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Grijpstra nodded pleasantly. "You could also have burned it, or flushed it down the toilet."

"I'm not a chemist. Perhaps cocaine explodes when it bums. Perhaps it does not dissolve easily. I did not want to clog up the hotel plumbing. I thought I was doing the right thing, but you interfered."

Grijpstra got up. "Fine. I will now take you back to your cell."

Muller got up too. "I want some cigarettes and matches."

"But of course. We will get them from the machine on our way to the cell block. By the way, Herr Muller, there's another charge against you. You resisted arrest and attacked an officer. You hurt her knee."

Muller smiled triumphantly.

"This way," Grijpstra said.

He came back a few minutes later, sat down, and dialed.

"No," a female voice said, "the teletyper is in use by your chief."

"My chief is at home."

"He's here."

"Here? Doing what?" Grijpstra looked at his watch. "It's two in the morning."

"He's using the teletyper."

Grijpstra looked at the telephone.

"Will that be all, adjutant?"

"No. Get me the Hamburg Police Headquarters, Inspector Wingel, drugs department. He won't be there, but they'll know where to find him. I'll wait here for his call."

"I don't speak German," the girl said.

"Then just get me the number."

It took twenty minutes before Wingel was on the phone. His voice sounded sleepy but became clipped when he understood what he was told. "Yes," he said. "Yes."

Grijpstra yawned. "I thought you might be interested."

"I am. I'll be right over."


"There. I'll leave now and bring a colleague. There won't be much traffic. We'll be there in three hours."

"Very well," Grijpstra said. "I'll wait for you." He let the telephone drop back on its hook. He yawned again. He picked up the phone again.

"Who is the commissaris talking to? Not to the German police, is he?"

"No, adjutant. To Colombia. It took us forever to make the connection. He's got himself set up in the other office. He's been there for more than an hour; he's speaking to our embassy out there."

Five minutes later the adjutant was asleep, his head against the wall, his feet on his desk. The remnants of a grin eased his face and he burbled placidly through pursed lips. De Gier was asleep, too, at the edge of his bed to give room to Tabriz who had stretched herself on a wet towel. She had come in late and nudged Asta's body aside patiently, pushing the girl with her nose and soft paws. Even Muller was asleep, snoring heavily while he fought shapeless fiends that tore at his lies. Boronski was dead, more dead than when the detectives observed his stiffening features. Perhaps his spirit was about, but the attendant Jacobs no longer cared. He had built his transparent insubstantial egg and sat within it, peacefully puffing on his battered pipe, studying a Hebrew text through his little round glasses.

Only the commissaris was awake, waiting for the teletyper to rattle again and reading through a stack of paper with torn edges that recorded his conversation so far.


The commissaris had gone home that afternoon and limped up the cracked cement steps to be embraced by his wife, stripped out of his clothes, and lowered into a hot bath. In his bath he was without pain, for his rheumatism was eased by the steam and the swirl of minute soapy waves, as well as the coffee, and the cigar that his wife brought and lit ceremoniously, before placing it carefully between his lips. She hovered about while he read the paper, skipping over the headlines and the editorial and concentrating on two items. Astronomers, an article tucked away into the far corner of an inside page told him, had discovered a new galaxy; it was about the size of the Milky Way and would, therefore, contain the same number of planets that were the size of the earth, at about the same distance from their suns, at more or less the same state of development; approximately a million. The commissaris chuckled. The other item informed 190 him that a Gypsy child on the outskirts of the city died that morning. She had, somehow, fallen into burning rubbish. The identity of the child had not been established; she was about three years old.

"A new galaxy," the commissaris said to his wife. "At three billion inhabitants each, multiplied by one million. How much would that be?"

"I don't know, dear."

"Would their suffering add up to the fear and pain of one child?"

His wife did not hear him, she was letting a little more hot water into the bath. "Are you comfortable, dear?"


"Afterward you should have a nap."

He slept, first thinking, then dreaming about Boronski. After a while, he was conscious of waking up but resisted and slipped into no man's land where everything is instantaneously possible and solutions rise up like bubbles, each holding a complete picture.

He dressed and left. His wife accompanied him to the front door.

"You won't work, will you?"

"A little."

"In your office?"

"Oh yes."

His sleek Citroen was respectfully greeted by the old constable in charge of the large courtyard behind Headquarters. He reacted by lifting a finger. He didn't see the old man, he didn't see anybody in the corridors either. In the teletype room he asked to be connected to the Dutch embassy in Bogota, Colombia. After a good while the machine came to life. He heard the staccato of the keys, saw the words form.

"Please go ahead."

He gave his name and rank and asked for the ambassador.

"He's lunching."

"This is urgent. Please find him."

"It'll take time. He's not in the building. There are some festivities. Perhaps later in the afternoon…"

"It's late evening here, the matter cannot wait"

"Yes sir. You'll hear from us."

The commissaris returned to his room and brought out his projector. He unrolled the screen and closed the curtains. He sat and gazed at the slide showing Boronski and the unknown woman. The telephone rang two hours later; he was asked to return to the teletype room.

"This is the ambassador."

"Do you know a man by the name of Jim Boronski?"


"He died here in Amsterdam yesterday. There are some complications. Please describe the man to me, not his body, his mind, please."

The machine hummed. A minute passed.

"Are you there?"

"Yes," the machine wrote, "but remember that I'm a diplomat. I've also consumed a fair quantity of alcohol. This is not the time to make an official statement that is recorded at your and my end."

"Are you dictating this message?"

"I am."

"Can you handle the teletyper yourself?"

"I suppose so."

"Please make direct contact with me. I will ask the lady who's assisting me to leave this room and will write myself. Afterward I will destroy the messages."

The commissaris nodded at the female constable sitting next to him. She got up and left the room.

The machine hesitated. "This is…"

"Go ahead."

"The ambassador. Are you alone?"

"I am."

"What's your age?"


"What is your job?"

"Chief of the murder brigade."

"Will you give me some private advice?"

The commissaris sat back. He reread the sentence, then reached for the keys. "Yes."

"I'm in personal trouble. I'm also drunk. The lunch was heavy. I need advice; do I have your word of honor that this correspondence will be destroyed?"


"I'm fifty years old. I'm partly homosexual. I'm married and have children, not yet grown up. My family does not know about my sexual inclinations. I appear to be normal."

"Homosexuality is not abnormal," the commissaris typed slowly.

"So I hear. I don't believe it. I'm ashamed. You understand?"