This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 761 words.
As if sensing I had a question ready, Helen answered it.
“I was uneasy about Vasily’s offer. I acted shocked, and said I didn’t know what he was talking about when he asked me if I could gain access to top secret documents. I might have been a real rookie in the spying game, but I knew he was acting too quickly, and far too confidently. I told him I was just an interpreter, and he apologised. But his apology came with a smile that was so knowing, I immediately concluded that there must already be a spy in the embassy. When I told George the next day, he just chuckled. He said ‘You did the right thing, old girl. He was just chancing his arm. If you had said yes immediately, he would have suspected you were a plant straight off. No harm done though, now he will work harder on you’. Although I was giving George my best glad eye, he didn’t bite. After that, he never bit again. I had the sense that he had been breaking me in for Vasily, or anyone else he had in mind. Actually, I don’t feel so good, and I badly need the lavatory. Perhaps we can call it a night, Martin.”
Considering all that she had eaten, including the one and a half family sized lasagnas, I wasn’t surprised that she felt Ill. I tidied up my things and got out of there before she had a chance to dash off to the bathroom to expel her excess consumption.
Back at the pub, I sat in the bar writing a letter to Magee, my boss. I told him that everything was going well, that it was all down on video and my notes, and it would be a nice retro piece about Cold War spying. I didn’t use any names Helen had given me, and kept it short. Then I had an early night, although I had trouble sleeping, for some reason. The next morning, I breakfasted alone, as the only person appearing to be renting a room. As it was too early, I wandered along the seafront for a while, trying to imagine Norman soldiers making their way from Pevensey Bay, in 1066.
She opened the door on the second knock, and I was amazed to see her in full make-up, hair combed, and wearing a checked dress.
“I’ve been shopping, Martin. Got some milk, tea bags, and sugar while I was out. It dawned on me I haven’t been a very good host, so would you like a cup of tea?” I told her I would, and set up the video camera while she made it. I hadn’t expected her to join me with tea, and I had been right. When she put down a teacup with no saucer in front of me, she had a tumbler of vodka on her side of the table. After lighting a cigarette, she sat back, smiling. “Right then, let’s get going”.
Once the camera was focused and operating, I gave her the thumbs up.
“As it turned out, Vasily fobbed me off to one of his minions. His name was Andrei, and he was much younger. I quite fancied him, to be honest. It had been a couple of months since Vasily had made his clumsy offer, when Andrei walked up to me as I sat in a park, feeding the pigeons. He stopped in front of me, then smiled. He said he knew me as an interpreter, from meetings with the ambassador. I had never seen him before, but I pretended I had. He sat on the bench next to me, and told me that he was so sad that former allies had become enemies. His take on it was that each side posturing in the military sense, and all those issues about atomic bombs, were destroying the trust we had from forty-one to forty-five. I gave him a few nods of agreement, and mentioned that my father was of the same mind. Then Andrei asked if I would accompany him for tea and cakes in a place he knew nearby, and I agreed. Do you want a bacon sandwich, Martin? I’m going to have one”.
Declining the bacon sandwich, I waited while she made her one, listening to the bacon sizzling fiercely in the frying pan. When she came back and started to eat it, tomato ketchup dripped down her dress, apparently unnoticed by her.
“So that’s how Andrei became my KGB handler. And before you ask, I didn’t sleep with him”.