I took the first few steps as Labia Lefeure. Admittedly I would have preferred it to be at some gala event yet my new life was to begin walking along a dark foreboding corridor.
There was no gliding across a beautiful red carpet to the sound of applause rather it was to be a tentative walk along a soulless grey floor, the only noise were my heels clip clopping on the worn concrete.
I was not to be dazzled by the flashing bulbs as photographers jostled for position instead the intermittent flickering of the lights above were to be my only welcome to my new life.
Crowds did not marvel at my elegant attire as I strolled proudly across the lush carpet. The dress I wore for the debut of Labia Lefeure was poorly made, stained with mud and probably other dubious substances. I was tired, hungry, a tad hungover and as I followed the strange gentleman who I knew only as ‘The Manager’ the feeling of dread I had experienced in the field returned.
Whilst I had put aside any thought that he would kill me in the field the fact he had now taken me to some derelict building where no-one would either hear my final blood curdling scream nor ever find my body made me once again question his intentions.
My feet hurt and I was not prepared to go on a long walk to my demise. I called out to him in the hope that it would speed up the conclusion to all of this.
“So explain to me all this again” I asked
The Manager stopped walking and spun round. He looked irritated making me wonder if this is just an emotion I provoked or if it was his usual resting expression.
“What part would you like me to explain?” he sighed.
“All of it” I replied
He rolled his eyes and threw his head back staring at the overhead light that seemed to flicker in tune with his visible irritation of me.
“Very well but pay attention” he said with the same tone as my teacher who once lost patience trying to explain trigonometry to me.
“You will be working for MOIST, a specialist department of MI6. Our role is to disseminate secret coded messages, especially to the Agents we have inside SNATCH“
“Sorry? Inside what?”
“SNATCH – Special Network And Tactical Counter-intelligence Hierachy. They are a conglomerate of organised crime, despots and tyrants all with the goal of undermining democracy and destabilising governments for their own greed.”
“And my job to ensure they don’t destroy the world is to sing songs?” I enquired
“Yes over the years we have designed ways of encoding important messages into songs. You will perform at gigs, galas and parties where our inside SNATCH agents will be. Understood?” He said, not waiting for a response but spinning on his heels and walking off.
“One more thing” I shouted out. He turned around with that same look that did nothing to dispel the feeling he really wanted to kill me
“Do I get a change of clothing?” I asked pointing out the stains on my tatty dress.
He smiled, which was more unnerving than reassuring and pulled on a large metal handle, sliding open a rusty metal door to reveal a hidden room filled with all manner of clothing.
“Be my guest” he said “But hurry up you need to meet the band.”
An hour and multiple costume changes later I was standing in what would have been a hangar back in the day when this was used as an actual air base. I would like to have stayed longer trying on clothes. Admittedly, The Manager, grew impatient after I tried on the second outfit, muttering to himself about what was wrong with the first one I tried on.
I’d never seen such an array of clothing – dresses, mini-skirts, tops, boots and heels; and not cheap either, a lot of this stuff were from those expensive shops along Carnaby Street. Places I had stopped at and gazed into the window dreaming of what it would be like to be seen in their attire.
The Manager would look away each time I excitedly changed into whatever outfit caught my eye. When I asked him if an outfit looked okay he would offer a dismissive hand with a “Yes that looks fine, can we go please”.
I didn’t understand his coyness. Maybe he was just being a gentleman but working in The Blue King I was used to Jimmy barging in as I and the girls were getting changed.
Noting the growing frustration of The Manager I eventually settled on an outfit. A black high neck chiffon top, hot pants, white tights and matching knee high boots.
“What do you think?” I asked
“This was the first outfit you chose” The Manager sighed “Come on let’s go”
The walk to the main hangar was a more pleasant one. The Manager still seemed to want to kill me but I happily ignored him. I was not focused on what dangers may lay ahead in being part of a secret spy organisation, I was just happy I got to wear nice clothes.
I caught my reflection when passing a glass frame that probably once housed important war information. I looked different, I felt different. Fingering the expensive fabric I smiled; Molly was now truly gone and it was Labia from here on in.
It was clear the hangar was where I would be spending most of my time; albeit I resolved I would ensure I got back to the clothing room whenever I could.
At the far end an array of musical instruments rested on stands next to a makeshift sound booth that housed a solitary microphone.
Adjacent to this was what looked liked the set up for a mini photography studio. Lights, white umbrellas on stands all circled a black screen.
In the middle stood a large table adorned with a variety of snacks and drinks. My stomach roared a reminder of its growing hunger that had only been temporarily quietened by my enthusiasm of dressing up.
On the opposite side of the hangar was a leather sofa surrounded by a myriad of different chairs, none of them matching. Seated were four people, two men and two women. The females occupied the sofa. One had long dark hair and laid across the length of the sofa, her feet resting in the lap of a youthful Asian girl.
The two men sat on separate chairs either side of the sofa. The larger man straddled his chair, his dark muscular arms crossed over the back of it.
The other man was wiry with long hair and a poor excuse for a goatee. His sunken cheekbones were clearly visible even from a distance. He sat with his arms folded and legs arrogantly stretched out.
“Okay everyone” announced The Manager, clapping his hands “I would like you to meet the newest member of the band. Lead singer….Labia Lefeure.” There was a hint of him rolling his eyes as he pronounced my name.
The seated foursome all stood up and walked over to me as The Manager continued with introductions.
“This is Vanda” he said as the dark haired woman high fived me “She is rhythm guitar but also an expert in covert operations”
Next the Asian girl bounded over to give me a big hug “This is Kaku. Bass guitarist and a wonderful gymnast”
“Regis is the drummer” the Manager continued as the gentile hug of Kaku was replaced by a big bear hug “He’s also the muscle…should we ever require it.”
“And I’m Dick Splash” interrupted the thin man. I saw The Manager wince as he pronounced his name, clearly I wasn’t the only one who got to choose. “I should have been the lead singer but instead I’m lead guitar”
Whilst the others mocked Dick’s singing credentials I noticed over at the far end of the hangar was a piano.
“Who is that?” I enquired pointing at the solitary figure who was hunched over a table next to the piano.
“That is Stef. One of Bletchley’s finest. Her job is to write the songs which will contain the coded messages”
I walked over to introduce myself to her.
“Hi I’m Labia.” It felt a little weird announcing myself by my brand new name.
She looked up from scribbling away on paper. I could see random words in capitals, amongst lines of lyrics; some had been furiously scrubbed out.
Her eyes were perfectly framed behind thick heavy glasses. Stef seemed reluctant to return my greeting. She certainly was not as enthusiastic with her welcome as Regis or Kaku with their big hugs but equally she did not have the arrogance of Dick. There was clearly kindness in those eyes but she looked exhausted.
“Are you ok?” I whispered leaning in towards her.
“Yeh I’m just a…..” she began to reply before being interrupted by The Manager.
“Okay Mol….Labia…. that’s enough let Stef get on with her work. She needs to finish the song before the performance tonight”
“Tonight?!!” I exclaimed “But I’m tired”
The Manager rolled his eyes, a look I had become more than familiar with in just a short time “Oh I’m sorry that evil organisations hadn’t taken into consideration your sleeping pattern before planning their world domination! There is a concert tonight and we need to pass on an important message.”
I watched as he gestured for everyone to do something although everyone seemed unclear what they actually had to do.
“What are we called?” I asked
“Excuse me?” The Manager replied
“The name of the band. What’s it called?”
He waved a dismissive hand “Oh I don’t know maybe something like Labia and the LoveHearts.”
This title was not met with enthusiasm from any of the members of the band. Noting the lack of support he said “Well….what would you call it?”
A variety of names were shouted out by the likes of Vanda and Kaku. Dick wanted the band to be called The Dick Splash Orchestra.
Whilst everyone shouted out suggestions I glanced down at the notebook Stef had been writing in. She had split the page into two columns; one side were the lyrics to a song and the other side was a list of words that she crossed out. I was drawn to the remaining words still visible.
Precious. Comfort. Love. Thrust.
“What about Precious Comfort Love Thrust?” I offered, a suggestion which was met by that same, familiar look from The Manager.
It was Regis who broke the silence “Yeh I love that. Precious…Comfort..Love…Thrust”
Kaku and Vanda repeated the name with similar approval. Dick, on the other hand, still attempted to push his suggestion.
“Very well” said The Manager, raising his hands to quieten everyone down “Precious Comfort Love Thrust it is. Now everyone get to work!”
I gave Stef a brief smile before watching The Manager leave the hangar, probably regretting his decision he allowed us to choose our own names.
Giving a little wave to Stef I walked over to join my band mates. My stomach gurgled, unsure if it was just hunger or fear of the unknown. Apprehension for this mysterious new life I had signed up for.
All you got to do is sing I told myself, that’s what The Manager had said.
Twelve hours later I would realise he hadn’t told me everything.