This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 782 words.
“For the next three mornings, we sat in the shallows, to get out of the heat on the beach. With our backs to the town, we chatted constantly. Like me, Desi was not just an interpreter, but a trained spy in the Bulgarian Secret Service. Clive had been completely right about that. She had been expected to not only spy on behalf of the Russians, but to spy on the Russians for the Bulgarians. I didn’t let on about my training at first, but when I needed to talk about her defecting to England through Greece, she guessed my full involvement. In my rather silly, infatuated state, I had conversations with her about us possibly living together in London, or another city back home. I would ask for a transfer to duties in England, wait until Desi had been debriefed, and see what happened. She was less convinced that MI6 would ever let that happen, but agreed it was a nice idea, and it was good to have a goal”.
Helen stood up to go and get something, returning with some paperwork.
“I thought I should show you these before continuing, Martin. I don’t want you to have the slightest idea that this is all bullshit on my part”.
Scanning the faded documents, I could feel the hair standing up on the back of my neck. As I translated them from Russian in my head, I made a decision. I told Helen that I was finishing for the day. But I assured her I would be back tomorrow, and every day after, for as long as it took. Taking my leave, I returned to the hotel. I stopped on the way, and made a phone call on my mobile. It took a while to get through to my boss, Colin Magee, and I soon shut him up as he started moaning. I told him I was quitting, effective immediately. He could keep my outstanding salary against what the hotel and expenses had cost him. Before he could splutter his outrage, I had hung up.
The next morning at eleven, I went back to Helen’s house with the video camera fully charged, a bag containing six pastries, and a black coffee for myself. When she opened the door, she looked the best I had seen her so far. Her cotton dress was a fetching dark green, her hair combed, make-up applied to her face, and she was wearing some tan-coloured tights and brown court shoes. It was as if we both sensed that we had turned a corner, and it was finally becoming serious. Despite her age and clothing, I finally had a distant glimpse of the young attractive woman she had once been.
Once I had sat down and started the camera, Helen ate two cinnamon whirls washed down with vodka, then lit a cigarette.
“Okay, let’s get started, Martin. Most evenings in Sozopol, we had been going to the same restaurant. It was a cellar bar that served food, and played Jazz music. Desi loved it there, and told me that on our last night that Saturday, she would treat me to a special Bulgarian banquet. During the day on that Saturday, we went to the harbour. There were some Bulgarian patrol boats anchored there, and a larger warship flying the Soviet flag. Desi had a Zorki camera, a rangefinder model, and she took lots of photos of me at the harbour, with that warship in the background. On the way to the meal at the restaurant, she mumbled that the Soviets were planning to site nuclear bombs in Cuba, and that it might cause a world war. She said she needed to get out of Bulgaria as soon as possible, and had lots more to tell us once she got to England. I was excited, as that meant she wanted to defect sooner, rather than later”.
She stopped to pick up two custard slices, holding one in her hand as she ate the other one.
When we got to the cellar bar that night, Desi greeted the owner, and we sat in a small booth. He produced various small courses that were all delicious, and we washed them down with red wine. As the night went on, and many customers had left, we started drinking Plum Rakia, the owner filling our glasses then smiling at us from behind the bar. Close to midnight, I needed the lavatory, and left Desi chatting with the friendly host”.
Lighting another cigarette, Helen leaned forward.
“When I came back from the toilet, Desi was lying on the floor with her throat cut, and the owner nowhere to be seen. Then the lights went out”.