A Murder Misstery Finisbythrillerauthor©
For those who came in late, Matt McCoy -- now Madeline Moreau -- is on the run for a crime he did not commit, and a murder which she did....as the saga concludes, Maddy vows to end her life on the lam. By the author of The Jessica Project
"Jacques, when I saw Dr. Villiers, the name I gave him was Madison Monroe. Do you think we can trust him not to talk to the police?"
"How did you pay him?"
"Cash, under the table."
"Then you can trust him to keep quiet. He'd have problems of his own if the National Health System knew he was working off the books. Nevertheless, I'll have a word with him to make sure."
"While you're at it, could you ask him something else?" He blinked when I told him what I wanted. "I have my reasons," I assured him.
"It's somewhat bizarre, but I'll see what I can do."
Jacques hailed a taxi, and he insisted on dropping me off at the apartment before returning to his office. We rode in silence, each of us preoccupied with our separate thoughts. Jacques may have been brooding over my macabre request, or the possible implications of our relationship on his medical license. I was primarily concerned with where I would be spending the night! When the taxi pulled over in front of the apartment, I put on a brave front. "Thanks for lunch! Don't call me on my cell phone again, okay? If the police are onto you, they'll have the record of all my calls. I'm going to have to get a new phone, when I do I'll let you know my new number."
"Where are you going to go?"
"I can't live like this, Jacques. I need to put my old life behind me, once and for all."
"I'm worried about you."
"I can take care of myself, I'm a big girl." I kissed him hard on the lips and slipped away before I lost it. As soon as his taxi was out of sight, I brushed past the doorman and raced for the stairs. I took them two at a time, not an easy thing in a skirt and heels, determined to make it back to the apartment before I broke down.
The exertion of racing up the stairs had a calming effect, and by the time I got to the apartment, I had almost composed myself. Think, Maddy! When was the last time I used my cell phone? Wasn't it the night I left Marseilles, when I'd made my abbreviated call to Jacques from the train? Madison Monroe had disappeared from the face of the earth that night...now all I had to do was make sure her disappearance was permanent.
Once again, I sat down at the computer and watched my manicured fingers flit over the keyboard, searching the Internet for another escape route. Only this time, I was determined to travel in the style to which I'd become accustomed: no more couchettes for this girl! Soon I had come up with the outlines of a plan, and the details fell into place with surprising ease. Once I was sure where I was going, I packed my trusty Vuitton suitcase like a seasoned female traveler, put my new passport as well as my old one and a few other items in my purse, and called down to the doorman for a taxi to the Gare d'Austerlitz.
Just before I went out the door, the doorman called to inform me that a messenger had arrived with a package for me. I asked him to hold it for me downstairs. When I went to the lobby, he handed me a brown paper envelope about the size of a teacup. I tucked it into an outside pocket of my suitcase and got into my waiting taxi.
I asked the driver to stop and wait for me at a large electronics store a few blocks away from the station. There I purchased another throwaway cell phone, with a Paris prefix this time. I'd already crushed my old cell phone under a stiletto heel before I left the apartment. I also splurged on the latest, thinnest notebook computer with wireless Internet access.
When I got back into my taxi, I called Jacques' mobile number to try out my new phone. I got his voice mail and left this message: "Bonjour Jacques, je vous manque! Appelez-vous quand vous pouvez. Je t'aime, Madeline." Despite six months of self-instruction in Provence, my Berlitz French was still pitiful, but hopefully any prying ears would mistake Madeline for just the latest of Jacques' many mistresses.
I asked the driver to make one more stop before he took me to the station: a branch office of Banque BNP Paribas, where I opened a new checking account in the name of Madeline Moreau. The account came with a credit card, which was essential, since my cash reserves were almost gone.
I had enough euros left to tip the driver generously when he dropped me off at the Gare d'Austerlitz. With my purse over one shoulder, and my new computer bag over the other, I tugged my suitcase into the colossal concourse, following the signs to the ticket office for the Elipsos Trenhotel. Using my new credit card, I reserved a Grand Class sleeping compartment on the Joan Miro to Barcelona, which was leaving in a few hours. Dinner was included with my fare, so although I was getting hungry, I killed some time browsing in the station bookstore, where I purchased a Michelin guide to Barcelona and a spent a long time studying a nautical chart of the western Mediterranean Sea.
I was so preoccupied that I almost missed my train! Fortunately, there were no check-in procedures before departure, as ticket control and passport checks were taken care of on boarding the train. There seemed to be an attendant for every passenger, and I was ushered with elaborate courtesy into my compartment, which in addition to a bed with crisp linens included a toilet, sink and shower. I was given a menu for the four course dinner which would be served by Wagon Lits in the dining car, and reserved a table for one at 10:00.
It was very sad to watch the lights of Paris fade away as my train streaked south towards Spain. I missed Jacques terribly, and I wondered if I would ever see our little love nest again? One way or another, I was determined to reclaim my destiny. I turned on a reading light, kicked off my heels and sat down at the little folding table by the picture window in my compartment. Then I reached into my purse for some stationery and envelopes that I'd taken from the Plaza Athenee, and carefully composed this letter, using a ballpoint pen with indelible ink:
I don't know where to begin. Since our night together in London I've thought a lot about what I've done. My life is so screwed up! I am a man, living as a woman, who can never come home. You asked me how can I live with myself? The answer is, I can't. I'm sorry for any hurt I caused you. Love,
I sealed the letter in an envelope, addressed it to Tracy in Rosemont, put a French postage stamp on it, and put it back in my purse. I knew if I sent the letter, it would lay a heavy guilt trip on Tracy, but that was not my intention. Just then my cell phone rang. "Allo?"
"Madeline?" It was Jacques.
"Bonsoir, mon amour."
He picked up my cue and continued the conversation in French, asking me where I was. I told him I was in the south of France, technically true, and assured him that I missed him and wanted him in my bed again soon. Jacques played along perfectly, and rang off with a promise to call me tomorrow.
A glance at my diamond watch told me that I was late for dinner. I stepped back into my heels, grabbed my purse and made my way down the gently swaying corridor to the dining car. It was quite elegant, half-filled with well-dressed diners seated at intimate tables set with linen, crystal and silver. I was shown by a uniformed attendant to a table already occupied by a smartly dressed woman of about my age.
I took the opposing chair and fumbled in my purse for a cigarette. She put down her Financial Times and lit one of her own. After we shared guilty smiles, she introduced herself as Gabrielle. Although I'd studied Spanish in high school and college, her Catalonian dialect was incomprehensible to me, and her French was as bad as mine, so we settled on English as a default language. I had to remind myself to dumb it down and speak with a French accent!
"My name is Madeline," I told her. Although I was supremely confident in my passing ability by now, it occurred to me that this would be my first sustained conversation with a woman other than Tracy. How did girls talk to each other anyhow?
"I like your sweater," Gabrielle said. "So feminine. Did you get it in Paris?"
"No, in London, at Burberry's."
"Is that where you got your skirt?"
"Thanks." I glanced down and saw her foot sticking out from under the tablecloth. A Gucci pump was dangling from her stockinged toes. "Umm, those are cute shoes," I said lamely.
"I hate them! Sheer torture if I walk more than a few meters," she confided. Our conversation continued along those momentous lines while we waited for a waiter to take our orders. Gabrielle was drinking Campari and bitter lemon, which looked light and refreshing, so I ordered one too. Our chatter continued over entrees, salads and much wine. It turned out that Gabrielle was a newly-licensed architect returning from an internship in Paris. I deflected her questions about my livelihood, and soon the conversation turned to the inevitable. "Do you have a boyfriend?" she asked me.
"Yes, his name is Jacques," I said with reflexive pride.
"What does he do?"
"He's a doctor in Paris."
"Excellent. Is he...older?"
"Are you in love?"
"Yes, except...he's married." I guess it was the wine talking.
"Married men are much better. I'm so sick of the boys I'm seeing. All they want is to fuck, get pissed and watch football!"
Don't knock it, I thought sadly. Not so long ago, I would have been trying to figure out how to get into your pants. Now I'm sitting here in a skirt, talking to you about shoes and boyfriends....
We lingered over dessert and coffee. "How long are you staying in Barcelona?" Gabrielle asked.
"I'm not sure. Do you live there?"
"All my life. Where are you staying?"
"I thought I'd try the Hotel Arts. Is it nice?"
"Very! It's not too far from everything and right on the beach. Would you like to get together one night?" In my past life, I would have pounced on it. Now, I could only smile and tell her that might be fun. Maybe we could go clubbing and meet some cute guys, she said. On that distressing note, I stubbed out my last cigarette and wished her a good night.
It was past midnight by the time I returned to my posh compartment. I was feeling very sorry for myself as I peeled off my stockings and stepped out of my skirt. How my life had changed! I'd just spent two hours with a hot chick, but now that I was a eunuch, I'd felt nothing downstairs. All I could think of as I undressed myself was how much I missed being a man, and how like a woman I'd become.
The feeling of my satin nightgown against my smooth skin was some consolation. What are you complaining about? You're free, you're rich, and you're going to have sex again someday, only as a beautiful woman. I pulled up the covers, rested my head on the soft pillow, and fell into a dreamless sleep.
I awoke to the first rays of sunlight peeking under the window shade. The Spanish countryside was baked to a golden brown, under a bright blue sky. I had a lot to do today, so I showered quickly, put on a little makeup, and selected my favorite sundress to wear with some comfortable espadrilles. Gabrielle was sitting at the same table in the dining car, and we passed the next few hours sharing girl talk over espressos and croissants. At one point I asked her to recommend the best place in Barcelona to find a cute swimsuit, and tried to stay with her as she critiqued the latest styles. We exchanged phone numbers and air kisses when it was time to return to our compartments to collect our things.
It was a short taxi ride to the Hotel Arts. As Gabrielle had assured me, it was well-located on an esplanade which connected the beach to a modern shopping and entertainment district along the Port Olimpic marina. I inspected and rejected two rooms before I settled on what I was looking for: a suite with a small lanai, on an upper floor, fronting directly on Barceloneta Beach.
As soon as I'd unpacked my things, I went out in search of a hardware store, where I purchased two ten liter buckets with snap-on lids. These I placed on the lanai. The rest of the morning I spent shopping for an oversize beach bag, several large bottles of spring water, and after I dropped these off in my room, my new swim suit. The shop recommended by Gabrielle was on Las Ramblas, which was a short taxi ride from my hotel. The bustling thoroughfare was full of life, lined with smart stores and restaurants. I lost myself in the crowd, savoring my freedom and the sheer enjoyment of being a pretty girl in a sundress on a sunny day.
Eventually I came to the beachwear boutique, where for the first time since my transformation, I saw how my body looked in a woman's swimsuit. Not bad! Some of them made me look fat, and others accentuated various flaws, but eventually I found two modest one piece suits which hugged and highlighted all the right places, and a skimpy bikini that made me look downright hot. I bought several cover-ups and some sandals to go with them, along with a pair of oversize sunglasses and some girly ball caps which matched my swim suits. My final acquisition was a supply of tanning oils with minimal sunscreen.
The shops were just closing for the afternoon siesta as I made my way back to the Hotel Arts. It was warm and sunny, a typical late summer's day on the Costa Brava, so I changed into one of my modest swim suits, filled my beach bag with water bottles and tanning oil, and headed for the beach. I tipped a beach attendant after he set me up with a chair and towels, and took my time applying tanning oil to my soft, smooth arms and legs. I pulled down the straps on my swimsuit and covered my back and shoulders as best I could.
After I'd strapped myself back up, I went straight to work. First I opened my water bottles and poured their contents completely into the golden sand. Then I carried them into the surf, wading out up to my waist before I bent over and filled each of them with Mediterranean sea water. After I screwed the tops back on the bottles, I put them in my beach bag and returned to my hotel room, where I poured them into one of the buckets on the lanai. By my mental calculation, it would take another ten trips or so to completely fill both buckets, so I returned to the beach and continued with my one-woman bucket brigade throughout the afternoon. Fortunately, the beach was crowded, and if anybody noticed the strange woman's comings and goings, they paid her no mind. By five o'clock, my shoulders aching and my back burned to a crisp, I'd filled both buckets almost to the brim.
After that, I returned to my room, where I selected a small purse -- the type a woman tucks under her arm when she's wearing a summer dress -- and filled it with a compact, lipstick, some miscellaneous female junk, the letter which I'd composed to Tracy on the train, my boarding pass and ticket for the Tangier ferry, and Madison Monroe's passport. Then I dropped it into one of the buckets full of sea water and snapped the lid tightly shut.
My next task was more difficult. The package which had been delivered to my doorman the day before was still in an outside pocket of my suitcase. Carefully, I removed it from the brown paper envelope and removed the bubble wrapping which surrounded a clear plastic case. There they were, looking like two passed-over prunes. A little tear ran down my cheek as I removed them from the case and wrapped them in my cotton panties, a pathetic burial shroud for Matt McCoy's manhood. I wadded them tightly into the panties and sank them to the bottom of the other bucket.
After a quick shower to rinse the sand off my exhausted body, I flung myself down on the bed like a rag doll. My sordid tasks had killed my appetite, and I was lying there disconsolately, contemplating my tan lines -- I'd always found them so sexy on a woman -- when my cell phone rang. "Allo?"
"Bonsoir, Cheri." It was Jacques. We spoke in French, using simple words and phrases, the language of lovers. I told him how much I missed him, and he asked me how I'd spent my day. When I told him about my new swim suits, he demanded a detailed description. I complained about my tan lines, which delighted him, and before I knew it, I was playing with myself while he whispered eroticisms into my ear. My neutered penis was unresponsive at first, but to my surprise I felt myself becoming aroused when I started to play with my breasts, which Jacques referred to lovingly as my grand tetons...then he told me to kiss my finger for him, and insert it into my derriere, which I did, arching my back in delight while my other hand continued to stroke my hardening nipples, until my whole body shivered as I succumbed to wave after wave of exquisite pleasure, my little penis twitching and dribbling like a forgotten bystander.
I made Jacques promise to call me again at the same time tomorrow, and every night after that until I returned to Paris.
The next day, what was to become my routine for the next two weeks began with a room service breakfast at the table on my lanai. I requested that housekeeping make up my room first thing, and I smoked cigarettes and drank espresso on the lanai until the chambermaid had come and gone. Then I locked the lanai door and put on one of my conservative swimsuits for a day on the beach. The weather was predictably hot and sunny, and I took up my position near a lifeguard stand and began to observe the beach scene. It had a rhythm of its own, and gradually I became familiar with the characters and their routines. I noted when the scavengers came around to look for lost items, and which lifeguards were the most conscientious. Every day, my tan got deeper and deeper, and by the end of the first week I was as brown as a bean.
The only break in my routine was when I had lunch one day at an outdoor café on Las Ramblas with Gabrielle. She'd called to arrange a night on the town, but I'd declined, suggesting a ladies lunch instead. That was fine with her, and she told me to meet her at a little bistro the following day. I wore my chicest summer dress from Saint Tropez, and we spent a delightful afternoon sipping Sangria and sharing pizza topped with brie and walnuts. We were hit on several times, which annoyed Gabrielle as much as it amused me. There was a whole new world waiting for me, a world of girlfriends who shared a bond unlike anything experienced by guys, and a world of guys who were after the one thing that I didn't yet possess...
When we were finished our lunch, I asked her if she could teach me how to say a few words in Catalonian Spanish, the dialect of Barcelona. "What exactly is it you want to say?" she asked.
"Look at what I found in the water. It's a public disgrace! Shame on you!"
"Why would you want to say those things?" she asked.
"Oh, it's just a little joke I'm playing on a boy. Can you tell me how to say it?" She shrugged and taught me the words. I made her repeat them several times, writing it all down word for word and practicing my pronunciation until she assured me that I had it right.
On my way back to the Hotel Arts, I stopped at a shop on Las Ramblas to purchase a good pair of binoculars. Then it was back to the beach to continue my strange routine. Every night, after phone sex with Jacques and a room service dinner, I used my notebook computer to search the Internet for information about the corrosive effects of seawater. I never came up with anything conclusive as to cause and effect, so I would just have to go with my gut. Finally one morning, I decided that it was time.
After breakfast at my normal hour, I opened one of the buckets on the lanai and carefully fished out the remains of my purse, which looked more like a glob of muck than an expensive ladies' handbag. Perfect. I dropped it into a plastic hotel laundry bag, which in turn I put into my beach bag. After I'd settled myself on the beach at my usual place, I waited until a few minutes before the lifeguards got on duty before I put my beach bag on my shoulder and started to take a casual stroll along the beach. When I was right in front of the lifeguard stand, I quickly removed the laundry bag and deposited my water-logged purse on the shore, so that the gentle waves were just lapping it. I continued to saunter along the beach for a few minutes before I circled back behind the lifeguard stand and returned to my chair to see what happened.