There is something strange in the spin of the key. Did he lock the door after him? He isn’t certain. Being constantly drunk on Magda makes him lose his head concerning simple, earthly matters. He feels like walking on the marshes that give way under the weight of his heart: this love, this need of her as fierce as a shot of crack is bursting him out from his former self, making all that has ever counted for him senseless. He becomes alive only when possessing her in the spasms of an excruciating pain that is turning his lust into a suicidal act.
“Is something wrong, Jean?”
“I don’t know yet, dearest. Let me get in first and stay behind until I’ll tell you.”
“Shall I give Alex a call?”
“Not yet, Magda, be a good girl and do what I am asking you for.”
The door opens noiselessly under the pressure of his hand. Holding his breath he advances into the corridor and up the staircase to his study. Whatever is waiting for him there must be faced and handled with. He feels weak under the menace.
’This feeling isn’t new. He stands once again in front of the bedroom sending off the blood-curling stench of death seeping from under the closed door. Which is the lesser evil; to defy the threat and enter or turn his back on it and flee? An unknown force makes him turn the knob and crack the door open.
’The smell of freshly spilled blood invades his nostrils. The pajamas pulled chastely down their frail little bodies, the boys lie hand in hand upon the blood bathed linen of the marital bed, their dead eyes turned up to Heaven, the site of an omnipotent God. Their mother, shot through her head is waiting to be found by her spouse, the vile fornicator. Polland glares at the bodies dread chilling him to the bones. Such hate and contempt is born only from unrequited love. Though has there ever been love in Chantal’s heart? He looks at her lips stretched in a victorious smirk. Her bad deed for this life has been done. She lost her husband to another woman and made him pay for it by depriving him of the fruit of her loins.’
Blinking his eyes Polland forces himself forth into the present. Whatever is awaiting him can’t equal the horror of the past. His study, bathed in the void of a hastily abandoned scene of crime is stripped of all its essentials with a meticulous precision. His desk is bare. His computer and his notes are gone. A single sheet of paper, torn in half, dangles from the printer.
“Have we been burgled?” Magda asks touching the diamond on here throat for reassurance.
Pushing her out of his way he dials Alex’s emergency number.
She listens in not understanding a word. One thing is certain. This is serious. What will be the consequences? Will they leave Basel? Is she going back to Paris, the silver lining of this dark cloud? She can be glad they were burgled when she was out. The fate of an embarrassing witness makes her tremble.
“Does it look bad?” She grabs Polland’s hand and holds it tight.
“Yes and no, Magda, the most important part of my research is coded. Alex asked me not to do anything until he’d call me back.
“There is something very strange about what happened, Jean. The burglary seems to be well prepared. Have you had any problems with Alex recently? Does he know your work is coded? Can he break the code? What did he promise you in return for your research that, in all evidence, will bring him big money? I hope you did discuss it with him timely and…”
“Wait a moment, Magda; these are too many questions to be answered at once. Who gave me the idea to take you out? Let me think about it. The suggestion came from Alex. As for me I am absolutely happy at home with you and hate sharing you with other men, devouring you by their greedy eyes. Alex said you’d need occasionally a little distraction not to become itchy. Basel isn’t Paris and you’d miss the contact with other people as innocent as it may be. To treat you to a jewel was my idea. You make me infinitely happy and I feel obliged to you, my darling Magda. May I have a look at the pendant?” He nears her, his breath quickens as his hand nears her breasts.
“Not now, Jean! The burglars may still be in the house and you wouldn’t like them to see me half-naked, would you? The phone is ringing. Won’t you take it?”
She listens attentively in but all she can retain is Polland’s “yes” and “no”.
He puts the receiver down and turns to her.
“We must be going, sweetheart! Take just your overnight bag and a change of clothes. All the other things will be sent after us later.”
“Where are we going, Jean? Back to Paris?”
“I can’t tell you more than I was told, darling. Basel isn’t anymore safe for us. Hurry, Magda! The car will be here any moment now and I have still things to do.”
The hoot of the car has the sound of a destiny call. So, this is the end of Basel which, all in all, could have been worse. There are other places as dull as this, and worse. What unsettles her is not to know what really happened and what is going to come next. This burglary seems to be a farce, a badly executed plot in a thriller that failed to be a page-turner. When she is about to dial Alex for an explanation Polland calls her from the corridor.
“Hurry up, Magda. The car is here.”
She touches the diamond to get reassured this isn’t just a dream, throws her best clothing into a carry-all - no girl would leave just with an overnight bag - and goes down to the car. The very moment she settles in, it shoots off not waiting for Polland. She should feel relieved from a burden. Hasn’t she always wanted to live again her independent life making love whenever and with whomever she chooses instead of being it her nightly and often daily chore? Well, it seems to be done with! She tries to identify the man behind the driving wheel, muffled up in a bulky windbreaker with a hood on. She should ask him for an explanation which is her right. She shoots a glance upon the hands holding the driving wheel, does she know them? Of course, the identification would be much simpler if she could feel them on her body. The car is driving dangerously fast on a dirt road in the heart of a forest. What if an animal jump in front of it? It would be hurt, maybe even killed, which would be still the best thing not to let the poor thing suffer. The night is falling and the tunnel drilled into the darkness by the flashlights is ominously narrow. The diamond warmed up by the heat of her body reassures her like the cross on the neck of a believer. At last she got something for being a sex slave of Polland. Is the diamond all she has earned for her exile in Basel? This has yet to be negotiated with Alex, at the best when in bed after a satisfying sex.
“Hi, you there, aren’t you forgetting something like introducing yourself to me? Should I know you?” She asks in her most seductive voice.
The car comes to a sudden stop. The man turns around to face her.
“It will be with the greatest pleasure, Miss. Meet your accidental driver. My task is to bring you to your destination unharmed and in one piece. That’s all you need to know and I am allowed to tell you.”
She watches him attentively. No, she has never seen him before. Anyhow, he is not her type, his face cut out from one piece of wood by a sculptor uncaring about details. His nose descends in a straight line from his forehead; a strong powerful nose with wide nostrils, lined with a narrow mouth with tight lips stretched over regular white teeth, a cleft chin, his grainy skin is shaded with bluish stubble. He has to shave at least twice daily not to hurt his lover.
“Could you put your hood down, please?”
He shakes it off wordlessly and his raven black shoulder long hair tempts her to pull him close to her and wait what happens.
“Have I passed the test?” He asks.
“As a driver you are too fast, as a man you are too slow and as a lover I’d need a thorough examination.” She dares him.
“Then what are you waiting for?”
The seats recline; he climbs over to her and starts undressing both of them teasingly slowly with one hand while the other plays a rhapsody of lust on her body.
“I was warned against you but evidently not enough! You are a dish, Magda!”
“As you know evidently my name, yours would be?”
“Mine is without interest as we won’t meet never ever again. A propos, have I passed the test?”
“What do you think?”
“You’d be the first one to complain. I’m sorry for any possible damage and ask to be forgiven.”
“No damage done. No need to feel sorry and as for Alex he doesn’t need to know! Just pass on me some Kleenexes and a bottle of water and we can continue our journey. How long will it be? If there’s some motel on our way I wouldn’t mind to give you another test.”
His only answer is to set the seats upright, settle at the driving wheel and muffle up in his windbreaker. Feeling a current of icy air flowing through the car she puts her clothes on, shuts her eyes and goes to sleep.