The journey home for Moneypenny


We arrived in Sucre late afternoon, where Richard took me on a tour on his elegant while mansion in the middle of the city, a few blocks from the central square.

“This house belonged to my great grandfather, he was part of the Bolivian elite who wanted to be freed from Spain’s tyrannical rule.  Bolivar himself had dinner at that very table”, he said pointing to the large Louis XIV style dining table, inside an even more Louis XIV-style dining room.  His grandfather was most likely one of those people who got rich off the backs of the slaves and natives working (and drying) in the mines; the same workers he is now trying to ‘save’ from the English; humans are such contradictory creatures I thought to myself.

“Now come this way and I’ll show you to your room”, he added as the went up the large marble stairs. The room was bright and very cheerful; floral patterns ornated the walls; bouquets of white roses filled the room with the sweet scent of spring; the windows gave onto the interior French garden; it was a little nirvana right here in the middle of the city.  “This was my mother’s room, I hope you find it comfortable.  You will be served dinner here at 9PM, for tonight’s party is not a dinner party, and guests will start arriving at 11PM.  You will find everything you need in this room, should you require anything else, please let me know”, and with that he was gone and I was left alone with his in this room which was a shrine to his mother; her portrait was everywhere; her perfumes, half empty, laid out on the dressing table; her clothes still filled the drawers and closets; clearly he loved her dearly. In the dressing area, aside old 1920’s dresses, hung dozens of Chanel and Dior dresses each with matching Manolo Blahniks; all one size, my size.  It made me think of Sabrina, and her very extensive wardrobe; was Richard the one providing her with all these luxuries or the British government?  Or better yet both?

I couldn’t quite think straight and the only thing I really wanted was a glass of wine and a hot, lavender scented bath; luckily Richard’s mansion could easily provide both…. Maybe this life isn’t so bad afterall!

After a long rest and a gourmet dinner, the time was nearing 11PM and Richard’s guests started arriving.  “My dear you look absolutely wonderful”, Richard said to me.  “Yes, it’s incredible how you knew my exact dress and shoe size; it’s almost as if you had inside information on me”, I responded. He paused and smiled, and then finally added, “Let’s just say I have a good eye for these things.  Come let me introduce you to two members of MI6 who have just arrived, Richard Hammond and Paul Savident, two of her majesty’s most eccentric, and efficient agents”.

“You know who the agents are?  Doesn’t that defy the point?” I asked in surprise. “Oh my dear, MI6 and us have been running after each other for the past 40 years, I know some of the agents better than I did my own brother, which they killed by the way.  Come I’m sure it’s you they are after anyhow, so let’s indulge them.”

“Hammond, Paul, you are welcome, but I have to say I don’t remember extending the invitation list to all of Mr Bond’s associates” he said in irony and continued with, “This, as I’m sure you know is the lovely miss Moneypenny. Do take her for a spin on the dance floor when the first tanda begins, I guarantee you won’t regret it!”  And as if he had pushed play himself, the orchestra began playing Troilo.

“Good evening Miss Moneypenny, I’m Paul and I am delighted to meet you.  Now we must absolutely speak to you about your being here with Richard Alvarez , we are very concerned”, he began saying when Hammond interjected “Come man this is a party, give the poor girl a chance to find her sea legs, not to mention a drink in her lovely hands.  Always ruining a good moment Paul with your ‘concerns’, now go fetch Miss Moneypenny a glass of Perignon whilst I try to remember my tangero days.”  Before I could reply, he took my hand and walked me towards the dance floor.

“Do forgive Paul, he’s had a stick up his rear end since I met him, some 40 years ago.  We are however concerned about you, not to mention how preoccupied James is, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this way” he started telling me when I added “Why is everyone so concerned? Am I the long-lost heir to the British crown?  As far as I know, James, is a retired professional with too much time on his hands and too much imagination.  He doesn’t care about me, no one does, all they’re interested in is how they can use me and frankly I’m fed up, I didn’t ask for any of this!”

“I understand you perfectly my dear, but make no mistake, James does care about you and yes ‘we’ think you can be of great service to us” he responded.  “Well I’m not sure I want to be of service to anyone, for these past few months I've felt like everyone's puppet and quite frankly I'm done with it!  Now let’s dance” I said, a little harshly I admit. “I see what he sees in you now” he added with a smile.

His embrace was stiff, but his dancing had a playfulness to it that I couldn’t help but enjoy.  Richard Alvarez was watching us like a hawk; I wonder if this is how it happened for Sabrina?  I spent the rest of the night dancing and listening to advice from all sides. I went to bed as the sun was rising, certain of only one thing: that all wanted was to return to Buenos Aires and return to tango.

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