The 28 hour flight from Buenos Aries to Kathmandu gives me time to reflect on Mandy and our whirlwind relationship. After returning home from Hartford, U.S. America, I learned I was one of the NSA’s few Project ‘Hitch-Hiker’ success stories. I thought I was careful, daily sweeping my hotel room for bugs and cameras, but I never suspected the Sony Trinitron would snitch on me; must have caught me practising the American accent.
I was enjoying a pint of a concoction the Officer’s Club bartender called ‘Forget’, well ‘enjoying’ might have been a stretch, Coopers Ale, Bitters, Vermouth, and local lentil whiskey; “it’ll make you forget”, was his description. Picking up the bakelite handset on an old black rotary model 302 telephone on my table, I dialled the number again on the card. “Hello, Majes?”, the voice on the phone inquired. I wondered aloud how she knew it was me. “I don’t give many people this number, and even fewer Australians, hold on a sec, yup, you are calling from South Australia, mmm, Woomera”, Mandy answers. “So… you’re CIA, NSA, DOD?”, I ask. “Not exactly, let’s just call it an independent contractor”.
In the early to mid 1990’s, the U.S. American clandestine services had been fielding a lot of heat from their public about government sanctioned assassinations. In order to create a buffer of plausible deniability, they relied on independent contractors to carry out the kills. The arrangement didn’t work as well as hoped. The U.S. government found that contractors could be easily corrupted, by their targets, into misreporting the kill confirmations. Additionally, once word spread in the subcontractor world that the U.S. was putting contracts out on contractors in order to cover their tracks, all the hitmen refused to work for them.
A strapping young man of twenty four, one hundred eighty three centimetres tall, twelve stone, healthy, fit, lightly bronzed skin, and sandy blond hair; the world was my oyster. I could have any girl that fit my fancy, and often did; and often. Talking to Mandy, my usual cool, nonchalant self was not coming as easily as normal. Something about our brief introduction about a week prior, a mysterious attraction, something ineffable; she possessed that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.
“When can I see you”, I managed. “How about right now?”, the voice said, but not over the telephone. I turned, first my head, then my shoulders followed by my body in the swivel chair to see Mandy standing in the doorway, behind me. She was wearing a very tailored version of the women’s RAF dress uniform, regulation modest heels, and a slightly askew garrison cap. Her beautiful brunette hair, of course, secured in a bun, deep red lipstick, only a modicum of makeup otherwise, and manicured red painted, slightly longer than regulation, nails; she looked very much the part of the RAF Wing commander her shoulder boards indicated. I stood, telephone receiver still in my hand, I proceeded to walk toward her, pulling the telephone off the table. The phone hit the floor with bang and a ‘ding’ as the bell inside was jostled. Mandy giggled a little as I put the phone back together and on the table.
I went to kiss her, Mandy stopped me, saying, “ahem, uniform”. Looking around I replied that there is no one here, Mandy shook her head briefly then looked up at one of the overhead security cameras. “Come”, Mandy said, as if I needed an invitation.
Walking outside, the late afternoon sun at our backs, Mandy confessed, “Sorry about the uniform, it was the only way I could get on base. I was about to surprise you anyway, but you called just as I had gotten in”. We walked a little, chatting about the unusually warm weather for late autumn. I tried to kiss her again, again Mandy stopped me, cleared her throat and nodded to another security camera. I never realised there were so many cameras on base. We arrived at her rental car, a white late model sedan, darkly tinted windows, It looked much like a government vehicle, without the tags, obviously. “I’m taking you to dinner”, announced Mandy, “get in”.
The Eldo hotel. Dinner huh, hmmm. As if reading my thoughts, Mandy said as we got out of the car, “The restaurant here has very good food”. The food was in fact pretty good. Mandy was surprised to see kangaroo on the menu, “I thought kangaroos are protected”, she remarked. I replied that it varied, year by year, sometimes protected, sometimes for dinner. Over chicken on the barbie and shrimp on the, well you know, we got better acquainted.
Looking about as we finished our after dinner coffees, I saw we had closed the restaurant. Chairs on tables, the wait staff gone, the restaurant manager waiting patiently for the cheque, we had talked for hours. I learned among other things she has the unusual and rare tri-citizenship. Mandy’s father was a Russian diplomat, her mother a French diplomat. Arraigning to be assigned to the same countries so they could be together was a full time task. They succeeded most of the time. Both her parents were working in England when she was born, thus the tri. She and her older brother, Sam, spent a few years in Australia as teenagers when their parents were assigned to Oz and New Zealand respectively. When her parents were reassigned, her mother to Hungary, her father to U.S. America, Sam elected to stay in Australia while she went with her father to the colonies. Odd that, Sam never mentioned he had a sister.
I also learned Mandy never makes love on the first date. I argued we already had our first “date” in U.S. America about a week ago. “Good point”, her reply with a wink.
Alone, the two of us, in her room, we caress in a loving hug, deeply kissing each other. Already I am satisfied. The love between us is already expressed, though we are fully clothed, having just entered her room. While we kiss, Mandy dons her garrison cap, and releases her hair from it’s bondage. As we continue our tongue parrying, Mandy starts to unbutton her blouse, I start unbuttoning my blouse as well. Mandy then stops her task and proceeds to push my hands away from my shirt and continues to unbutton the rest of my blouse as I switch to finishing the task she started on her’s. Exposing our skin on the top portions of our bodies, we pause briefly, then resume our hug and deeper than deep of French kisses, stretching my tongue as deeply as I can, hoping to touch her soul. Already I’m wishing this moment could last forever. Breaking from our kiss, we feverously remove the remains of our chattels. We fall onto the bed and into each other as Mandy presents the most exquisite of hamster suits I have ever had the pleasure to share…
My revelry is broken when the pilot announces our imminent arrival in Doha, Qatar, time to switch planes again. Nearly sprinting to the gate to catch our connecting flight, I switch on my phone to try the number on the card again, there is an urgent message waiting, “Reroute directly to Cuba, a company charter is waiting for you, call me when on board, Jae”. “Clyde, we have work to do”.