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Grijpstra looked and nodded. Righteous power was closing in; Frits Fortune's movements became restricted by the sergeant's and Karate's strategy. The crutch still swung but it had lost both strength and direction. The sight didn't thrill the adjutant. He averted his gaze and admired the geese again. The birds, ungainly as they climbed a board attached to a houseboat, were being fed by a holy-looking old man. Grijpstra no longer concentrated; his mind reverted to duty. He visualized a report and phrased the essential statement: While removing all household goods.

"Mrs. Fortune didn't leave a note?"

"Nothing. She leaves space."

"Nobody saw a van?"

"Nobody. Poor Frits goes about asking, but it's busy here during the day, there's always a van somewhere. Nobody notices. He phones his relatives, everybody he knows. Me too, but I am out most of that day."

"Grijpstra!" shouted de Gier.


Fortune was pushed up by the sergeant and Karate. Grijpstra left his cart and received the suspect. Ketchup drove the patrol car alongside. The crowd approached and was restrained by other policemen pouring out of a minibus. Frits Fortune, relieved at being on dry ground again and encouraged by friendly faces in the crowd, whacked Ketchup on his cap. The crowd howled and Grijpstra joined his colleagues and addressed the hostile civilians lovingly, benevolently, touching softly.

"You're fuzz too!" the old woman shrieked.

"Yes ma'm."

"Take care of poor Frits."

"We will," Ketchup said. "We'll bounce him up and down in the drunks' cell and he can roll in his own filth all night. And if he doesn't call us 'sir' tomorrow, we'll have him for a little while longer."

Grijpstra put an arm around Ketchup's shoulders and walked him away.


"Beg pardon, adjutant."

"I say you're a monkeyface. You shouldn't be throwing invalids into the canal. And you shouldn't be fighting in pubs. When there's pub trouble, you should stay in the open door and wait till it calms down, and then you should go in. Don't you learn that at school anymore?"

"Yes, adjutant, but tonight it was different. Karate was a bit nervous and so was I. We wanted to take care of it quickly."

"You didn't. You aggravated and provoked. Ill be mentioning the matter. I'm telling you now so that you know what's ahead."

"Yes, adjutant."

"Take care of poor Frits."

"Yes, adjutant."

De Gier had dressed. "Strange suspect, you know. Blew bubbles. Like bubble gum, but it wasn't."

"The man was disturbed." Grijpstra passed on his information.

De Gier listened while he dried his hair with his scarf. "Yes? Doesn't sound right to me."

"Doesn't sound right at all," Grijpstra said, "but they can explain it in the cafe, and pour us a drink meanwhile."

De Gier shook his scarf.

"I don't want to drink, I want to smoke."

"They'll have nicotine."

"Like in cigarettes?"

"Of course, and like in shag tobacco, and like in cigars."

"But I stopped smoking."

Grijpstra entered the pub. De Gier stood and watched a cyclist. The cyclist was a slender but hairy gentleman dressed in a three-piece summer suit complete with an old-fashioned felt hat. The cycle was new but a bent pedal touched the metal chain guard, clanging monotonously. Ducks, awakened by the melancholy repetitive sounds, quacked sleepily. The two red-beaked geese honked briefly. The old man who had been feeding them cleared his throat sadly. A shiny Mercedes, parked in front of the Hotel Oberon which occupied the five finest gable houses on the other side of the canal, emitted a fat man.

Grijpstra came out of the pub again and grabbed the sergeant by the arm, turned him round, and pushed him to the pub.

"I read it somewhere," Grijpstra said, "in a book that gives examples of correct reports, based on true cases: A gentleman lost his temper because his wife annoyed him. He picked up a vase and broke it on her head, killing her. The body rolled on the carpet and bled profusely. The gentleman rolled the body into the carpet and dug a large hole in his garden. He dropped the bundle into the hole, covered it up with earth, and stated: 'My wife has left me, I don't know where she went.'"

"Yes," de Gier said, "and in that way he hid both body and the traces of his crime. I remember the report, but it only mentioned a carpet, not everything that goes into a house. This case is different."

"Every case is different, principles are often identical."


"We're closed," the barman said. He was dressed in bib overalls made out of imitation silk. Downy hair flowed over the bib. His profile was Greek and divine but no longer young.


The barman read the two plastic-coated identity cards and noted the stamps, the photographs, and the diagonal red, white, and blue stripes. He put them on the counter and moved his thumb so that they slid toward a short elderly man who was sitting at the bar. "More of the same, Bony."

The man studied the cards and returned them to the detectives. He felt his stomach bulging under a leather waistcoat, pulled his curly sideburns, and smiled convincingly.

"Drinks on the house, gentlemen. My name is Borry Beelema. I own this establishment, and my hair salon across the water is at your service should you wish to look better than you do now. Titania, ask my friends what they would have."

A young woman presented herself behind the bar.

"Titania?" asked Grijpstra.

"Titania, at your service. What would our guests like to imbibe? A triple whisky with a drop of cognac? Ice and whipped cream? A gilded straw? Please state your desires."

Grijpstra's lips twisted.

"Not that sort of desire," the girl said primly.

"Two jenevers, miss."

Grijpstra turned to de Gier. The sergeant offered no support. He wasn't looking at Titania but at the half-revealed upper part of a young lady on a poster. Grijpstra corrected his observation. De Gier was looking at the young lady's hand. The hand held a cigarette.

De Gier cursed.

"Beg pardon?"

De Gier smiled brightly. '"Nothing, adjutant. I was thinking. Please proceed." * The ranks of the Dutch municipal police are constable, constable first class, sergeant, adjutant, inspector, chief inspector, commissaris, and chief constable.


"I regret that I have to state that the tradition of the police, born in a noble past, stretching to an enlightened future, does not allow…"

"Yes," Sergeant Jurriaans said softly.

"… for a shoddy present. Two of your men, dressed in the Queen's uniform, disgraced the force last night I'm here to complain."

"So I gather."

The two men leaned toward each other across a worn counter in the front office of the police station in the inner city. Grijpstra wore his usual crumpled three-piece pinstripe that now contrasted sadly with Sergeant Jurriaans's impeccable uniform. Grijpstra sighed and prepared to match the power of this tall and wide-shouldered colleague and to withstand the steady gaze directed at him from a heavily lined face under a wealth of cropped orange hair.

"Would you like some coffee?" a female constable 24 asked. Grijpstra now sighed with pleasure. He noted that the young constable was well shaped and looked back at him through unusually large and sparkling blue eyes. She was small and slender, but her breasts seemed to exert considerable pressure against the stiff material of her jacket. The intensity of her eyes disconcerted him, however, and he faced the sergeant again. The sergeant was rubbing his face. The stiff hairs on the back of his hand reminded Grijpstra of carrot scrapings.