Turin Frog

The rain dripped; drip, drip, drip. The sound distracted me from watching a movie on TV, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, laying on the sofa, in my socked feet dangling over an arm rest. My partner and I, engaged in intermittent chats about moles in the murky world of espionage, and betrayals on this dark evening’s rain.


         “Who do you think is the mole?” he asked.

         “Hard to tell, really,” I responded. “The narrative is too convoluted. Le Carre, is one of those few writers who knows how to create atmospheric novels, drawing them out of a stream-of-consciousness mind for perfect cinematic effect.”

         “This movie has nothing to do with stream-of-consciousness.

         “Not, a stream-of-consciousness? What would you call this continuous switch between distant past, and present then?”

         “A hard narrative, but not that,” he declared.

         “Oh! You can be so stubborn.”


         A veil of silence fell in the room, like the graveyard shift. The movie grabbed all our attention, to the effect that we pretended to be like perfect strangers in a theatre, sitting in a hall, not communicating. We couldn’t anymore, not without descending to vulgar disagreements. The rains lashed straight through my mind. The dark space between us, and the dreary world of the movies, seemed aligned, existing in a parallel string world.


         Time is of the essence, the backward and the forward motion of the narrative. Back in time, it had rained another night like this. I sat on a bench in an alley in Turin, holding an umbrella upright, under a sallow street lamp post. Someone bumped into me. I, a Russian spy. This stranger looked into my eyes, and I invited him under my umbrella. We walked towards a cafe. That was our den. But the man didn’t know that I was a spy. We shared my bed upstairs. At midnight, he said, he wanted to leave.


         “Go? The night isn’t even over yet?” I asked.

         “Ah! My love, I still must go,” he answered.

         “But why? We’re just getting started.”

         “Are we?” he asked.

         “Aren’t we?” I asked. “What?”


         His stun-gun silenced me. But I wasn’t quite dead, yet. I saw him disappear in the rain-fog. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, had also come to an end. The mole got killed, but the story in my head hadn’t quite finished. The man who stunned me, walked away into the rain. I realise that he was a spy too. He had his orders to kill me. But he stunned me instead.  As he walked in the rain, without an umbrella, he decided to stand under shelter. Another man passed by and handed him a parcel. He opened it. There were some instructions. There was a plane ticket for Budapest. He waited for the rain abate. At this hour, there were no taxis. It was a long walk to his hotel. He entered, and into his room. As soon as he closed the door, he knew he wasn’t alone. Someone in the room, he turned around and he saw me. He didn’t startle, but smiled. I smiled too.

         “That stun worked,” I said.

         He said, “Well you need a make-over, now. Because, I confirmed with my agency that you were dead. They’ve given me another assignment for Budapest, now.”


         My partner turned off the TV. This spy who came in the rain, didn’t kill me. Because, he was my Russian colleague. He knew I was a mole, leaking information to the enemy. He did the same. All part of the game. The Russians wanted me dead. But didn’t know he too was a double agent.


         I cut my hair short, and coloured it black in the hotel bathroom. I put a Turkish dress on and a head scarf to cover my hair. Then we went out of the hotel, and on our way to Hungary. There was an assembly of world leaders. He sent me to assassinate the Russian, representative.

         “To kill a Russian?” I asked.

         “Yes, only then we can defect to the USA. You’re dead to the Russians, anyway. They’ll never suspect you as the killer.”

         In Budapest, I stood by the window, and had the target in the crosshairs. This was a meeting on gun-ban. A shot came out of my gun. The target fell. But, I was hit too. Who leaked this? Why? I saw the killer. It was him.

         I was seeing crows in the Budapest summer’s skies. I blanked.


Mehreen Ahmed

Mehreen Ahmed is an internationally acclaimed author. Her books, The Pacifist, is "Drunken Druid The Editors' Choice for June 2018", andJacaranda Blues,"The Best of Novels for 2017 - Family Novels of the Year" by Novel Writing Festival. Her flash fiction, "The Portrait" chosen to be broadcast by Immortal Works, Flash Fiction Friday, 2018. Bats Downunder, one of her short stories, selected by Cafelit editors for "The Best of CafeLit 8, 2019".


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