In which Moneypenny and Bond face the Morning After
The sun is just peeping over Plaza San Martin, casting small pools of Sunday morning light, and long sharp shadows. I sit in the old battered armchair that Raul had pulled on the terrace and forgotten to take back inside. Moneypenny swings in a hammock, her bare feet against one of the low parapets. Her left knee is raised, showing a creamy leg.
“Bond, did you really get those chocolates from Sabrina?”, she asks naively. “Of course I did; you yourself commented on the white bloom”, I reply. There is another moment’s pause whilst she thinks. I sense her mind turning, but she remains silent and pushes the hammock with her free foot.
Earlier, with two tumblers of Port Ruighe, we had danced to Di Sarli, Biagi, D’Agostino, Rodriguez, finishing with Laurenz, the most romantic of the Golden Age orquestas. Moneypenny had slipped her left arm lazily around my shoulder and fell into a deep embrace. Clearly, she was not used to drinking Talisker.
“Right, old girl”, I prompted as the stylus ground against the edge of the vinyl, “I think it is time for coffee and juice”. “Here, catch”, I added throwing her an orange and pointing to the juicer on the countertop. Was Moneypenny over-romanticising the evening? There always was that danger. And, more to the point, was she in fact in danger from me?
I shrugged the thoughts away from my mind, ignored the prime Sumatran Kopi Luwak coffee beans (which I suspected she’d hate) in favour of Panamanian Hacienda La Esmeralda, with its superb undertones of chocolate and fruit - more befitting to the palate of a young girl.
“May we take breakfast on the terrace?”, she asked, “It’s lovely out there”. “Of course, if that is your wish old girl”, I replied. “You take the medialunas and I’ll bring the coffee”. “No milk, I’m afraid - but with this coffee it would be a crime to add anything other than the sparkle in your eyes”, I added.
And so we are here in the garden as dawn breaks and the Torre de los Ingleses chimes the hour. Me in my chair, Moneypenny in front, wrapped in her private thoughts. There is something peaceful about the moment. I have not yet told her why she is here. She does not know my past. ‘Maybe it’s best that way’, I say to myself, as I reflect on darker thoughts.
‘I don’t take it with milk, I like it black and strong,’’ I replied, while throwing the orange back his way. Did he really think I would run to the juicer to make him a fresh glass? ‘And why do you call me old girl?’ I asked. ‘Would you prefer I call you young girl?’, he responds. ‘No, but old girl sounds like you’re talking about a car or your dog.’ I said realizing how silly I was starting to sound.
‘Right, enough of this frivolity, old girl, let’s go to the terrace and have our coffee in peace,’ he said mockingly.
I took a sip of the coffee and a bite from the the orange I had peeled for myself. Neither of us had relented on the subject of pressing the juice and so neither of us would be having a glass of fresh juice this morning. The orange was fresh and sweet, the perfect contrast to the hot, slightly bitter coffee. I swung in the hammock, my leg hanging off to the side absorbing the early sun’s heat, which slowly flowed through my body. I gazed at the sky and started imagining a grand party in an even grander Palace.
“Bond, did you really get those chocolates from that party with Sabrina?”, I asked, taking him by surprise. “Of course I did; you yourself commented on the bloom”, he replied, barely looking up from his morning Herald.
Really? Why had he kept them for so long? Did they reminded him of their first meeting? Or was he just teasing and they’re really leftover from his last trip to Europe? ‘So why have you kept them for so long?’ I dared to ask. ‘Because, just like you Monneypenny, I prefer Swiss chocolate,’ he replied with a hint of sarcasm, looking at me directly.
Our gazes met - just like last night when I got out of the taxi. I’m not sure how to read him. Why was I here? What was last night about - was it an attempt at the seduction? And if so, an attempt on whose side? Last night was still a little hazy - we started dancing, he commented on the tango singers and their styles as if to know who they were was as essential to dancing tango as the steps themselves. I had drifted away to the sounds of Biagi and D’Agostino and the gentle swaying of his body; and before I knew it, it was morning.
Was romance in the cards for us? I know he likes me, but then again he likes women, especially younger women. Was this all I was to him? He hadn’t really tried to romance me last night; and I’m not sure if I’m relieved or disappointed.
I get up and sit next to him. ‘I thought they stopped distributing the BA Herald’, I said looking at his newspaper, ‘They have.’ he responded with his usual hint of mysteriousness. The night is catching up with me and suddenly I feel an uncontrollable urge to rest my head…. For just one little minute.
What did I have to lose really? I had made no real plans, I just bought the ticket, threw a few things in my backpack and ran away....
Moneypenny I take the note, start to walk towards San Telmo while trying to make sense of what I had just seen. Was this a secret...
Mr Bond I flash a smile towards Nancy the waitress, and without a word she arrives with a second champagne glass for Moneypenny, who...