The Cello Case

I saw him before he saw me.

He was sulking around the streets of Berlin, features cold and clean. He had black coffee and eggs and ham for tea, he went to the zoo, and finally loitered around a bookshop, purchasing a cheap paperback thriller with a scantily-clad woman on the front.

It wasn’t my job to watch him. And normally I wouldn’t’ve. But I was curious. The name – James Bond, hardly evocative, but it caught me.

He smoked a lot. Standard British cigarettes. (Not that I’m an expert on tobacco ash.)

He was moody, like a teenager, brooding under a darkened brow. But it was his eyes that captivated me the most. They were tired, exhausted. Worn-out storms of blue and grey, like the sea meeting the shoreline.

Bond didn’t notice me until I went to practice that first evening of my assignment. I can actually play – and it was my cello, only I didn’t carry it in the case, I kept it in a store room along with music stands and lights and everything else. I carried my gun in that case – apparently James thought it was a submachine gun – it was an AK-47.

I would say that he needs to get his eyes checked, except he doesn’t. He watched me make the short walk across to our little set-up every night. And then, after practice, I would make the short walk back to my car and he would watch me again. The burn of his brooding gaze, across that distance.

He was bold, to be looking straight at me. I never looked right into him because I never needed to. I saw him through my peripheral vision and kept him there, in the corner. I sized him up, estimated if he came from good stock or not, and wondered if I might fuck him. (As he did for me, I’m sure.)

He should’ve shot me in the head. But he shot me in the hand. That means that he didn’t fulfil his contract.

He could be relieved from duty just as much as I was. (Except that he won’t, because he’s a male, and he’s British, and they like to save face.)

I thought about him, while I was in hospital. Blue-grey eyes switched between images of bright explosions of light and the smell of gunpowder. Sometimes, I wanted to kick his teeth in. Sometimes, I wanted to feel his bone-dry hands on me.

He’s a lousy shot, though. Doctor says I can still play the cello.


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