Episode 18 (of 18)
Geoffrey was waiting for me, sitting in his car in the yard. I checked myself on the path, just inside the foliage that surrounded the clearing and stared apprehensively at the back of his head. What did he want now?
I hadn’t seen him for two years … but the white envelopes kept appearing every month in my mail box at the end of the track. They came on the 16th of the month. The brown ones kept coming on the 18th – a fortunate gap of a couple of days – I wouldn’t have wanted any unfortunate cross referencing ……
He showed no sign of being aware of me – and Svet said Yuri was careless!
I took a step back further into the gloom beneath the trees and peered carefully between branches to estimate the distance before adjusting the sights on the Lee Enfield No.4 (no one thought I was competent enough to handle an AK-47). I slowly worked the bolt back to allow a shell into the chamber and then pushed it forward and rolled it down to the right. There was a click as the mechanism locked into place. I stood motionless, loud as that click had seemed to me I was sure it wouldn’t have carried to Geoffrey in the car. I pulled the safety catch back and off.
One shot, I mused, one clean, surgical shot and all this would be over. I slowly raised the rifle to thread the barrel between branches and then eased its position against my shoulder so as to absorb the kick back. I braced my left hand on the wooden cladding of the barrel to stop its characteristic twitch to the right. Then I carefully sighted it, I had to get this right! The world went very quiet as if in anticipation of the mayhem to come. I took a long, slow breath and gently eased the trigger back towards me … … …
I took another breath of the long and deep variety and grinned. He may be bringing more trouble – but he had at least provided me with the end scene in the novel!
— x —
Geoffrey settled back in his chair, mug of tea in one hand whilst leafing through a file on his lap.
‘Thought we’d forgotten you?’
‘No not at all ….. the envelopes arrive regularly.’
‘So we kept our side of the bargain,’ he looked up from the papers, ‘What about yours?’
‘No contact from the GRU?’
‘No … they’ve not contacted me,’ I trotted out a well-rehearsed line. Truthfully no one had contacted me, but I thought it best not to mention the brown envelopes – it would surely lead to unnecessary and possibly unpleasant complications.
‘OK ….. we’ll have to take your word on that …. truth is that we had forgotten you, although,’ he shook his head, ‘clearly Accounts did not. Thing is, Bogol, we don’t really need you anymore … all this espionage malarkey is going digital electric or something, it’s like cooking on gas … but without the naked flame ….. apparently ….. sorry ……………..’
For once I managed to avoid the inane grin response.
‘Well it is a bit sudden.’ I tried to look suitably fed up.
‘Oh don’t worry.’ He interjected quickly, ‘we’re seeing you all-right … least we could do after all that stuff.’
‘All that stuff? What stuff?’
Geoffrey looked a tad uncomfortable.
‘What stuff?’ I repeated.
‘Well … er … that …. well … rather unfortunate business about the Solway Firth and …. shall we say … misunderstanding? about your pension …. and all the rest of it …….’
‘Misunderstanding? ……… all the rest of what?’
‘Hey!’ he gestured dismissively at me, ‘there’s no need to rake up the past ….. where does it get you?’
Seemingly flustered he lurched forward, up and out of his seat. Remember what the bloke said about history repeating itself and all that? Well for me it was the most enjoyable farce, but for Geoffrey it was a minor tragedy. The tea was still rather hot, the mugs were thermos you see ……
I fetched a cloth and a towel from the kitchen …………………………
‘We’ve bought this place – it’s yours,’ he handed me a pack of rather soggy papers (which later inspection revealed to be title deeds).
‘It was going cheap; Fawcet was selling the entire estate.’
‘Sir Reginald ………….?’
Geoffrey looked aghast, closing his eyes and shaking his head – and people thought I was a liability!
‘Oh ….. er …… well anyway,’ he bumbled on, ‘and restored your full pension ….. er …… backdated, of course.’
‘What about the van?’
‘Yours to keep.’
He rose, now seemingly intent on leaving as quickly as possible.
‘Not a word Bogol ….. understand?’
I nodded, not wishing him to feel the embarrassment of overstaying his welcome.
‘MI6 involvement must go with you to your grave.’
I nodded again, willing him out of the door, but as he stepped out into the yard he turned one more time.
‘Oh yes …. Wanda sends her love.’
‘Wanda? ……. Who’s Wanda?’
But he was already in his car … and then he – and it – were gone.
— x —
Two days later I was enjoying the late evening doze of the righteous on the sofa in the back room in front of the telly, having spent an arduous day on my hands and knees digging bindweed out of the raspberry canes. I was jolted by a sharp knock on the front door.
I frowned, I’d heard no vehicle.
A second knock, followed by a short burst of the buggers, lent some momentum to my progress and I pulled the door open with an ‘All right! All right! What do … you ………’
I just stared. There, in front of me was a wheelbarrow (and not one of mine) piled high with bags and next to it stood …’
‘No Bo I ….’
Then there was a bit of an emotional carry-on, some hugging and some close quarter work …….
‘Svet ….. what …..’
‘You mustn’t call me Svet’
She pulled out a Polish passport, ‘I am Wanda now …… do you like it?’
‘Like it? Я люблю тебя!!’
‘Tez cie kocham !!’
‘Are you back for good?’
She smiled, ‘It’s over Bo … all done …. just us ….’
— x —
The following morning, waking from sleep, Svet suddenly sat upright.
‘You have been receiving my pension? It should be paid on the 18th of each month.’