by Helen Raven
Part One of the
These places give me the creeps, said Murphy.
His partner, Doyle, looked up from his photo-multiplier binoculars, and glanced around the graveyard. There were more comfortable situations for a stake-out than being flat on your stomach in a trench behind a tombstone, under a matt-green covering, during the middle of the night. He would certainly rather be asleep in bed, but he was bothered by nothing more than the cold, the hardness of the ground, and the boredom.
Why, Murph? Its just a bunch of corpses, of varying ages, buried two metres under the ground, with lumps of rock stuck on top of them. Surely youve seen enough corpses by now to know theyre the most harmless creatures going...or rather, not going.
Thank you, Mr. Rationality, replied Murphy, in the crisp tones of the patronised.
Silence fell again. It was their third session on this surveillance. Several months of detective work had lead to the conclusion that the crypt of the local church was being used to store arms. The church was in the countryside, overlooked by no tall buildings, or even trees. The graveyard offered the only cover, but agents could be moved into position only during the hours of darkness, making a 24-hour shift necessary. 4.5 and 6.2 were two hours into theirs. Doyle was bored stupid already. He decided to make his own entertainment: So youre frightened of ghosts and ghouls then, are you, Murph?
Leave it out, Ray.
Cmon. Im interested. I know lots of people are spooked by graveyards, but Ive never understood why. Youre the first person Ive met who admits to it. So, tell me what its all about.
So you can study me as a specimen of primitive humanity? No thanks.
Dont be like that, Murph. Ive got plenty of irrational fears of my own; you just havent come across them yet. You can get your own back when we meet some woodlice. Besides, I think I might have some idea why these places bother you; I was more scared of turning out the lights after Id read Clive Barkers Books of Blood than Ive ever been of facing some lunatic with a gun. Things look different at night.
Murphy seemed mollified by this offering of his partners. Im not sure Im the best person for you to study. Im probably not a classic case. Two years ago I could have sat here on Halloween without a flicker of unease.
So what happened?
Murphy frowned, though there was too little light for the other man to have seen, even if he had not resumed his study of the church. In the green image provided by the binoculars the gargoyles seemed to be looking straight at them.
I dont know that I want to tell you, Ray. Its going to sound so bloody stupid. Well, more than stupid.
Are you trying to tell me you saw a ghost? Doyles voice was as free of mockery as he could make it, which was not very. He heard his partner swallow, and then exhale loudly.
I think I fucked one.
What! Had Doyle been less of a professional, with a large portion of his mind always on the job he was being paid to do, he would have woken Cowley in London with the force of his astonishment.
Fine, said Murphy between gritted teeth, Im not going to tell you.
Oh, Murph! You cant blame me for being a tad surprised. You cant just leave it like that! Look, I dont think youre cracking up or anything. I mean, Id have noticed. Im sure youve got very good reasons for thinking that it...that it was a ghost. Tell me. Im not going to laugh. Im not going to drag you to Ross. Tell me.
Even though Doyles interrogation tactics were well below standard, Murphy knew he was going to tell the story, tell it to the darkness and the quiet and the clear, starry sky if not to Doyle. He had known that when he had mentioned his creeps half an hour past. The burden had become too much.
I dont know that it was a ghost, exactly, but it was something. He said his name was William Bodie. Murphy listened for a start of reaction to the male gender, but there was none. I met him a couple of months before I climbed up that chimney stack, and, yes, Ray, I have got the message by now that it was a fucking stupid thing to do, so you neednt tell me again.
I met him at an archery club in Hayes I used to go to. He was introduced as a new member, and put on my team. He was good. I was crap, because I was staring at him all the time. It was lust at first sight, which is unusual for me, and had never happened with a man before. He was staggering. He had classic Snow White colouring, you know, black hair, blue eyes, red lips, set against skin so white it seemed almost transparent. He was dressed in black, which made it even worse. He had on a tight, black vest top, so I could see how powerful his arms and shoulders were, and when he pulled the bow, the ridge of muscle on his back, and the jet-black hair in his armpits, and the smell of his sweat. Christ! He stopped for several seconds to force his breathing to steady.
He was aware of me, too. Well, I was too stunned to be subtle, though he was. He just looked at me a few times, and smiled, half-smug, half-...promising. After the match we all went to the club-house for a drink. We talked, about how wed got into archery, I think, but he kept looking at his watch. I asked if he had someplace to get to, and he said he had to get the train back to town, and something about his car being in for service. So, of course, I offered him a lift. As we were approaching central London, I invited him back to my place for a drink. We didnt get around to the drink that time; he started stripping me as soon as we got through the door. It was amazing. He was amazing.
Murphy stopped again. Doyle, blood surging in sympathy with the passion of the narrative, said seriously, He doesnt sound much like a ghost to me. Unless the afterlife is more fun than Id thought.
Murphy, sensing he was not being mocked, replied equally seriously, Well, I did say I didnt think he was actually a ghost. Maybe an incubus, or a succubus - I can never remember which is male, and which is female. A slight pause. This sounds mad.
Well, strange, certainly. Carry on, mate. What happened?
We saw a lot of each other - as much as possible, really. We always met at my place, or at places in the West End. He gave me his address and phone number, but I never went round or tried to phone. He always contacted me. He seemed to sense when I was free. Several times a job finished sooner than Id expected, and Id go home and shower and change and go to call him, and the phone would ring as I was reaching for it, and it would be him. I didnt think it was strange then, I thought it was marvellous, a sign that we were meant for each other. Id fallen in love with him from the first kiss.
Sometimes, when I was away from him Id think: This is bizarre. I mean, I hadnt been bothered when I discovered that I was bisexual, I mean, that I could enjoy having it off with a man, but I never expected to fall in love with a man. He said he loved me too. I would have done anything for him. I wanted to leave CI5 so I could live with him.
He paused, then continued in a challenging tone, What do you think of that, then, Ray?
Doyle replied slowly, I think Id have missed you; I enjoy working with you. Id have hoped that youd be happy together, and that youd invite me round for dinner occassionally.
Murphy turned his head towards his partner, needing to see the expression on his face, but there was only the glint of the binoculars in the moonlight. Finally he decided that the other mans acceptance was genuine, and he turned away again.
Anyway, the climb up the chimney stack. I was in the warehouse, and Cowley was speaking, and I looked up, out of the door, and he was there beckoning to me, so I went to him.
But, how..., began Doyle, and was interrupted.
I know, Ray, how did he get there? It just didnt occur to me at the time. It was like a dream, where
everything makes sense at the time, I mean, you can cope with saucepans turning into elephants, but when you wake up you realize its crazy. He just pointed at the chimney stack, and looked into my eyes, and talked about us climbing it together. So we did.
Doyle swallowed audibly. But, Murph, you were on your own.
I know. Ive seen the news films. But I also know that he was with me. I passed out when I was shot, so I dont know when he left. As soon as I got out of hospital I tried to find him. I went to the address hed given me; it was a disused fever hospital in Fulham. The phone number was an undertakers, also in Fulham. Previously Id enjoyed his grim sense of humour. From the lectures you and Cowley gave me I knew even before I saw the film that Id been alone on the climb, so I knew to keep my mouth shut about him. Ive never seen him again.
Both men were silent for several minutes. Finally Doyle spoke: I hate to say this, Murph, but thats impossible. Look, I know you believe what youre telling me, and I know youre not off your rocker...now. But love can be a sort of form of temporary insanity; maybe subconciously you were frightened of what you felt for him, and knew subconciously that he was untrustworthy, and so your mind figured out some way of blaming your actions on him. Come on, we both know the mind can do...strange things. He was a lying bastard who was amazing in bed; that doesnt make him a ghost, or a...or a Demon Lover or anything.
I didnt think youd believe me, and I suppose I dont blame you. But I know that he was there, and that he was trying to get me killed. Hed probably have tried again, but his cover was blown, so he had to disappear. A Demon Lover was exactly what he was. Or is, because I think hes still around.
Oh? said Doyle quietly, feeling colder by the minute, though whether from fear for his partners sanity, or from fear for the boundaries of the rational world he thought he knew, he could not have said.
You remember Keller, that SAS man whod turned bad while undercover? He waited for a grunt of acknowledgement. Well, I sat in the ambulance with him after hed been shot, and just before he died he looked past me with a look of, well, hurt realisation is the best I can do, and he said, Bodie. Later, I was looking through his possessions, and there was a photograph. The second I took it out of the wallet a gust of wind tore it from my hand and blew it out of the window, but I could never forget that face.
I think he lured Keller to his death. I think hes a Demon Lover who collects souls. Whats more, I think he specializes in men in the security professions. Hes tailor-made for it. Hes beautiful, in the most macho way imaginable, and were all fascinated by machismo, Ray, though we darent admit it. An affair with him offers danger and intruige, which were addicted to, or we wouldnt do this job. And in bed, hes like an angel. Hes an angel of death. He came looking for me. I was lucky; he didnt get me. But hes got others in the past, and hell get them in the future.
There was another long silence.
So. Are you going to report me to Ross?
Five minutes passed.
I dont know what to make of this, Murph. How can I believe it? But...I guess...its real to you, and I trust you, and youre my partner, so...its real to me. Christ, its incredible that you managed to function while all this was happening. He reached over in the darkness to squeeze his friends arm briefly. Thanks for telling me.
Youre welcome. Murphy no longer wanted to talk. Do you mind taking this watch, Ray? I want to get some kip.
Fine, said Doyle, so his partner settled down with his back towards him, and, to the surprise of both, was asleep within minutes.
Doyle continued his study of the church, but his mind was not on the terrorists who might be inside. He was thinking of his lover, Andrew Phillips, to whom he had been devoted since the day Phillips Harley Davidson had broken down in the road outside his flat, and he had gone out to offer help. He was thinking of how that Snow White colouring seemed specially designed to send the blood rushing to his groin. He was thinking of the times a job had finished early, and his lover had phoned, or appeared at the door, in seeming telepathy. He was thinking of how often since theyd met hed neglected setting the locks in his urgency to fall into bed with this beautiful man who fucked like an angel. And he was afraid. He was very afraid.
Part Two: Quantum Mechanics
End of Part One