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Copyright  2003 James J. Belcher.  All Rights Reserved. 

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Alex, Heaven and Hell

 

  Chapter 4

Five minutes would make or break the whole plan.  It was the only thing illegal in the whole operation and the only surprises would be the pleasant types, if things went smoothly during that five minutes of breaking and entering.

I wore the same outfit as for my first appointment.  I wanted to look like I belonged.  I once had a private investigator show me how to pick a lock, and generally it's easy with cheap locks, like the one on the rear door of the doctor's office.  I guess the doctor depended on the monitored burglar alarm, but even the best system doesn't help if it's not turned on.  And I strolled up to the back door right after noon, just after I had driven past the obviously vacant office five minutes before and parked down the street.

Nothing to it.  The lock was picked so quickly that a bystander probably would think I used a key, and there were no bystanders I saw.  The doctor's private office door was unlocked just as before and the computer system was left on.  No password needed.  I wore gloves and walked in, pulled out the keyboard and mouse and clicked the icon for the E-mail service.  First, I checked the computer address book for the sheik's listing it was exactly as Ernie told me.  Now to work: "Create Mail" was one click; I typed in the E-mail address of the sheik up top and the subject in the appropriate box, "Special Request".  The body was succinct: "Dear Mo: I trust you are still in robust health.  An unusual matter has come up and I need a favor from you.  I'll be communicating from my personal address, which is FontaineMCMD@hotmail.com.  Please don't try communicating with me directly, because it involves something neither my office staff nor my wife should know.  Sincerely, Mark Fontaine."

I had it all written down so I only had to copy.  I checked it twice and pushed "Send" via another mouse-click.  I deleted the copy from "Sent Messages" and then deleted it from "Recycle Bin".  Except for internal data the good doctor would never see, the computer was clean.  I was careful to shut the doc's private office door and to lock behind myself when I left.  No burglar alarm went off, nothing would come up on the screen.  I even went to the trouble to send a blind copy to the hotmail address.  When I got home, I could confirm at least one copy had reached its destination.

All downhill, that's the way I saw it.  From now on, I was the doctor who saved a man's life; my "little" requested favor would be granted and I would be on my way to heaven on earth.  That's what perfect crime is all about the victim doesn't even suspect a crime and never will.

I could hardly wait to send the other message.  It was all I could do to control myself and wait until it seemed like a time that the doctor could slip into a public Internet cafe and use his hotmail address.  My carefully composed disk contained a Word file.  "Dear Mo, I hope this explains my request and you'll find it possible to grant it.  Warmest personal regards, Mark Fontaine."  The attachment to the E-mail was the story.

It was a sob story that made a certain amount of sense:

March 5, 2003

Dear Mo:

            I'm writing you in behalf of my half-brother, Alex Fortesque, who recently separated from his wife due to her infidelity.  Alex is 35, in good health, and generally an intelligent, even sophisticated, man regarding most matters.

            He is very depressed and he seems to feel his life is that of an utter failure regarding women.  It seems "the other man" is "the other woman" and it's more than his system can tolerate.  While I'm a physician, I'm skeptical as to the benefits of psychotherapy in cases like this.  Alex needs a really good dose of physical sex to feel himself again.

            I know that you are concerned for the welfare of the many female members of your staff and you even muttered a bit about my admonition against excessive sexual relations.  While that's the correct diagnosis and prescription in your case, Alex is on the other side of the fence.

            I understand you're having an "exile" area built for those women who cannot remain with you on an ongoing basis, so I wondered if Alex could come over and therapeutically rehabilitate himself from a sexual standpoint.  I'd pay for his ticket so there would be no records that would be public.

            I'm using a public Internet cafe; my wife Janet wouldn't understand my request and I certainly don't want Amanda in my office to blab things around the hospital and medical community, especially my disdain for the psychiatric profession.

            When would be a good date?  Where would he go?  What should he do?

Sincerely,

Mark Fontaine 

         Except it was the doctor's signature!  After all, he gave me a script for the blood tests.  A little computer magic and it was now at the bottom of a letter, except in blue ink, and as if were from a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck.  I loved adding that little extra authenticity, courtesy of Ernie.  It was 2 a.m. in Qatar, and I would bet my life that things would be golden by the end of their workday.

          His answer was to the point, sent by E-mail that I collected the next morning:

My eminent physician, 

Consider that it would be my complete privilege to assist you.  Things are already in preparation.  Let's just pray that his heart is entirely healthy and ready. 

Have Alex confirm a flight schedule from Cleveland (he is from your city also, I presume) New York London Victoria (Seychelles).  Let me know this, and most importantly, the arrival time in Victoria.  There's a shuttle to Praslin, the island where our facility is located.  Its construction should be complete by April 15th.  He can book tickets based on that day or later.     

Praise to Allah,

Mohammed Fattah El-Aziz Faisal 

          I hopped onto the Internet for more data.  Praslin turned out to be the second biggest island in the Seychelles group, one of the granite ones, mountainous and with jungle vegetation.  It was a fifteen-minute shuttle jumper hop from Victoria.  There were twenty flights a day, ten to and ten from.  Routing would be a piece of cake.   

           I immediately arranged my plans with Air Seychelles and the connecting airlines, open return.  My scheduled departure date from Cleveland was 10:30 p.m., Thursday, April 17th.  With layovers and flight time, I'd be leaving London in mid-afternoon of the next day.  I advised the sheik.  His reply:

My eminent physician, 

We await Alex's arrival in Victoria on Air Seychelles flight 451, leaving from London on April 18th.  Have him prepare for a weeklong delightful but enervating experience. 

Praise to Allah,

Mohammed Fattah El-Aziz Faisal 

           I accordingly arranged a return date, to take advantage of a better airfare.  I was therefore stunned by the unexpected further E-mail that followed five days later:

My eminent physician, 

Construction on the Praslin facility has been delayed, due to some matters involving the air conditioning.   However, it should now be ready by May 15th, and make that a two-week experience he won't forget.

Praise to Allah,

Mohammed Fattah El-Aziz Faisal 

         Two weeks!  I gladly paid the $30 rescheduling charge for the change of return date, although the extra month wait would be tough.  I would be leaving on May 18th; I notified the sheik by E-mail.

         Neither one of Pavlov's dogs nor I could have drooled any more over expectations.  I had a plan.  Trouble was, someone else did too.  His plan involved murder and I was to be his victim, and his plan involved far more than a mere murder.

          Nine thousand miles away, it was late at night in Doha, Qatar.  A man was writing slowly, considering his words.   

         From the personal diary of Mohammed Fattah El-Aziz Faisal: 

            Thursday, 7 March - 

                Alex You are so self-indulgent you give hedonists a bad name.  They call it poetic justice.