Love and Other Murders

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Chapter 26

The phone wakes her up from her restless sleep.

“Yes,” she mutters, her voice drugged with fatigue.

“It’s me, Magda! I know it’s late, sorry. It’s a matter of urgency. May I sleep over at your place? I’ll explain later. I’m in front of the house. Let me in!”

She staggers towards the door and presses the buzzer. Magda is up in a matter of seconds. She collapses into the armchair, exhausted, disheveled, in a state of shock.

“Are you sure you’ve locked up and bolted the door after me?”

“Of course I have! What happened, Magda? Is someone chasing you?”

“I don‘t know for sure, but it may be so. Well, let’s start from the beginning. The keys were indeed at the Valentino’s. I picked them up and went to Vince’s place as I didn’t think it wise to call Norton and ask him to give me shelter. My aim isn’t to be his mistress but his wedded wife and consequently I must make me hard to get. Have you ever been at Vince’s? No? You haven’t missed a thing. He lives at the Latin Quarter in a miserable attic garret without elevator. There isn’t any central heating, and one has to use a communal john and shower in the corridor. Believe me, Nathalie; a girl needs guts to risk her life climbing those filthy rickety stairs up and, if she is lucky enough, down. What made it acceptable are Vince’s bed and the breathtaking gymnastics we do on it. I thought I’d bear with this squalor for the beginning until something better comes along. So, having no other choice I decided to go there to spend the night but -now hold your breath- the entrance door was forced off its hinges, the room was upside down, the mattress ripped open, the floor covered with shredded manuscripts – Vincent will go mad when he sees it - his clothes torn to pieces and fouled with excrements. I ran away not daring to look for my things. I was horrified that the madman who devastated the room would take out his follies on me. A propos how is Vince? Judging by the looks of his apartment he must be a mess. Now I have to work on Norton seriously and I’d like to ask you a favor, Nathalie: Could you put me up until I hook him on? If I evaluate the situation correctly it’s just for a very limited time and I promise to pay you back with interest.”

“It will be with pleasure; unfortunately the flat doesn’t belong to me. It’s either Elijah’s or Alex’s from whom I can’t keep your staying with me a secret.”

“Alex is eating out of your hand and you can make him do anything you wish. Be sure I wouldn’t ask you for it but you are my only friend in Paris and I can’t spoil my chances with Norton by sleeping with him right now.”

“Very well Magda. You may stay. What do you prefer, the bed or the sofa?”

“Thanks, Nathalie! A friend in need is a friend indeed. Be sure I won’t forget it. Of course I won’t take your bed. May I have one of your lovely nighties, though?”

“Take anything you wish. This counts also for my clothes.”

“You’re an angel, Nathalie!”

“Now I’ll go back to bed, it’s late. Good night, Magda. Sweet dreams!”

“The same to you, Nathalie. I shall have a fast shower and follow your example. I am dead-tired. One more thing; should I call Norton the first thing tomorrow or make him wait?”

“I can’t tell, Magda. You’re the best judge. Now I really need some sleep.”

“I’m going! You won’t hear a peep, I promise.”

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