“Sit down Captain,” the psychologist motioned to Biggles to use the couch.
“Thanks Algy, but will there be crumpet?”
“No, now lie down.”
“No, now lie down, that’s an order.”
“We’re both captains, you can’t order me.”
“I’m also a doctor, so I can.”
“I’m a pilot, so you can’t.”
“Okay,” the psychologist sighed, “ very well – no, hang on, I’m a pilot too, that means I still outrank you.”
“I’m a pilot and an ace, and come to think of it, I’m also Biggles, nobody outranks a Biggles.”
“The commodore does.”
“He does?” frowned Biggles, “and all this time I thought he just signed the paychecks. Got to respect the paymaster you know.”
“Very well, stand there if you must, but for heavens sake answer these bally questions.”
“Algy, you can’t make me stand for hours on end, that’s a form of torture.” Biggles grinned and lay down on the couch. “More childhood?”
“If you like.” Algy made a scribble. Algy or ‘Algernon Lacey’ was in fact a cousin of Biggles, but they always started the counseling in a semi-professional way, just to show good form.
“Algy, we grew up together, don’t you know already my childhood?” Biggles rested his arms behind his head.
“That’s not the point old man, you have to talk about it, that way, and you know something or other.”
“Something or other what?”
“I don’t know, we won’t know until you bally well talk about it.”
“So how will we know when I am talking about it?” Biggles eyebrows collapsed like the wings of a Fokker Dr.I triplane after Manfred von Richthofen had missed the runway.
Algy pulled a book from behind him, and leafed through the pages. Algy wasn’t really a psychologist, but it gave him something to do while he was convalescing. He too had been shot so many times that it was a miracle he was still alive, and spent most of his time now lying around trying to get the use of legs back - which wasn’t easy as they were kept in a box by the door of the tent.
“It says here,” Algy sucked his cheeks, “you will either have an epiphany or a cathartic shock.”
“Will it hurt?”
“Only if you go insane. Not much risk of that, old bean.”
“I say not,” and they both chortled at the ludicrousness of it.
In fact, Biggles was stark raving mad, and had been for as long as he had been flying. No one had been able to prove this of course, because he was a famous flying ace, in fact, he was the most famous flying ace, which meant his sanity and his reputation was protected by order of the War Office. Which certainly made it easy when picking up Wrens, as the rule of thumb is never argue with a mad person and you can’t argue with a famous flying ace. Life was sweet.
“So, anything childhood epiphanies?”
“Is that like choir practice?” Biggles asked whistling between his teeth.
“No different epiphany,” Algy bit on his pencil. “We want the other one.”
“The one we don’t know what it is?”
“What if I had an epiphany while I had choir practice - while I singing an epiphany?”
“Were you ever in choir?”
“Ah. Biggles, you’re not making this easy.”
“Yes, and that does cover quite a bit doesn’t it. Look old man, isn’t there anything about your childhood, which I can put down on this blasted report. Anything that would look interesting, otherwise the jolly commodore will have me back in the trenches, and I’d rather avoid the whole lose-my-head-before-morning-tea-thing, if you know what I mean.”
“But Algy, we don’t have trenches anymore, this is Iraq. All we have here are targets.”
“Yes, jolly Mister Abdullah and his donkeys. No end of Mister Abdullahs over here.”
“I see your point.” Algy looked at the ceiling, “I don’t supposed you were frightened by a donkey when you were a child.”
“No, I’m Biggles.”
“Biggles has no fears?”
“Only that this war will be over before I can get in my plane again.”
“Aha! So, for you to overcome your fears,” Algy began writing excitedly, “it’s necessary for you to go out and shoot Mister Abdullah and his donkeys, and this is important for the war effort.”
“I never thought about it that way before, I say Algy, you are clever.”
“Well then, that’s settled. Biggles I’m putting you back on active duty.”
“Was I ever off?”
“Well no, but we must go through the forms, mustn’t we?”
“Right ho, old bean. So, can I go and start flying again?”
“Don’t see why not. It’s for the War effort.”
“Toodle-pip and what!” Biggles bounced out of his couch and paused by the door. “And can I shot down the German medical planes and blow up Iran?”
“Course you can.” Algy nodded, “for the War effort.”
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