Tenacious ringing of her cell phone wakes up Magda. She burrows her head in the pillow and decides to turn a deaf ear on the moron disrespectful of her beauty sleep.
’Are you wrong in the head, Magda? Check at least who is calling!’ Her instinct of self-preservation butts willfully into her sleep.
And right it was! It is Alex’s number reserved for urgency! Readying for the worst she takes the call.
“I’m at Dunaev’s gate, here’s the opening code. Leave all behind, join me just as you are, be careful not to get caught!”
“But why, Alex?”
The line is dead. ’That fool, how can he expect her to renounce on all she has gained? She grabs her carry-all and throws into it her clothing; removes from under the pillow her jewels stocked in a belt, binds them around her waist and slips on a dress. ‘Has Alex forgotten she goes to bed clothed in a few drops of Chanel Nr 5?’
Proud of having succeeded her exit she falls into the open door of Alex’s car shooting forth into the murky light of dawn.
“Elijah was shot dead.” Alex says and Magda’s heart skips a beat.
“I found him in front of my hotel room.” He says curtly as a true professional whose emotions rarely, if ever, betray his emotions.
“That’s absurd! When he left me at Eden Rock last night he was his usual self. Had he suspected a danger he would have been tense and I would have felt it. We are... we were”, she corrects herself, stifling a sob, “twins in soul getting vibes from each other. I would have known it if he had feared for his life.”
“And yet it is so; his body is at the police morgue, be glad you were spared the identification. Unfortunately this isn’t the end of it. The police will unearth sooner or later that you were the last person who saw him alive.”
She wraps her arms around her uncontrollably shaking body. ‘Eli! She didn’t even kiss him goodbye! And now he is dead missing her kiss forever! It can’t be true! She still feels his fingers in her hair when they made love, his lips fragrant with coffee beans he was crunching “not to fall asleep” as he assured her with an impish grin.’
“Here you are, cover yourself!” Alex throws her the car blanket and she shrinks back. Instead of mourning for Eli she seeks warmth from a blanket that they used with Alex when making love.
She shuts her eyes avoiding the first rays of the rising sun. In the light of what happened when she left Eli last night, in the light of his sudden death, she needs the dark not to see she wasn’t there to catch him when he was falling. She is waiting for the tears that do not come. The tears for the loss of a man who loved her enough to let her do whatever she wished, no matter what; a man who was always there for her and vanished when no more needed. Now he is gone. How will she live without him? Their spy romance turned tragic. Or was it a soap-opera?
“Where are you taking me, Alex?” She asks coming to her senses, the senses of a girl who learnt that men are interchangeable and that the only true love is her love for herself.
“Where are you driving me, Alex?”
“You are asking me too much, Magda! I don’t know myself where I am going.”
He gives Magda a smile, ready to extend his hand if she will unclench her fist and take it. He lights a cigarette and inhales deeply. He expels in a fit of cough the smoke that clouds a meander of blood leaking from Elijah’s heart into the carpet.
Les jeux sont faits. The casino is bankrupt. He gazes at Magda’s slender neck so easy to break. Her death is not THE menace. Scandal is. And Magda is prone to scandals. Her death will be an easy exit from a complicated situation.
-And then he comes out to see the stars-
What a great ending Dante Alighieri wrote for him!
“Where are you driving me, Alex?” Magda repeats. Not giving up readily is how she is.
“You ask too much, Magda! The only answer I can give you is that our route to safety is a road paved with slippery flagstones.” ‘And you are in my way’ he restrains himself from voicing.
She feels the wings of the evil angel brushing her skin. Darkness is closing on her. The moon rips the clouds casting a lightning flash at a skeleton tree. This threat is real, not a tickly chill like watching a horror movie in company of a man besotted by her nearness.
Magda casts a surreptitious glance at Alex’s face, a face she can’t read anymore, an undecipherable face of a psychopath ready for anything to survive. She shrinks back from his fingers clawing into the driving wheel with the savage determination of a killer wringing a neck. Her neck? Murder is just another word in his dictionary of survival. Is it why he got rid of Eli? Is it now her turn?’
“I don’t think you have ever told me ‘I love you, Magda’. Why not? Are you shy about your feelings or don’t you love me?”
“Now you are being absurd, Magda! ‘I love you’ is the cheapest cliché ever coined, deep below my dignity.”
“Cliché or no cliché - a girl needs to hear it. Maybe this is why Nathalie left you.”
“How dare you, you whore?”
His slap makes her stagger.
’Alex is mad with rage and she is in mortal danger. She should treat him with caution. She won’t! Just now her hate is greater than her care for life; yet, isn’t hate the other face of love?’
Unable to stop the outburst of her love-hate, abuse darts from her mouth.
“You despicable faggot, beating a woman is so much simpler than satisfying her in bed!”
He stops the car. His face is ashen; his eyes are shot with yellow gleam.
“That’s enough, Magda!”
With the impotent horror of a fish gliding in the aquarium of a sea-food restaurant she realizes that she had used all the time she had.’ Why haven’t she kept her mouth shut? Hasn’t she learned the hard way that telling the truth is hurtful, that lying is not just the only means to survive but also the only way to easy living?
“I am sorry, Alex! I didn’t mean it. Can you forgive me?” She pleads with him in her never-failing babyish whimper.
His face is granite under her caressing hand. She bows down under the weight of his silence, the dead silence of an approaching storm. This moment is his moment to get rid of her in total unconcern like a man swatting a fly.
She stares with fascination at his face lit up with the grin of a killer. Too numb for a shriek her lips stretch into a silent O. She reaches after the car door. She jumps out. She runs for life.
The bullet enters her heart from behind; that famous stab in the back! They say that dying rewinds the tape of your life. And this is true, at least for Magda. Not of her life as it is now at its dead-end, but of her suspended future, white as a pearl found in the oyster at a dinner for two.
The bride is in white, the virginal color. Silk covers her skin innocent of men’s lusty touch. A nuptial crown of white lilies holds her veil up until the most desirable bridegroom, rich as Croesus, handsome as Alex opens it for the only respectable kiss, the kiss after a wedding ceremony.
“With this ring I thee marry”, Alex Severn, her one and only Mr. Right, the man she has seen in all her dreams, the man she has always longed to love, slings the wedding band on her finger. Under the victorious clang of the Wedding March her wedded husband leads her into his champagne colored Lamborghini to drive her over the rainbow where love never dies.