Bill dumped his pile over a rack and began to change. There was a dusty mirror with a crack down one side in the corner, behind piles of stuff, and Simon pulled it out and propped it up for him. He decided that the patched trousers were a no, they were a bit too shabby. He wanted an air of a tutor or teacher who was too absorbed in his subject to take any great care over his appearance, but he didn’t want to appear too down-at-heel. The second pair were better, however. They were of dark green cord, a trifle flattened in places, and nothing like he would ever wear normally – which was exactly what he was after.
Simon bustled around, finding other pieces that Bill could work with. Soon the pile of discards was higher than the usable garments. “Would you like to try some hair pieces on now?” asked Simon standing next to Bill, some beards and wigs in his hands.
“I don’t do wigs,” Bill said firmly. “A hat would do, and a beard would be useful.”
“Well, here,” said Simon, handing over a handful of hair, which would indeed turn out to be beards. “Have a play around with these! I still think you’d be better off with some hair as well, but then, I’m only a costumier, what do I know!” he smirked.
“Quite,” Bill said mildly. He held up the first beard in front of his lower face, a rather shaggy ginger affair and looked in the mirror. “Och aye,” he said in a poor Scottish accent. “No, doesn’t do to look like you’re mocking the locals.”
The next was a shade close to his own hair but was shot through with grey. “Too ageing.” Then another was “Too blonde.” At last he settled on a black beard which had a nice shape to it.
“Not too obvious at all,” Simon teased. “You look like a rather clever man I suppose, with that beard.”
“I look just as clever without it, thanks. Have you got a bottle of glue I can take as well?”
Simon pursed his lips as he handed over the glue. “If you say so,” he grinned.
Bill then selected a pair of thick glasses that hid his eyes well, and a rather ugly checked cap. Although he didn’t want a wig a hat would disguise his unfortunately distinctive balding head.
“Is that everything you need?”
Bill cast an eye over what he had gathered. “Yes, I think this’ll do just fine. Thanks, Simon. I owe you one.”
“I’ll put it on the bill, Bill,” his friend said as he began to hanging up all the discarded outfits. “There are some bags in that cupboard, over there,” he pointed. “You’ll need one to put all this stuff in.”
Bill ignored the joke. Simon made it every time. He found a bag large enough for his new identity and folded the clothes carefully into it. “I’ll see you around.”
“Most likely! I mean who else are you going to get your disguises off of?” Simon asked with a smirk.
“Just stay out of trouble,” Bill warned him. “I shan’t be impressed if I turn up looking to turn myself into a renowned scientist and discover you’ve been locked up for dodgy dealings.”
“They won’t catch me,” Simon promised. “Money talks Bill, you know that!”
Bill strode purposefully away from Simon’s house and, in the tube station bathroom, turned himself into a respectable tutor for four ailing children. He wedged the door shut for the few minutes it took to glue the beard in place, and even he had to admit that it looked quite good.
His next port of call was a travel agents. He had no particular requirements and so walked into the first one he saw and made some enquiries about Scottish islands. Unfortunately all the information was about tourist spots like Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye. He tried two further agents with the same result. If you wanted to tour desolate uninhabited islands in Scotland it seemed as if you just had to turn up and find your own way. Perhaps that was just as well. The more off the beaten track they went, the less likely they were to run into anyone else.
He found a telephone box and placed a call to the SIS offices and left a cryptic message for Anatoly, asking for him to see what he could do about finding a suitable location for setting off, and hiring a mode of transport too.
Anatoly decoded it, sighed and got up to go to Chief Roscoe. He knocked on the chief’s door and waited to be let in.
“Is there a problem?” he asked. “I thought we had covered everything.”
“I have just received this message from Cunningham, sir,” said Anatoly, handing over his decoded message. “He needs more help in getting to a more remote area of Scotland. Most of the travel agents only offer tours to the more tourist based areas, Edinburgh and Inverness for example. They are too populated for Bill to hide out, sir.”
“I see.” Roscoe read the message for himself. “Right. Leave it with me, then. I’ll get someone on this. You’ll have everything Bill needs on your desk by six.”
Anatoly nodded, saluted and turned to leave the office. He worked on all he could, informing the local agent base to expect Bill and giving them all the code words to look out for.
A fat bundle of files dropped onto his desk at four-thirty. “With compliments from Chief Roscoe,” the agent delivering them said, looking Anatoly over without any subtlety. Anatoly could tell he was trying to work out why a nobody junior agent was being sent files directly from someone as important as Roscoe. He just nodded and thanked the man curtly, choosing to continue going over the document he was already working on and ignoring the new delivery until he had gone.
When the nosy floor runner had gone, Anatoly pulled the bundle towards him, skimmed the papers, and saw it was all sorted for Bill’s trip. Shuffling the pages carefully square again he put them in his bag to take back to his bedsit so Bill could read them before he set off that evening.
To be continued…