Seline and the Spy
Hello, Seline Allbright here. This is really unbelievable. I can hardly believe it myself and it were me it happened to. Senga couldn’t believe it neither, nor the postman lady when I told her. I don’t blame them for their disbelievening, it’s not often you see spies in the supermarket.
I seen him at the coconut milk. Shifty, that were the only word for him, well that and tall too, ‘cos he were. I was just heading round Tesbury’s late on afternoon picking up this and that and so forth and I came to the Indian food. I like Indian food. It’s all the spice that does it. Jazz’s you up, like. Our Italian does a lovely curry pizza. The waiter said it was traditional and I like tradition, don’t you? Like when they say don’t walk under a ladder in case someone drops a paint pot on your head. That’s traditional. Or putting mistletoe up at Christmas so strangers are allowed to kiss you underneath. I said that to one of Senga’s men friends last year. She has a collection of old men, you know. My fan club she cries them. They don’t do nothing, mind. I’m not insulating that. At least I don’t think so. Although there is this one manny who keeps his milk in our fridge. Anyway I said to this man. “You can kiss me underneath. It’s allowed you know.”
“Must I?” he said.
That was not nice of him. “Well no, you needn’t must,” I said in what Senga calls my frosty voice. “But in here about parts it is a tradition.”
“A tradition?” he said. “Are you sure?”
“Absolutely,” I said and puckered up.
Well, I can’t tell you what happened next. Well, I could but you would not like to hear, and I have to tell you about the spies. I will only say that it was very unpleasant and that man had serious understanding problems. I told him that as I threw him onto the landing.
Anyway that was why I was at the coconut milk, ‘cos Senga said she’d cook me a curry if I went and bought the stuff for it, so she’d given me a list and it had this coconut milk on it. I thought it came from coconuts at first, ‘cos I mean cows milk comes from cows don’t it? And goats milk comes from goats, I suppose. So I thought, coconuts and I took half a dozen back with me but Senga was not pleased.
So as I say, It was late and I was back looking for the coconut milk which by the way comes in tins and the girly had directed me to the Indian aisle. She had been placing peppered mackerel very neatly on the shelf when I asked her where she kept her coconuts once they’d been milked. She had a look on her face which I didn’t understand so I explained that I didn’t actually want the coconuts as such, I was just curious, what I really wanted was her milk and would she be able to help me? She made a funny face and told me where to go.
And that was where I seen him. Tall and shifty, that was him. He was just stood staring at the coconut milk tins like he were waiting for them to jump up and do a dance or something. Now it happens all the time I find. You go into a shop which is almost empty and you go for one thing and guaranteed that the only other person in the shop will be standing in front of where it is that you need to be in order for to get your one thing. Normally I say excuse me sir or madam but would you mind shifting a bit so I can obtain access to this thing what I need for whatever it is I need it for. And I smile to show I am friendly and not annoyed like what I am. They always shift very quick. But not this time.
My fifth sense told me to stay back and so I stayed back and watched him from behind a display of Sharwoods black bean cook in sauce reduced from £1.52 to 99p. Which, by the way, is a bargain and I can recommend it. After a few seconds of his staring he looked right and then left but he could not ascertain me behind the sauce and then he picked out one of the coconut milk tins and placed a small yellow envelope behind it. Then he replaced the tin and stood for many more seconds. Then he just turned and walked away.
Well! I knew exactly what was happening. It was one of them dead letter drops. I watch Spooks and so I know all about dead letter drops. He wasn’t going to get away with that. I waited a few minutes just to see if anyone would approach the tins but as I say the shop were to all best purposes empty of buying people. I took a looky right and left and then extracted myself from behind the sauce and approached the tins. This was the critical moment. If I were discovered right there and then I would be taken off by some foreign power which is not usually Russia these days I notice and I would be integrated for to find out all I know about the doings of MI5, which is quite a lot actually 'cos as I may have said prefacely I watch Spooks regular. I wouldn't tell them of course and after they had finished with their integrations they would maybe capture Senga and threaten her for to make me spill beans but I still would not talk, but with Senga there perhaps we could overpower them and hand them to the spookmaster for to be integrated themselves like.
“Hello,” said a man's voice beside me.
I think I may have screamed 'cos I got such a frightening hearing a strange man's voice right behind me out of the blues. I mean when a man creeps up behind a woman like that and frightens the daylights out of them, there is only one thing they are after and it is not a crunchie bar, you know what I mean? Mam warned me about creepy men like that and I wasn't going to have it, at least not in front of the coconut milk so I turned round to tell him that very thing and then I screamed again 'cos it were him what I was telling you about, the dead letter man.
Well, you can imagine how I felt, and if you can't then you do not have a good imagination and you should try and develop it by the reading of many good books what you can find in your local library.
So I looked at this man who was standing with his mouth open and scratching his head so much that I could see dandruff falling like little snow sprinkles. This is it, Seline, I told myself. Your future, and maybe Senga's too, depends on what you say right now.
“Good morning,” I said. “Isn't it a lovely day for doing things.”
“Are you all right,” he said. “It's just I heard you scream. There isn't a problem is there? Are you unwell?”
A problem, indeed. Well would you ever. Talk about brass neck.
“No, no. There are no problems. Everything is totally wiffly.” I smiled and moved a step to try and get around him.
“It is?” he said.
“Ab slow mint.” That's French, by the way. I learnt it from somebody or other sometime who weren't French.
“Um,” he said and started biting his lower lip.
That was just the start, soon he would be foaming at the mouth and calling for re-enforcements.
I took a deep breath. I couldn’t see a way out of this. “Are there many of you?” I asked him. “And by the way I know what you are about and don't think you can get away with it. I'm just one old... well middle... well not young anyway, woman and my death will be just the beginning.”
“What?” he said, pretending to be deaf.
“They will come and hunt you down. This here is a hidden microphone what has been recording our conversations.” I flapped the lapel of my tangerine BHS jacket at him. I was just bluffing but he couldn't know that.
He laughed at me, a hollow merciless laugh. There was no pity in that laugh, no understanding of the feelings of another fellow human being.
“You a mystery shopper gone rogue then?”
I pulled myself up tall and stared up his nose. “I, sir, am a human being, one of God's creatures who pays her taxes and watches the queen when she's on. Your kind will never triumph. Just a few minutes ago I was about to purchase a can of coconut milk and now I find myself involved in this ghastly plot of whatever it is. I tell you that your kind will never triumph.”
“OK... coconut milk, you say?”
I nodded my head. I couldn't speak. I’d got all emotional what with my speech and the realisation that my end was nigh.
“I shouldn't say but if you can wait 'till tomorrow it's being reduced.”
He reached up behind the cans and pulled out the dead letter and handed it me. There was writing on it what said Reduced £2.50 to £1.49.
“Is this code?” I said.
“There's a bar code at the bottom.”
“Thought so.” He had no shame this one. “Well they'll break it. GCHQ have the power. They have all the latest computers.”
“Look,” he said. “I'm not quite with you. I think we may have got off on the wrong foot. I've got more labelling to do but if you wait until tomorrow it will be marked down.”
“That's fine. I'll wait right here.”
“Well... OK, right. Um... have a nice day.”
I just looked at him as he sidled syruptiously away.
Well as you can imagine, I had no intention of waiting there. As soon as he was gone I was out of there like a bat out of its shell. First thing I did was check on Senga but she were fine, lying on her chair snoring. I woke her up and told her her mortality was in danger. She didn’t not believe me and when I explained everything with the spy and all she didn’t not believe me even more. She thought he were just a shop worker manny going about his normalities but I know better and you do too now that I’ve told you all about it. Don’t you?