Chance Encounter With Eleanor Rigby
I guess for me the Monsters Under The Bed are guys in suits who carry silenced firearms in their shoulder holsters. The fear for me is that a) I still don't actually know for sure who I'm working for (CIA? MI-6? NSA ? Yawning Anus?), b) the guy we are supposed to eliminate is apparently a crazed zealot who has killed more people than most tropical cyclones, c) there is no guarantee that even upon the completion of the mission that my life is safe. I may still be found floating down a river with two bullet holes in the back of my head.
Too busy thinking about all these things, I almost barrel straight into a 50-year old lady carrying a tower of suitcases. The lady, following a primal instinct to avoid danger, lunges out of the way as if to avoid a charging buffalo, trips over herself and sends the bags flying over the hotel corridor. 'Sorry ma'am,' I blurt as I regain my composure. I hastily grab some of the bags.
'It's okay deary,' she says wearily, in a tired voice.
'Nonsense. Let me carry theses bags. Some of these are pretty heavy.'
We introduce ourselves. Penny turns out to be from England who is on the way to the airport as well. She tells me that she is working for a womanising cheapskate who is happy to spend thousands of dollars monthly on tailor-made suits but is reluctant to part with the money required to have a team of hotel staff lug the said suits down 35 flights of stairs. Hence his elderly secretary making the five trips necessary to transport his entire wardrobe downstairs and into taxis.
I take a look at the creaking old woman. It surprises me that a pleasant lady such as Penny should have to work for some asshole. She has a radiant smile-the result of decades of sensible brushing. I'd have imagined that a woman such as her would be making blueberry cakes and comforting grandchildren with runny noses at this stage of her life. 'I never married.' says the spinster.
After a farcical interlude where we try to fit all these suitcases into the elevator we manage to get to the ground floor of the hotel where an army of porters immediately rush towards the lift to extricate the bags. Peregrine Maltravers is sitting impatiently at the lobby, a folded newspaper hiding a gun on his lap. 'Watch out for that bag!' he barks at one of the porters, 'It contains genuine Versaces!'
'Those are your bags Maltravers?' I ask the ghastly secret agent.
'I'm sorry old boy, have we met?'
Penny leans in towards her boss and whispers in his ear.
'Oh sure,' says Maltravers, dim lights lit, 'the short con artist from Australia. I take it you've already met my secretary Miss Pennywise Sterling-Pound. Wise Penny we call her at the office.'
'Peregrine, please don't call me...'
'Hush. Now go see to my luggage. You'll have to hop in the taxi in-' he glances at his Rolex, '-the next four or so minutes if you're to check all my stuff in to the airport on time. I'll be there in an hour....if my blasted limo arrives on time.'
Penny shuffles off to the taxi rank muffling sobs. Peregrine Maltravers winks at me. 'She's quite a sort that one. Used to be quite a tasty tart back in her day I might add. You should see some of the pictures we have of her. Rrrrofff!'
I fight the urge to punch him. This rich, remorseless prick who has absolutely no empathy for anyone or anything. At least when we were kids, cowering under the doona, waiting for creatures that would never come, it was because we didn't know much better. But now that we are older we find our monsters are all too real. Not fanged and drooling beast of our imagination, these monsters have human guises like the toff in front of me. And are horrible just the same.
Don't make me send in the flying monkeys!
 "Reading your mail and censoring stuff you don't need to know since 1952!"
...um. Except for that one time when the nightmare creatures did come out and killed a lot of kids. Quite a story but I'll leave it for another time.