More Murder Missterybythrillerauthor©
© 2007 by Thrillerauthor
For those who missed A Murder Misstery, Matt McCoy -- now Maddy -- is on the run for a crime he did not commit, and a murder which she did....as the saga continues, Maddy's train is just pulling into Amsterdam. By the author of The Jessica Project.
I woke up with a start to polite but persistent tapping on the door of my first class sleeping compartment. "Zehn Minuten bis zur Amsterdam Centraal" a man was saying. After he repeated his warning in Dutch, I finally heard, "Ten minutes to Amsterdam." I wrapped my robe around my shoulders, checked to make sure my wig was on straight, and cautiously opened the door a few inches to retrieve my passport. "Guten Morgan, Fraulein," the conductor said.
"Thank you," I stammered in a woman's voice before I slammed the door. Ten minutes! A few days ago, that would have been do big deal for Matt McCoy, but how was Maddy ever going to get herself dressed and made up in ten minutes?
Relax Fraulein, I told the tousle-haired woman in the mirror. They're not going to kick a first-class passenger off the train before she's had time to make herself beautiful. You're a rich bitch now, act like one! My cozy little compartment had its own toilet and sink, and soon my teeth were brushed, the stubble was gone from my face, and I was ready to transform myself into a woman once again.
The train was still lurching over the points approaching the station, do I decided to get dressed before putting on my makeup. Hmm...what does a girl wear to score a fake ID in the back streets of a notorious European city? Thanks to my girlfriend Tracy, my wardrobe was ultra-feminine, but I finally settled on a thin turtleneck sweater, a knee-length skirt, and since I'd be doing a lot of walking, my comfy flats. A peek through the curtains confirmed that it was gray and drizzly, much like the weather I'd left behind in Chicago, so my black trench coat would complete the look.
I put on a fresh pair of panties, filled a bra with my wonderful silicone breast forms, and sat down on the bed to ease on a pair of sheer black pantyhose. I was still fascinated by how sexy they made my legs look, and I had a pang of longing for the way Tracy used to tease and please me when I dressed this way...would I ever see her again? And if I ever did, would there be anything left of the man she used to love? With those morose thoughts, I pulled on my sweater, zipped up my skirt and stepped into my dainty shoes. I rummaged through my suitcase for a scarf and some jewelry, and by the time I was finished dressing we'd come to a stop. I was getting better and better at doing my makeup and styling my wig, so in no time at all a pretty young woman was towing her suitcase behind her through the bustling railroad station.
After quick stop at a station café for coffee and a Dutch breakfast that looked and tasted like an Egg McMuffin, I checked my suitcase and left the station, taking some time to get my bearings. Eventually I found a tram to my first stop, a wig store on Prinsengracht, a narrow street fronting on one of the canals. I got there a few minutes before they opened, and killed some time smoking a cigarette as I gazed out at the houseboats. My skirt and stockings were no match for the raw winter weather, and I stamped my feet in the cold as I waited impatiently for the shopkeeper to arrive.
When the door finally opened, I spent a few minutes looking around self-consciously before a middle-aged woman approached me. "Can I help you, miss?" she asked. Good thing everyone in Holland seemed to speak English!
"Yes, I need a good wig that will be easy to take care of and style."
"I recommend one of our top-quality synthetics. Is there a particular style and color?"
"Yes. My natural hair is dark brown, and I want it much longer than this," I said, pointing to my short blonde wig.
"Of course, if you will follow me to one of our private rooms, let me find you a wig cap and we can try some on."
Even in the privacy of the booth she led me to, it was humiliating to remove my wig and sit before her with a man's haircut in women's clothing. Obviously she had seen it all before, and in no time she was back with an armful of mannequin heads, each featuring long brown hair. One after another, I let her try them on me, until she showed me one that looked and felt just right. The brunette looking back at me in the mirror was strikingly attractive, and her hair would be long enough to pull back into a ponytail when she was in a hurry. Most important, her hair was similar to the way mine used to look when I wore it long in college, so when I grew it out again, pictures of me in the wig would match the way I was going to be.
I paid for the wig with a travelers check and wore it out of the store, tossing Ashley's borrowed blonde wig into the canal. Then I retraced my steps to the station, where I had spotted a shop specializing in passport photos. Twenty minutes later, I was riding on a different tram towards a seedy neighborhood frequented by foreign students, illegal émigrés, and assorted criminals. The address I'd found in an Internet chat room, where several satisfied customers had remarked about the proprietor's skill and complete discretion. He must have been surprised when a wholesome-looking American girl knocked on the door of his upstairs flat, but his poker face revealed nothing until I got straight to the point.
"I need a passport."
"What makes you think I can help you?"
"You are highly recommended, and I will pay whatever it takes." That got his attention, and after he took a quick look behind me to make sure I wasn't part of a sting operation, he let me into his shabby apartment. I scanned the tables and shelves piled high with print stock in various colors while he locked and bolted the door behind me.
He was still wary, so I pulled Ashley's passport out of my purse and put my new photos next to it. "Do you do American passports?"
"I need one, today, with this picture."
"Today is out of the question."
"What is your price?"
"Ten thousand euros."
I knew from the chat room that he was asking considerably more than his going rate, but I didn't flinch. "Only if I can have it today. Here is the name and address you are to use." I handed him a slip of paper with the name Madison Monroe, an obscure porn star whose work I enjoyed, and a date and place of birth slightly different from my own. Then I put Ashley's passport back in my purse and started counting out ten thousand euros in travelers checks.
"I only accept cash."
"Fine. I'll cash them myself and return this afternoon. Shall we say three o'clock?"
He nodded, and I waited for him to unbolt the door before I let myself out. Once again I retraced my steps to the station, only this time I went to the ticket office and booked a seat in the name of Maddy Monroe on the high-speed train leaving for Paris at 5:00. After I found a bank and cashed the travelers checks, I wandered the quaint streets of Amsterdam, looking for an out-of-the-way place for lunch. I finally selected a small Indonesian restaurant, where I ordered a rice dish with spicy condiments and a split of French Chardonnay.
This would be my life from now on, I reflected as I sipped my wine with a cigarette. Although I looked completely different now as a brunette, it was only a matter of time before the FBI picked up my trail in Zurich, and I wanted to keep a low profile until I was safely out of Amsterdam. My original impulse in coming to Amsterdam was to admit myself to a gender identity clinic, and begin therapy to turn myself into a woman, but I had a new plan now, and I wanted to put some time and distance between my old life and my new one before I took that fateful step. I was obviously passable as a woman the way I was, and with my new identity and appearance, there would be nothing to link me to the stolen passport I'd used to flee the USA as a blonde named Ashley.
After lunch, I killed some more time window shopping. The department stores were already full of spring fashions, and I found myself wondering what I would look like in a sundress and sandals...and what it would feel like to wear them. One thing was for certain: I'd had enough cold weather to last me a lifetime, and if I had to start my life over as a woman, it was going to be in a warm, sunny climate.
On an impulse, I went inside De Bijenkorf and rode the escalator up to the women's department. There were racks of summer dresses, and before I knew it, I was in a fitting room trying one on. It was so cute on me! Only it looked strange with my black leather flats, and I'd need a purse to match my new sandals, and a necklace to go with my dress....An hour later, when I went back into the cold, I felt a little warmer thinking about the sundress and other girly things in my shopping bags. "You should have been a girl," Tracy once told me. Maybe she was right after all!
When I went back outside, I started walking down the sidewalk when I experienced a sensation I'd never felt before. It was the pitter-patter of raindrops on the tops of my feet, coming right through my stockings. Just another of the many joys of being a woman....I went back to the department store and bought a ladies umbrella to protect my new hairdo. Then I found an electronics store for one more acquisition: a throwaway cell phone with a number that was good throughout Europe. I selected an ultra-slim model and prepaid for several months of airtime. I thought about trying to call Tracy, but I didn't know whether my location could be traced, so I abandoned the thought for then.
At precisely 3:00, I knocked on the door of the forger's flat. He admitted me immediately, and as soon as the door was closed he presented me with a flawless US passport featuring me with long brown hair, gender female. I complimented him on his handiwork, gave him his ten thousand euros, and let myself out. Ashley's passport joined her wig in the canals of Amsterdam.
I made it back to the station with a few minutes to spare. After retrieving my suitcase from the left luggage room, I tore off Ashley's old name tag and dropped it into a trashcan. When the FBI turned up in Amsterdam looking for Ashley, her trail would be stone cold. From now on, I was Maddy Monroe, and until the money ran out, Maddy was going to make the best of her new life.
The Thalys express to Paris featured cushy seats with drinks and dinner for first class passengers. After I selected my wine and entree, a steward came by with a selection of newspapers. I scoured the International Herald Tribune from cover to cover for any news about the Wolf murder investigation, but there was nothing. Dinner was excellent, and I must have dozed off afterwards, because the next thing I knew the four hour trip was almost over.
My seatmate was a preoccupied businessman who spent most of the time on his cell phone talking to his office, his wife and his mistress. I thought back to the distinguished Frenchman I'd shared a dinner table with the night before, at the Zurich train station. I removed his business card from my purse and studied it for the hundredth time. Dr. Jacques Bochy, endocrinologist...a doctor who specialized in hormones. I wondered how he'd react when I called him from Paris to make an appointment? He'd probably think I was stalking him. I put his card back in my purse and used my cell phone to reserve a suite at the Plaza Athenee, and a taxi to take me there from the Gare du Nord.
I slept until almost noon the following morning. It was my first night in a proper bed since I'd murdered Norman Wolf, and any lingering nightmares over what I'd done were snuffed out by jet lag and sheer exhaustion. I stretched lazily in the sumptuous bedding, enjoying the sensation of my satin nightgown against my smooth skin. It was annoying to notice a bit of stubble starting to grow back on my legs, so I threw off the duvet and started to draw a bath in the ornate tub, peppering the water with moisturizing salts provided by the hotel. I spent a long time luxuriating in the soft, hot suds before I tediously shaved my legs, arms, chest and underarms. As I patted myself dry with a thick cotton towel, I thought of the way Tracy shaved my back the day she transformed me in Chicago. Tracy always had my back...I missed her terribly as I made up my face the way she taught me. I wondered if she'd like me as a brunette? I admired myself in the mirror after I brushed my long brown hair, knowing that the answer would be yes.
I'd cranked up the heat before I got into the tub, and my suite was stifling by the time I got out of the bathroom. Sundress weather! I was curious to see how my new ensemble came together, so on a whim, after I put on a white bra and panties, I stepped into my summer dress and, with difficulty, zipped it up from behind. My new sandals were very cute and comfortable, although the need for a pedicure was immediately apparent. I fastened my mother-of-pearl necklace from behind, again with difficulty -- how did girls put up with this stuff? -- then I picked up my white purse and walked over to the full-length mirror on the closet door to see what I looked like.
I will never forget that moment. A striking brunette stared back at me in the mirror, with bare shoulders and long legs framed by her pretty little dress. She turned this way and that, mesmerized by how her dress flowed around her knees when she moved. I was almost in a trance, as the realization sunk in that this was really me. Not only did my dress look cute on me, the soft fabric felt wonderful swishing against my bare legs as I walked into the parlor of my suite. I practiced sitting down on the sofa and chairs, crossing my legs and smoothing my dress beneath me, becoming more and more comfortable with myself this way. What started out as a disguise was becoming much, much more....
Hunger pangs finally broke the spell. I turned down the heat and opened the curtains to let in the daylight, such as it was -- Paris in February was as gloomy as the weather I'd left behind in Amsterdam. At least it wasn't snowing like Chicago, I mused as I took off my sundress and rummaged through my suitcase for a gray wool dress and a pair of taupe pantyhose. Once again, I had that feeling of sinful luxury as I eased the delicate nylons up my freshly shaved legs, and I had to admit that my gnarly toes looked much better encased in stockings. I slid them into heels, swapped out my necklace for one in black and gold, and returned to the parlor to order breakfast from room service. While I was waiting for it to arrive, I switched on the TV and flipped through the stations until I came to CNN.
It didn't take long for my world to come crashing down. "International manhunt for Chicago killer..." read the crawl at the bottom of the screen. A reporter was standing outside the railroad station in Amsterdam, describing the bizarre case of a man who disguised himself as a woman to flee the United States, after he allegedly murdered his former accomplice in a conspiracy to defraud elderly investors. Obviously the Chicago police and the FBI had connected the dots: Matt McCoy was suspected of using a stolen women's passport to fly first class from O'Hare to Zurich, and Interpol confirmed that a woman with the same name traveled by train from Zurich to Amsterdam the following day.
Thank God I'd used my new identity get out of Amsterdam! There were only two people who might be able to help the police: the forger who created my passport -- I had no worries about him talking to anyone -- and the woman who sold me my wig. Even if she somehow heard about the investigation and told the police what I looked like now, there were millions of brunettes in Holland, and the odds of them tracking me down in Paris were infinitesimal.
Still, I was shaken when I heard the rap on my door. It was only the room service waiter with my breakfast. I tipped him well and tried to get something down, my stomach still churning from what I'd learned. Once again, I thought of Tracy: she would know by now that I'd lied to her about hiding out in California, and she probably suspected that I'd lied to her about everything else. Knowing that I was taking a terrible risk, I switched on my cell phone and started to punch in her number. Just before I got to the last digit, I stopped myself and put down the phone. If I was going to avoid spending the rest of my life in prison, I couldn't make any silly, sentimental mistakes! The sooner I put Tracy and my life as a man behind me, the better my chances of survival.
As I munched on my croissant, I had an encouraging thought: now that the police were looking for me as a woman, I could just go back to being a guy, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the police would naturally assume that I had already abandoned my female disguise. So the best way to stay one step ahead of them would be to remain in dresses...I picked up my phone again, only this time I used it to call Dr. Jacques Bochy. His receptionist answered. "Halo?"
"Hello, my name is Maddy. I met the doctor in Zurich. Can I speak to him please?"
The receptionist was undoubtedly accustomed to the doctor's philandering, for she put me through without delay. "Maddy, what a pleasant surprise!" Jacques said when he came on the line.
"Hi! You'll never guess where I am," I said with forced girlishness.
"Paris would be too much to hope for."
"Yep! And I'm calling to make an appointment."
"For medical reasons?"
"Well, it's kinda personal...do you think you could see me today?"
"My appointments are booked weeks in advance, Maddy. However, I do happen to be free for dinner this evening." I wasn't expecting that.... "We can discuss whatever you like, in a quiet setting, and afterwards if you want to see me in my office, I'll fit you in somehow."
"Are you sure?"
"Where are you staying?"
"At the Plaza Athenee."
"I'll book a table at Le Relais at seven. Until then." He hung up before I could reply.
I spent the day shopping for something to wear. The only thing I owned that was appropriate was the little black dress I'd worn the night I murdered Norman Wolf, and I didn't feel quite right about wearing it again. I might have been a millionairess many times over, but the boutiques of Paris were frightfully expensive, and I couldn't find anything that looked half as good on my rather unique physique. I did splurge on some glittery pantyhose and an exquisite French perfume, and I bit the bullet and had my ears pierced. It hurt more than I expected, and I was very aware of my new platinum studs as I shopped for a Vuitton suitcase to replace the worn out roller bag I stole from Ashley. By the time I paid for it and caught a taxi back to my hotel, it was time to get dressed for dinner.
Le Relais is a chic bistro which adjoins the Plaza Athenee. At a few minutes past seven, decked out in my little black dress, shimmering legs and strappy black heels, I showed up for my date with Jacques. He was standing at the bar, and he didn't recognize me at first with my long brown hair. When he did, his face lit up with a big smile, and he took my hands and kissed me on both cheeks. "Maddy! You never cease to surprise and delight me!"
I'm sure I was blushing when I kissed him back, and I was at a loss for words after we were shown to a romantic booth in a quiet corner of the crowded bistro. He offered me a cigarette, which he lit with a flourish before lighting up one of his own. "Talk about surprises, I didn't think doctors smoked anymore," I said idotically.
"My dear Maddy, there are all kinds of doctors, just as there are all kinds of beautiful women. Take you, for example."
"What about me?" I asked as I tried to perform a French inhale.