The rain dripped: drip, drip, drip. The sound distracted me from watching a movie on the TV, Tinker Sailor Soldier Spy, laying on the sofa with my socked feet dangling over an armrest. My partner and I engaged in intermittent chats about moles and betrays in the murky world of espionage in this dark evening’s rain.

“Who do you think is the mole?” he asked.

“Hard to tell, really,” I responded. “The narrative is too convoluted. Le Carre is one of those few writers who knows how to create atmospheric novels, drawing them out of a stream-of-consciousness mind for perfect cinematic effect.”

“This movie has nothing to do with stream-of-consciousness.”

“Not a stream-of-consciousness? What would you call this continuous switch between distant past and present, then?”

“A hard narrative, but not that,” he declared.

“Oh, you can be so stubborn.”

A veil of silence fell in the room, like the graveyard shift. The movie grabbed all of our attention, to the effect that we pretended to be like perfect strangers in a theatre, sitting in a hall and not communicating. We couldn’t anymore, not without descending to vulgar disagreements. The rains lashed straight through my mind. The dark space between us and the dreary world of the movies seemed aligned, existing in a parallel string world.

Time is of the essence, the backward and the forward motion of the narrative. I remembered another night where it had rained like this. I sat on a bench in an alley in Turin, holding an umbrella upright under a sallow street lamppost. Someone bumped into me. I, a Russian spy. This stranger looked at my eyes, and I invited him under my umbrella. We walked towards a café. That was our den. But the man didn’t know that I was a spy. We shared my bed upstairs. At midnight, he said he wanted to leave.

“Go? The night isn’t even over yet?” I asked.

“Ah, myy love, I still must go,” he answered.

“But why? We’re just getting started.”

“Are we?” he asked.

“Aren’t we?” I asked. “What?”

His stun gun silenced me. But I wasn’t quite dead yet. I saw him disappear in the rain-fog. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had also come to an end. The mole was killed, but the story in my head hadn’t quite finished. The man who stunned me walked away into the rain. I realised that he was a spy too. He had his orders to kill me, but he stunned me instead. As he walked in the rain without an umbrella, he decided to stand under shelter. Another man passed by and handed him a parcel. He opened it. There were some instructions. There was a plane ticket for Budapest. He waited for the rain to abate. At this hour, there were no taxis. It was a long walk to his hotel. He entered into his room. As soon as he closed the door, he knew he wasn’t alone. There was someone in the room; he turned around and saw me. He didn’t startle, but smiled. I smiled, too.

“That stun worked,” I said.

He said, “Well, you need a makeover now. Because I confirmed with my agency that you were dead. They’ve given me another assignment for Budapest now.”

My partner turned off the TV. This spy who came in the rain didn’t kill me because he was my Russian colleague. He knew I was a mole, leaking information to the enemy. He did the same. All part of the game. The Russians wanted me dead, but didn’t know he too was a double agent.

I cut my hair short and coloured it black in the hotel bathroom. I put a Turkish dress on and a headscarf to cover my hair. Then we went out of the hotel, on our way to Hungary. There was an assembly of world leaders. He sent me to assassinate the Russian representative.

“To kill a Russian?” I asked.

“Yes. Only then we can defect to the U.S. You’re dead to the Russians, anyway. They’ll never suspect you as the killer.”

In Budapest, I stood by a window and had the target in the crosshairs. This was a meeting on gun control. A shot came out of my gun. The target fell. But I was hit, too. Who leaked this? Why? I saw the killer. It was him.

I was seeing crows in the Budapest summer skies. I blanked out.