Taking the small footpath into the woods next to their house, they followed a familiar route which they had walked countless times in the past. Carefully choosing her words, she began: “There is something I’d like to tell you, Andrew, but it could be quite dangerous, so I am not sure if I should tell you or not. Tell me if you do not want to know.” She paused her feet and looked up at Andrew, her dark-brown eyes searching for an answer.
“What are you talking about, Zhenzhu?” Andrew asked, “Of course I would want to know, especially if it’s bothering you. Tell me what it is. You’ve been acting very strangely today, and I am worried about you.” She felt his grip on her arm tighten and he drew her closer. Her heart was filled with love and gratitude towards this man – he will protect me from harm and I’ll be safe – she thought.
She began, relaying the events from the previous night, not in sequence or any kind of order, and Andrew had to stop her from time to time to check certain details and verify who said what and when. Her mind was swamped with images from the pub and the train journey back.
“I think Dick Appleton might be a spy and he has asked me to work with him.” There it was, she said it out loud, as if making it credible.
“You must be joking;” came Andrew’s prompt response, his surprise genuine.
Pearl wasn’t smiling and her face was grim. No joke.
“No, Zhenzhu. He can’t possibly be a spy. He is far too indiscreet. He was just drunk!”
“You know,” she said, almost at a whisper, “My initial reaction was the same last night, and I’ve been thinking all day and now I can’t be sure.” She explained how her mobile phone was temporarily out of her possession and she believed that it might have been bugged. “That was why I did not want to talk earlier.”
“Yes, Zhenzhu,” Andrew said, “Regarding the phone in your flat, I could not get through this morning. It was probably a technical error. Anyway, report it tomorrow.”
I am visiting the University of Helsinki this week, and on Tuesday, I’ll be giving a talk on “My Journey to the West”, sharing a number of snippets about my life as an immigrant and as a Indie author. I will be giving readings of each of my three books, and the above passage is taken from my second in the trilogy, Trials of Life. If you are in Helsinki, come and listen to me. If not, I hope you find this excerpt an intriguing read.