ENCHANTÉ – THE HELIPHONE, PART II


Sitting cramped in my window seat, I wondered why the moon had this mocking smile on his face. My heliphone didn’t ring. Maybe because of secret regulations between Heaven and air traffic control? I still didn’t know the whereabouts of Anita’s husband’s prison.  Stumbling through customs on arrival at dawn,  a voice told me that the cab driver would know. “Oslo fengsel,” he confirmed. After going through town, he turned into a long driveway lined by leafless trees and snow-covered grounds, ending at a red-stone somber building. “You wait,” I said and went in. The guards watched me, quizzically. I was dressed as a priest, my faith-inspiring white collar shining trustingly behind the white scarf around my neck. I didn’t speak a word of Norwegian but had many times mumbled Anita’s husband’s name, Wilhelm Lassen, that bloody Viking who’d trounced me with Anita.

I sat in the bare visiting room when Wilhelm Lassen entered, took the only other seat, his face one question mark. I gazed at his hands. As I’d suspected, he didn’t wear rings in prison. I hoped he spoke a bit of English.

“My name’s Father John,” I said. “I’m bringing you a final word from Anita.”

The man’s face grew grey, his lips tightened, his eyes squinted.  “Anita is dead,” he said with a rolling accent. “I did not do nothing. She suffered shortage of breath. Who are you?”

“Her confessor when she lived with you in Geneva. She left this small package to hand you in case she’d die before you.” I pulled a blue jewelry box from my pocket and handed it to him. In it was a golden ring I’d dipped with a tweezer into a small base with liquid cyanide in the airplane toilet a short while before landing. A friend at a chemical factory had given me the deadly stuff, believing I’d use it to kill persistent mice in my basement. If Wilhelm would slide the ring on his finger, his skin would absorb the cyanide and death would follow soon.

Wilhelm opened the box and stared at it. “My wedding ring?” he asked. “I thought I’d lost it. Rar,” (‘strange’) he muttered. Then he shifted it onto his ring finger, looking sad.

The guard came in and warned me my time was up. I stood, said farewell to Wilhelm, and left as fast as I could. The cab driver took me rapidly to the airport, and I grabbed the first flight out to Amsterdam to erase my footsteps, hopefully having left pandemonium at the Oslo fensel. In Amsterdam, I got the last seat in a crowded United flight to Washington, mission accomplished, I reckoned.

Back home at night, the heliphone rang. It was Anita.

“Thank you, Johnnyboy. He’s nicely burning in Hell, screaming his lungs out.”

“But won’t I be punished?”

“No, you’ll be rewarded in Heaven when you get here in a while. Can’t wait.” Her heavenly voice drifted away.

“Crime pays in the afterlife,” I whispered and fell asleep, uncomfortable about Anita’s eagerness. Wilhelm’s death was reported as a suicide.

 

 

 

 

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