Out Of The Ordinary
This light-hearted complete story by Josephine Allen has a twist in the tale.
THE only customer in the wool shop was about thirty, slim and unremarkable. She was dressed in jeans and a black woollen coat, her brown hair cut into a bob. She was the kind of woman you see every day; a woman who wouldn’t normally rate a second glance.
Except for the fact that she was pointing a gun at the shop assistant.
Narrowing her blue eyes and setting her features into an inscrutable mask, the woman spoke in a low, menacing drawl.
“The name’s Bond – Jane Bond – and if you value your life you’ll give me a straight answer.”
Jill Paisley, the shop owner, stared back from across the counter.
“What do you want to know?” she asked, her eyes fixed firmly on the gun.
“Does that angora come in any other colour than pink?”
“Sky blue, lemon and –” Jill burst into a f it of giggles. “Sorry, don’t shoot! Er, oh, yes, cherry red.” The woman slowly lowered the weapon. “I’ll take the cherry red, please,” she said, dropping the gun into her bag with a grin.
“Priceless, Jane. The toy gun’s a particularly nice touch.” Jane Bond grinned. “It’s my nephew’s water pistol. Left it at mine the last time Fi brought the kids round. I promised I’d drop it off on my way home.”
“I’m glad to see you’re finally able to joke about your name. You used to hate being teased about it at school.”
“I know, but this was too good an opportunity to resist,” Jane admitted. “You should have seen your face! Anyway, I figure, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I could kill Dad sometimes, though.”
“You mean it was deliberate? I’d always assumed it was an unfortunate coincidence.”
“Oh, Dad loved those early Sean Connery movies. When Mum got pregnant he said if it was a boy he was going to be called James.
“When I came along he wasn’t going to let a little thing like me being female stop him. It was bad enough at school, but it’s all flared up again since Daniel Craig has made the whole Bond thing popular again.”
“Yes, but no wonder. He’s easier on the eye than old Roger Moore, you must admit.”
They dissolved in a fit of the giggles like a couple of schoolgirls as they discussed his choice of swimwear.
“So what are you up to today?” Jill asked in an attempt to restore some order. “Assuming you’re not off saving the world from some maniac with an evil masterplan.”
“You never know!” Jane replied with a wry smile. “Who knows what today might bring? But first I’m going to the café for a cuppa. I could murder a cup of tea.”
“Well, you are licensed to kill, after all. Sorry, couldn’t resist that!” Jill handed Jane her wool. “What are you planning to knit with this? Something nice?”
“Haven’t decided yet. Perhaps some nice seat covers for my Aston Martin,” Jane called over her shoulder as she left the shop.
“Hi, Jane! The usual?” Jane nodded, bracing herself for the inevitable. Gina the café owner didn’t let her down.
“One cup of Earl Grey, shaken not stirred, coming up!”
Jane smiled wearily and buried herself in one of the lurid tabloid magazines Gina left out for customers to read.
As she sipped her tea it occurred to her, not for the first time, that her name had been the making of her.
Perhaps that had been Dad’s intention. He had got his wish, though not in a way he could possibly imagine.
As Jane entered the small newsagent, the bell tinkled to signal her arrival.
“Hello, Mr Ashrif. Can I have two lucky dips for Saturday’s draw, please?”
“Certainly, Miss Bond. Although I would have thought . . . That is to say . . .” Here we go again, Jane thought to herself. “Go on. Spit it out.” “Well, it occurred to me that it would be more fitting if you were to go for . . .” Mr Ashrif let out a little high-pitched giggle. “If you were to go for the Thunderball.”
“Good one,” Jane muttered. “See you next week – assuming I don’t win the jackpot, in which case I’ll be in the Maldives.”
After leaving the newsagent’s she strolled up the high street. At the top she ducked into a little bookshop.
It was small and cramped inside, the shelves and every available space groaning with piles of antique books. It smelled of leather and paper and dusty words, if that wasn’t too fanciful a notion.
Mr Buckle, the owner, was sitting in his usual place behind the counter.
Marlene, his beloved Siamese cat, lay curled up on top of a stack of old periodicals beside him.
Mr Buckle looked up, saw Jane, nodded in recognition, but returned immediately to his perusal of some enormous tome.
Jane made her way to the short corridor at the back of the shop, at the end of which was a door. She went through it.
It led into a surprisingly large and airy room which was empty save for a table and three chairs, two of which were occupied by men in unobtrusive grey suits.
“Ah, double-oh eight,” M said. “The Prime Minister and I have a job for you.”