The Rest of the Story

Of course you want to know more of what happened after Lady Chief’s retirement and, as you might expect, just as you are a whore forever, once you spy, you leave unfinished spy business behind to follow you until you die. Since both Elizabeth and Lady Chief have passed on to and through their moments of truth, the unfinished spy business is now mine alone and the terrible parts can be stated with straight talk, a standard to which both Cherry and I still adhere to. Talk straight or be silent. The delayed publication of this narrative allows us to briefly carry the story further with such straight talk about human lives scarred, and the deaths of friends and lovers, that keeps any one of us in this life from having “happily ever after”.

First, and foremost, what Elizabeth feared most didn’t come to pass. She, Cherry, and I all outlived Lady Chief, who, herself, died swiftly of tardily diagnosed Stage 4 pancreatic cancer last year. I will speak later of her last days. I could tell that, for at least three years, Elizabeth was putting every mental effort into extending her life to help us keep Lady Chief from suicide. And, in those years, though she kept quiet about it, the green and white jade statue of Kuan Yin was constantly by her side on the table next to her electric wheelchair. I’m sure she prayed privately to Kuan Yin daily to help her to stay alive for Lady Chief, and to relieve Lady Chief from her demons.

Once Lady Chief’s natural death was a fact, Elizabeth simply relaxed, and her body did the rest over the course of 6 weeks. She was a January baby and died this year 3 days beyond her 87th Birthday. Both Cherry and I were with her to the last, constantly reaffirming our love, and, during the last 5 days, she said Kuan Yin was with her as well, instructing her how to deal with death and beyond. Elizabeth left softly, and with a smile, while we watched.

My greatest torment from unfinished spy business was that when I finally came out of deep cover as a spy and, incidentally, as a wealthy woman, both my parents were dead. There was no one to tell me this at GLICIS. Their direct contact with my parents ended with the mailing of their half of my “foreign cover service” postcard.

I found it out in the worst, but the only, way possible, a return to my childhood home. It was agony to be told the news by knocking on the door of the perfect strangers who now lived in the house and knew nothing of the details. My grief was not supposed to be their burden and I couldn’t say a single thing about where I had been and what I had been doing. So I thanked them while I still barely had control of my weeping, wished them well and started back down the front door path, when our old neighbor’s daughter spotted me and came running holding a brown envelope.

Though no one I once knew there had seen me since I abandoned all I had, even my legal name, to be a spy, she recognized me. What she could tell me was meager. My father died before my mother and this sometime before she had come back to take care of her own elderly parents. They couldn’t remember exactly when. My mother remembered her and courted her as a lonely old woman will do if you are younger by 30 years, sympathetic, and a returning neighbor. She would stop by to visit Mom occasionally in the five years she had left. Once she caught Mom fiddling with two halves of a postcard and asked her why. “My daughter is still alive and one day she’ll return in the dead of night. The fact that I have this postcard but nothing more tells me that. Don’t ever ask any further about this. That you even now know this is betrayal of a promise I had to make to keep her alive.”

Just before my mother died she gave her young neighbor the torn postcard with a request that she give it to me if I ever returned. It was in the envelope. As she gave it to me she said, “I won’t ask you a thing about it. Your mother’s reticence was so unusual and such a puzzle that it always stayed in the back of my mind. One day as I was idly fiddling with the postcard, the obvious answer came to me. You can’t tell me where you went, but I think I know. As you can see, she gave me the original pre-addressed envelope she was given. (It was addressed directly to GLCIS (!!!) headquarters itself instead of a shell company–sloppy tradecraft from the Peter/Mossad years.). You can’t tell me what you did there, but I can guess some of it. Let that remain just my guesses alone, take this envelope and postcard, and cherish that she loved you and believed in you until the end.”

At that point I disintegrated into the grief I had always known in my heart would be there and not just because both my parents were gone. My old neighbor enveloped me in her arms for I don’t know how long on the open street on a fine Spring morning for all the neighborhood to see. When I recovered I said, “Thank you for not asking anything. But for your comfort and in memory of whatever happiness you gave my mother I can say this. I know what you guessed, and you’re right, so if you’re ever asked you can say that you will never see me again and don’t know my present name.”

I held myself together until I closed the door of my understatedly plush Chinese electrocar, then with the envelope on the seat beside me, I cried until I could cry no longer.

I hadn’t the courage to open the envelope then and there, so I rushed to the safety of our cozy little North Chicago home and the healing of Elizabeth’s love. We both knew that, though my parents were dead, I could never even seek to find their graves nor say aloud the name I grew up with. Elizabeth immediately took up the envelope, extracted the card halves, and placed them in the nook with her jade Kuan Yin. “You can always find them there when you’re ready to.” They were all I had left of my personal past. All. And I had to make myself remember that, for all the hardship, our collective love, collective mind, and collective erotic life as first a threesome and then a foursome has still made that part of the loss from my specific choices more than worth it.

Blotting up my sniffles, I said to her what I’ve said to her countless times both before and since, “I love you with all my heart and always will. I will stay by your side and Lady Chief’s side to the end.” I needed to say no more. You may take it as metaphor that the minds of Elizabeth, Lady Chief, and I had merged into one, but it is more than that. As the years have passed, we, with Cherry, ever steadily lost more of the need to speak aloud to one another, saying things clearly with a mere glance or gesture and no real need of words.

When Lady Chief descended into dream ridden fixation on her guilt, a part in each of the four of us shared her visions and hearing with her and it weighed on each of us. We knew that what we accepted in our collective consciousness was troubling her a whole lot less, no matter how far she would go into the deepest despair that no amount of her contrition would ever let her find forgiveness before the end of this life.

Our straight talk extends even to there. Elizabeth’s experiences of comforting light in the presence of her beautiful statue became ever stronger until they finally were continuous. Our own brief glimpses of that light let Cherry and I understand what Elizabeth had come to terms with long ago.

We could sooner or later, with Kuan Yin’s help, break Lady Chief free from the demons in her mind: we had already pushed her away from her own feral self which merged (almost) tracelessly into me and with little evil having come from it; and we would sooner or later break the iron grip of Micha Harretz on her heart.

But with even the extra help, we could only delay for a single future life, Lady Chief’s confrontation with the 28 dead she had killed by proxy. Each of us were astounded when we finally heard how many, Elizabeth first, me next, and Cherry last. And we could only hope that the power of her contrition would follow her into a human life where she could purify her role in those deaths. For that, Kuan Yin would have to play her part beyond the moment of truth, as well as Lady Chief herself.

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