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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

Chapter 29 – Mária was not amused

Tales of a Teenage Spy - The Life and Times of Gábor Rimner

Chapter 29 – Mária was not amused

Mária was a complex girl. The daughter of a protestant minister of some repute in his church, she was jealous of Andrea whenever she stayed over with me. She would bang doors and make noises just to let us know she didn't agree with my new 'acquisition'.

To be honest, Andrea and I had a good laugh. We thought: who the hell cares what she thinks?

Of course, between the two rooms there was no sound proofing, so at night, if we were noisy, Mária could hear more or less everything going on.

She, however, was nothing if not resourceful: the preacher's daughter soon turned the situation to her advantage.

One day, I answered the door to find an elderly couple standing there. They were from the Calvnist church, they said, and would like to talk to Mr Rimner.

“That's me,” I replied, thinking they'd come to talk about me going to church or whatever - since I am, nominally, a Calvinist. The gentleman asked if they could look at the flat. “Of course!” I said, inviting them in – although I did wonder a bit as to quite what it was they wanted.

Once inside, they looked at my room for a few seconds and asked: “And where does your co-tenant, Mária, live?”

“She lives in this room,” I said, walking over and pulling the carpet which covered the doorway aside - but by now I was really getting suspicious!

“And do you have to go through her room if you want to go to the bathroom?”

I said: “Of course, there is only one door. I have to get in somehow.”

“And to go out, does she have to go through your room sometimes when you are in bed?”

“Well yes, unless she climbs out through the window,” I joked, trying to add a bit of humour to the conversation - though by now I really was wondering what exactly they were here for.

They excused themselves and left. The visit had clearly not been about my lost soul or lack of church attendance.

Well, guess what? It turns out that Mária – the oh-so-innocent Mária who had been sleeping with her girlfriend and then me just a few weeks earlier – had gone to her father's church and told them that she was “living under moral conditions that she, as the daughter of a protestant minister, could simply not accept”.

The gall! Of course, it was this that had spurred the “flat inspection” by the elderly couple. But as far as Mária was concerned, it worked. Spectacularly! The visit supported her 'report of moral nonsense' that she had to live together with a young man, under the same roof', and as a result the church gave her a flat, near Heroes Square. Gratis. Just like that!

I read the official deed on this, and it said: “Considering her father's services to the church, the church feels the moral responsibility to take care of his descendant.”

You know, in those days, a flat anywhere in Hungary was really something. But to get a flat in a top part of Budapest in the 70s, it was like winning the lottery.

But genuine happiness eluded Mária. She drank to excess and was on sedatives towards the end. She died, unmarried, around 1998.

But that was all for the future. Back in early 1974, her departure meant I had two rooms of the flat to myself. For a while.

Andrea moved in full-time around March.

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