Bodie shook himself like a dog coming out of the water. Undoing his seatbelt, he moved his limbs experimentally and tried to find out whether he was injured. He didn't feel any pain. His safety belt had obviously saved him from getting hurt and he turned around to the back seat, where Dr. Mitchell lay in a heap. With a good deal of difficulty, he sat up straight when Bodie asked him: "Are you all right, doctor?"
Dr. Mitchell took a while to answer: "I think so, I may have some minor bruises, but nothing serious."
When Bodie turned his attention to the passenger seat, he felt his heart sink and his stomach go into a knot. Doyle was slumped against the door of the Capri, blood trickling from a gash above his left eye. Doyle hadn't put his safety belt on. That was a careless habit of his and this time it was probably to blame for his head crashing against the B-pillar. Doyle's eyes were closed and when Bodie called his partner's name with a worried tone of voice, Doyle didn't react. He called again, louder this time: "DOYLE!"
When Bodie yelled again, the tone in his voice was frantic, yet Doyle didn't show any signs of coming to. Just as he was about to reach out to shake his partner, Bodie's nose caught the unpleasant smell of petrol. He exclaimed: "Bloody hell, the fuel pipe must have broke during impact. We must get out of the car, it might blow up any second."
He turned to Doyle again and yelled: "Doyle, wake up!" This time, Doyle stirred, mumbling something incomprehensive with a slurred voice. To Bodie, it sounded a bit like: "I'm tired, lemme sleep!" Trying to get through the haze which seemed to fill Doyle's brain, Bodie said in a determined tone of voice: "Not now, Doyle, we must get out of the car quickly! Do you understand?" Doyle nodded weakly and started to move. Bodie opened his door and twisted around to help Doyle. Dr. Mitchell, who had got out of the car as soon as Bodie had noticed the smell of petrol, walked up beside Bodie. Together they managed to free a groaning Doyle from the car.
A few seconds later, the three passengers of the Capri stood on the road next to the damaged car, trying get their panting breaths under control. Bodie and Dr. Mitchell had to keep Doyle upright as he wasn't too steady on his feet and didn't appear to be entirely lucid.
When smoke started to rise from the bonnet, Bodie yelled: "Run!" Though Doyle wasn't in top form, he responded immediately, his survival instinct kicking in and making him act on autopilot. His legs started to move and with the assistance of his two companions who dragged him along, he managed to cross quite a distance before his legs gave way. He brought Dr. Mitchell and Bodie down with him and they were all sitting on the ground, watching in horror when flames started to flicker on the Capri. Some seconds later, the car exploded!
Gun in hand, Bodie's mind was working frantically. Had they just been involved in a simple road traffic accident or had they just been run off the road by some mobsters trying to spring Dr. Mitchell? How seriously hurt was Doyle? His eyes scanned the area very attentively for any sign of the Morris Minor coming back or people approaching. Bodie was very alert, ready to spring into action within a split second at the slightest trace of something out of the ordinary. Yet all he could see was the rain pouring down, dark clouds, more flashes of lightning and the flames of the burning Capri which illuminated the starless night. The shadows of the flames danced spookily on the tarmac. When things remained quiet for a while, Bodie relaxed a little and put his gun back into the shoulder holster. Waving a hand in the direction in which the Morris Minor had disappeared, he turned to Dr. Mitchell, gave him a glacial stare and asked: "Are these your loyal mates who've come to rescue you from the horrors of life in prison?" Before Dr. Mitchell had a chance to answer, Doyle said: "I don't think so. If that was an attempt to free the doctor, he'd have made a run for it and not helped you to get me out of the car." Bodie blew a silent sigh of relief. Obviously, Doyle's head injury wasn't too serious. His partner looked a lot perkier now, though he pressed his handkerchief against his forehead to staunch the flow of blood from the gash above his left eye. The point Doyle had just made was very valid. Yet it didn't convince Bodie entirely and he said: "Well, he might have just wanted to keep you alive to act out some sick plan of revenge he cooked up during the long nights in prison. I hope your head injury isn't impairing your judgement, Doyle!"
Despite his raging headache, Doyle felt anger rising inside him and he snapped at Bodie: "My judgement is perfectly fine, thank you for asking. I'll have you know that I even feel up to acting as a High Court Judge. Which brings me to the following question: Have you ever thought about the possibility of the mob sending somebody to kill the doctor to prevent him from appearing in court?" He removed the handkerchief from his forehead. Fortunately, the bleeding had come to a stop by now.
Bodie was silent for a while, then said: "Yeah, that's a possibility. So why didn't they come back to make sure they succeeded?"
Doyle shrugged his shoulders and said: "Maybe they saw the explosion and thought we didn't make it out of the car in time."
With a doubtful expression on his face, Bodie replied: "I don't think they would be that careless. Were you able to recognize anything? Any idea who it was in that car?"
Doyle shook his head and said: "I think it was a young man and a lady of roughly the same age, but it all happened so quickly."
Dr. Mitchell decided to interfere. Loudly and with a determined tone of voice, he said: "Listen, I haven't got the faintest idea who was in that Morris Minor, but one thing I know with dead certainty is that they were not meant to spring me. I mean, they would be back by now, wouldn't they?"
Bodie snorted dismissively, then said: "Who knows what cunning plans your lot have in store."
Doyle's patience was just about to run out and he exclaimed: "None of this is helpful. First things first, I've always liked that phrase. We should try to make contact with somebody in this area who happens to be able to pick up our RT signals."
"Good thinking, Sherlock," was Bodie's reply. Pointing to the still smouldering Capri, he added: "You'll have to do that cause my RT has probably turned into some gooey, sticky substance by now."
Reaching into the left inside pocket of his leather jacket, Doyle's face grew long. His fingers didn't touch the familiar rectangular shape of his RT, they touched a twisted object. It was difficult to remove the RT from the pocket as bits of plastic stood out. When he had finally managed to get it out, Doyle realised that he wouldn't be able to make calls with his trusted RT anymore. It had been damaged during the accident. His ribs hurt at the spot where the RT had been placed, but he was pretty sure no rib was broken. Holding the busted RT out to Bodie, Doyle said: "We're stranded!"
Bodie swore lengthily, then said: "I think that calls for plan B!"
Doyle replied: "Which involves walking the roughly six miles to Sourton?"
Bodie nodded in response and added: "Maybe we'll be able to find shelter from the rain and a chance to contact the authorities on our way there." He tried to sound hopeful, but didn't quite succeed.
His face set in a resolute expression, Dr. Mitchell said: "I want to have a look at Mr. Doyle's head before we march off!"
Bodie replied: "I've often told Doyle his head needs a thorough check-up, so go ahead, doctor." In spite of this lame attempt at a joke, Bodie observed vigilantly as Dr. Mitchell moved to crouch in front of Doyle. With gentle fingers, he tried to assess whether Doyle's skull had suffered a fracture. When the doctor's hands reached the skull base, he stated: "Looks like there's no cranial fracture." When he met Bodie's questioning look, he added: "That means Mr. Doyle's skull isn't broken. The gash has stopped bleeding, but head wounds can be a bit nasty, so I wouldn't be surprised if it opens up again." Mr. Mitchell wished he had a torch to check Doyle's pupils. Their gaze seemed to be even, but in the darkness it was hard to tell whether he was just imagining that one pupil was slightly dilated or whether that was a fact. The doctor asked Doyle to grab his hands and squeeze them. Doyle's grip on Dr. Mitchell's hands was firm and there was no difference regarding the strength between the left and the right hand. Dr. Mitchell hoped they would find a way to call for help soon as Mr. Doyle needed a thorough examination in a hospital and probably bed rest. What wasn't very high on the list of things the CI5 agent required was what lay ahead: A march through Dartmoor in the pouring rain. With concern clearly evident in his voice, he asked: "Are you hurting anywhere else, Mr. Doyle?" Not wanting to cause more alarm and despondency than strictly necessary, Doyle's curt answer was: "No!" He neglected to mention the pain his ribs caused him. That pain had intensified and he was no longer sure no rib was broken. He was determined not to cause any further delay, so he said with as much energy as he could muster: "Let's get a move on!" Stifling a moan, Doyle got up and headed off with Dr. Mitchell following closely behind. Bodie brought up the rear. In that order, the procession slowly, but steadily made its way in the direction of Sourton.
They had just about completed the first mile, when Doyle slowed down considerably. The guy working with a trip hammer inside his head had decided to step it up a notch and Doyle felt like his head might emulate the Capri and explode soon. His vision was distinctly fuzzy, it became increasingly harder to walk along the edge of the road. It didn't help matters either that his right leg seemed to refuse to cooperate properly and that his broken rib made dragging in the required amount of air excruciatingly painful. He needed a break now and stopped dead in his tracks. Bodie and Dr. Mitchell walked up to him with concerned expressions on their faces. Doyle tried to give them a reassuring smile and said: "I just need to rest for a couple of minutes." The smile failed to alleviate the worries Bodie and the doctor harboured by a mile because it was clearly lopsided. To make matters worse, Doyle suddenly stepped a few paces away from them, dropped down on his knees and threw up. When the retching stopped, Bodie carefully hauled Doyle to his feet, the sudden movement making Doyle cry out. Bodie had a good look at Doyle. His partner was deathly pale, the gash above his left eye had opened up again, his wet curls stuck to his forehead and the right corner of his mouth sagged slightly. Dr. Mitchell had joined the CI5 agents and said: "It looks like Mr. Doyle's head injury is a lot worse than we had thought."
Feeling a bit better after having thrown up, Doyle said: "No, I'm all right." He leant heavily on Bodie, shoring up strength.
Not believing a word Doyle said, Dr. Mitchell searched the area. Something caught his eye and he changed his position to get a better look. He hadn't been mistaken, there was what looked like a farmhouse some five hundred yards away. Excitedly, he hurried a few steps along the road and saw that there was a farm path branching off the main road not far from their position. He returned to Bodie and Doyle. Doyle looked slightly better and was able to stand without support. Dr. Mitchell informed them about his discovery and asked: "Do you think you make it to the farmhouse if we help you, Mr. Doyle?"
With a grim look of determination on his face, Doyle replied indignantly: "Course I can!" His fuzzy vision prevented him from making out the farmhouse in the distance, but he thought that he didn't have to see it to reach it. "Just keep putting one foot in front of the other," he told himself as Bodie and Dr. Mitchell grabbed his arms to support him and they started to head to the farmhouse.
Their progress was by no means rapid, but Doyle stuck to his plan to just keep putting one foot in front of the other with dogged determination and the accuracy of a Swiss clock. From time to time, he needed a short rest to get his breath back or ride out a wave of nausea. Unfortunately, the guy with the trip hammer inside his head had not followed his order to cut it out, but at least he was working sluggishly at the moment. Yet the march was by no means an easy one and Doyle could have shouted with glee when they had approached far enough for his fuzzy vision to focus on the farmhouse, but wisely refrained from doing so. For Doyle, the last few yards were like climbing up a very steep hill, though the path was perfectly flat. A feeling of relief washed through his aching body when he rested his back against the stone wall of the farmhouse while Bodie made use of the knocker and shouted: "Hello, anybody there?" There was no reply. A second, an even louder call, neither caused the lights to go on in the house nor a voice to answer. "Maybe the farm has been abandoned," said Doyle. "Or maybe this is a trap," replied Bodie. Drawing his gun, he said: "You wait here, I'll check out the premises."
He crept into the darkness and rounded a corner. Peering into a window, he saw that the furniture in the room was covered with sheets. There was a barn next to the house and when Bodie opened its door, the hinges creaked. The door hadn't been oiled for ages and it looked like no domestic animal had set a foot or a paw into this barn for the same amount of time. He flinched when he heard a noise, but relaxed a split second later when he realised that it was a wild cat, who had obviously sought shelter in the barn, that voiced its dismay about the sudden intrusion with a fierce hiss. Bodie caught sight of a tractor parked in a corner of the barn and decided to check it out. He sat in the driver's seat and found that there was a key in the ignition. Holding his breath, he turned it, but his hopes were dashed as the engine didn't splutter to life. He decided to have a closer look at the tractor later on to find out whether the engine could be coaxed back into working mode, but now it was more important to get Doyle out of the rain. The cat's hissing accompanied his exit from the barn.
He walked to the back side of the farmhouse and found an open door through which he entered the house. It was a bit difficult to find his way in the dark and he muttered several strings of curses when his shins came into painful contact with pieces of furniture blocking his way several times. While running his hands along the wall in the hall, his fingers felt something which he thought was a light switch. He flicked it and the light came on. The light hurt Bodie's eyes for a moment. After letting his eyes grow accustomed to the glare, he spotted a telephone on a small table and picked up the receiver. His ears did not hear the dial tone! Bodie kept muttering "damn" under his breath while he pressed down the cradle several times in an attempt to bring the telephone back to life. In the end, Bodie slammed the receiver back on the cradle with a frustrated bang.
He proceeded to the entrance door and opened it to find that Dr. Mitchell was struggling hard to keep a half-conscious Doyle upright. A pool of sick could be seen at Doyle's feet and Bodie moved like greased lightning to help the doctor. Together they dragged Doyle inside the house where Bodie quickly checked the rooms. The third door he opened led into the bedroom. The bed was covered with a white sheet. When Bodie pulled it off, he saw that there were blankets and pillows on the double bed. As fast as his legs would carry him, Bodie dashed back into the hall and arrived just in time to prevent Doyle from sliding to the floor as Dr. Mitchell was running out of strength. Bodie got a firm grip of Doyle and the doctor summoned his last reserves. Together they managed to get Doyle into the bedroom with Bodie speaking words of encouragement all of the time. "Just a few more steps, Doyle, then you can sleep. That's the ticket, you're doing great, mate." Doyle's grip of reality was only tenuous, but he held on to Bodie's words. Together with the firm grip his partner had on him, these words guided him like the light from a lighthouse guided the ships at sea. When he finally reached the bed, he collapsed in a heap. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Bodie told him: "Stay with us for another five minutes. We need to get you out of your wet clothes." Dr. Mitchell went to check the cupboard standing opposite of the bed and returned with a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a jumper. With a great deal of difficulty, Bodie and the doctor managed to remove Doyle's wet clothes and put the dry ones on him. Doyle's level of cooperation dropped considerably during the procedure and as soon as he had faintly pulled down the jumper, he curled up and fell into a deep sleep which bordered on unconsciousness.
Looking at his partner lying very still on the bed, Bodie bit his lower lip, debating what to do. After a moment of thought, he said: "I think I should try to get the tractor I found in the barn moving again. The telephone isn't working, so I guess the tractor is our best chance to summon help." When he turned to leave the room, Dr. Mitchell grabbed his arm and said: "That will have to wait. There's something more urgent that needs to be taken care of first."
Bodie gave the doctor a quizzical look. He couldn't think of anything more essential than getting Doyle to hospital as there wasn't the slightest doubt that Doyle's head injury was very serious. With a tone of irritation in his voice, he asked: "And what is it, doctor? Maybe you want to make a deal with me to let you go. If that's what it is, forget it." The look Bodie shot at the doctor could have withered an oak, but Dr. Mitchell met it unflinchingly. He held Bodie's gaze and told him very matter-of-factly: "I will have to drill a hole into Mr. Doyle's skull if we manage to find a working drill. Two holes actually!"
Bodie couldn't believe his ears and he said: "You want to drill two holes in Doyle's skull? Why? I knew it, all this talk about you being a changed man is bullshit, you do want to kill him!" He felt very much like punching the doctor in the stomach, but something was holding him back. Dr. Mitchell wasn't intimidated by Bodie's outburst. In a very calm voice he explained: "I don't want to kill your partner, Mr. Bodie, I want to save his life. I'm pretty sure Mr. Doyle has an epidural haematoma. When his head impacted with the B-pillar of the Capri, an artery located between the cranial bone and the cerebral membrane got ruptured. Now there's blood leaking in the space between the bone and the membrane, causing pressure on the brain. That's why Mr. Doyle can no longer use the right side of his body properly. If I drill two holes in his skull, the pressure on the brain will be reduced. If I don't do that, the pressure will increase and that might kill your partner or cause him to be severely handicapped for the rest of his life. Do you want to take that risk, Mr. Bodie?"
Bodie felt like his mind had been sucked into a tornado, this was just too hard for him to grasp. Normally, his job was to watch Doyle's back and make sure that Ray's head didn't acquire any holes and now there was this doctor, whom he didn't quite trust, telling him he needed to put some holes into Doyle's head. The whole thing sounded totally ludicrous. He had seen many daring stunts of field medicine during his days as a soldier and mercenary, but he was pretty sure that even Mad Doc Johnson, the dare-devil doctor of the 19th Infantry Battalion would have shied away from something as lunatic as that. On the other hand, Dr. Mitchell radiated an air of composure and Doyle trusted him. Usually, Doyle's copper's nose was a sound advisor. Bodie ran his fingers through his hair and asked: "Have you done this before?"
With a slight smile, Dr. Mitchell replied: "Yes, I have, a number times actually during the time I worked in a hospital!"
"I take it that took place in an operating theatre and surgical instruments were used?" Bodie thought the idea of carrying out a procedure that required the sterility of a hospital in a farmhouse was an act of madness.
"Yes, it did, but I'm sure it's our only option to do it here and now to help your partner." Dr. Mitchell was adamant. He looked Bodie straight into his eyes and said: "It's up to you, Mr. Bodie!"
After a long silence, Bodie replied: "Let's go find a drill!"
Having changed into dry clothes, Bodie and Dr. Mitchell split up to search the house for the things needed during the operation ahead. Though he had tried to present a confident attitude to Bodie when he had revealed his plan to the CI5 agent, Dr. Mitchell wasn't entirely sure that he was really able to carry out the operation successfully. He hadn't done any kind of doctor's work for more than half a year now and the last time he had accomplished a trepanation dated back to some years ago. Moreover, it didn't exactly strengthen his confidence that he hurt in a myriad of places after being knocked about during the accident. Heaving a sigh, he told himself: "Get a grip on yourself, Henry. You wanted a second chance, so don't complain about receiving one that's a bit bigger than you had expected and get on with the job. You're a doctor after all and the work it entails is like driving a bike...you never forget how to do that." With renewed confidence, he went into the farmhouse kitchen where he found out that the water was still running and the cooker worked. Next he checked the bathroom to see if there was a medicine cabinet. With a feeling of relief, he found one and opened it. There were a number of things he needed or might come in handy: surgical spirit, bandages, a thermometer, compresses, painkillers, pills to fight high-blood pressure, digitalis and a blood pressure cuff. Obviously, one of the former residents suffered from heart insufficiency and high blood pressure. Judging from the clothes found in the cupboards and the pictures hanging on the wall in the living room, it looked like an elderly couple had lived in this house until ill health probably had forced them to leave the house. Or maybe they had died. The house didn't seem to have been abandoned for long, the pills weren't out of date and the blood pressure cuff still worked.
Dr. Mitchell looked into the other cupboards and drawers in the bathroom. He grabbed some towels, flannels, a razor and shaving cream, put them into a laundry bag along with the other things he had found and returned to the bedroom to check on Doyle. He had positioned Doyle in the lateral recumbent position before embarking on his search of the house and he hoped that Doyle hadn't thrown up again. When Dr. Mitchell called his patient's name, Doyle merely responded with a weak: "Hmm?" Making sure that Doyle's airways were clear, Dr. Mitchell thought: "He isn't fully conscious any more. We have no time to waste." A quick check of Doyle's blood pressure showed it a was a littler lower than normal, but that wasn't bad as it slowed the bleeding in his head. He should be all right if they managed to carry out the operation well and if they got him to hospital soon. How that could be accomplished was an entirely different question. His musings about that were cut short by Bodie entering the room and holding up a drill he had found in a work station in the barn in front of the doctor's eyes. Bodie said: "It's still working. The head was a bit rusty, but I cleaned it as thoroughly as possible with sandpaper and I brought some pieces of wood. I thought you might want to do some trial drilling in wood to practise. I also brought another lamp."
Dr. Mitchell gave the CI5 agent an approving look and said: "Good thinking. Doing a trial run with the drill is an excellent idea." Crouching down next to the bed, he took the drill from Bodie's hands, plugged it into a socket close to the bed and hit the start button. Bodie crouched next to the doctor and placed a piece of food in front of him. Holding it firmly in his hands he watched as the doctor drilled hole after hole to acquaint himself with the way this drill worked. The sight and the sound of splintering wood made Bodie feel almost sick as the thought of Doyle's head being the next thing to get in touch with the drill was almost unbearable. Bodie had a hard job keeping his fingers from trembling. After a while which seemed like an eternity to Bodie, Dr. Mitchell stopped and said: "I think I can pull it off with that drill. You didn't do too badly either, which is important because you will have to hold your partner's head while I do the drilling." Though Bodie had seen it coming, the realisation of the fact that he'd have to hold Doyle's head steady, hit him hard. Not daring to speak with a big lump in his throat, he just nodded.
Dr. Mitchell didn't give Bodie much time on dwell on that matter. He told him: "Take the head of the drill to the kitchen, boil some water in a pan and boil the head in it for about five minutes. That should kill all the germs." When he saw Bodie hesitate, he added: "Do it now. The kitchen is still functioning, you shouldn't run into any problems."
Bodie went to the kitchen to carry out the doctor's orders. While he watched the head of the drill bobbing in the boiling water, he pinched himself in his right forearm, hoping he might wake up to find that this was all a bad dream. Yet the pain in his arm was all too real and he knew he had to steel himself for what was to come. Doyle relied on him keeping a clear head and he didn't intend to let his partner down.
When he returned to the bedroom, Dr. Mitchell was wiping a bald spot on Doyle's head above his left ear with a flannel soaked in surgical spirit. Then he gave the drill a good thorough going over with another flannel soaked in surgical spirit as well. When that was completed, he explained to Bodie how to position Doyle on the bed: "He'll have to lie as close to the edge of the bed as possible, so I can kneel next to the bed. You will sit on the bed at his head, steadying it with your hands. You put one hand flat across his forehead and one across the base of his skull. It's absolutely vital he doesn't move his head because we are doing this without anaesthesia. I know that sounds horrible, but he's too far gone to feel much pain." He didn't add: "At least, I hope so."
Bodie nodded to show he had understood the instructions and together they moved Doyle into the required position. The lack of resistance and response from Doyle worried Bodie no end. While Dr. Mitchell went to the bathroom to wash his hands, Bodie, experimentally put his hands around Doyle's head in the way the doctor had told him. He felt he had a good grip on his mate's head like that. Now all that he had to do was to bring his rapid breathing under control. He had managed to do that by the time Dr. Mitchell came back. The doctor got hold of the bottle with surgical spirit, poured a good measure into his hands and rubbed them together. Handing the bottle to Bodie, he told him to do likewise. Bodie followed that order automatically. When their hands were dry, they both got into position. Dr. Mitchell took a firm grip of the drill and Bodie steadied Doyle's head.
Dr. Mitchell put the drill to a spot above Doyle's ear, gave Bodie an inquiring look and asked: "Ready?"
Tightening his grip on Ray's head even more, Bodie replied: "As ready as anybody can ever be for a stunt like this."
Dr. Mitchell exhaled slowly before he started the drill. The sound chilled Bodie to the bone, but he concentrated hard on his task. A shudder seemed to run through Doyle, but he didn't move. After a while, Dr. Mitchell stopped to wipe away the blood with some compresses. Then he resumed the drilling. Bodie thought an eternity and a half had passed when Dr. Mitchell exclaimed: "Number one is done!" In fact, only a couple of minutes had passed.
Pausing for a minute to calm his nerves, Dr. Mitchell explained: "Now I'll drill another hole at the same level, but closer to the forehead. The first hole is closer to the skull base. Like this, we get a good chance to reduce the pressure on the brain."
All the while, Bodie's hands didn't leave Ray's head. Soon, the doctor made the second hole. Putting the drill down, he looked very pleased and said: "Dr. Hastings, my mentor in neurosurgery, would be proud. This looks pretty good, the cerebral membrane isn't damaged, there's no bleeding. I think we did a good job." He bandaged Doyle's head. Both men fixed their eyes on Doyle and after a couple of minutes, Doyle started to pull a face and moved a feeble hand to touch his head. Bodie caught the hand and gently tugged it away from Doyle's head before saying: "Stop that, Ray."
Doyle's eyelids fluttered open and for a while his gaze flitted about the room without focus. Finally, he was able to focus on Bodie and asked in a weak, hoarse voice: "What happened? The guy with the trip hammer in my head seems to have gone home, but it feels like a guy with a drill took his place for some time."
Bodie and Dr. Mitchell exchanged a glance. Bodie had to clear his throat before saying: "Well, that is because Dr. Mitchell had to drill two holes into your skull. You've got a subdural haematoma, Ray."
Looking confused, Doyle just said: "Aha!"
Dr. Mitchell asked: "Are you in a lot of pain, Mr. Doyle?"
Doyle flinched and stifled a groan before answering: "My head's been better, thank you for asking."
Dr. Mitchell let a small smile pass his face. "No doubt about that." He took Doyle's right hand and said: "Squeeze my hand, please, Mr. Doyle."
It took Doyle two seconds to follow that command, but then he squeezed Dr. Mitchell's hand so tightly that the doctor winced. The smile on his face now reached his eyes and he said: "That's fine, Mr. Doyle. I'm pretty sure you'll be all right."
Bodie and Dr. Mitchell looked at each other and heaved a big, big sigh of relief in perfect sync.
Carefully getting up from the bed, Bodie said: "I'd better see if I can get that tractor to work."
Doyle who was trying hard to follow what was going on, said: "What do you need a tractor for, Bodie?"
Rolling his eyes, Bodie replied: "The Capri blew up, remember that?"
Doyle nodded meekly and Bodie added: "We need to find a way to get you to hospital fast. I think I could get to Sourton a lot quicker with the tractor than on foot."
Doyle wasn't sure about this and asked: "If you went jogging more often, you could run faster than any bloody tractor."
Bodie was just about to answer that with some choice words, when there was a knock on the entrance door and a male voice yelled: "Anybody there?"
Bodie went to the door, right hand on his gun, poised for action and said: "Who's there?"
"Corporal O'Leary, 1st Royal Tank Regiment! Who are you?"
Carefully, Bodie opened the door. He blinked twice as he hardly dared to believe his eyes. There was a young man in uniform standing outside, giving him a very observant look.
Bodie said: "Bodie, CI5."
Corporal O'Leary asked: "Are you one of the people involved in a road traffic accident some time ago? "
Bodie just nodded in reply and the Corporal went on: "There was a young couple coming into Okehampton Community Hospital this evening. The wife was just about to give birth and there were complications when the child was born. When the worst was over and mother and son were out of danger, they told the doctors that they had made a very dodgy overtaking manoeuvre on their way to hospital and that the car involved might have had an accident. The doctors informed the police and the police got in touch with the Army Training Centre in Okehampton. My regiment is stationed here for trying out new battle plans and we were sent to check out the area of the possible accident. We found a burnt out Capri, but nobody inside, so we decided to comb the area. I made a guess that the passengers might have made it to the widow Simpson's house, that's why I came here. Do you need any help?"
Bodie's head churned when he tried to take this all in. So, they had been involved in an ordinary road traffic accident after all. He said: "Yes, we need help. Do you have a helicopter stationed at the Army Training Centre? We need to get a patient with a serious head injury to London as fast as possible."
Corporal O'Leary didn't waste any time. He called the Army Training Centre using his radio. After a short report about the situation, he requested the dispatch of a helicopter. After listening to his radio for a while, the Corporal said: "The helicopter should be here in a few minutes with our doctor on board and Major Cowley will be informed."
Bodie felt himself relaxing now that help was here and he said: "Thank you very much!" He went back inside the house with the Corporal in his wake. Bodie led the way to the bedroom and pointing to the bed he, said: "Corporal O'Leary, meet my partner Ray Doyle." The Corporal stood at attention and tipped his cap. Bodie crouched down next to the bed, squeezed Doyle's right hand and said: "Looks like I don't need to go for a jog, Corporal O'Leary has just organised a helicopter transfer for us."
A smile passed Doyle's face before he said: "Lucky sod, you always manage to escape a good exercise."
Corporal O'Leary called the other members of his search team and a little later three Land Rovers arrived. Their headlights and the soldiers who fanned out with their torches in hand served to illuminate the landing site. It didn't take long till the characteristic sound of a Huey could be heard approaching the farmhouse. With great skill, the pilot brought his helicopter down close to the house. With the rotor still turning, the doctor and two paramedics carrying a stretcher jumped from the helicopter with their heads bowed and ran towards the farmhouse.
Major Howard's eyes got rounder and rounder while he listened to Dr. Mitchell's report on Doyle's condition and on the operation he had just carried out. When Dr. Mitchell had finished, he burst out: "Good god, you really opened your patient's skull here in this farmhouse. You're either a brilliant doctor or a lunatic. Probably both." He shook his head briefly before saying: "Right, let's get our patient to London."
The paramedics put Doyle onto the stretcher and carefully carried him to the waiting helicopter. Bodie walked alongside the stretcher and Dr. Mitchell told Major Howard more about how the operation had been done. When they all were aboard, the Huey lifted off and headed towards London.
Doyle drifted in and out of consciousness during the flight. When the helicopter landed on the roof of the University College Of London Hospital two hours later, there was a team of doctors and nurses waiting for them to whisk Doyle away to the operating theatre.
In the waiting room of the neurosurgical ward, Bodie and Dr. Mitchell met Major Cowley, Lyn and Lucas and McCabe, who were supposed to escort Dr. Mitchell to Feltham. Dr. Mitchell asked: "Can I stay here to wait till there's news about the outcome of the surgery?" Major Cowley thought for a moment before replying: "Of course, you can. You've done a fantastic job on my operative and I'm very grateful." He held out his hand to the doctor. They shook hands and Major Cowley said: "I'm sure Bodie and Doyle will report about your skill and courage in Court should your lawyer manage to get a retrial." He gave Bodie a questioning look. Bodie said: "Of course we will!"
Three hours later, the surgeon who had operated on Doyle, came into the waiting room to tell them about the outcome of the surgery. He said: "Thanks to the excellent care Mr. Doyle received in the field, I'm absolutely confident that he'll pull through and will make a full recovery. We removed the haematoma and Mr. Doyle should wake up once the anaesthesia wears off. He's in the intensive care ward. You can go and see him, but only two at a time." Bodie had a look at Major Cowley, who smiled at him in return and said: "Go on, Bodie and take Lyn with you. I can give Doyle my tongue lashing about not wearing a seatbelt while carrying out a CI5 operation later."
Lyn said: "Thank you Sir. I think I'll have something to say about that matter as well."
Then she and Bodie turned to Dr. Mitchell to thank him, too. Before turning to leave the room, Bodie said to Major Cowley: "Please make sure they treat Dr. Mitchell well in Feltham. I don't want him to have any mishaps or accidents like in Dartmoor."
With a serious expression on his face, Major Cowley replied: "I've had a talk with the governor of Feltham already and told him in no uncertain terms that he'd have to face an inquiry should anything happen to Dr. Mitchell while he's in his care."
"Thank you, Sir," Bodie replied and then he and Lyn left to see Doyle.
When Ray Doyle finally deigned to open his eyes, the sun had long risen over Tower Bridge. Not much sunlight filtered through the blinds, but Doyle enjoyed the little that made its way to his bed. He could see clearly now again and to say he was happy about that would have been an understatement. There was a strange noise and for a second a wave of panic hit Doyle's mind because it reminded it him of the sound of the drill his subconscious had picked up while Dr. Mitchell had been working on his skull. He felt desperately thirsty and when he moved his head a little, he spotted a jug on the bedside table. Making an attempt to get it sent a raging fire of pain through his head. Desperately, he glanced around the room with utmost care in order not to jar his head too much to see if there was somebody there to help him. The sight that met his eyes was very peculiar: Bodie was dozing in a chair beside the bed, snoring loudly. Next to him, Duncan was curled up in another chair. He pricked up his ears when he saw Doyle stir on the bed and gave a loud bark to wake up Bodie.
Looking a little dazed and confused, Bodie took a while to size up the situation. Doyle said as cheerfully as his aching head would allow and with a raspy voice: "Good morning, sleeping beauty. Would you mind helping me to a drink?"
Bodie jumped to his feet. Crossing the distance to Doyle's bed, he said: "Course not. Glad to have you back, Ray!" He poured some water into a plastic cup and carefully put a hand under Doyle's head to steady it while his partner gulped down the cool liquid hastily. After a couple of sips, Bodie pulled the cup away and put Ray's head down gingerly. "More later," he said.
His voice less hoarse, Doyle said: "Thanks Bodie." Turning his head slowly to Duncan, he said: "Hello Duncan, how did you get in here?"
Bodie replied: "Linda and Alan brought him here. Obviously, your surgeon felt like emulating Dr. Mitchell's daredevil practice of medicine and allowed Duncan not only into your room, but also to stay when Alan had to go to school. He said he'll be back after school with some grapes. The old man has arranged that Alan can see his dad in prison tomorrow because Alan said he wants to thank his dad for saving your life."
"So maybe there's hope for the two of them establishing a father-son relationship again," Doyle said.
"I think so," replied Bodie.
At that moment the door opened and Lyn entered, carrying two cups of tea. When she saw that Ray was awake, she moved to the bed to plant a gentle kiss on his lips.
Dr. Mitchell's lawyer managed to get a retrial for his client. In the end, Dr. Mitchell's prison sentence was halved, due to his testimony during the Lombardi trial and to the fact that his effort had saved Doyle's life. Dr. Mitchell was allowed to work at the prison hospital and managed to be as good a father to Alan as the circumstances permitted.