I stood up, “Before we do that, I’ve something in particular to say to Emily and our babysitters. Lady Chief, Elizabeth, and I are not just friends, we are also lovers. We don’t intend to ignore that fact while we are here so if a bedroom door is closed or if our erotic life makes some noise don’t inquire unless you are ready for a show. Elizabeth and I, at least, won’t be bothered by this, but you just might be.
Also, Lady Chief is subject to vivid nightmares and speaks loudly in her sleep, which require her to be fully awakened when she does. So she never sleeps alone. Elizabeth and I take turns sleeping with her and if you hear some distressing noise from her room at night, it’s not due to a physical emergency and Elizabeth or I will have things under control.”
The faces of the audience all bore evidence of their unspoken response, “I’ll bet she has nightmares!”
“I’d particularly appreciate it if you, Angela and Ralph, would pass that on to other baby sitters. I’d also like you two to get together with Emily and I downstairs this afternoon, so we can give Emily some basic lessons in how to manage a real safehouse and establish a new security protocol for her in the future. Please also pass on to the other babysitters that these lessons will be daily, barring emergencies, and they’ll need to participate. Also,” I was looking straight into Emily’s eyes, “if I may remark a little pointedly to Emily, when you manage a real safehouse, you don’t eavesdrop.”
Now, how’s that for a polite way of saying, “You fucked up, sister; don’t do it again.”? Emily reddened up again and clearly was a little frightened. I’d have been, too, in her shoes.
“Finally, all three of us have led difficult lives requiring hard decisions and subject to chronic fear. When matters are urgent and important we probably talk straighter and tougher than you’re used to.” I stared directly at David’s eyes as I said this. “When we first met long ago I had to grow up very fast with these two and it was terrifying. But I fell in love with them both and that fact gave me solace in the long, lonely years of my deep cover.
“Quite clearly, none of you here have gone clandestine, and you are barely acquainted, if at all, with the simple fact that dominates all our lives: you can’t be a spy and a decent human being. We’re not. Our actions merely as spies have sent people we’ve never even known to die or to be imprisoned. In addition, Elizabeth and I are criminals who’ve had to deal, sometimes very violently, with killers, thugs, punks, pimps, gunrunners, and Chicago gangsters, among others, and Lady Chief has been the direct supervisor of some of these criminals just as if she were a gang boss herself. They make up part of a Truth Team. To amplify that a little bit, many of those whom she ordered killed were her own thugs when they broke the rules of their employment, and some she had to give extended and painful beatings to with a strap for minor infringements of those rules.
“We are in a different world on the other side of a line that we sincerely hope that you never are forced to cross. And, except for Elizabeth long, long ago, we crossed that line voluntarily for the sake of our country, which has now betrayed us. We’ve all severely hurt people and we’ve killed people, sometimes directly and sometime by proxy. We may well have to kill and hurt people again while living in this safehouse. We’d prefer not, but if the need arises, we’ll do so without hesitation and without remorse. David will be briefing most of you about all these things. We’d like to help him out by telling you that what he will say about us is all true.”
I took a lighter tone, “However, in our off hours we are quite pleasant and sociable people and you may talk with us openly and ask any questions you like. If the answer is secret, we’ll tell you so, pleasantly.”
Lunch was a relief for us all and we made enough chatter for twice as many people, even if all the chatter was still a little tense and brittle. Emily made very tasty canapés and tiny crust less sandwiches, she also had quite a nose for cheese and a good eye for the type of fruit that complements a specific style of cheese, such as fresh berries and Stilton. And she could pick wine. Wine was an impossible luxury in the Zone since the oncoming heat destroyed a great many famous vineyards around the world. I had never had an opportunity to try South Saskatchewan wine and it was shockingly good.
With such a miscellaneous choice of dishes, most of them finger food, the serving trays spread over both the dining table and the credenzas. All was equally scrumptious and everyone visited each serving space several times, making for even more intense bouts of conversation of each of us to all of us.
Despite the fact that I had been quite firm with Emily about eavesdropping, that she did it at all made her possible agent material, she was a little over 40, an excellent age for many spying roles given the right cover. That was why I committed myself to taking time with her. We could have let her just cook and clean, but if I gave PI back a good agent, or even just a good safehouse keeper, I’d be pleased as punch.