Chapter 40: Fourth part / Chapter 10

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 11

FOURTH PART / CHAPTER 10


Okay, Michael is a stranger to Margeaux. And even after his daughter chose him, he didn’t become more dear to her. She’ll live through his death easily. He didn’t give her children, grandchildren; he didn’t have the so-called ‘common’ achievements.

He organized several trips to China for them. For her mother, to be there was very interesting and exciting, but Nicole was bored for weeks. She didn’t know how to fly away from China as quickly as possible. Maybe she’ll remember him for this at least.

That afternoon, after sleeping for several hours, Margeaux went to the store and bought three loaves and milk. And then she wanted to take them to the ward. When she returned, she told Nicole that Margeaux talked to the doctor on duty until she was admitted to intensive care. On the second or third day, they could transfer Michael to the ward.

She had to take back the food, but as soon as he appeared in the ward, her mother would buy something for him. Approaching the closed door of the intensive care unit, she loudly heard the word ‘mother’ uttered by some old man. She asked if it was Michael, but they told her that he fell asleep. That was a different person.

At nine o’clock in the morning, Nicole arrives at the bank she works. She wanted to ask for three months of paid leave. She was allowed because she worked in the bank almost without interruption. Diane becomes temporarily appointed to this job, who until then was only an ordinary risk assessment expert.

“Is he alive?”

“Yes, for now.”

“Let us hope your husband is okay,” Diane told her.

“Thank you for understanding the troubles of other people.”

“You are welcome, Nicole.”

Then she met Oleg. He stopped nearby.

“Sorry, Nicole, we do not know much...”

“Or rather, we are generally unfamiliar.”

“I heard that your husband was in the hospital. I would like to believe that everything will be fine.”

“Thank you, Oleg.” Nicole herself didn’t expect a reaction from this person. It seemed to her that the only topic very important to Oleg was whether you have a bad German accent.

Then she saw Christina. The same one who was raped by her father in adolescence. She was a secretary, such as Simon Macrobi of the French department, and her job was to coordinate the work of the Economic Risk Assessment and the Account Department. Christina cheerfully called her work phone and smiled. Looking at her, Nicole sighed heavily.

She didn’t notice her glance, coordinating some next deal and transferring it to the Account Department. God, Nicole wanted to come up and call her a uniform thief. Even though she understood her story with her father, and often asked Christina for help. She was good in Germany, with both the language and the accents.

She believed that Christina wasn’t doing well. Nicole remembers those two old men; one of them still works at the bank. As a deputy of the department, she had access to documents related to awards. According to them, it followed that someone appointed Christina awards almost every month, and sometimes in a week. And these old people haven’t received a single prize. The so-called victim of incest hasn’t given up any of its premiums to retirees. It’s just disgusting.

It didn’t affect her at all, an incident with the fainting one of the retirees in the office.

But Nicole just breathed heavily and didn’t want to show her anger towards Christina in the office. After all, she often endured and hid everything in herself; so why she must make this day different from another one. Nicole thinks that if she would work in a different company with awards, she avoids her award to some more senior employees.

Not that Christina especially needed that kind of money, she didn’t have a single child, and her mother continued to work. She could have avoided going to a restaurant once, or at least helped someone. But it seems that you won’t get any help from Christina. The fact that she’s a victim of incest doesn’t at all justify her selfishness. As a department deputy, Nicole could have asked for awards at least as often, but she has never done so.

Christina still considered her to be her friend. It wasn’t entirely true: Nicole was enraged by her greed.

* * *

The third day passed. Michael was nevertheless transferred to the ward. Margeaux bought him milk and three loaves. These are what Frenchman and Frenchwomen would give. In Germany, people don’t assume this food independently. (In France, they considered it as flour, bakery product, not a snack).

When she returned home, she told Nicole and Monica the idea of her short conversation with a native German woman who was very surprised at such a gift. Nevertheless, the woman didn’t condemn her, didn’t say that the French in Germany should ‘become Germans.’

On the fourth day, the doctor on duty at the clinic said that there was no point in Michael still being in the hospital. They can pick up or extended for an additional fee. Margeaux advised Nicole to seek outpatient transport companies. After all, Michael now cannot walk. It’s hardly possible to bring him in a car or a bus.

They used a company that provides the cheapest services of this kind. On the fifth day, they take Michael home. He was carried on a stretcher to a wheelchair, then was put in the van that took him to the flat. Nicole was at home with Monica, Margeaux and Bernard took him.

“So, we bring him in.” Some orderly from the company said cheerfully in German. They were already on the doorstep of their house. Monica, along with Nicole, silently watched everything. She supposes that their optimism is a bit of weird, but they work with the transportation of patients. This is, apparently, a common reaction that helps them keep at their job.

First, they were assumed that Bernarda would sit with Monica, not Nicole. But she insisted: more physical strength is needed to help the orderlies. Her grandmother was tighter than herself. Margeaux feared that there would be some problem related to the German language because Nicole speaks it a hundred times better than her mother.

“Calm down, mom. You don’t need a dictionary; there’s no more to say except ‘give me’, ‘go forward’. You don’t need my German help. And if these are diagnoses and more serious conversations, I’m not very familiar with them either.”

“Understood. I’ll take Bernarda; she’s stronger than you. We have more physical strength than translation skills. And you sit with Monica. Today’s a day off, but make sure she has her homework done by next Monday.”

Two orderlies proceeded straight ahead and turned right, placing Michael at the left couch.

“Your grandfather?”

“No, husband and son-in-law, businessman. He has no children, but he has a business.”

“Well, he somehow cheered up!” the orderly also cheerfully said. “I think this is the most important thing.”

After they laid down Michael and left; he began to speak cheerfully in German. Although, if you can call it the word cheerfully. Nicole, even marrying him fictitiously, couldn’t recognize his voice. Michael’s voice was hoarse, and he muttered a bit. More recently, he called some shareholder by phone, saying:

“Flake, I understand everything. They are trying to destroy the Vista holding. But we will do our best. I instruct you to avoid any attempts of our enemies to interfere in the affairs of the holding, wherever they come from.”

In a hoarse, cheerful and nasal tone, Michael thanked everyone who was in front of him—Margeaux, Bernarda, Nicole, Monica. He says goodbye; he reads some speeches about the fact that his time has come or would soon be over, but they must live and continue his business. He told Nicole to contact some Flake and warn about the illness. She had no idea who it was, but perhaps some of the deputies in the Vista holding. She remembered his telephone conversation with him.

Monica stood next to Nicole, the latter whispered:

“Do you understand raucous German?”

“Understand. He’s not a stranger to us. He speaks as if we mean a lot to him.”

Before that, Bernarda and Margeaux turned it over on his side, wiped it with damp cloths. Under the blanket, his skin seemed flabby, his arms and neck reminiscent of a very old tree in the age of two hundred years. Now the three of them were sitting on the next sofa, Bernarda, Monica, Nicole. Michael continued to mumble; he spoke for a long time.

Margeaux went to the grocery store. Nicole addressed Michael in German:

“Who is Flake, Michael? Is he the deputy of Vista?”

“Ja,” he answered in a mumble.

“It’s disgusting,” said Bernarda, who didn’t understand German at all. “He can answer French questions. Why, if he’s sick, we need to communicate with him only in German?”

“Grandma, French’s foreign to him. He may no longer remember it.”

Michael didn’t react in any way to her remarks. It wasn’t entirely clear whether he knew the idea of the conversation.

“I’m going to turn on the French TV channels,” Bernarda said as if she’s gloating. “And there are too many Germans in the flat.”

If he wasn’t the man of flat, she wouldn’t even watch TV here, Nicole thought but didn’t speak.

“Michael, do you trust Flake?”

“Yes. Flake is very good.”

“Who is he?”

“Secretary.”

Weird, her voice appeared inside Nicole. He said that he’s deputy, this position’s much lower.

“Is he a secretary or a deputy?”

“Ja,” Michael said in monosyllables, but it confused Nicole herself even more. She only understood that she should trust him, and they were in a good relationship. Whoever this Flake was, the secretary or the deputy, she should call him.

It seems that, after the illness, Michael becomes somewhat insane. He’ll definitely not get back to business. Perhaps never.

Nicole called Flake from his phone:

“Hallo”, she heard some cheerful tenor.

“This is Nicole Gratte-Schneiga. Michael’s wife. Please specify your position.”

“Flake Kröeger, Deputy General Director at Vista Holding. What happened to Michael, why are you calling?”

“Unfortunately, Michael turned out to be insane. I doubt he will return to business.”

“Heck! Not on time, yes. Is he still alive?”

“Yes, he is alive. But he may not live to see the next new year.”

“What is his disease? Have the doctors already made a diagnosis?”

“Gehirnschlag,” Nicole called the German diagnosis of stroke.

“I remember my father; he died almost immediately. I wonder how he is still alive. What lucky he is. Well, Michael has done a lot for our business.”

“He told me several times, being half-insane, to call some Flake. And so I contacted you.”

“Well, for a start, I’m not some Flake, but one of his best friends and partners. When can I come?”

“You can visit at any time. The truth is, you do not know his last address, he often changed flats after these idiots from the Scenario of the Beauty. I can tell you the address.”

“I will try now, taking into account traffic jams. I will be there in two or three hours, okay?”

“Fine.”

Margeaux and Flake arrived almost at the same time. Flake rang the doorbell while Margeaux was putting food in their refrigerator. When she asked who was calling, Margeaux knew immediately in German that this person could NOT pose a threat.

Flake went to the bed with the man who was his boss.

He drew attention to the two seated women, noting that the other was ten years younger. Monica looked at him outwardly as much as Nicole. She said:

“Good afternoon, have a seat. Mein Namme ist Nicole Gratte or Nicole Gratte-Schneiga. Better use my first name.”

“And who is this woman? His daughter?” Flake adored children, rather he was a father. He praised her, calling her a grown woman.

“This is my half-sister Monica,” Nicole said. “Unfortunately, Michael didn’t have more children, except for Alicia.”

“Guten Tag,” Monica said Good Afternoon in German.

“You are very kind, Monica,” Flake replied in German. Nicole wasn’t sure if she understood the meaning of the answer, but she’s been doing well in German lately.

When Flake entered the room and greeted Michael himself, he became very animated.

“Flake, take control of the Vista,” his voice wheezed. “Do not let them destroy the holding.”

“They will receive a worthy rebuff, and nothing will come of them, I can promise that. When we meet up there, you will still receive a report,” Flake said approvingly, stroking his forehead.

Taking off his jacket, Flake stood in a brown-grey jacket that was made of some factory fabric. Instead of a tie and shirt, he had some black jacket. Nicole thought of him: Typical German. Unlike, for example, the British, he didn’t come in a tuxedo. Looks like, he works in these clothes. He seemed to be of middle age: not old, not young, but certainly younger than Michael himself. The slightly rounded glasses, which he took off, complemented his image, making him a little older.

At first, he was an ordinary accountant, then he was promoted to his secretary, and then he became a deputy. For the last few years, he remained a deputy, but some of the initiatives began to come from him. In times of crisis, for example, when Michael had misunderstandings with his daughter, he several times took over the management of the holding completely, but temporarily.

“Flake, do you mind if we continue the conversation elsewhere? I think Michael requires a well-deserved rest, and we are here loudly discussing your position in the holding.”

“I don’t mind.”

“Monica, if he asks, give him water, but slowly and carefully. You know, his breath wheezes even when he’s silent,” Nicole said in French. “Be careful not to suffocate.”

“Of course.”

“Let me guess, you are probably Italians?”

“No, we are from France. But I also lived with an Italian husband, although I do not speak his language.”

She was not surprised by this comparison. When Nicole began to live in Germany, they confused her several times and think that she’s an Italian if she spoke something in French, if they asked her again. Presumably, this is facilitated by some common words that are the same in both languages.

Nicole wondered whether to tell Flake the truth. He could have just brought her to justice or greatly complicate her life for the admission that she was hired to destroy the Vista holding, and that she worked as Michael’s wife rather than in fact was her. Often they refused to communicate with her if they just learned these facts. But he seemed so simple-minded, even too much, that she once again took a chance.

The eyebrows on Flake’s face rose, then dropped immediately, and he said:

“Yes. You are not proud of your work, of course, if this is the true confession.”

“I swear. I do not like humour; I seldom make jokes.”

“Good. First, tell me how much you were paid. You say that you work as Michael’s wife. Did you get paid for a mock marriage?”

“We are paid for the result. Nobody paid me anything for marriage. Remember, you had such a tobacco company Zurück in the Vista holding? I convinced Michael to sell it. She said that the daughters-sons of Scenario of the Beauty were in there, but it was a trick. Just a loss-making company. A person from France calls me, coordinating my actions. He wanted Michael to sell company after company, but I convinced him to sell only Zurück. He paid me for the disappearance of this company from his assets.”

“Why are you helping me?”

“Sooner or later, they will learn about the disease of Michael. I do not know, however, how many people are involved in this. As well as where exactly they are in Vista. They are carefully working against you. I do not want them to carry out their plans; I want you to win. I think that if I help you, I can protect myself.”

“From what? Are you a Catholic?”

“This question is not limited to religion, Flake. This is organized crime. I had two flats in France from my former parents. In one lived Bernarda’s grandmother and in the second all the rest of us, including Monica. On May 9, 2005, someone turned on the gas in my mother’s flat. The house collapsed along with all its neighbours, as if after a mortar attack. And even on the anniversary of the surrender of the Nazis. What is an insult! Somewhere in July, Bernarda’s flat was blown up. They made it clear to me that if I did not follow their orders, they would kill me. If we can find out and identify these people, at least, secure the company, then this is the only way to protect me.”

“Well. It looks like you are on our side, although you were Michael’s fictitious wife.”

“It does not matter anymore.”


Submitted: September 25, 2020

© Copyright 2020 RomanBoukreev. All rights reserved.

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