فصل 14

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فصل 14

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

A New Man

I left my office and drove to the Magic Movie Productions studios. I asked for Mr Frank’s office at Gate Four and was sent to a large administration building. I waited, and after ten minutes, I was taken to Mr Frank’s office. I had expected to talk to a secretary, but I was taken in to see Mr Frank himself.

Homer Frank was a tall, bald man with a neat grey beard. He walked round his huge desk to shake my hand.

‘Make yourself comfortable,’ he said pointing to some leather armchairs in one corner of the enormous office. ‘I wanted to see you myself before you left for Istanbul. Your air ticket and Rik’s instructions are in this.’

He handed me a long, thin brown envelope.

‘I hope that Rik has told you how important it is for this studio that nobody hurts Gail. Death Behind the Door is going to be a blockbuster and nothing must stop us finishing it. And it’s important that Gail shouldn’t know anything about the threats. She would worry and that would upset her. Then she wouldn’t act well.’

‘I think she’s already worried,’ I replied, and I told Mr Frank about the attack on Gail in the Recoleta Cemetery.

‘Yes, I know about that,’ the studio boss replied. ‘Rik called me soon after it happened. And before that, there was Josie’s accident.’

‘Yeah! Josie’s accident! There’s one thing I wanted to ask you, Mr Frank,’ I said. ‘Rik told me that you had received the death threats against Gail by email.’

That’s correct,’ Frank said.

‘I don’t know a lot about computers,’ I went on. ‘But isn’t the address of the sender usually given on an e-mail message? Where did the messages come from?

Homer Frank looked out of the window as he answered. ‘I don’t know,’ he replied quickly. ‘When I switched on my computer, the messages were waiting for me. But there was no sender’s address.’

‘Could I see the messages? There might be some clues in them,’ I said.

Frank shook his head. ‘No, I’m afraid I deleted the messages after I read them.’

Just then, a secretary came into the room. ‘Excuse me, Mr Frank,’ he said, ‘but there’s an urgent phone call for you.’

‘Who is it?’ Frank asked.

‘The caller wouldn’t give his name. It’s a man, and he says he’s a friend of Vincent,’ the secretary replied. Then he left the room.

Homer Frank’s face suddenly looked much older. He walked across to his desk and picked up a red phone. Then he sat on the desk with his back towards me. It was a short phone call. Frank said ‘yes’ three times and ‘no’ twice. Then he put the phone down and sat still and silent. After a minute, he got up and walked back to the corner where I was sitting.

‘You’ll have to excuse me, Samuel,’ he said abruptly. ‘There’s some urgent work which I must do. Go to Istanbul and make sure that nothing bad happens to Gail.’

I left the administration building and got into my Chrysler. I sat and thought for a while before looking in the envelope I had in my hand. My conversation with Homer Frank had been a waste of time, but I still had a job to do. And something was wrong about those e-mail messages. Had Frank really received them? Had he lied about them? And who was the friend of Vincent whose phone call had upset Frank so badly?

Finally, I opened the envelope. It contained an American Airlines ticket to New York and a Turkish Airlines ticket from New York to Istanbul. The American Airlines flight was going to leave at nine o’clock that night! I looked at my watch. It was nearly five o’clock. I drove quickly back to my apartment, packed my bag, and took a cab to L.A. International Airport.

Soon, I was sitting in the departure lounge, reading Rik’s instructions.

On arrival at Ataturk Airport, take a cab to the Swissotel. Rooms for the whole movie crew have been booked there. We will all arrive the next day on a direct flight from Buenos Aires. At the Swissotel, contact Julie Grant, the make-up artist, and Steve Tovich, from the costume department. They know what to do. The plane tickets are in your name, but your hotel room is booked in the name of Alan Davies. That will be your name in Istanbul.

I caught the Turkish Airlines flight in New York, and I enjoyed my first Turkish meal as we flew over the Atlantic. I hadn’t visited Europe for ten years, and this was going to be my first visit to Turkey. I was looking forward to exploring Istanbul, and I read a guidebook during the flight to prepare myself.

There were long lines of passengers at the Immigration desks when we landed at Ataturk Airport. Several planes must have landed at the same time, and it took me an hour to reach a polite immigration official, who quickly put a stamp in my passport.

After that bad start, everything got better and better. It was late afternoon and the weather was very warm. The cab driver who took me to the hotel was friendly, and he pointed out the sights on the way.

The Swissotel was amazing. It was a huge building with wonderful views over the Bosphorus - the channel which divides Europe from Asia. The water was full of ships and boats of all kinds.

I checked in and found a message from Julie Grant waiting for me.

You must be very tired. Get a good night’s sleep and call me in the morning. I’m in room 1012.

‘Good advice!’ I thought.

I had a shower, and then a fine dinner in a splendid dining-room. My table was near one of the huge windows. Night was falling, and the Bosphorus was covered with little moving points of light. It was very beautiful.

After dinner, I went for a walk in the hotel grounds. But at ten o’clock, I was ready for bed.

I slept for twelve hours, and when I woke, I was a new man. Alter breakfast, I called room 1012.

Julie Grant and Steve Tovich came to see me in my room almost immediately. Julie had a box containing make-up and Steve was carrying a bag of clothes.

‘I don’t know how you’re going to do this,’ I said as Julie opened her box. ‘Brent is five years younger than me, and at least twenty kilos heavier!’

‘Also he’s got blue eyes and short straight blond hair,’ Julie replied. ‘No problem. Just relax, and you’ll soon see what we can do.’

‘But the make-up isn’t just for a scene in the movie,’ I went on nervously. ‘I’m going to have to look like Brent for several days, because I mustn’t look like me!’

‘Relax!’ Steve said. ‘There’s no problem.’

So I relaxed. First of all Julie washed my hair. Then she bleached it and dyed it, so that it looked blond. Next, she cut it in Brent’s style. After that, she changed the shape of my eyebrows and put a pair of blue contact lenses into my eyes. Lastly, she put a layer of latex’ on the lower part of my face, to make it look wider.

‘You can have a shower and wash your hair without changing any of this,’ Julie said. Then she started to work with brushes and paints to make my face look like Brent’s.

After Julie had finished, it was Steve’s turn. He fastened some padding around my chest to make my body look fatter, then he took some clothes out of his bag. They were the kind of clothes Brent wore, he told me. There were lots of them. I put some of them on.

‘Amazing!’ I said as I looked in the mirror. Both Julie and Steve clapped their hands and smiled.

‘Now,’ Julie said as they were getting ready to leave, ‘the flight from Buenos Aires arrives later this afternoon. I suggest that you spend the next few hours getting used to your “new self”. Here’s a video containing scenes from some of Brent’s movies. Watch it, then try to move and talk like him.’

They left, and I looked at myself in the mirror. I was Brent Foster. It was incredible!

At four o’clock, the phone rang. It was Gail Lane.

‘Lenny, I’m in the hotel. And I’ve had another message!’ she said.

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