Should she call Alex’s Swiss office and ask if she may get out of the house? Why would she do it? If Elijah entrusted her with a key it means she can use it. She peeps out from the front door. The street is empty. Watch out, Magda! Behind each of these tiny windows are spying eyes! So what? Staying in would kill her. Holding her breath she sneaks out.
Continuing in her walk she comes upon a hypermarket with huge bags labeled “Pet” filled with plastic bottles. Isn’t it weird? For Magda pets are cuddly creatures kept for loving company. Was it not that pets are considered animals for consumption that can be slaughtered and eaten if it is done “in a human way”. This is what their nice Serbo-Croatian cleaning woman, taking refuge in Basel to escape their bloody fratricidal war, told her. Her German is as bad as hers but good enough to understand each other. Better be careful about what they are talking about. The cleaning woman is probably spying for Alex. Of course, she has no other choice with two autistic kids to care for. Something must have gone wrong in their brains because of all the gruesome war crimes; one was just a baby and the other an embryo in her tummy. She, Magda, doesn’t understand how a woman can bring children into this horror but the country is evidently too primitive for contraception and the only way how to keep on is to jump into bed and fuck it all off. She is aware that four-letter words are cross. Alex warned her from ever using them and especially not when being with a client. Yet this is the only right word as it has the same explosive hiss as when she is coming and an orgasm comes easier when fucking than when making love. Now thinking about it, has she ever been in love, this “all for nothing” that strikes you out of the blue and knocks you out? There was a boy once when she was at high school in Budapest she thought she would die for. He was a football champion and all the girls were crazy about him. She must have been thirteen at that time and he about eighteen, all muscles and an easy smile for his supporters and fans. She waited for hours, in rain and shine, in scolding heat and biting frost only to see him and stutter an enchanted “hi!” Some times he answered, other times not, his eyes dazzled by being idolized, still high on his last match’s victory. This might have been “this haphazard thing called love” and God knows she would hate to fall in love again. Then there is John. Her heart stood still when she saw him at “Shakespeare & Company” and then when they met again and fell smash onto each other their bodies glued together, fitting each other like a well worn glove, enjoying the after-stillness of a sexual bliss. It goes without saying that she wasn’t fool enough to allow her feelings to grow. Falling for a hustler who services Alex’s gays would bring her nothing but trouble and woe. What about Vince? Does he qualify? Definitely not! That boy made the cut as a sex coach rather than a heart throb. There is also Alex but she can hardly be in love with a man dispatching her on sex jobs.’
She freezes startled by the screech of brakes. A car comes to a halt, its door cracks open. She asked for it! She got it! Didn’t Elijah warn her against treading on the dangerous ground in the outside world? She will be kidnapped, tortured to reveal Polland’s professional secrets high above her head and even murdered being a corroborating witness to a murder.
“Hop in, Magda!”
“Alex!” She cries out delighted.
“What are you doing in this hole?”
“If I told you I came here to see you it wouldn’t be a lie. The naked truth is I had some business in Zurich, decided to join duty and pleasure, and check out how you have settled in and hopefully prove to you that Basel is not that bad. Oh yes, “this hole” has some bright sides, don’t look down your nose at Basel.”
“If you say so, Alex,” she sits down by him as close as she can, and still closer, enjoying the warmth of the known and familiar, after having been stranded much too long under these grey skies.
“Where are you staying, Alex? Are you in Basel for long?” She asks hoping for the best
“Unfortunately not, pet, so sorry. I have to be back in Paris the soonest possible. I can understand Basel is hard on you but there was no other way, at least no safe one.”
“For how long must I stay here, Alex? Have mercy on me! I don’t think I can endure it much longer.”
“It’s difficult to say. It depends on how much and how long we’ll need Polland. As for now we can’t do without him. And Basel was still the best solution. You as an art student can find here classy art museums, the “Kunstmuseum” is in a walking distance from your place. If you wish I can show you the” Beyeler Foundation”, a world famous museum built by Renzo Piano, the man who designed the Centre Pompidou in Paris. A propos, Elijah succeeded to get for you a sabbatical, so no need to worry about your studies.”
“Thanks, maybe next time. I am not exactly a museum buff; too many dead things stuck together give me the creeps. I prefer to live in the present, go to galleries for their first nights to get in contact with the art scene preparing for my future of the painter. One can’t start one’s promotion too early, right? I think being artist would suit me much better than an art historian as, tell me sincerely, Alex, can you see me hand in hand with those walking encyclopedias discussing whom to put into the high- art shrine? You can’t, see? By the way, I’d need some painting material to kill the days when I am bored to death and feel like dying.”
“But of course, Magda! It can be done.”
“Wait, Alex! Where are you driving me? I hope not for a walk in a glum countryside, nature doesn’t suit me!”
“If you aren’t in the mood for the “Beyeler” I thought I’ll show you about Riehen, a hip suburb where the Basel golden and chosen live to show you how similar it is to Neuilly that is if I am not mistaken your favorite Parisian neighborhood.” He offers lightly.
’Norton! Will he still know her when she comes back? Not so sure. Man’s heart is a sieve. And she is wasting her time letting her future sinking to the bottom.’ She shoots Alex a heinous glance. ‘What a fool she is to do all he asks her for! Of course she shouldn’t forget that as a lover he is about 8 at the scale from 1 to10. Nevertheless now it will change!’
“You know what, Alex? Either you take me back to Paris with you right away or I’ll take the first flight on my own.”
“Is that what you’ll do, Magda?” He snaps at her.
“If I were you I’d give it a thorough consideration. Aren’t you forgetting that practically you are Polland’s accomplice? A triple murder is no laughing matter. You have no means to hire a first class lawyer on the measly capital you’ve scraped on the side. No need to ask how I know about it! I just do!” He dismisses her protest.
“You are an open book for me, my sweet Magda! Involved in the violent death of a poor betrayed spouse and her too little boys you risk a life-long sentence and even if you get out sooner for your exemplary behavior and multiple services to the prison wardens think about how an aging whore will get back into the sex trade? Do you see my point? I was sure you do! You are nobody’s fool, not even yours, right or wrong? Right! Now let’s be friends again and make the best from our outing. Many of Riehen’s villas are worth a look, who knows one day you may have one like that, let’s say in Neuilly?” He mentions in a conversational tone that makes her shudder.
“You may be right, Alex!” She accepts his offered arm with a charming smile.
They continue their walk about the golden enclose where the fabulously rich live fenced off from the lesser mortals curing the collateral damage of big money by personified psychiatric guidance. It needs many sorts to make ‘this great stage of fools’.