“My wonderful girl, you saved my life coming back home!” Polland entwines around her and his “you saved my life” is the absolute truth for him.
“When I was told you won’t be lunching with me I skipped my meal and continued with my work to be free for you when being with you. What happened, my darling Magda?”
“Oh Jean, it’s rather embarrassing to talk about women’s problems with a man, even as close as we are. I had to go for a routine check with a gynecologist.” She hides her face in the palms of her hands knowing that she is not such an actress as to fake a blush.
“My poor sweetheart, there is nothing embarrassing for two lovers! I hope everything is all right and the excess of my passion doesn’t harm your health? I know I should restrain myself but the touch of your body makes me mad.”
“Don’t worry, Jean. In that regard I am perfectly all right.”
“Then tell me what is wrong, sweetheart, I beg you! Oh my God, I hope I haven’t made you pregnant? I’d hate sharing you with someone else, and were it my own child.”
“Of course I am not pregnant, Jean! And stop worrying about harming me when making love, a woman is never hurt by the excess of passion but by the lack of it.”
“How right you are, my dear! Let me ask you something, Magda. Is your gynecologist a woman? I’d hate if any other man enters the sanctuary that belongs only to me by the right of our love!”
“Of course she is a woman, Jean! Now let’s plan about how to make the best use of our afternoon. What about meeting your banker?”
“What for, Magda? There is certainly a better use of our time together. No need to bother your charming little head about something as trivial as money. If you need any just ask me and I’ll be only too happy to give it to you. Should anything happen to me you will be well provided for. Why not visiting an art museum? Sometimes it worries me that you might feel frustrated in the company of a man whose education is so completely different to yours. In case you are not tempted by art what about raiding the boutiques? I adore lavishing presents on you - especially those you don’t need. I want you to have them just for me!”
“You are too kind to me, Jean! “ She purrs deciding for the lesser bore even if the idea of shopping in Basel doesn’t excite her madly. It would be difficult to find more expensively badly dressed women than here. It isn’t only that they are so unattractive. They genuinely don’t care how they look. How could it be otherwise that, past their prime, they become as wrinkled and dried out like autumn apples in spring? And this in a country with the best cosmetics in the world! Thinking about it she has to replenish her stock of “Prairie” cosmetics, the unreachable dream of her Budapest past. A propos, when did she have her last facial? Shamefully long ago! Misery needs company and a beauty parlor would be possibly the best company for a girl like her.’
“Magda!” Polland’s voice makes her flinch.
“Have you decided what you’d like to do?” He asks his lips puckered in a sucking piglet’s way.
She has to do something fast. The bed is dangerously near and Polland’s tardy sex drive is always on.
“You are right, Jean. I do miss art. Let’s go to a museum. There is one little problem, though. How shall we get there if you can’t be seen?”
“Let it be my worry, darling. Elijah gave me the telephone number of a reliable cabbie. He’ll bring us there and back safely.”
They step out from the cab in front of the “Kunst Museum”, a pseudo-Greek building destined for the confirmed art, the quantity of art works restricted only by the scarcity of the space. Basel is a moneyed town and their move to a more spacious vault is just a question of time.
“Fearing to tread on thin ice, my sweet Magda, I must reveal you my ignorance. Will I be a complete moron if I consider these two paintings like a scribbling of a five years old child - my poor Jean junior painted better. Poor boy, he was such a talented child! I wish I could show you the drawing he made for my last birthday, a beautiful bouquet of flowers, tied together by a golden ribbon with the inscription- For my dearest daddy- on it, every flower was faithful to nature; roses, lilies, daisies, I could not name them all! Just imagine, Magda, Jean wasn’t yet five years old! He could have become an excellent botanist or an accomplished painter, maybe even both! I can’t believe I won’t ever see him again, lift him up in my arms, plunge my face into his silky locks, hear his “daddy, daddy!” after I have returned home dead tired. How could she have done it, murder my angels, that woman to whom I gave all what any other woman just dreams about! A beautiful home, two loving children, never a financial problem, a considerate husband forgiving her the ugly hysterical scenes when she became even physically violent! How could she do that to me, as close to a perfect husband a man has ever been? Tell me, Magda, can you understand her insane act of murder?” He falls into her arms sobbing.
She scans the hall for any potential onlooker of Polland’s fit. But for a guardian dozing on his chair in the adjoining room, they are alone. She takes a Kleenex out from her pocketbook and wipes his tears off glaring at him with ultimate contempt. Isn’t this the stratagem of all cowards to put the blame on others? How can he so completely forget the fact it was his fooling around that brought his spouse to despair? Isn’t it absurd that three human beings had to lose their lives because of a meaningless fuck? Isn’t it outrageous that even she, a fortuitous bystander, has to pay so dear for it? This is not yet finished. How long has she to stay in this hole? How will she ever get rid of Polland? Will she be involved in some lurid crime after he’ll have lost his value for Alex and become a burden to be discarded and she, as an encumbering witness would be put down with him? She can’t count on Alex to spare her for her favors rendered. Just look how easily he got over the loss of Nathalie! What can she expect? One thing is certain. Better to treat Polland gently and make him feel like a child in a candy store. She may need him as an ally when the Judgment Day comes. There are so many questions and no answers to them, at least no encouraging ones!’
She gives Polland her most affectionate smile.
“My poor Jean, I am so sorry! What a horrid price you have to pay for being with me! Believe me, dearest, if the past could be repeated I’d tear to shreds my ticket to London!”
“Don’t be sacrilegious, Magda! Without you my life has no sense. If I could turn the clock back I’d do the same again and again whatever its price!”
This is the right time that Magda, complying with the creative writing’s holy writ, takes Polland’s hand and lead him back into their romance made in hell. Isn’t Polland with all his failings the best choice she has ever had? The happy ending is at short writing distance: these present days don’t demand villains to be exemplarily punished and Magda can show off her culture in front of her besotted lover.
Look well at these paintings, Jean. They are the works of Pablo Picasso, one of the dearest painters of the 20th century. These two pictures are millions worth even if they originate in his weakest period in the sixties when anything with his signature was considered a masterwork. Picasso’s contempt for his clientele became greater than his respect for art.” Magda says wistfully, rendering word for word the assessment of her Budapest Professor, who, without the intervention of the Faculty committee of the Communist Party, most of them her bed-fellows, would have made her expelled due to her lack of talent. Poor mooncalf! He went, she remained.’
“You are such a bright young lady, Magda! I do non merit you! ”
“Don’t make me blush, Jean! You are not only a reputed researcher but I also a great talent in investing your money! You must be worth of millions, right?”
“Well, sweetheart, let’s say I am comfortably rich because I was wise enough to deposit a great part of my assets out of France where it would have been swallowed by the Taxman.”
“Is it enough to buy a Picasso?” She probes smiling her most innocent smile.
“I’d choose for you a good one! As an art student I know the value of a painting!”
“I have not the slightest doubt, sweetheart. Nevertheless, I prefer to spend it on having good life with you. Now, when you have done enough for my education, let’s move on.”
“Just a sec, Jean, have you noticed that man in a leather coat? He was in the front of the museum when we stepped out of the car peeking at us behind the open pages of a newspaper, then followed us inside, always a couple of steps behind us. He reminds me of a secret agent who was put on me once in Budapest.”
She recalls with disgust the foul breath of a repulsively ugly man, his tongue in her mouth, his knobby fingers mauling her breasts, his stocky penis bruising her vagina while she made her best to disguise her screams of pain with lustful moans. She paid for Paris dearly, now all seems to have been in vain.
“Let’s leave, Jean! That guy is spying on us!” She grabs Polland’s hand, drags him towards the exit and pushes him into the waiting car.
“Calm down, Magda! It’s just another visitor. Let’s forget about him. What about painting the local boutiques red?”
“Why would I do it living a cloistered life and never seeing a living soul?” She snaps at him, for one reckless moment botching her role of a woman in love.
“And I, Magda, don’t I count for you at all?” He whimpers.
’Oh God, this is the last she needs, being at the mercy of a whining jerk and pretending he is her dream lover!’
“Don’t sulk, Jean! You are such a crybaby! Of course you are the only one that counts for me! But, honestly, what use would be a new gown if all you wish for is to tear it off me and bang me?”
He wraps his arms round her.
“I’m sorry to be such an impetuous lover, my dearest! Not entirely my fault! Sexy as you are, even Saint Jean would have given in to temptation. Tell me how to please you and I’ll try my best. What about a jewel? Wouldn’t a diamond look fabulous on your skin?”
She brightens up. Jewels are as good as cash, sometimes even better. And a diamond is the greatest investment in the smallest size.’
“You are any woman’s dream lover, Jean!” She coos coiling herself about him.
“You russet witch, you make me do foolish things!” He holds her close, his breath mingling with hers.
“Are you forgetting the driver, Jean?”
“Don’t mind him, sweetheart, let’s have fun!”
“Stop it, Jean, you make me feel awkward.”
“Drive us to the most expensive jeweler’s in town!” He orders, in the best of spirits again. Even if their reasons differ, they both try their best to settle into life together, hers mostly.