• Sir Michael and Lady Regina

Sir Michael and Lady Regina

Lady R was a tall, statuesque redhead, a few years senior to her husband. While Sir M was rather reserved and taciturn, she was vivacious, loved to dance, eat, drink and wear all kinds of fancy clothes.

Sir Michael and Lady Regina McCormick were to be guests at the Wedding of the Long-tail Dress. Sir Michael was the hero of the battle of some far away British postage stamp of a heathen province. He was also considered an expert in assessing battlefield terrain. He and Lady R had arrived from Haiphong on the Beguine. Given his itinerary and messages received on board, Bardinet suspected he was on an intelligence gathering mission. Not exactly spying. Not exactly.

Lady R was a tall, statuesque redhead, a few years senior to her husband. While Sir M was rather reserved and taciturn, she was vivacious, loved to dance, eat, drink and wear all kinds of fancy clothes. She had to have a martini every day and carried her own kit when on the march. At the bar she would either browbeat or sweet talk the barman, depending on his attitude, into making her martini just so.

“Thomas Fowler?” she nearly shrieked. “He’s a sarcastic son of a bitch! Always has a snide remark about something. I wouldn’t mind if he weren’t so damned predictable! Not a bad looking young man, mind you. Although he isn’t looking all that young anymore. It’s his lifestyle.” She drained her glass and held it up without looking this way or that. As though from a magician’s black curtain, a waiter appeared, took the empty and replaced it with a newly charged glass. “Thanks, dear. Whatever they’re paying you, it isn’t enough.”

Sir Michael put in, “Only met him once myself. But he does enjoy his drink. Must say.”

Lady R chortled, “And the pipe! And anything else he can find to get high. I’m sure he cried when they took the cocaine out of Coca Cola. Ha!”

“So, Sir Michael,” Bardinet enquired, “if I may ask, what is your business with Fowler?”

“Damned if I know. Fishy business when a soldier has got to meet with a journo. Especially when he’s some sort of, well, I don’t know. Is he a Bolshevik, Regina? Doesn’t he write for some socialist rag in Leeds?”

“He’s not a Bolshie, dear. He’s against everybody. And for all his son-of-a-bitchness, he’s damned fine reporter. Follows his nose, takes nobody’s word for anything, gets the story and writes only what he sees. No agenda, that one. Except the next pipeful! Ha!”
 
She swallowed a mouthful of olive, took a sip and asked, “Is this stuff real Vermouth, Captain? I can’t abide fake booze.”

“Regina! This is a fine establishment! Recommended by the Captain.”

“I’m sure it is the real thing, Lady Regina. My uncle Mathieu is the owner here at the Continental, and he takes great pains to see that all is on the up and up. But things can sometimes suffer on the long outward voyage from France.”

“You know they give a great massage in this place. You should have one, Michael. Do you good. But no happy endings. Not unless I’m there, too.”

“Yes, dear.”