New Orleans 2015
There was a slight breeze blowing as Aurora Solo pushed her grandfather’s wheelchair alongside the Mississippi. Stopping temporarily, she made sure the blanket covering his legs was well tucked in.
“You don’t need to fuss, sweetheart,” Napoleon Solo told her. “My legs may not work as well as they once did, but I can still operate a blanket on my own.”
She smiled at him and continued to push him along the pathway. Aurora had no idea why her grandpa had wanted to come to New Orleans but, because she could never say no to him, she had agreed to bring him. After another ten minutes, they arrived at a harbour in which a steamship called ‘The Natchez’ was moored. It was a replica of several other boats, which had carried the name, and which all were modelled after the original from the ‘good old days’.
“Take me aboard,” he instructed.
“You want to go on the ship?”
“Absolutely!” Napoleon affirmed. “I promised to meet an old friend.”
So that was it, thought Aurora. He could have just told her that in the beginning, but she suspected that old habits died hard. She was fully aware of who, and what, Napoleon Solo had been in his younger days, and being secretive had become second nature to him. She also guessed at who the old friend was who would be waiting for them and, sure enough, she soon caught sight of Illya Kuryakin. He was sitting in one of the bars, with his grandson; also called Illya.
“I swear you somehow cloned yourself down in those labs,” Napoleon joked, as he and his old partner hugged.
“Well, we had the resources,” Kuryakin replied. “Why have you dragged me all the way to New Orleans at my time of life?”
“What are you complaining about?” Solo asked, with mock outrage. “You’re younger than me.”
While the older pair launched into a playful bicker, the younger Solo and Kuryakin made a discreet withdrawal, under the premise of going for drinks.
“So why are we here?” Illya senior asked, once they had finished insulting one another.
When Napoleon had invited him to join him on the steamship, it hadn’t crossed Illya’s mind to query why. He knew there would be a good reason and, as they were both well into their twilight years, who knew how many more chances they would get to meet up.
“One last adventure,” Napoleon answered. “Drinking, gambling, and showgirls.”
“That is your kind of adventure,” Illya stated with a laugh, “But, as I no longer possess the abilities of my youth, I will happily share it. But, if you cause any trouble, you’re on your own. My last second escape days are well and truly behind.”
Napoleon chuckled at the mental image of an eighty-one year old Illya attempting to nimbly clamber up anything more difficult than a staircase.
“Worry not, Tovarisch,” he said. “Not on that score anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look over there,” Solo indicated to their grandchildren.
The body language which was being exhibited by Illya Junior and Aurora could be read by anyone.
“That is all I need,” the older Kuryakin moaned. “A Solo in my family.”