Finley’s Pub stood right at the end of Baker Street. It had become the haunt of several SOE agents who’d drift in after a hard day of work. On an evening like this one, I was certainly one of them. We’d mingle at Finley’s with people from neighboring office buildings, bored twenty-somethings looking for conversation and companionship, and even Air Force officers who were off-duty. Of course SOE agents knew better than to discuss the nature of their work while patronizing Finley’s, even if sincerely trying to blow off steam.
I came around for a drink maybe twice every couple of months, and I still used the name “Emelie” while at the pub. I liked going to Finley’s because it felt like I still had a semblance of a normal life. Some nights I’d just sit and enjoy the banter and raucous jokes of the Air Force officers, or watch with amusement one of the uptight businessmen ask one of the cute twenty- something girls to dance. Sometimes I’d sit at the bar with two or three other SOE agents and we’d just give each other the I-Know-What-You’re-Going-Through look without uttering a word.
It also helped that the barman always gave me free drinks. I opened the front door that was painted an ugly green, and went inside. I took off my coat and hung it on the coat rack. The lingering smell of cigar smoke wafted from the pub’s smoking room, and the lights were dimmed. A few businessmen sat at one of the booths in the far corner, drinking and singing along to I Don’t Want To Set The World on Fire playing on the radio. The barman, Hal, dusted off the bar counter with a rag with no particular enthusiasm, but his face lit up when he saw me, and he gestured toward one of the stools.