Disclaimer: Characters from The Professionals are © Mark-1 Productions Ltd
and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.

I always said I'd never write one of these.
Once again, song lyrics provided the inspiration and the overwhelming *need* to write.
Sue kindly provided the encouragement...

Too Close

I followed Murphy's directions, and reaching the base of White Ghyll gazed about me, seeing the scene as he must have seen it. Hills stretched out beyond me on all sides; hard, craggy rocks glinting through the coarse scrubland.

I turned; my eyes following the nearly sheer face upwards. Even today, when the sun was out and shining brightly, the crag was cold; the west-facing aspect smooth and black, stretching a hundred, two hundred feet up... I was so close to the rock that some of the overhangs were directly above me.

It was so pointless.

I stretched out my arms to lean against the rockface; closing my eyes, finally allowing myself to feel.

The chill under my fingers and palms matched the one inside me; that knot of pain and hurt I'd had since Murphy's call.

Just over a week ago. A day much like this, according to Murphy. Perfect weather, he'd said, just right for climbing, no problems...

So why had it happened?

Murphy couldn't explain it to me. The climb wasn't the easiest, but well within his capabilities. He'd crossed to help a girl in difficulty whose rope was caught; something hadn't been fixed properly, he'd slipped and was gone...

I turned to lean my back against the crag; eyes still squeezed shut, remembering that final day in the pub. He and Murphy had been winding me up...

"You're getting old, Ray. You never used to chicken out of things..."

"You're not getting any younger, either of you." They'd grinned at me; we'd just celebrated - if that's the right word - my fiftieth birthday, and they weren't far behind me. But the passage of time didn't seem to be having the same effect on them. What was it about tall, dark and handsome...?

Bodie had attempted to change my mind. "It'll be great weekend, Ray. You should put Fran off and come with us."

They'd described the climb in the Lake District in glowing terms; but since there was no longer any official pressure placed on me to swing about on ropes in high places none of their eloquence had any effect. "I prefer to keep my feet on terra firma. You know what they say: 'the greater the firmer, the less the terror'. Besides, we booked the tickets months ago. Fran would kill me..."

They'd let me off, but only after extracting a promise that I'd go with them next time...

Next time... We hadn't known there wouldn't be a next time.

It still didn't make any sense. All those years of active service. All the times people had shot at us, thrown knives and bombs at us. After all that, for him to die in such a needless way; in a senseless accident.

We went through so much together. Facing death was an occupational hazard; occasions when we barely escaped, whether alone or as partners, were too numerous to remember. Like Icarus, Bodie would often say, we almost flew too close to the sun on that one.

Even after we came off active service he never stopped pushing the limits; keeping himself fit and engaging in dangerous sports or activities. But there was something immortal about Bodie; you were never fearful with him, or for him.

Murphy said Bodie must've been careless. But I knew him as well as I know myself. Bodie was never careless.

Carefree, reckless even - or just not careful enough.

By now shivering slightly, I made my way out into a patch of sunshine. Sunshine... I'd never hear him use that phrase again. Or Goldilocks. My hair was now short, keeping my unfashionable curls at bay, but he'd still call me Goldilocks on occasion. Just to wind me up.

"Christ, Bodie, I'm going to miss you." Unconsciously, although they caught in my throat, I said the words out loud. Well, I guess if he could hear them anywhere it would be here.

I'd seen his solicitor yesterday. Shattered as I was by my loss, I found the contents of his Will incredible; the whole - surprisingly substantial - estate had been left to me. The accompanying letter had been short.

"I guess I got too close to the sun this time, sunshine. You'll know better than me what to do with the money; find a deserving good cause for me. See you on the other side."

It had been a long drive, but I'd had to see the place for myself. By myself.

I reached into my rucksack for the casket. Bodie's Will had stipulated cremation, but left the choice of where the ashes went to me. I reckoned this was as good a place as any. The light breeze scattered them immediately.

"Goodbye, sunshine..."

© Carol Good - September 2001

* * * * *

Lyrics reproduced without permission but with no intent to defraud

We fly so close

'We never realise just how close we come to disaster whether in love or everyday life...'
Phil Collins, Both Sides

My harbour lights are fading fast
Soon they'll disappear
Alone I sit in darkness
Hoping someone might come near
Though I wait, though I try
No one ever comes
And the feelings that I have flood over me
The river starts to run

We fly so close
We fly so close
Sometimes we fly too close

Every place you run to, everywhere you turn
There are places that you know you should not go
But some bridges just won't burn
All my life, though I try
I cannot change the past
And the ghosts that come back to haunt you
Make you realise at last

We fly so close
We fly so close
Sometimes we fly too close
We fly too close

My heart is racing much faster now
Life passes before my eyes
Some things I see, they make me smile
Some things they make me cry
So I look, so I try to find
A lesson I can learn
The passing of time hasn't changed my mind
And the ghosts I know return

You know we fly so close
We fly so close
Sometimes we fly too close
We fly too close

We fly so close, you and I sometimes
Sometimes we fly so close,
We'll never know how many times
We fly so close
We fly so close

If you're interested in hearing the song that inspired this story, please visit here