Another Gestapo-type, though smiling this time, faced me. These women are so tall – the better to look down on me I suppose. She was accompanied by her one man hit squad. He was head and shoulders above Jimmy and smiling too, a smile at odds with his shaven head and biceps straining the short sleeves of his shirt. A radio the size of a brick looked as lethal as one the way he held it up at shoulder height.
“Just step this way.” My feet were rooted to the ground. “Please follow me,” Ms. Gestapo encouraged and I reluctantly obeyed. “Just step in here if you would,” she insisted and reached for a door marked in large letters DO NOT ENTER, SECURITY PERSONNEL ONLY. “Please,” and she gestured into the room. My feet, mired in a thick soup of reticence, moved very slowly towards the door.
“Are you together?” the eerily smiling hit man asked Jimmy who was standing back a pace watching me be led away to my doom.
“Yes.” Jimmy is mostly given to telling the truth but in this instance didn’t have sufficient time to think of an alternative before he was coerced to join me in the little cell.
“Can you step in please?” the hit man said persuasively as though he were the patient parent of recalcitrant children being told to go sit in the corner. We were both verbally dragged the last few feet into a tiny room with only one chair.
The pair of secret police had foreign accents but they spoke so few words so succinctly their accent was difficult to place – some country in Eastern Europe? I’m well past the age for human trafficking surely. And what will they do with Jimmy? There had been two very pretty young girls behind me in the security queue – one blond, one brunette. And plenty of fit young men. Why us?
“Please sit.” As we hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on or who at this point was being asked to sit we both remained standing, mute and bewildered.
“Wait here, sir,” and the hit man gestured at the wall just inside the door after he’d made a production of closing it firmly, a creepy sycophantic grin plastered on his face.
So it was me they were asking to sit. There didn’t appear to be any restraints on the chair or electrical leads dangling from it so was just aiming my bottom at the seat when I was told, “Leave your bag over there,” with a gesture to the opposite wall.
Damn the bag! I blame the bag. I wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for the bag.
Then with no wasted pleasantries I was told, “Stand over here in this circle and hold your arms up like this,” and Ms. Gestapo demonstrated the classic Hands up! posture.
Oh God, they’re going to shoot me. Why would they want to shoot me for peevish behavior? Isn’t that a little extreme for 21st century Britain or have we walked through a door into the dark ages?
“Now turn around slowly.” Shoot me in the back? Ms. G. pointed to arrows in a circle on a mat on the floor where I stood. As I turned on the spot with Hands up! she operated a computer terminal while the hit man stood braced against the door preventing our escape. I completed my captive’s pirouette as she concentrated on the computer screen.
“Thank you. All done. You may take your bag,” and we were escorted from the room.
I smiled sheepishly at Jimmy, completely at a loss for a witticism to lighten the mood and slow my palpitations. He said not a word, but he didn’t need to. His expression said it all.
Five minutes later over coffees and a bit giggly with relief, I said to Jimmy, “You know what just happened, don’t you? I’ve had a virtual strip search.”
“Well it serves you right.” I don’t know how he’d resisted saying it until now.
If you think that was enough of an ordeal for one journey you’d be wrong.
. . . . . to be continued.