Four hours after agreeing to the bizarre proposal from a mysterious well groomed stranger I was standing in the middle of a field somewhere on the Kent/Sussex border.
I would have loved to have enjoyed the crisp, clean morning air that usually I am starved of in the smog ridden city. The feel of the fresh breeze bringing forth memories of family day trips to the coast,
However my thoughts at that present time were not to recall some pleasant time of building sandcastles with my dad. Any sweet recollections were barred by one pressing thought – this stranger is going to kill me.
I battled through the hazy pain in my mind caused by the alcohol I had consumed to piece together how, in the space of a few hours, I had gone from singing old standards in a sleazy little club to standing in a field. The only logical conclusion I arrived at was that the only reason someone would drive you out to the middle of nowhere was to kill you.
I had contemplated the possibility he wanted to have sex with me but discounted that on the basis that there were plenty of other places he could have chosen. Besides he struck me as the sort of guy who would require ordering room service after an orgasm not wiping dirt from his knees.
He had definitely told me he was a spy and from what I had read about spies in novels they took people to fields to kill them. If he had said he worked for the Environmental Department rather than the Ministry of Defence then I may have just assumed he wanted to discuss the migratory pattern of swallows or the importance of flood plains.
I looked around and all I could see was fields. It had rained overnight and the unkempt grass shone in the dawn sunlight that yawned across the horizon.
In addition to the usual thought of why did I drink too much there were two other particular considerations that occupied my mind; why he wanted me dead and whether I could make a run for it.
There was a futility in spending too much time contemplating either. I assumed he had lied about being a spy and actually worked for Mr Karpinsky and was just getting revenge for my role in the death of his boss. In any event, knowing the reason for my demise would provide little comfort; especially if I took the second option of attempting to run across a seemingly endless drenched field.
I had never given much thought to my eventual death preferring instead to just enjoy my existence as best as society would allow. However, it never occurred to me it may end in the middle of nowhere with my final moments being me screaming whilst looking like I’m wading in syrup. I had hoped it would be a tad more dignified than that.
Any belief I could overpower him sunk as fast as my heels into the sodden ground. One attempted leap and I would fall down, laying face first in the mud so he could conveniently put a bullet in the back of my head. I weren’t prepared to make it that easy for him.
I breathed deeply as I watched his hand slowly reach into the inside pocket of his immaculate tailored suit. Yet he didn’t pull out a gun but instead a silver case; the morning light briefly glistened off the shiny surface as he delicately opened the lid and took out a cigarette. Looking up at me he offered the case.
“Why do you want to kill me?” I asked, deciding my only option was to discuss my imminent murder.
He looked at me quizzically and then referring to the cigarette case said “Oh you’re one of them that thinks these are dangerous. Nonsense they’d put warnings on them if that was the case”
“No. I mean you want to shoot me in this field”
“Why would I want to do that?” He replied lighting his cigarette “Come on. This way”
I watched as he turned and walked up a steep incline. Although he hadn’t denied he was going to shoot me I nevertheless followed him, attempting to be as graceful as I could as the ground tried to swallow me up. I just hoped wherever we were going they had a Shoe Shop.
This mysterious man waited impatiently at the brow of the hill as I unceremoniously attempted my ascent. Each laboured step was met by a look of frustration from him.
Eventually I managed to reach him and he pointed out into the distance to what looked like a large metal shed. It was a curiosity amongst the lush green fields. Those who liked architecture might have marvelled at the impressive iron structure. I was just pleased that it sat on concrete and I wouldn’t be walking in a swamp for much longer. My favourite pair of heels were ruined.
“This base was used during the War” he explained “but since then has been the base of operations for MOIST”
“I’m sorry… for what?”
“MOIST…. Ministry of International Secret Transmissions. It is the Section I head up and who you will be working for” he explained.
“So I’m gonna be a spy?” I asked
“Something like that”
“Do I have to go to spy school?”
“No” he said bluntly before walking down the hill towards the imposing structure.
I followed him with the same grace that had accompanied me on the way up the hill. My arms stretched out to the side as if I were some cool surfer riding an awesome wave, although in reality I was just trying to stop myself from falling on my arse.
If I were to become a spy of sorts I wanted to make a good first impression and rolling down a muddy hill probably wasn’t the sort of thing MI6 would see as a positive attribute.
“So what is it I will be doing exactly?” I shouted out, my voice trailing off as my concentration went from talking to staying on my feet.
He stopped and turned to me, a look of impatience on his face as if he had already explained this to me, which, to be fair, he probably already had. I wondered if alcohol induced forgetfulness was also an attribute that MI6 were looking for.
“You will be singing” he replied bluntly, hints that my persistent questioning may be irritating him, yet I still continued.
“Do I do any actual spying?”
“Do I get a gun?”
“Will I have a secret identity?”
He turned toward me once again, even though he was some distance away I could tell he was making no effort to hide his growing frustration from me.
“No!” he replied, pausing for a moment before continuing “You will have a completely new identity. Once you walk into that building the life you knew as Molly Jones would be over”
I ignored the overly dramatic way he had expressed it and spent a brief moment reflecting on my life so far.
A singer in a club working for a slimy boss being paid just enough to avoid the wandering hands of a pervy landlord, all the while walking the streets concerned that one of my Dad’s enemies may use me to exact some revenge. There really was no desire for me to cling on to any of that.
“Do I get to choose my name?” I shouted out after him.
“Can I choose my new name?” I asked, hurrying to catch up with him.
He rolled his eyes at every stumble that I took before shrugging his shoulders and replying “Yes. I guess you can”.
I felt a little giddy at the thought of this new life starting. I contemplated my new name with all the care and consideration that parents with a new born child would take in naming their little bundle of joy.
I never got a say in being called ‘Molly’, it certainly was not a name I would have chosen. But now I had the opportunity to christen myself as I embarked on this mysterious life of a sort-of-spy.
Do I pick a super cool spy sounding name? Like, Veronica Voluptua. No. Too obvious and besides people would expect me to speak with a Russian accent.
I was to be a singer in a band so maybe something like Mandy MoonShadow. It was certainly memorable. Sounded cool and the sort of name the lead singer of a band would have.
“Ahh Good Evening Miss MoonShadow your normal table is waiting for you”
Then I recalled when I used to go to the hairdressers. Money had always been tight but I saved enough so each month I could get my hair done in whatever style was fashionable at that time. It was the one luxury I afforded myself to make me feel special. It made up for the secondhand or home made dresses I tried to pass off as decent.
On the table while I waited was a load of magazines that had pictures of these beautiful looking women on yachts or having fun in places like the French Riveria. Living amongst the grime of the East End it was like a different world. A world I envied. A world I so wanted to be a part of.
On the occasions I couldn’t afford my rent and my landlord suggested other means of payment I would escape to that world. His laboured grunts replaced by the clinking of champagne glasses as I attended some luxurious gala. Descending an expansive staircase in a full length dress with far more grace than I had descended that hill on the way to my new life.
I could be those women in the magazine. If nothing else at least by name. It needed to be something exotic. Something mysterious.
“I got it!” I exclaimed “Labia Lefeure”
“Sorry? What Lefeure?” He replied
“My new name …. Labia Lefeure”
“How we spelling that?”
“Labia?” He said raising his eyebrows
“It’s pronounced LAA-BYE-AHH” I corrected him with a sense of pride over my new identity.
He sighed, shaking his head “Very well. Come on let’s get inside”
“Wait!” I said “What do I call you? I mean who even are you?”
“Me?” He replied giving a wry smile “I’m The Manager. Come on…. It’s time to meet the band”
He opened a large metal door and gestured for me to go inside. I placed one muddy foot across the threshold.
Goodbye Molly Jones. Hello Labia Lefeure.