As you have read before Cherry Hawkins, the grim and stoic Matriarchal Zone Counterintelligence Top Cop, came to join us with an immediate need for fun. And fun we had, seven full years of it, a flagon of excitement and adventure which we all drained to the lees with the thirst from our hard, morally ambiguous, and dangerous biographies.
Everything that two retired High Class Tarts and a retired chief executive spy desired, and that money could buy, was available. Our hard and dangerous years had taught us to avoid extravagance, and as our jaunts to Chicago, Toronto, and Rhinecliff in the Zone of many years ago never let us forget that the best pleasures in public are the simplest, and the closed bedroom door held the highest heights of Ecstacy and Love. You can close the bedroom door wherever you are.
We were lucky, too, that in those seven years the creeping global heat still allowed us Winter access to many of the most famous places that soon would be gone. We went to Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Prague, and St. Petersburg in Winter to feel something near to what they were once like in Spring.
Late in those seven years, we took the very last deep Winter canal boat cruise down the Rhine, the Danube, and back to the Loire, the most for the money any European trip had to offer. Temperatures never dropped below 0 deg. Celsius. The entire trip was one continuous carnival for both crew and passengers in celebration of what had been before and could be no longer, and, lest we leave Europe on the sadder note that so many now leave anywhere wonderful on this shrinking human planet, we added to the cruise a repeat of our Spring trip of several years earlier to the Highlands of the Scottish Republic and the fiords of United Scandinavia, places not yet under siege but with the natural world enemy in sight. Many friends made in those still comfortable places remembered us and rejoiced in our return.
We also made sure to travel to the still happy places, where something like the Earth that Elizabeth knew in her childhood was still present: the Alaskan Republic; the Siberian enclave of South, East, and Southeast Asia, bordered on the south by the Gobi Desert and Tamrim Basin, and on the east by the Ural Mountains; New Canada and the New England Plantation; and happiest of all, Iceland, whose total surround by Atlantic waters mand the now more northerly travel of Gulf Stream currently make it the most temperate place on Earth and the probable location of Humanity’s last stand.
Our Pacific beach house was leased to a shell Llc corporation, PISS would have to work if they really wanted to find us again, and our plane tickets were always purchased by a different Llc. Elizabeth’s lawyer was the contact for both if the Pacifica government needed to contact us about corporate status issues. We also had a third Llc with a different attorney contact for any other payments made to us or made by us. So, with our second set of passports and visas unknown to PI, we had all the insulation from our past that could be achieved. We were, as well, in a very small coastal town where any watchers would stand out like a tartan Glengarry Bonnet worn with a grey flannel suit. Thus our spy insurance policies were paying off.
But sometimes the dice roll in unusual ways. Five years after the safehouse shoot-out, we were coming back to Pacifica from a Scottish Republic trip, and who did we run into but Angela, just as her small commuter flight to Juneau was cancelled due to strong Pacific storms. Of course where we were was the birth country of fancy American coffee, so we didn’t have to skimp ourselves on either the brew or the comfy chairs at the airport coffee shop. Angela now had David’s old position of running agent operations and supervising new recruit training. And David had become Chief of Service for PISS. She hadn’t met Cherry Hawkins, so she was floored to learn that the former head of Matriarchal Zone Counterintelligence had taken up with Angela’s “three favorite” spies.
She insisted that one or the other of us come to speak to their current class of recruits about spy catching from the spy’s vantage point. Cherry was too shy; both Elizabeth and Lady Chief were too senior citizen fatigued, particularly Elizabeth, who had just turned 80 and was coming to the end of her capacity to travel; so I was obviously elected. I told Angela to give me a date, a time, and a phone number, and I’d get in touch with her. She nodded. After all, we were still spies and still protective of our privacy. The time got away from us and three hours of reminiscing later, Angela jumped up and remembered that she had to go back to the office before it closed.
We waited another 20 minutes for her to get clear from the airport and only then sauntered to my electrocar in the long term parking lot, stopping and ambling along the way to track any watchers on foot. And on our leisurely way back to the beach house, we did a couple of 4 left turn maneuvers and our tail turned up clean. A spy is a spy forever, peaches, even with Security Service friends.