Harriet’s Bungalow

We went back to the Entertainment room, collected our doubles out a hot game of Cribbage, and we all took the elevator down to the lobby. We saw the doubles and Lady Chief off with the Hula twins driving their blue car right behind. We sat on a bench near the elevator, talking about our week and talking about it’s details inconsequentially. Ten minutes later, I called our electrocab.

This time I needed to do the gawking, looking for someone following. For the cab driver’s sake, I told a little fib. I said this was my daughter. As part of her divorce proceedings, she had obtained a restraining order against her husband. But he just violated it and we barely had time to give him the slip. He’s a large, angry, and dangerous man and he might have spotted us and be following. I’ve someplace safe to put my daughter, but it won’t be safe if he tracks us there.

So I told him at this next light, go one block up and make four left turns so we come out at the same light. Anybody behind us who does that is following. The cabby did our little litmus test and it came up negative. “How did you learn to do that, ma’m?” he asked. I told him another fib, by reading crime novels. From there we proceeded to Melrose Park, a small middle-class suburb to downtown Chicago’s west. My friend’s house was a tidy little California bungalow on a postage stamp lawn. She came out of the front door as we arrived. I paid the cabbie and tipped generously. “For the sightseeing.” I said. “That’s one slick trick ma’m. I’ll have to file that one away.”

We’ll call my friend “Harriet”. I knew her from my Cicero whorehouse days long ago. We were stablemates, but she wasn’t Tessa the Ditzy. These days she did “mature” outcalls, as I said before. She had aged well, but wasn’t a looker in her young days, and today she looked like a hip and fashionable grandmother. Mostly her Johns were around our age, but every once in a while a younger man, usually in his twenties, would try her as an experimental change from his usual habits. When he did, he got the surprise of his life. Grandma knew more tricks than he’d ever seen out of any young whore, and she knew the one’s he had seen a whole lot better. Grandma enjoyed the change, too, and gave him full value for his money.

I introduced Sally by first name only, as we do in the life. If more is needed we use our town of residence, the name of our whorehouse, or even preceded by our Madam’s first name as a possessive, my friend would be Harriet of Chicago or Harriet of Melrose Park, depending on the circumstances. I said back at the beginning that I’m Elisabeth of Montpellier or Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Secret, Sally would be either of those two, or Elizabeth’s Sally, if the speakers using it were both in the life and neither Elizabeth nor Sally. I explained this to Sally the next day on the plane as her first introduction to whore’s etiquette.

Yes, I know, the public pisspots and junkies on the street have none, and call each other by first name only, if not by something nastier and not always in jest, but Harriet and I were High Class Tarts, from “respectable” houses or doing outcalls, and keep clearly the distinctions between ourselves and whores without manners. Sally would learn that etiquette, and if I heard her violate it in the house, or heard OF her violating it outside the house, she’d get a strapping. I didn’t expect that to happen. It mostly occurs with the youngest whores who have, by luck, just landed in the house from the streets.

Harriet and I had a lot to catch up on, and, after all we’d already been through in less than a week, by now Sally and I were background and foreground, depending. So Harriet started using our thieves cant, and I had to remind her that we weren’t alone. She had known, by the way I’d introduced Sally, that Sally was in training and would not be taught the cant until much later, but had simply forgotten that the younger lady was there. Sally also was like Lady Chief in her deep cover days, and could at will become unnoticeable as a Japanese Ninja. I strongly suspect that her initial recruiters had spotted this quality and saw her potential as a spy because of it.

As midnight approached, Harriet showed us to the guest room and it’s generous queen size bed swelling almost to the walls of a room intended for the furniture of another day. The side with the most space, including the door, held a dainty Art Deco dresser with a huge round mirror. We undressed and Sally turned out the light. The room had a mild glow from a streetlight out the window. As Sally turned around toward the mirror, her back was totally naked. I stepped up to her, drew two right hand fingers slowly and lightly down either side of her spine, cupped my left hand on her upper arm, and blew gently on the little hollow behind the lobe of her ear, “Now what were you saying about learning to go both ways?” I whispered. And our dance began.

The aching bodily need of each of the three of us for the other two was a growing, exquisite, torment as our days together went by, and it broke through both Sally’s and my boundaries like a raging flash flood as she turned around and we were mouth to mouth, breast to breast, leg to pubis. She turned and led me, big sister to little in the deep, dark, dangerous wood, ’til we reached the side of the bed and fell together on it with a grappling crash. For the first few minutes there was frenzy, then a smooth flowing rhythm as both she and I remembered at the same that I was also there to teach her so passion and need would stretch time itself.

We did actually get about four hours sleep, waking up at 10:40 for a quickie morning cuddle. And then we were out for the hot hearty breakfast that already was there for us. Harriet is a whore and really good, one who is genuinely worth the money, a keeper if your needs are regular and you like them met thoroughly. We were showing plenty of body language when we came in the door the previous evening, and, more importantly, trailing scent. She made sure to come between us twice to be sure. And I looked her dead in the eye with my head tilted slightly right and slightly sidelong. She smiled a little, secret smile for me.

Not to put to fine a point on it, our need for each other was absolutely rank with a week of close contact. They were a flute and an oboe playing exactly the same notes. The closer we were to each other, the stronger the scent. The house was built of solidly sound absorbing plaster, and was dead quiet. All of the noises we made in bed, particularly in the first ten frenzied minutes, were certainly audible in the living room. Sally’s scent and mine now were two oboes playing the same notes an octave apart. If you don’t like metaphor, go back to your, “see Dick run, run Dick run.” Oh, you don’t like double entendres either? Well , honey, you’re just going to have to lump them.

Now see how polite a High Class Tart can be when telling you to get stuffed?

Our flight time was in the late afternoon, and Violet actually had to knock on the door at noon to make sure we were there. I deliberately hadn’t given Lady Chief a Dictapad number. For reasons which I’m sure you can guess. So Harriet invited Violet and Sarah in. Our hour or so of talk was like a minuet of cop being polite to whore and whore being polite to cop. We had just worked our way through that to woman to woman when it was time to leave.

The jaunt to O’Hare was uneventful, just like we wanted it, and we still were woman to woman at the gate. We liked each other, and they noticed almost immediately that Sally and I had become lovers, just as Harriet noticed that we were about to. Our auras of mutual satisfaction, relaxation, and ease were plain for them to see. All our talk waiting for the plane was inconsequential, mostly polite questions about us and Lady Chief. It was very plain that to those outside us, we were the Odd Triple. And they were filling in gaps, like good cops should, left by their own contact with us and the gossip of the hula twins, because they knew about the pizza.

This may not have been the oddest assignment of their tenure, but it certainly was a change from running around with letters on the back of their green and gold windbreakers, waving their submachine pistols. Get the Green Meanies out of their green windbreakers and that horrid green car, and they are neither so mean nor so green. Nor were they office weary but chair loving bureaucrats from Cleveland. The GLCCA flatfoots in Chicago were pretty carefree, and actually a lot of fun. There are police (such as The CPD) that are too full of themselves to go out on stakeout duty in rayon Hawaiian shirts, and they’re not much fun.

There also was a subtle feeling, sitting in the airport, that somehow these two femmecops had become part of our team. I may have sensed this when I asked for
them to see us off.

The plane boarded, like planes do, with the captain smiling and holding his hands behind his back, and since we were the last passengers of only a mildly occupied plane, and had no luggage, the walk down the center aisle was free of bumping heads and colliding with passengers and a perfect display for the Captain of my come hither gait. I filed away to check if his smile had enlarged when he saw us off.

Inside Sally’s new legend was a letter from Lady Chief:

Since you are going to go into cover before we can train you, let me give you advice. It is a long, lonely, and dangerous road. Except for Elisabeth, who will be your very, very strict boss, and, since we didn’t get around to it here, will sooner or later tan your backside to a degree you can’t even yet conceive–a sisterhood of pain, not love–you will be totally alone, with only a non-citizen badge to get you cut a little slack by almost any adult Zone woman or any Fem/Dom police officer. A little slack, not much. Non-citizens are still subject to immediate arrest and indefinite detention, though their real crimes now pass through what were citizen only courts a decade ago.

Zone men will always be polite, but reserved with you even in your bedroom. They are told to spy on each other and the cops might ask them at any time what’s up with your “companion” you are responsible for watching whose name they will already know. When they encounter him, they will ask the same thing about “his” companion and note whether the stories match.

Fem/Dom beat cops of your neighborhood will be minding your business to the extent of even coming in the house and asking Elizabeth to introduce any new girls to them. They’ll remember the names and what house they belong to and input them by datalink after every visit. And even the friendliest beat cop will also be a Zone Citizen, a Matriarchal who knows her place and takes it, and you will be a foreign whore who doesn’t. That emotional gap is almost unbridgeable.

The rest of the Matriarchals will despise you. And this even though they refuse to service the males of their own household and deny that any such thing is their place. They will diss you loud and long behind your back and sometimes in front of it saying that you have NO place here and a man has NO right whatever to independent sexual relief.

This sounds insane, but I heard this or something close to it at least once a month when I was in Deep Cover pretending to be one of them. The only one I never heard it from was Micha Haaretz who somehow, some way remained humane toward any and all, even when she killed and tortured them. They saddened her once she made the decision, but she never hid from their worth as human beings even when she took it away from them as they came to an evil end directly and personally from her hands.

She certainly had more bodies hanging on her than I do. But I have killed impersonally, by proxy, and insulated from the humanity of those I kill. I can’t tell you which is more evil in the end, but I can tell you which is more painful, murder combined with isolation even from my victims. I told you that I talk to her frequently and, despite the gossip, I keep pictures of both her and Henry Peterson, the star crossed lovers, together on my office wall. Sometimes I see in the eyes of Micha’s picture the murder I remember in her eyes in person, sometimes I see the sadness. They are the same eyes. And besides asking her what I am losing with every new body added, I also ask what was it like to give someone the greatest of bliss and then snap their neck. Micha haunts us all, even if we never know it, and certainly haunts all spies.

Will you be a spy as well as a whore? a spy as well as a Madam? or will you turn your back on we who kill or maim or imprison without hate, but merely for convenience, or merely ‘in the line of duty’? And stay so far away from whom we kill that when violent death comes to us, we usually can’t see the face behind it, either. Micha didn’t, Helen chief of Sec/Spy didn’t, and our latest 12 agents didn’t. Henry was very lucky and did. Will such a refusal be right? Who can say? But right or wrong it will be YOURS. Since I made the decision to spy, none of my decisions can I own, right or wrong. We are all responsible for our decisions and their consequences, but when you rent your decisions instead of owning them, the evil you do will not budge an inch, and the good you do will barely rise an inch.

Neither I nor my agency can give you a whole lot but fear, danger, and grief, but in memory of the short, intense love affair between the three of us, I will give you the workname Sally Bayer. Once it was my birth name, once it was my own that got lost among my travels, my deceptions, and my lies. The only way I have found it again is to give it away. Now it’s yours. And this legend and passport that goes with it. Memorize that legend well, it is your only protection. But you’re trained enough to already know that. I know you will be Sally of Elizabeth’s Secret, Sally of Montpellier, Matriarchal Zone, the names in which you will whore. But you will spy as Sally Bayer, until you survive and come back to us, if you do.

On the wall of the top floor of GLCIS there are listed the worknames of the spies who wore them in Deep Cover. The majority of them have daggers next to them. These are the spies who died in service. Among them, with its dagger, is Henry Peterson. He was our best: the toughest, the bravest, the sharpest mind, and the most impeccable in tradecraft. Even our best has died in service. Every one of us going into deep cover needs to hold that bitter fact next to their heart and never let it go. He had no next of kin. His death medal and service medals stay in a case, with a brief explanation, beside my office door.

One of the list, without a dagger, bears the words, Workname Unknown. That is me. The third Chief of Service of GLCIS, and my favorite nickname, Lady Chief, was from the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known. Lady Chief can stand for the workname I was able to destroy and become the spook that never was there, a spy’s ideal, surely. I survived and I continue to serve. Most who survive don’t. Most are too painful in body, too cloudy in mind, and too exhausted in heart to continue. We don’t have a mark for them, but we should. The ones who died gave their all, the ones who came back but could not serve again gave all but their all. The rest of us who came back, able to serve, are merely the spooks who never were there, are the least of us, with “Workname Unknown”.

After she read this on the plane she started quietly crying. I took her hand and held her head.

The plane reached Toronto as Sunset merged into Dusk. Behind us was the Sun steadily sinking to the horizon in it’s burnt orange glory and ahead of us was a magnificent alpenglow. We saw both as the plane made the turn for the final approach. As we deplaned, the sun was gone from the sky and dusk was merging into twilight. Our electrotaxi ride to the Delta Soho and our check in were no more interesting than almost all of my hundreds of cab rides and check ins before it. I had bought us both a set of new underwear at the airport, and a small, handled, dufflebag to hold them and Sally’s manuscript.

And as soon as the room door opened, the beds were singing a song promising welcome and deep dreamless sleep to we two transient lovers who spent half their time the night before in turbulent Eros, magnificent passion, and the first culmination of a journey into secrecy, betrayal, and fear. As we sat in the chic and retro 1980’s postmodern Club Tub chairs on casters, in the back of my mind was whether the other two erotic culminations would happen that would bind us all indissolubly and place our espionage guilt into one burden that all three would carry with our mutual and lifetime love. All of us had but two friends and not just Sally, all of us faced our future alone.

The same thing was in the front of Sally’s mind, but we didn’t need to speak of it, each could read it in the other as part of the temporary closeness of body merged to body the night before. We would never be so open to each other again until and unless we came together again, in both uses of the word, and the time for that would be counted in years. I had never been so open since before I became a whore. I had spent a lot of time over the week thinking of whether Sally would become tough enough to be a whore. She already was. Now the only question about her is whether she will be courageous enough with chances of only 1 in 3 of surviving, and think well of it enough in the future, despite the inevitably growing guilt, to become a spy. That question not even the mutual intuition of recent lovers could answer.

Where would solitude without culmination for Lady Chief lead? She was clearly showing her agent fatigue. Some kill themselves because of it, some turn into truly self aware demons like Micha Haaretz because of it, and some survive it at the cost of an absolute diminishment of the joy of life. Some of Lady Chief’s joy had already gone, and we had seen her demon face within. Would she still retain any of the hope and determination she held, when she had to spy among the unconscious demons in the hell of Sec/Spy, lived to tell about it, and continued to serve until picked to lead? 

Would she escape the ever closer danger of dancing with the demon inside her, as well with as the demon she escaped at Sec/Spy, but still talks to now, while the number that she must kill by proxy keeps slowly increasing? In the final remark Lady Chief made on the subject, of mild regret that the Truth Team was tangled up with Peter and by implication that all of them would die, which would, ironically, be a massacre of the innocents, I heard chilling echoes of Micha Haaretz in the letter she wrote before Ian and GLCIS killed her.

But Odysseus was tied to the mast to hear the Song of the Sirens, and both of us were tied to the turbulence of our empty stomachs that had disposed of our airline snacks an age ago. The Soho itself had a restaurant, and appetite made up for what we were missing from the Agent’s Club. The food was what they called here “stodge”, plain and filling with a mingling of flavors in harmony at it’s best, instead of the separate development of the freshest of materials with precision in the kitchen and, always, elegance of presentation, that we were served at the club.

As stodge and, by courtesy “Canadian”, the quality of each component of our dinner was variable. The iceberg lettuce salad could be safely ignored, the Beef Wellington was excellent with the pastry surround having the right degree of both flakiness and crunch, and the beef within succulent and juicy; the buttered carrots soft but not mush and not over salted; the bread undistinguished but the butter graced with the specific flavor of a good local dairy, a flavor distinct from every other equally good local dairy; the ale on tap was British and hardy Newcastle Brown; and then a plum pudding to praise lavishly, with the texture that only comes from true beef suet.

Then there was the coffee. At the Ritz we had become accustomed to fresh ground and very well roasted–not too little, not too much–Dark French Roast, a coffee with mellow sweetness that still stands up to an equal amount of milk without being overbearing about it, together making that silky smoothness of good cafe au lait. Now we had a brighter, medium roast, probably Tim Horton’s and not fresh ground but so recently in an unopened container and run through with filtered water in a sparkling clean double potted commercial dripolater, that most of the flavonoids have survived. It’s brightness was a little tart, but not bitter. As it is supposed to be. A coffee blend as shy as the full cream it is mixed with, that requires stern stirring with the spoon to become a happy couple.

South of the Great Lakes we still try to duplicate this marriage by cream cut with milk, “half and half” that will mimic the way full cream and coffee look with little to no effort with the spoon. But it is flat and flavorless, neither as smooth but authoritative as good dark roasts with whole milk, nor graced with the bright palate and tongue richness of fresh medium roast and whole cream. On this trip Sally and I had the very good luck to taste both.

Relaxed, satisfied, and happy with inconsequential and frivolous small talk in the good company of the friend who became a lover for an interval, but still remained a friend, Elizabeth was for once able put aside her self image as a Madam and a Whore, and Sally was able to forget for a while the hard road ahead requiring her to become as tough as nails as her mentor for the rest of her life. Then the caffeine clearness began to subside for us both and neither of us could continue to ignore the fact that we were just plain bone tired.

The hypnotizing song of fresh, starched sheets, a promise of true and lasting rest, began to call us to our room above. We left our old underwear to soak overnight in the washbasin with a squirt of the liquid hotel soap on, and rubbed into, each piece. Then we fell into each of the two beds.

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