Anyone who has made the short but eventful journey with me so far could rightly ask -“So what?” “What does any of this have to do with anything?”. Well, dear reader, the answer is this. I had been poorly paid but well looked after to spend my time with people far more important than me for most of my life. The job was simple. I walked and talked. In the event that life became less perfect than they needed it to be I walked and talked while they ran. I drove and they were driven. Usually we dined or drank while deals happened elsewhere between those who felt they had sufficient credit in the next life to make decisions about who ought to live or die; or those mad enough to both believe that this is the only shot at existence we get and that they are in a position to value human life. I was, and, as long as I draw breath, am, an escort. I do other things for money and distraction but my calling is to be at the beck and call of those who feel they need a few extra moments when push comes to shove. I have always done it well. I have always followed the rules. That is to say until John handed me back to the Lady and I broke each and every one of them at once.
John, as you may have guessed, was a person of interest to those who sent me unwittingly through my series of assignations. They, and you must appreciate I know very little of them, have always admired the lucky and the talented. They watch and indulge the few whom they feel may move the game on through determination or sheer good fortune. At some point the same deal is always struck. “We find you fascinating. If you would kindly carry on doing x or y we will ensure your very dreams come true…” They never really do. The human capacity to dream always exceeds their willingness to facilitate. Most people accept the compromise; blame themselves for the loss of their imagined pot of gold. They stumble back to mediocrity assuming that had they made a different move somewhere back along everything would be different. Not John. John played the players and skipped between the rain drops. They pulled me out of a decade of indifference and inactivity because they knew John required an old hand. They knew I was the one who could pull him down, make him stumble. They were wrong. John runs for the love of running. I am running now because I met my match.
John saw through me like a broken window. He knew we were both marked marks, but, instead of playing for his own personal gain, he played for the sheer devilment of seeing who would win. It is impossible to beat anyone for whom losing is just another way of winning. Every army that has ever marched on Moscow learnt this inviolable rule to their cost. John knew something I didn’t know. He knew the Lady and I were both ready to fall. We fell and now I am tortured by the realisation that I can’t save her or myself from paying the piper.
When I first saw her emerge from the crowd I should have known. The tiny voice that had kept me safe all my life should have said “Run, now, run and keep on running. They will protect her. They will sneer at you but you have done enough. Run you old fool.” I keep replaying the scene in my mind but all I can hear is my own voice saying “Wow.” The Lady was not tall or statuesque like She had been. The Lady didn’t move the crowds, she moved me. Her curves were camouflaged clearly and intentionally by her own hand. She had no idea that each extra pound, every stretch mark, every imperfection was another hook that held my heart inescapably on the tautest of lines. When she saw me amusement flooded her face like a child seeing through a cheap magician. I took her arm and guided her to the safety of a place I knew well. All around us the louche and the bored knew something was afoot. I was a man surrounded by alarms who could only hear nightingales.
The job was a brief lunch. Four days later the job was lost and I was running for my life.
As for John, he is undoubtedly laughing and still cashing in.
Let me explain something for the uninitiated. It was not uncommon for someone in my position to entertain a guest to the fullest extent to which they wished to be entertained. You will all have heard the stories of the more common policemen siring children with environmental activists in the pursuit of whatever knowledge their superiors hoped to gain. For amateurs like me the rules were clear. Do what must be done but keep your head while all around you others have willingly given theirs away. My sin was not to sleep with the Lady. My sin was to believe that I could take her with me and leave them all behind to play their games by themselves. My sin was to dream that she and I could be the ones who got away. Please believe me, no one ever does. Now, wherever I go I am only moments ahead of a final blow that will consign me to the dustbin of history, the skip of legend. As long as I have time I will tell you more. The fewer and fewer of you who listen may at least smile and cry in equal measure. This is a love story….tbc