A Real Spy Story: Part Four

This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 774 words.

One thing Helen was surely right about was her ability to consume copious amounts of vodka with no apparent effect. She left the room briefly to return with a second bottle, not bothering to ask if I wanted any refreshments. It seemed that her only option for hospitality was vodka or nothing.

“Where was I? Oh yes, John. I rang him once I returned to the two-bed flat near Battersea Park that I shared with my parents. My mother was ill in bed when I came home from Oxford, but daddy assured me it was nothing serious. He was trying for a job with the education authority, keen to become involved with the new syllabuses. It slipped his mind to ask if I was going back for my Masters, so I rang John. The meeting was arranged outside the Foreign Office in King Charles Street, but when I got there, he walked me to Carteret Street, and we went into a nondescript building, then up to a large office on the first floor”.

She topped up her tumbler from the new bottle, and lit another cigarette in her holder. I had given up my game of counting how many she smoked.

“In that office he told me he worked for Military Intelligence, and that if I refused hs offer of a job, he would deny the conversation ever happened. To be honest, he made it sound very exciting. Very cloak and dagger. Do they still say that, I wonder? I was twenty-one years old, it was nineteen-sixty. We had teenagers, jazz music, even coffee bars in London. And I was still a virgin. The thought of returning to Oxford for more years of study didn’t appeal. John spoke of my linguistic abilities, but he was also very interested in my father. Being a known Communist and advocate of the Soviet Union, my position as his daughter would make me a very credible double-agent, John told me”.

I had to stop there to ask to use her toilet. Though once in there, I had cause to regret that necessity. It didn’t appear to have been cleaned since before I was born. So I did my pee, and got out quickly. She was eager to continue.

“I had few questions for Holdsworth at the time, as he laid it all out very clearly. As far as anyone was concerned, I would be working for the Foreign Office as a translator in Russian and Bulgarian. Although both countries were firmly behind the Iron Curtain, as Churchill had called it, there were still trade deals to be done, as well as many requirements from the Diplomatic Service. I would be sent to both Moscow and Sofia, ostensibly working as a translator. Meanwhile, I would be flagged as a possible recruit by the so-called enemy, because of my father’s connections. There would be training of course, and it would be in Scotland, at a facility used by the SOE during the war. If I said yes, I would be on the Civil Service payroll immediately, with a high grade and good salary. But I would have to leave for Scotland the following Monday. John left the room, to make a phone call. When he got back, I said yes.”

Looking at my watch, and feeling a yawn coming on. I stopped the recording and told Helen I was calling it a night. Her reaction was to refill her glass, and light another cigarette.

“Young people today just don’t have the stamina, do they? God forbid you would have to fight off the Nazis and the Japanese, let alone manage all those desperate years of the Cold War. Okay then, come back tomorrow. But not early, mind. I refuse to be presentable before eleven these days, as I need my rest”.

Her remark amused her, and she started laughing. That resulted in a hacking cough, which she tried to cure by drinking more vodka, and puffing on her cigarette. Once I was out of the house, the fresh sea air felt wonderful. I spent some time wandering around before returning to my room.

The next morning, I shared my breakfast table with two travelling salesmen who were trying to outdo each other by boasting about how many sales leads they were following up that day. After a mediocre, rather greasy full English, I went outside and phoned my boss, Magee. I left a message when he didn’t answer. It went something like this.

“I need to stay on in Hastings. Helen Renton is completely genuine, and I need more time with her. I’m sure we have a real spy story here”.

37 thoughts on “A Real Spy Story: Part Four

  1. I understand her excitement at such a job: the idealistic youth – and then also commiserate with her comment “Young people today just don’t have the stamina, do they?” and the cynical aged view of such employers who never get their hands dirty… Enjoying this very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This story is set around 2015, Jennie. The Trump candidacy will feature later. She was born in late 1939, making her 76 in 2015. (As it says above, she was 21 years old in 1960)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sheesh! See, I am way too tired to be doing even the simplest number calculations today. Last week was exhausting (in the best of ways) at school. Thanks for putting my mush brain back on track. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) According to Helen, her father read double-decker syllabuses.
    (2) After being told she’d make a credible double agent, Helen was offered a drink. “Make it a double!”
    (3) I was looking forward to a description of the nondescript building on Carteret Street.
    (4) Spies are into cloak and dagger. Vampires are into cape and stake.
    (5) At least Martin didn’t have to queue up to pee. #Pees&Queues
    (6) Helen saw a window of opportunity behind the Iron Curtain.
    (7) “Young people today just don’t have the stamina, do they?” They have plenty of stamina when it comes to playing video games.
    (8) I wonder what Helen looks like when she’s not presentable? (Oh well, at least she would still have that sexy Keira Knightley voice.)
    (9) Your average run-of-the-mill codfish is a reel spy that is often caught by the enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

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