A silent interrogation, she sat impassive playing schtum
‘They’ offered her a cigarette, she pointed toward the chewing gum
‘They’ placed a loaded gun across the table, there were no words left to say
She retrieved it, murmured foul obscenities, then she blew her brains away
An unconvincing protagonist, he was likely the last to know of her fate. Read her obituary quite by chance, sat alone thumbing through the café owners copy of The Times. He rarely sought out the obituaries. Given the foul weather, no point in checking the runners and riders, all the race meetings across length and breadth of the country had been abandoned, that, coupled with the fact that politicians, murderers and natural disasters seemed to have been at rest the previous day, meant there was little else of possible distraction.
It took another Expresso in order to refresh his memory, well, that was his excuse. In truth he needed a moment to devour not quite buried memories. He could visualize her plain as day; her catalogue of smiles for each and every occasion that compensated for coldest blue eyes that rarely spoke, bleached blond hair that hinted at her roots in more ways than one; the exclusive taste of her kiss; every last supernatural inch of her body and yes, her merciless intolerance of fools. Echoes and visions of a long since erstwhile lover as crystal clear as the tears he would save for the privacy of the fireside.
A brace of superpowers and a most ladylike assassin who would play Cold War games with both KGB and MI5. The fact that it was an intoxicatingly risky business and, of course, one of financial gain, her only motivation. ‘She made love with such notions in mind also’, a wry smile induced of passing thought.
Back home, by the time his fourth cognac frazzled his brain, common sense loosened its grip and finally set him free, flashbacks flooding in as if rising waters to the Lock at Teddington quite near to where he lived, as he recalled their first pairing. Buenos Aires, not long after the end of the war. He, in union with Mossad agents hunting down the Nazi, Josef Mengele, she, although never disclosing her paymaster, also. With the British Ambassador out playing polo, the marble floor of his office at the British Embassy a unique, yet enticingly risqué spot for bluest intimacy and to get the taste for more of the same…she never did find that misplaced diamond earring. With regret, and a little shame he reflects that their subsequent perpetual night and day carnal escapades played some part in neither of them ever tracking down the Angel of Death.
From there on, sometimes of common purpose, other times in direct competition their relationship cemented across the great cities, London, Paris, New York, Rome, Moscow and Prague. He recalls she had, on the back page of her diary, a map of the world upon which she ‘ticked’ off the places they had revelled in each other’s ‘company’. Their list of cloak and dagger rendezvous read like the labels on an old cabin trunk. One thing was for certain though, whatever ‘love’ there may have been, was always one always left unsaid. Indeed, he knew there was a genuine love of sorts twixt the pair of them, yet for reasons self-evident a thing that could never be an open secret.
The last time they met? Easy, the memory a daily preoccupation if the truth be told. Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, a freezing fog night, November 1961. Bear hugs and kisses to a backdrop of floodlights and incandescent torches. It was then, as she reluctantly detached herself, in order to head off east of the Wall, she had told him she had an assignment in Texas; Dallas to be precise and might be off the radar for some time. It had not taken him too long to establish her likely target. All these years gone, he thought she had got away with it. Plainly not the case. Regardless, he had seen neither hide nor hair of her since that night. He had often wondered why the fall guy? Just who had authorized, and the motive for that particular ‘hit’.
She played the long game with the Soviets, preferred ‘kiss and tell’ for passé MI5
Spoke of just ‘this and that’ with the Americans, yet for nearly two decades she stayed alive
He was minded to attend her funeral in Vienna. In the event he thought better of that idea.