by Henry Lewi
bitter Turkish coffee
At 41 Fleur knew time was running out. She was tired, very tired. She entered Kew Gardens by the North Entrance having crossed and re-crossed the bridge to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She knew from the message drop she’d be meeting her handler by the Palm House. She found a bench and sat. Reaching into her bag she took out her box of oval Sobranie Turkish cigarettes, and placed one between her ruby red lips, and lit up. The sweet scented smoke as always brought back memories. She’d been introduced to Turkish cigarettes by one of her many lovers during her time with the partisans in Yugoslavia. Michail, she recalled, had been the local commander who met her when she was parachuted in by the SOE. She remembered his boyish good looks, she remembered his piercing blue eyes, but most of all she remembered his body slumped on the ground after she had executed him, one shot Soviet style in the back of the head from the Nagant. The penalties of being an agent of the Abwehr. Michail had betrayed her. Andrei a Soviet Communist had rescued her from the Germans. Andrei made her whole again. Andrei had hunted down Michail and delivered him to Fleur for judgment. For two years Fleur had fought alongside Andrei and his communist partisans as they liberated Serbia and Croatia pushing the German invaders progressively northwards.
It was the 1950s, England was a grey and tasteless nation, London was half bombed and half rebuilt, but worst of all they (whoever they were) didn’t want women or ex SOE mucking up their “Secret Service”, preferring them as neat little secretaries in a boring 9-5 job. Fleur had managed to get a job in the Foreign Office via her friends in the “Ministry Of Ag and Fish!” and the documents passing across her desk involved Foreign and NATO Policy towards various Eastern Bloc Countries and certainly were of interest to her handlers. She passed the information on, partly out of spite towards her country, partly in memory of her fallen Yugoslav comrades, but mostly for the money; her flat in Knightsbridge cost her an arm and someone else’s leg (as she used to joke to herself).
The young well-dressed man approached her. There was something familiar about him but she couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
“Hello Fleur” he said “We’ve not met but you’re quite the hero to our people.“My name is Peter Michaels. ” He continued looking directly at her with his piercing blue eyes. “And I’m attached to the Embassy; I’m here to take you to a safe place, where no-one will trouble you any more.”
With a sigh of relief Fleur replied, looking around, “I’m most grateful, I was worried that my past and present were catching up with me and there would be no future.” Strange she thought the Park was quiet and completely deserted.
“There is no future,” he said as he shot her through the eye. Peter Michaels or “Petar Michailovich” as it stated on his embassy documents quickly strode away, satisfied that his father had been avenged.
About the author
Henry worked in the Health Service for many years and is now retired.This is his first story for Cafe Lit.