The Frequent Flyer


Frank Thomas Smith


Last paragraph of Chapter 8:


Even before the food arrived, Freddy Hussein�s chauffer came rushing in and said something to him on Arabic. �Oh, dear, isn�t this awful,� Hussein said, standing up. �A crisis has arisen and I must go immediately. Most unfortunate, my deepest apologies, Mr. Jacks. Frau Marie, could you be so kind as to entertain my guest?� He scurried out. Jacks finished off his second glass of wine and said, in German, �Okay, so what the hell is going on, Annaliese?�



Chapter 9


She said, in English, smiling: �Do you mind if I sit with you a while, Mr. Jacks? It gives me an excuse to rest before the lunch crowd arrives.�

            Jacks blinked. Games. �Sure, be my guest, Frau Marie.� The waiter appeared at his side and refilled the wine glasses. They raised their glasses, staring into each other�s eyes, German style.

            �Argentine wine is really very good, the reds at least. It�s a pity they aren�t better known outside the country.�

            �Organization,� Jacks said. �You may have noticed that this country isn�t very well organized��

            She smiled and was about to agree, but Jacks said, ��not like Germany.�

            �Yes, that�s true. Germany is a bit too organized for my taste.�

            �Is that why you�re here?�

            �Partly, yes.�

            �What�s the other part?�

            �My husband inherited a piece of land here and we came to see about it and, well, we fell in love with the country.�


            Her eyes frowned warning, but just for a moment, until she smiled again and said, �Yes, fate can sometimes be convenient.�

            �But not always.�

            She laughed falsely, as though he had told the funniest joke of the day. �Do you like philosophy, Mr. Jacks?�

            �Not any more. I used to be an idealist, now I�m a na�ve realist � they don�t care for philosophy. How about you?�

            �Oh, it�s all too deep for me. I prefer novels.�

            �Good, so do I.�

            Two middle aged, straight-backed men entered and bowed towards them. �Guten Tag,� Frau Marie called to them and waved. Gradually the restaurant was filling up. Jacks was served his gr�ne Sosse and another glass of wine.

            �Actually, the Germans were very big in philosophy,� Jacks said, �until Marx at least.�   

            She said nothing, not liking this direction.

            �Marx just about finished off German philosophy, except possibly for Rudolf Steiner, ever hear of him?�

            She thought a moment, then: �Yes, my father mentioned him occasionally.�

            �Oh? Is your father an anthroposophist?�

            �My father died years ago,� she said. �I don�t know if he was an anthroposophist. I don�t think so.�

            �There�s a Rudolf Steiner Schule right here in Florida. Did you know that?�

            �Yes,� � she hesitated a moment � �my daughter goes there.�

            �I see,� Jacks said calmly enough. �I see.�

            �Do you have any children, Mr. Jacks?�


�How do you know about the school then?�

            �A friend�s kid goes there.�

            �Oh? What�s his name? Maybe I know your friend.�

            �I don�t think so.�       

�You�re not married then?�

            �No. Please don�t let me keep you from your duties, Frau Marie,� with ironic emphasis on her current name.

            �Yes, I really must go now. We have excellent Schwarzwaldtorte for dessert.�

            �Home made?�

            �Yes�but not by me.�

            �In that case I�ll pass. Could you just send the bill, please?�

            �Mr. Hussein has taken care of it.� She stood up. �We could advise you when we have specials, Mr. Jacks, and German delicacies - made by me, if you�ll give me your phone number.�

            Jacks looked up at her and couldn�t help thinking of Ingrid Bergman. He hesitated, stood to be polite, then reached into his wallet and handed her a business card. No home number, yet. He approached her and held out his hand. �I�ll be leaving then.�

            �You haven�t finished your lunch.�

            �Potatoes are filling.� He was holding her hand. �Should I kiss it?� he asked.

            �That would be out of character, wouldn�t it?�

            �Good bye, then.� He turned and walked out before the old waiter could hobble to the door to open it for him. Outside in the heat he felt like fainting, but he walked like a man in hurry down the street intending to go home, shower and think. Hussein�s chauffer was calling him from behind though. He stopped. �Mr. Hussein told me to wait for you, Se�or.�

            �Give him my thanks, but I prefer to walk awhile.�

            �I can wait.�

            �No. Adios.�

            He walked past the street his house was on, circled around the block, making sure he wasn�t being followed, turned back and went home. Once inside, he walked through the living room, ignoring the blinking answering machine, shedding a piece of clothing in each room until he was in the garden in the rear. He gazed into the water in the pool � clear, limpid, uncomplicated, just how he wished his mind could be. As he was about to dive in a breeze arose rippling the water and brushing aside the clarity. He dove naked into the irony. It refreshed him, but didn�t clear his confusion. He called his office and told his secretary that he wasn�t feeling well and wouldn�t be there that afternoon, she should let him no if anything urgent happened.

            �Sorry, Marvin. Do you need anything?�

            �No, Gabriela, I�ll be all right in the morning.� Gabriela would have loved to take a taxi to Florida and tend to her boss at home. Some other time, Jacks thought. Then he went to bed and, to his great surprise, slept like a log.

            At around four the phone rang. �Marvin, a woman called for you and when I told her you weren�t in she asked where she could contact you, that it was urgent,� Gabriela said. �She was really insistent, as though it was a matter of life and death � so finally I said I�d ask you if I could give her your number. Was that all right? She�s going to call back soon.�

            �What�s her name?� Jacks said after his daytime memory returned and wiped out an exciting dream forever.

            �Mar�a Alem�n is what she said.�

            �Did she have an accent?�

            �A little bit, I think.�

            �Give her my number when she calls,� Jacks said. �Thanks, Gabriela.�

            �Okay. You all right, Marvin?�

            �Yes, fine.� He hung up.

            It wasn�t until five-thirty that Gabriela called again. �She didn�t call back, Marvin. I have to go now.�

            �Okay, Gabriela.� He sighed mentally. �See you tomorrow morning. Any other calls?�

            �Nothing that can�t wait.�


Continued in the next issue of SCR

Chapter 1