You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly, Part 10

Posted: 18 January 2013 in fiction, writing, You'll Never Believe A Man Can Fly
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Chapter Five (continued…)

An hour later, just about the time that Andrew Patt was briefing his fellow directors at Donkey and Monkey, a groan signified the return of Ian Davies to part consciousness.

It took a few minutes for him to fully come to, and while he did, his mind was replaying the events of the previous few hours. When he got to the bit about being shot, his eyes snapped open.

Hell’s teeth!

He’d have been quite happy not to have continued remembering, but the mind is funny like that. The more you try not to think about something, the clearer the details become and with sudden clarity, he winced as he recalled the bullet tearing into his skin. He shuddered and as he did so, he tensed, expecting the immediate pain that had struck him last night.

There wasn’t any and with a sense of curious wonder, he reached back to feel for the dressing. Maybe they’d given him a local anaesthetic, but when he pushed on the dressing, the skin below didn’t feel numb. Nor did it feel… well, anything really. He could feel the pressure of his fingers, but nothing else. He swivelled his legs off the bed and gingerly stood up, placing his full weight on his feet.

He found that he could stand comfortably without even a slight pulling on his muscles. He walked to the large cupboard and opened one of the doors. Then he closed it and opened the other one, successfully anticipating the mirror there. He slipped the robe off from his shoulders so that it hung around his waist and then turned away from the mirror, pulling at the large dressing. There weren’t any blood marks on the outside of the dressing, and Davies guessed that they must have changed it recently. As he pulled it away, he realised that he’d been mistaken. There was a large bloodstain on the inside of the dressing. He pulled the dressing away and looked at his shoulder, examining it for the vast tear in his shoulder he knew he’d incurred.

There wasn’t a mark on him.

He pulled the rest of the dressing off and ran his hand over his shoulder. Not a mark. The skin was slightly pinker and shinier than usual at one point and when he touched it there, it was mildly sore, as if he had had an injection there. New skin, he guessed, But as he watched it, the skin seemed to lose its shine and take on the normal pale colour of the rest of his body.

There was a knock at the door and without thinking, he said “Come in” just as the door opened and Doctor Jordan entered.

“Oh,” he said, turning, his hand still on the shoulder, “you’re already in.”

“You’re looking at your shoulder,” Jordan said, “any theories?”

“As to what?” Davies replied, taking his hand away from his shoulder and pulling the robe up around him again.

As to what?” she asked incredulously. “As to how you could be shot twelve hours ago and now there’s not even a blemish on your shoulder. How’s that for ‘as to what?’ “

Davies grimaced and moved back to the bed. “All right, all right. I take your point. No, I don’t know how, although I’ve got a couple of ideas. Well, one actually.”

“Well?” Jordan asked, her arms folded across her chest.

Davies remained silent. Jordan waited for him to say something in the understandable, though ultimately incorrect, belief that he was considering his words. A minute passed. Then another. Then, another minute.

And still Davies stayed silent.

And then, a minute which seemed to last an hour but was only a minute… passed.

Jordan sighed. Davies wasn’t the first patient she’d had that had been reluctant to talk about medical history. Given that he’d saved her entire family from a mugging those same twelve hours ago, however, she was more than prepared to cut him some slack, and she could wait him out, she was sure of it.

“Well?” she asked, hating herself for not exactly waiting him out.

“Well…” Davies replied, “I’m not sure what I can tell you. After all, anything I tell you will end up in the newspapers, won’t it?”


Jordan had the grace to blush at that. “I’m sorry,” she said, realising that she’d already apologised a number of times to him. “But it is his family as well.”

“Yeah, ok,” Davies said.

“And whatever you tell me related to your medical history is under doctor-patient privilege, you know,” she said slightly more positively.

“A deal?” asked Davies. “I tell you what you want to know and you hold off your husband. Tell him I will talk to him. I’ll give him an interview, but not for a day or so. Can you stall him that long?”

“Of course,” she said. “Look, you didn’t think that he’d run something like this without both your and my okay, did you?”

Davies looked sceptical, and she said “wait here,” before leaving the room.

Davies leaned back on the bed and said out loud, “I wonder where on earth she thinks I could be going,” but as he finished the words, she returned carrying a newspaper and handed it to him.

It was a copy of that morning’s Guardian. “There you go,” Jordan said, “take a look. Nothing in there at all, right?”

He quickly looked through the news pages and then the ‘in brief’ pieces. There was a large piece on the explosion by the National Provident Bank, but nothing about him, either in that piece or anywhere else, from what he could see. And, more importantly, there was nothing about the abortive mugging either. “Fair enough,” he said, a few minutes later. “Next question, when can I go home?”

“Any time you want,” she replied, and then as he moved to get up off the bed, she held a hand up, “as soon as you answer my earlier question.”

He didn’t insult her by asking which question. Instead he fell silent. A minute passed. And then…

He opened the newspaper to the article about the abortive bank robbery and handed it to her. “Read that,” he said.

When she’d done so, she looked at him, puzzled. “What has…?”

“What has that got to do with this?” he asked. “Everything,” he said in a tired voice. He looked at her carefully and she was surprised, so remarkable was the change that came over him. His voice had deepened and it was almost as if he’d straightened his shoulders. His very demeanour was different, and again she was struck by the fanciful notion of super-heroes, and secret identities.

There was only one way to tell her, Davies realised, and that was to tell her straight out, leaving nothing out.

So he did.

– o –

At the same time that Davies was unburdening his soul to Doctor Jordan, well at least a sizeable part of it, another Doctor, Rosemary Clooney, was waking up. In short order, she realised three things: first, she had a cracking hangover, a real beauty. If hangovers could be compared to sound, and she was pretty convinced at that moment that they could, then a light hangover would qualify as a raised voice, she decided, and a normal hangover would sound like a police siren going past. The hangover she currently suffered felt like she had road workers using trip-hammers in her bedroom… whilst a Boeing 747 took off from under her pillow.

She groaned as she took in the time on the small digital clock by the side of the bed and realised the second item in the list. She was late for work. This was sufficiently unusual for her to actually stop groaning, in shock. She was late for work. She couldn’t remember being late for work that year.

It was while that thought was forming that she realised the third thing: she couldn’t remember some of the previous night. Oh, she remembered the conversation in the restaurant all right, knew that Docherty had seen her home and that she’d invited him in for a coffee. Indeed, she remembered that he’d come into the house for the coffee and she faintly recalled him standing in the kitchen, leaning against the wall while she put the kettle on. And she distinctly remembered the point at which “Dr Clooney” and “Mr Docherty” had been abandoned for “Rosemary” and “Jez”. What she couldn’t remember was whether or not anything more than that had happened, whether, in fact, they’d kissed.

She was pretty sure she’d wanted him to kiss her. But then again…

Her telephone rang and any kind thoughts she had towards Docherty vanished like the dew on the dawn as the increase in noise worsened her headache and moved the Jumbo jet from beneath her pillow to right up against her temple. She answered the phone more to stop that noise than from any urgent desire to talk to whoever it was that was calling.

“Hello?” she said. At least that’s what she thought she said. What the person on the other end of the line heard, though, was “Herugh.”

Luckily, Docherty spoke fluent hangover and understood exactly what she meant. “Good morning,” he said, cheerfully, then winced at the stream of abuse that came down the phone line at him which, in no particular order, considered his parentage together with his ability in the sack and ended with an instruction to perform an act that, as well as being anatomically impossible, would likely have qualified him for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Though ‘entry’ might conceivably have been too touchy a description.

Docherty grinned and said again, “Good morning.” There was a slight pause before a voice he finally recognised as Clooney’s replied with the same greeting. “Are you ok?” Docherty asked, and when told that she had the headache from hell, and was also late for work, he told her not to worry about the latter. She was assigned to work with him today.

At the other end of the phone, Clooney frowned. Very carefully, trying not to make too many muscles do their work, she asked “Was I?”

“Yes,” Docherty said, patiently. “Don’t worry about it, I’m at home at the moment, but I’ll be around in a couple of hours.” He put the phone down and almost immediately it rang. He knew it couldn’t be Clooney – his phone line was exempt from Caller ID, and he hadn’t given her his number.

The telephone rang again and Docherty lifted the receiver.

“Hello?” he said, naturally enough.

“Hello, is that the Board of Control?” came a voice from the receiver. “8123 0937?”

“No,” said Docherty, looking at the clock on the wall, which was set to a radio signal from a station just north of Alexander Palace. The clock read a little after nine-thirty. “It’s 0932.”

“I have a message for you, Mr Smith,” said the voice, completing the official coded greeting.

“Go,” replied Docherty, wondering why the hell he was getting a Flash message over the phone at home. It had only happened twice before and one of those had been a mole hunt.

“Come in immediately. There has been movement on Winter Snow.”

Docherty snapped out an “on my way” and dropped the receiver back onto the cradle. Winter Snow was the designation for the National Provident operation, and “movement” meant that there was critical information necessary, vital and urgent for him to know.

He grabbed his jacket and ran for the door, snatching it open and then slamming it shut, almost knocking over his elderly next door neighbour, who looked on in shock as he left the apartment. Well! she thought, some people simply have no sense of courtesy, an opinion which changed later that day when a bunch of flowers arrived for her, from Docherty. He’d been taught the trick early on in his career – “always keep your neighbours sweet, especially if they’re ‘nosy little old women’. They’re better than neighbourhood watch for keeping an eye on the comings and goings around where you live…”

As he started down the street in a fast walk, though not one fast enough to make him look suspicious, he pulled out his mobile phone and punched in Clooney’s number. He made his apologies and said he’d call her later that morning. He hung up before she had a chance to argue and shortly thereafter he was on the Underground. He made it to the office an hour later and wasn’t in his room more than a minute when his internal phone rang, summoning him to Head of Section’s office. When he got there, he was surprised for several reasons. The first was that his boss wasn’t alone. The second surprise was that he knew the other man in the room; he didn’t belong here. Hell, he didn’t belong in civilised company. The final reason was that the last time he’d seen the second man, they’d both almost killed each other on an inter-departmental training exercise.

“Morning, sir,” Docherty said.

“Good Morning, Jez,” replied his Head of Section. “Could you take your guest back to your office? I think you two might have things to discuss.”

“What do you think, Mr Docherty? Think we might have things to discuss?” asked Brendan Ross.

– o –

© Lee Barnett, 2013

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