I came to inside the beautiful confines of Chiesa Santa Maria del Carmini, wondering why my arms were tied behind my back. The punky girl with the ‘fro was jamming a laptop in a nearby pew, sporting a scar across the nose from when I thwacked it with a headrest. Mos, the man already scarred who now looked like he’d been dragged through a hedge backwards – probably because he had been – sat on a back-to-front office chair and was studying me curiously.


‘You didn’t give the Key to ODESSA,’ Mos squinted, ‘we searched your belongings and it was still on you, why?’


‘I…forgot?’ I shrugged.


‘You’re about two snarky answers from a bullet in the head, Englishman,’ Mos drew a pistol from his back casually, ‘and that’s only because Sister Nakia wants first dibs on beating you to a pulp after the first wrong answer.’


‘I’m so mad with you right now,’ the punky girl, Nakia, stared daggers over her laptop, ‘out with it!’


Faced with blunt force trauma and almost certain death, I did what any rational person would do in this case. I panicked.


I spilled it all, every minor detail about my life, even the bad bits, like that time I graffiti’d a school building with a marker pen or missed a family Christmas by eloping. Eventually even Mos grew uncomfortable with my uncontrollable blubbing and asked me to please stop.


‘Brother Garcia, I think he really is just a tourist,’ Nakia didn’t look terribly pleased with this either.


‘Madre de dios!’ Mos Garcia kicked over the chair he’d been sitting on, then pinched his fingers and calmed himself, ‘alright…alright, we can salvage this. From interrogation to…recruitment, yes!’


‘Look, I’m nobody!’ I sobbed, ‘I won’t tell a soul! Just let me go!’


‘It’s a bit late for that, friend-o,’ Nakia grinned over the laptop screen, ‘you’ve just landed yourself in the middle of a secret war that’s been going on for decades.’


‘What use could I be in all this?! I’m nobody!’ I cried, ‘you must have your claws in like, Popes and Presidents and bankers and stuff! You don’t need me!’


Mos and Nakia glanced at each other sheepishly.


‘Yeeeaaah, I’m afraid we don’t have that level of networking,’ Mos confessed.


I looked around their secret headquarter’s pristine Brancacci frescoes, confused, ‘I thought the Ordo Nostra was an ancient mystic society that’s influenced the course of history?’


‘Oh we’ve tried to influence the course of history, god knows we’ve tried,’ Nakia laughed bitterly, ‘but every time we get somewhere improving the lot of humanity, our members are putsched, guillotined, purged by Stalin and what-have-you. Remember what happened to Machiavelli? Tried for treason? House arrest? That kind of set the pattern, really.’


‘I thought we were onto a good thing with the Velvet Revolutions till that was hijacked by the neocons,’ Mos sighed, ‘every advance we make is followed by the rise of opportunistic chancers and a slide back into reactionary awfulness. We’ve been living hand-to-mouth for centuries – right now the only thing keeping us afloat is our last bequest from George Soros.’


‘I thought George Soros was crazy rich?’ I frowned.


‘Oh, yes. But you know why he’s crazy rich? Because he’s the world’s biggest miser, that’s why!’ Mos huffed, ‘I can’t buy a pack of cigarettes from the corner shop without him demanding the receipts! That chloroform we dosed you with? Came out of the catering budget. I’ve been eating cat food for a week.’


‘The glamorous face of international espionage,’ Nakia quipped.


I shuffled in my bonds, ‘so…if you’re not the guys in charge, then who the hell is?’


‘That would be ODESSA,’ Mos revealed, ‘from what I’ve heard, you’ve run into one of their number already.’


‘And who are ODESSA when they’re at home?’ I asked.


‘Nazis,’ Nakia answered.


I groaned, ‘look, just because you don’t like them doesn’t make them Nazis.’


‘Oh no, Sister Nakia’s not exaggerating, they are literally Nazis,’ Mos was very conversational about it all, ‘ethnic supremacy, hatred of difference, politics as aesthetics, Umberto Eco’s 14 features, all that jazz.’


‘After the Second World War, various collaborators clubbed together to slip the noose and conspired to be the ones swinging the gavels at the war crimes trials,’ Nakia returned to keyboard tapping, ‘they have their grubby claws in every level of governance and influence across every border, and they’ve been actively recruiting. They’ve been hiding in plain sight for over half a century, but the new blood’s in charge of the network now and they’re getting ready to make their move.’


‘Which is…?’ I asked.


‘That’s what we’re trying to find out,’ Mos glances over Nakia’s shoulder at hacking attempt number 71, ‘ODESSA communicates their plans via courier. You ran into one of them on the Eurostar before I could get to her.’


‘Wait,’ I licked my lips, ‘you mean I kissed a Nazi?’


‘’fraid so,’ Nakia shrugged.


Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad about my sausage-and-egg butty mouth. Hang on, what was I doing? I had no more reason to trust these professional killers than I did Valerian and his magically-instantaneous grilled fish.


‘Right-o, well, since we got that misunderstanding about me being an enemy agent out of the way, maybe I could…go…now…please?’ I shuffled in my rope-binds and made my excuses.


Mos and Nakia looked at each other.


‘I’m afraid things aren’t that simple anymore,’ Mos walked over and undid my binds, leading my groggy legs to the door as I rubbed my wrists, ‘you see, ODESSA let you be so you could lead them to us. And since you failed to do that…well…’


Mos pushed the door open. Across the piazza del Carmini was a wanted poster with my stupid pizza-stuffing face on it. I only put that picture up on the blog yesterday!


‘So, uh, good luck!’ Mos shoved me out the door, ‘we’ll meet here in the morning!’


‘Hey, wait-!’ I face-planted into a firmly shut door. Great, miles from home and the authorities were after me. I was forced to wind my way through Florence, keeping watch for the fuzz at every corner.

To be fair, there were uglier cities to be on the run in.