“There’s only one rule—expediency” —John Le Carré The Spy Who Came In From the Cold Ashe looked away from me. We were meeting at the Pussy Willow striptease joint again. Why I don’t know. The dancer’s titties jiggled and tossed around—as she swooped to the moaning music. The place was packed as usual—cheap clandestine cruising was going on like it always did. It was the perfect cover for queer couples—socializing under the guise of a straight striptease joint. Ashe was still rather miffed from the way Kiever had treated him so shabbily. I really couldn’t blame him—I’d been rather rude and shabby toward him as well. I’d decided not to defect after all—something about Kiever and the whole setup simply wasn’t right. The same with Control playing all his games—I didn’t trust management anymore. Playing games with people’s lives—with them ending up dead. I’d had it with the whole Cold War espionage game—I was getting out while the getting was good. I apologized to poor droopy-faced pouty Ashe—after all, I was deciding to go queer myself. To be the Fag Who Came In From the Cold.
“Expediency, my dear Leamas,” Ashe continued. He sadly sipped his pink gin, looking disconsolate as usual. As if he was resigned to being just a run-of-the-mill regular old pansy. Doing business with shady middle-men like Kiever in a strip-tease joint seemed such a tawdry way to make a living—but then what else could a pansy like Ashe really do? Spying was repugnant to him—but it paid the bills and kept his so-so lifestyle going. A pansy had to get by somehow, my dear. “Expediency of temporary alliances, my dear Leamas. I’m sure you know what I mean. Like you said—I’m just a burned-out old queen, my dear.” “Capitalists, commies, fascists, the new world order—they all hate fags and pansies. They’ll use and abuse us for their own ulterior reasons, of course, like they used me to get at you. They all have agendas—they’ll use anybody to get what they want.” “Another whiskey” I said to the waiter. “Actually make it a bottle to go, will you? And keep the change if there is any.” The sleazy jazz music kept throbbing and slithering in the background. It helped me to get more into the sleazy, kitschy, skuzzy mood that Ashe seemed to carry around with him. Like a little gnat-swarm of invisible fruit-flies flitting nervously around his head. “We low-level spies are a squalid procession of vain fools, traitors, pansies, queens, sadists and drunks—people who play bride and bingo parlor games to brighten our sad, squalid, bored, rotten lives…” Ashe took another sip of his pink gin—then offered me a line of coke. The waiter and bartender ran their own clandestine business—catering to the Pussy Willow clientele to satisfy all sorts of decadent tastes. Upstairs there was a thriving prostitute racket that appealed to both straights and gays. Nestled here in the dark comfy Pussy Willow Club—it felt somewhat acceptably comfortable—more relaxed than our first rendezvous. I rather like the sleazy coterie of sedate sophisticated faggy nightlife with its laidback disregarding decadence. Ashe read my mind—flipping his wrist at the waiter for another drink. He smiled assuredly at me. “There, there, my dear Leamas. Please don’t fret. You’re quite safe with me tonight—here in this Pussy Willow den of iniquity. Even though you’re certainly getting the eye, my dear.” I had to admit it. It was rather bloody decent of Ashe—to take me under his wing again after trashing and dishing him so rudely and brusquely when we first met in the park. And later at the Pussy Willow the first time.
“The poor moronic masses out there,” Ashe was saying, fingering his coiffure to make sure his wig was still properly secure. “They admire themselves so very much and sleep soundly every night in their beds. Not caring or needing to care about crummy, wretched creatures like you or me.” I shrugged. “Don’t you feel anything for them?” “Why should I?” said Ashe. “It just goes on & on. The day will come someday I suppose—when DOMA and DADT are simply a bad dream or hangover. And they’ll even permit gay marriages to allow the queers to join their straight ranks. Even so they’ll still hate our fucking guts.” “What about me?” I asked. “Don’t you have any feelings for me either?” “What’s there to think or feel, my dear Leamas? It’s still an ongoing secretive Cold War struggle—the straight Berlin Wall will never fall. It’ll be fought simply on a more tiny scale, at close range. At the workplace, in the schools, at a street corner. That’s just the way it is. The world..."
I nodded, finishing my drink. “You’re trying to convince and persuade yourself, Ashe. It’s not that terrible, things always get better.” “Christ Almighty,” Ashe cried. “What else has been going on since the world began?