Carefully Planned Coincidences


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        Carefully Planned Coincidences

                A short story by Samantha Butt

Larry never believed in coincidences. He used to say, "Coincidences are carefully planned events. Sometimes, the event is planned by one or more of the parties involved in the incident. On others, the Great Planner sitting in the heaven meticulously plans the details, thoroughly enjoying the outcome of each twist, as the hapless earthlings awe and wonder. And then there are times when a modest individual plans one part of the event while the Great Planner completes the delicious episode by adding one of His own divine touches."  Like on many other issues, my views on the subject differ significantly from those of Larry.

It is a pity Larry had to die as he got embroiled in a very carefully
planned coincidence. Let me clarify this a little. Larry was my first
husband. He died in a hit-and-run accident. And I happened to meet David, my next husband-to-be, on the same date. The first incidence, albeit a tragic one, had been carefully planned by Jack Nose, for a not too modest a fee from me. And the second delightful coincidence was all providence.

My sister Ethel works for a detective agency. No, no, she isn't a dashing crime fighter or a compulsive investigator. She is a real humble soul who works as a secretary for the agency's boss. She is six years younger than me but has not been careful with her body. Most people think I am her younger sister. Ethel has let her body grow out of proportions and this is (I think) one of the prime reasons why she is still unmarried. I married Larry when I
was only 20, some twelve years ago. Larry was a real go-getter; his only problem was once he went and got it, he did not know what to do with it.   This applied to both his wealth and me. While I was not exactly unhappy with Larry, it had become quite obvious that Larry's first love was his business. He was quite successful and wasn't exactly miserly with his money either, yet that spark went out of our marriage within a few years. While I never
talked to any body about it, I am sure Ethel had a good inkling of the matter.

One day, for lack of a better thing to do, I had gone to see Ethel in her office. While sitting there, I noticed she suddenly became very tense while talking to a caller. She transferred that call to her boss and left her cabin. I took a peep at the phone instrument and for no reason at all just wrote down the phone number of the caller. On her return, and on my prodding, Ethel told me that the caller was a hit man whom the agency occasionally employed to sort out certain unpalatable problems on behalf of certain special clients. She said she was always uncomfortable talking to
him.  She also told me a few other details, but the only one I cared to commit to my memory was that his name was Jack Nose. Now, how is that for a coincidence? My sitting in Ethel's office at the very time when a hit man calls - a hit man who could solve a very long outstanding problem for me.   And, I didn't even have to share the plan with any one - not even Ethel.

Two days later, I called Jack Nose from a public phone, giving the agency's name as reference. He came straight to the point, and having understood my problem, told me to send the photograph, address and other related details of the problem by mail to a post box, along with five hundred pounds in cash. I found his manner to be unduly abrupt and harsh which at least partially explained why Ethel was always uncomfortable talking to him. Any way I did as he had told me to do, carefully ensuring that I leave no fingerprint or any other tell-tale clue that could lead to me at any stage.   Three days later I received a typed note by mail asking me to be away from Park Lane, the swanky area in London where I lived with Larry, on two particular days the following week. It was on the second of the two days that the news of Larry's tragic accident was delivered to me when I was attending a seminar on ways to improve health conditions in Afghanistan, in a town two hundred miles away from London. I am quite proud of my acting
abilities. I took the news with great courage, fainting only for a few
moments for the benefit of all 32 participants at the seminar. Only the Great Planner could have arranged such a wonderful coincidence to ameliorate my pain of losing a husband by ensuring David's presence at the same seminar.  It was such a pleasure meeting David, a wonderfully dashing young man - I may add here; a wonderfully dashing recently widowed young man - at that seminar that I was able to virtually forget my recently acquired widow status.

As the news of my husband's tragic death was conveyed to me, David acted as a true gentleman. He drove me to London, took me to the hospital and was with me till the day police released Larry's body and it was placed in an ornate casket. David, some four years younger than me, forgot all about his own grief and helped me recover from mine. Now isn't that simply wonderful.   But then David is a wonderful person.

Jack Nose must be a careful planner - and careful planners seldom divulge the details of their plans. So I am not very sure how he managed to hit Larry in a fairly busy street with a stolen car and disappear from the scene without leaving any trace. Larry, poor darling, didn't even manage to reach the hospital. He died on the way to the hospital, as I got on the way to a
well-earned (or dare I say, well-bought) freedom and a lot of dough. True to his promise, Jack Nose never contacted me after I had sent the balance of his fee to his post box number. Not till now, that is.

There was just no way police could have connected me to Larry's fatal accident, or in fact suspected any thing at all. For that matter, neither could David Cuthbert who was attending that seminar purely to get over the grief of losing his beloved wife, Cynthia.

While I believe in coincidences, I am not a simple person. I do not to accept any thing at its face value. I used Ethel's private detective agency  to get a detailed report on David's past. And every thing he had ever told me turned out to be true. He was indeed devoted to Cynthia. Cynthia had died of natural causes, some little known disease, aggravated by her drinking
habits. She did not leave any big money for David, nor had she been insured for a large sum, so there was no reason for me to suspect him of any wrongdoing. Unlike Cynthia, Larry Bottoms was far more generous. He left me over a million pounds in cash, plus considerable property. I have been careful, I have not divulged these details to David.

But that was six months ago. Six months is a long time to mourn. I did not consent to sleep with David for the first four months. Even after that I allowed him only an occasional feast of my luscious body. However, for the last two weeks, we have been in the Caribbean, having a ball of a time.  David is such a wonderful lover; he makes me so happy. I have started thinking very seriously about accepting his repeated proposals of marriage.
So what if he is four years younger than me - he loves me without knowing that I have a lot of dough. In fact he paid his half of the cost of this trip to Caribbean. I keep complaining about having to go back to work, and he keeps saying things will work out fine. He is quite optimistic that his small business will pick up soon and in the next few years we could be rich.

We are about to end our holiday in Caribbean. Tomorrow we leave, back to London. I am just sitting in our lovely hotel room. David has gone for a swim alone as I did not feel like going out of the room. He has forgotten his cell phone behind. As the warm Caribbean breeze blows and I soak in its warmth, the cell phone rings. I just pick it up. Somehow, I have a habit of not saying a word till the caller speaks up. The voice on the other side of
the phone was saying, "Jack, are you alright? Has the bitch said yes yet?" I disconnect the phone. I recognize the caller's voice. It was Ethel.

Very slowly, the things begin to sink in. Ethel had always known I was not happy with Larry. She had ensured that Jack Nose's phone number reaches me by leaving her cabin just at the right time. And she told me about Jack Nose's occupation. As Jack Nose arranged for Larry's elimination, they also ensured that I meet a replacement right away. Ethel knew the seminar I was
going to attend, so David Cuthbert was dutifully present when the good bad news reached me. And when I made enquiries about David's credentials, it was Ethel who got a report prepared on his history. What a wonderful series of coincidences!

Now I am beginning to agree with Larry. I think he was absolutely correct in saying that coincidences are carefully planned events. And that, sometimes humble humans plan only a part of the event; the Great Planner adds his own divine twist in the tail to complete the story. Like Ethel's call to David Cuthbert, oh I mean, Jack Nose.