctantly, Bodie stopped Doyle with a hand on his chest.

"Not here, you mad bastard. We're still on duty."

"Christ," Doyle said. "You do pick your moments, don't you?" Looking distractedly across the golf course, Doyle sighed deeply. "Right, then. How much longer have we got?"

Bodie checked his watch. "Two hours."

"Two bloody hours. I've died and gone to hell," Doyle said, shifting in a way that left Bodie in absolutely no doubt about the state of Doyle's trousers.

Bodie only smiled. It had turned out to be quite a lovely day after all.

Fin


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