In which Moneypenny goes out on a limb at De Querusa Milonga
Taking tea at Alvear I had tested the waters with Moneypenny, and she had responded like a professional.
“I have an idea that I’m sure will work” was not the answer I had expected from her. It seemed that she understood more than I imagined. At this point of a conversation you usually get the flood of questions - ‘what, why, who, when’. But no; simply a ‘yes’ to the proposition, and that sent my mind into overdrive. Was it instinct, or did she know more than she let on?
Moneypenny returned from the powder room sporting her Katrinski flats, having swapped them for her tango shoes that were safely packed away in her bag together with the flower from her hair, and jumped into the taxi I had called for her.
I needed time to think, so resolved to stroll along Av Alvear, past Palacio Duhau and the Jockey Club, across Av 9 de Julio into Av Arroyo and Esmeralda towards San Martin. Reaching Arenales I caught a fragment of Diaz’ ‘Guitarra Mia’ on the evening air, but could not locate the origins of the vals.
No sooner had I turned the key in the lock to my apartment than the phone rang. ”Bond, can you speak?”. “Go ahead, I am alone”, I replied, realising that ‘M’ had clearly been well informed on my progress. “She will do it”, I replied.
“Assuming she is successful, tell her to meet me at Los Laureles - next Thursday before 2000 hrs, when it is still quiet. Bring Raul, and let Sabrina know”, she added; and as usual before I could reply the phone went dead.
All that was needed was to make sure that Moneypenny got through the next 48 hours safely.
“Moneypenny - meet me Friday 2am at La Viruta. Bond”.
Replacing the gold Parker fountain pen in my inside jacket pocket, I handed the note to Raul. “Make sure she gets this”, I added. Within moments Raul had disappeared down the main staircase, and within seconds, I heard the squeak of tyres on marble, and a small wheelchair exited the Palacio doors into Santa Fé and off in the direction of Florida.
‘I have an idea, and I’m sure it will work’, was where we had left it.
Indeed, I was sure it would work, for it depended on the ‘surest’ of truths; flattery, sex and human greed; which can make almost anyone do almost anything; and in this case, most of the work was already done all I had to do was plant a seed and watch the fertile soil do the rest. Tonight I’ll set the wheels in motion before meeting Bond at La Viruta as per his instructions.
“Hermosa, mia, que lindo verte! I have missed you!”, he gushes as I walk into De Querusa. “Hola Alvaro, un gusto verte tambien, it’s been since when? Oh right, since La Nacional that I’ve had the pleasure of dancing with you”, I retort. “Si” he replies blushingly, “Sit with me tonight and promise me the first tanda”, he adds. “The first tanda is yours, but I shall sit at the front of the stage with the tangeras. You can’t expect me to devote my entire night to you, can you?”
“I dream of the day you will devote your entire night to me, hermosa,” he responds, with his devilish smile. I now understand why he’s left a trail of broken hearts over the years, and not exclusively those of women.
It’s early. As I take a seat beneath the stage, the class finishes with a ripple of applause. Starting at around 9 pm and ending around midnight, De Querusa is where the ‘greats’ come to warm up before heading for the later milongas at Canning or La Viruta. There is no live orchestra, no performance, and no frills apart of the cheesy Spanish hacienda décor. I love dancing here, but tonight wasn’t just about dancing. Tonight I had a mission.
I’m not sure why I took on James’ proposal so easily. I don’t even know what he wants from me exactly; if it’s dangerous; or even legal? I guess I’m also just looking for a new challenge, something to take me away from daily routine.
As I struggle with my shoe strap I feel a hand on my shoulder. “Bailamos!” he says. “Si bailamos”, I respond.
Alvaro and I dance five consecutive tandas scrutinised by De Querusa tangueros; ‘Another flavour to add to his repertoire’, is what they are thinking as is plainly written in their faces; not that they have any scruples about hiding their thoughts. I am amused, how wrong they are.
It’s a quarter to midnight and people have already started drifting off to distant milongas. “My feet are tired,” I say looking at Alvaro, “can we stop off at your place before heading to La Viruta? You can give me that foot massage you promised.”
“Si of course! Vamos
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