H is for Headquarters/Home
Mort thinks it’s a bit of a dive, to be honest, but he’ll give it to you cheap.
One apartment – two bedrooms, office space and a dump of a kitchen: it’s a little small, not much in it.
He likes you, though. You seem like the kinda dame who’d do good things with a place like this. He’ll give it to you for a… special price (yeah, the same special price he offered to the five people who’ve asked to see it, seen it, grimaced and left sharpish).
It’s not so bad, y’know. It’ll be OK, with a little love. He’ll get the kid to help out – oh, Elizabeth’s kid down the road. List. Yeah, weird name. It’s actually Alister, but that’s not much better, in Mort’s opinion.
Good. That’s what he thought. He’ll see you, say, Monday? Uh-huh. Monday.
I is for International
“So,” List says; he takes a seat on the opposite chair, putting his feet on her desk, reclining and resting his hands behind his head. “What was Britain like?”
Melinda’s left her office door open – from her, it’s the equivalent of open arms and a welcoming smile. She gives a small sigh, mentally marks her page and puts her book on the part of the desk not currently occupied by his perfectly polished footwear. “It was very grey,” she replies after a moment, meeting his eye. “It rained far too often, and the buildings in London were often soot-choked.”
“That’s a lot of ‘often’s,” List remarks, seeming a little taken aback.
“Mmm,” Melinda agrees, resting her chin in her palm, elbow on the desk. “Things varied little there.” She looks down at his shoes, expressionless and unblinking – when he sees where her gaze is directed, he hastily removes them, sitting straight.
“Uh, sorry,” he mutters, and raises an eyebrow. “You lived through a world war and ‘not much happened’?”
“The people and the food could be too much… the same. Ah, similar. But I had friends there.” She smiles. “Finest people you’ll ever meet, the Brits, and possibly the strangest.”
“You say that like you’re not one of them.”
Truthfully she has no idea where she was actually born – if she ever knew, she forgot a long time ago – but she can’t… They think she’s twenty-seven. “I am, I suppose.” When she sees his frown, she adds, “I travelled. France, Germany…”
“Before all this?”
“Before the war, yes. I saw Germany in the Republic’s time, and it was one off the oddest places I’ve ever been – so free, and yet so constricted in other ways. There was jazz, however, and that was something indeed.”
“We had jazz,” List protests. “We have jazz,” he tries defensively. “Well, not us, but…” He trails off. “Tell me about France.”
She thinks about Nathalie, about travelling over to Belgium, and wonders what is safe to tell him – she wonders if it’s all changed, if the France she knew is gone. “Perhaps another day,” she tells him, and gives him the small smile that tells him it’s better not to ask.
Here Melinda is referring to the Weimar Republic, a brief period in post-1918 Germany that was more democratic than the Kaiser’s rule. The downfall of the Republic contributed significantly to Hitler’s rise to power. The Republic lasted from 1918 to about 1933.