In which Moneypenny spends the night with Bond


Mr Bond

Dawn comes and goes, apartment shutters keeping out the morning light. Below, sounds of the market meld with fragments of street song from performers who arrive with gusto and depart with pesos.

I turn, feeling the warmth of her back. An escaped shaft of light illuminates the curves of her shoulders, ending in a pinpoint on her calf. Her cropped hair appears translucent in suffused light. She turns. “Bond, is that you?”, she breathes with a serious expression, then smiles.

“What was wrong with the maid’s room?”, I inquire. “What was right with it?”, she retorts, “that bed is as thin as the tail of a La Boca dog, and I am sure you have put a pea under the mattress!”

“Well, that is clear then”, I reply, racking my memory for the moment that I felt a sheet turn, or noticed the softness of her breath on my neck.

“Put some coffee on, old girl”, I continue as I reach for the Bremont. “Gosh, it’s after 12 noon - how did that happen?”

“Time goes quickly when you are enjoying yourself”, she calls from the kitchen and I hear the tap run and the clink of coffee cups”. “Don’t fool yourself”, I reply, “at my age I simply don’t have the time for pleasure”.

Nevertheless, after our first night together at Palacio Haedo, when Moneypenny slept on the terrace, this feels totally different. Protectiveness, responsibility and intrigue compete together for my attention. Then I remember that I am in Buenos Aires, and it really does not need to be resolved. Instead, I close my eyes, listening to fragments of song as Moneypenny prepares breakfast.

An hour later, as I am reading yesterday’s newspaper on the terrace, Moneypenny approaches from behind, pulls back my forehead and supplants a lipstick kiss. “I am going to sort out a key. Plaza Dorrego tonight?”, she stipulates, turning quickly to leave before I can reply.

As her footsteps recede down the staircase, from my half unpacked chest, I take out some writing paper and my Parker fountain pen.

Dear Mireille,
Contact Hammond and Paul. Tell them to meet us tonight (Sunday) at 8pm in Plaza Dorrego. Tell Harmonica boy to collect the size 6 in gold from Comme il Faut, and bring your tango shoes.
Bond




Moneypenny

I can’t sleep. How did I end up in his maid’s room anyway?  If he were any type of gentleman he would have given me his bed and, would himself, have slept in this sorry excuse for a room which is essentially his walk-in closet.  But it seems that 'gentlemanliness' was not on Bond’s new-post MI6 menu, or was there another reason he didn’t want me in his room?

I keep replaying the night in my head; it started off so promising, a true return to New Airs, and it ended with my losing my favorite shoes, my keys and my having to spend the night feeling like Bond’s hired help.  The odd thing is, I swear my shoe bag had gone missing earlier in the evening. Had someone put something in it?  Had they tried to recover it by taking my bag on the bus? Had we been followed out of Gricel?  Why did they reach for my shoe bag and not my purse, which I was also so evidently carrying? Or has all this secrecy and spying made me paranoid ?  Could this simply be nothing more than a common act of pickpocketing?  The kind that happen every day to everyone?

I get up to fetch a glass of water and try to think of something else.  I start looking around Bond’s new apartment: it’s much less luxurious than the last, but I’m quite fond of it.  It has a European art-nouveau ‘je ne sais quoi’ feel to it, the same type of ‘je ne sais quoi’ Buenos Aires has.  I walk around the apartment, if I didn’t know any better, I would think that Bond has been living here for years; portraits of famous Argentines ornate the walls in such a way that made it seems as if they were family.  At any moment Borges, Ernesto Sabado, Mussolini (ok not quite Argentine but with close ties),  the handsome Gardel and even Eva Peron herself could walk in for an afternoon coffee and medialunas.

The large bookshelf in the living room is filled with books and manuscripts on the history of Argentina, dating all the way back to independence in early 19th century; they all look as if they have been read dozens of times; it’s as if Bond has recreated himself as an old Argentine gentleman in the 4 days he's lived here, complete with a very influential family tree.  

I gaze at the brick walls and large windows around me; I walk about the room; the wooden floors cracks under my feet as I gently dance with the ballet of shadows cast by the swaying curtains and the moonlight peering in; I can’t quite tell if I’m dreaming or awake.

I can still smell my mysterious PorteƱo cologne on me, if I’m honest, it’s not really my missing shoe bag, nor my shoebox size room which are keeping me up tonight, it’s him.  I can feel the tips of his fingers running down my arm and around my waist; yet I know nothing of him and that’s how I wish it would remain…mysterious men have gotten me into enough trouble lately, yet I feel myself hopelessly drawn to him.

I want to dance, I should wake Bond and make him dance with me, after all I am his guest; but perhaps we’ve already exhausted all the tango this night could offer and asking more of it would only exacerbate things.  


I make my way up the staircase leading to his room and lay next to him in hopes that his deep slumber will somehow pull me along.










Moneypenny, the colectivo, and a stab in the dark



Mr Bond

I get the impression that Moneypenny thinks this is my first time - my virgin voyage. In the early days I introduced her to my maroon and cream Bentley Continental S2. She thinks that, and the radio taxi is all I know.

Since escaping the clutches of MI6, Raul has kept the Bentley hidden under dust covers beneath Palacio Haedo. There is also the little issue of my stipend. No sooner had I left London aboard the ‘Hanjin Buenos Aires’, than the ministry stopped my pay cheque.

The great thing about ‘el colectivo’ is the cost. When I first came to Buenos Aires I learned to say ‘ochenta’ as I boarded, receiving twenty centivos in change from my peso. Now I have one of those touch cards but with inflation am charged a resounding ten pesos.  

Moneypenny has already dashed to the back of the bus to claim two seats. It is approaching three in the morning, yet the atmosphere is carnival. Alongside, a group of revelers laugh and tease, ahead two lovers engage in a long kiss, whilst beyond grey clothed passengers, at the front sit two office cleaners and an eighty year old woman with her shopping trolley pulled into her side. What brings us here together on the colectivo?

We speed along Av San Juan towards San Telmo, shuttered shops and restaurants flashing past as we race the lights. Our bus driver has perfected the art - red-to-green as we approach without the slightest hint of braking, his progress only interrupted when forced to drop a passenger, after which he accelerates at break-neck speed to make up for lost time. At each stop we brace together to avoid sliding forward from shiny seats, and on departure bump our heads on the boarding behind.

Our colectivo swings left into Peru and heads down towards Independencia. The transition from bright San Juan to the dusky calles of San Telmo is stark. We alight between tall buildings that crowd both sides of the street. Recessed doorways lead to long passages, and further down to the hidden apartments of the bario. Two figures follow us, previously inconspicuously seated on opposite sides of the bus, unnoticed, but now walking quickly together.

I hear the sound of a blade, then of a snap. Before my hand can seize it, Moneypenny’s ‘Comme il Faut’ dance bag disappears into the darkness. “Oh my God”, she screams, but her voice is lost on the night air. We stand numbed in the moment. It was so sudden; so unexpected; we were so unprepared. 

“What was in the bag?”, I ask lamely, as if it could make a difference. “Just my shoes - fortunately not my best Katrinskis”, she adds. “But wait, I think my keys were there too”, she murmurs desperately checking her pockets. “They have gone”, she concludes, “and forty pesos which I saved from sharing your bottle of champagne”, she adds. 

“There is nothing to do now”, I reply peering forwards into a deserted street, “spend the night at Defensa - tomorrow is another day”, I continue, failing to account for the rising light in the east.

Moneypenny is pale, her normally lively face has become drawn. Without a word she reaches round to take my arm, snuggling close for comfort. Our footsteps tap in unison in empty streets as we walk in silence towards the lights.

Money Penny's stranger returns

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