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"I'll have another drink," the commissaris said, holding up his glass. "I see. These are modern times indeed. Not only do you spend the night with a lover, you're telling us about it."

"He didn't love me, sir. My knee still hurt. I didn't want to go home. My landlady doesn't approve of latecomers and I don't have a key for the night lock. There was no choice."

The commissaris offered de Gier a match. "Sergeant?" "Yes sir. Thank you, sir."

"You'll never learn, will you? Is there a happy end to the tale?"

"Yes sir. She made me get up and take the mouse down to the park. It wasn't hurt. Tabriz couldn't go to sleep after that; she rattled about in the kitchen. Kept me awake."

The meal was served and the commissaris was the first to finish his plate. He sat back and lit a cigar. "The chief constable was right, this is an excellent place to have lunch. Now then, I must congratulate you three on the arrest of Miiller. I would like to hear the details. Tell me, adjutant, but eat your potato first."

Grijpstra reported. The salt cellar became Miiller, a toothpick was Asta, the Black Jackets turned into two black olives, de Gier was a small cigar, and Grijpstra himself the pepper shaker.

"No," the commissaris said, "you mean to say that you mugged the robbers?"

"There was no other way, sir. We had to keep them away from Asta. We couldn't arrest them because they hadn't done anything yet. If we'd merely stopped them, they might have shouted or interfered with Mtiller's arrest in some other way."

The commissaris pushed his spectacles to his forehead. He picked up the olives and ate them, then he chuckled. "Hee hee, Grijpstra."

"I'm sorry, sir, but we did a good thing; the parson got his money back."

"Hee hee." The commissaris laughed helplessly. Two tears streamed down his cheeks. He wiped them away with his handkerchief. "How silly, Grijpstra, how apt. What splendid fellows you two sometimes are."

"And MiUler confessed, sir," de Gier said. "We got his statement this morning in German. Inspector Wingel gave it to us, signed and witnessed by himself and his assistant."

The commissaris was serious again; he blew on bis spectacles and wiped them carefully. "Yes? I thought Mttller wasn't too cooperative after the arrest."

"He wasn't," Grijpstra said, "but he weakened when the German inspector woke him up somewhat roughly, sir. They had him for two hours after that."

"Were you there?"

"No sir, I waited in my office. They interrogated him in a room on another floor. It was five in the morning then and there wasn't anybody in the building, except the staff of the radio room. I thought I heard Miiller scream a few times. When I saw him again, there was a stream of spittle running out of the side of his mouth and he seemed dazed. Subinspector Roider had gloves on; he was taking them off when he escorted the suspect to my office. Muller's face seemed abnormally red."


"The German colleagues were pleased, sir. The suspect had provided them with some names and addresses in Hamburg and other cities. He also made a full confession. Apparently Boronski had brought down the first consignment of cocaine to get the connection started. Future deliveries would be made by couriers, so-called tourists, nice elderly couples who would have their trips paid for and receive an ample fee on top of expenses. This was the first time Muller bought drugs from Boronski. Until now their business was legitimate."

"Where did he buy before?"

"From Turkey through Lebanon and France, but that traffic was stopped by the French police a while back. He was buying heroin then, but cocaine is about as profitable."

"Have the Germans left?"

"Yes. They said Muller was lucky that he was caught here and not in his own country. The penalties in Germany are stiffer, here he'll only get a few years."

"True," the commissaris said. "Did you ask him anything about Boronski's death?"

"Yes, he denies having anything to do with that."

"Do you believe him?"

"Yes sir." Grijpstra was playing with the menu that the waiter had replaced next to the commissaris's plate.

"Yes," the commissaris said, "we'll choose our desserts in a minute. Why don't you believe that Muller killed Boronski?"

Grijpstra put the menu down and held up two fingers. "First, Boronski was Muller's goose that lays the golden eggs. Second, Mtiller wouldn't have placed the body in his own car, a car reportedly stolen at the time and looked for by the police."

De Gier held up a finger too. "Boronski died of an ulcer, sir."

They ordered and ate their desserts. It took a while, for both Grijpstra and Asta selected the special, which came in a tall glass and had many layers of different ice creams, topped with fruit and whipped cream.

"Boronski was killed," the commissaris said when Asta licked her spoon. "He was attacked by a mind that was more subtle and agile than his own, and manipulated to the point where his fear and uncertainty turned inward and gnawed through his gut. Remember Mr. Fortune, this case is similar. Fortune faltered, became accident prone, fell afoul of the police, and was dumped into the Brewerscanal. But there was some insight in him and he managed to save himself. Fear eventually strengthened Fortune; it destroyed Boronski, understandably, I suppose. Boronski was, I hear, rather a rotter, and Fortune, according to your reports, seems to be a nice fellow."

De Gier deposited the remnants of a match into the ashtray. "Is good stronger than evil, sir?"

"I've often wondered about that," the commissaris said, "and I do believe that I have had some indications that the supposition may be true. The subject is tricky, sergeant. Good is useful and evil destroys. Sometimes it is good to destroy, and useful is often a shallow definition; it's relative, of course." He folded his napkin. "If we imagine that a drug dealer is a bad man and that a publisher ready to retire in solitude to meditate on the center of things is a good man, and if we bring them both into stress situations by playing about with their environment, and if they are both of the same strength, I would say that Boronski will go under and Fortune will come out on top. But the experiment starts at the end and I've built up its base afterward. We know that Fortune is a happy man today and Boronski's spirit is in hell, if I'm to believe Mr. Jacobs, the morgue attendant."

"You seem to have investigated Boronski's death further, sir."

The commissaris wrote a check. He looked up. "I have, Grijpstra. I spoke to an acquaintance of the dead man last night by teletype. The lady in the photograph you studied in my office yesterday is a Marian Hyme, the wife of a local publisher."

"Hyme," Grijpstra said.

"The name is familiar?"

"Back to Beelema, sir. It's the last place I want to go to. I was there twice yesterday. I can't get away from it."

"Tell me what you know about Mr. Hyme," the commissaris said, "and I'll tell you what I know. If we pool our ignorance, Mr. Hyme may turn out to be our missing link."


"I must ask you to calm down," the commissaris said. "Please sit down, sir, and don't shout."

Hyme sat down. His pale face framed a flabby and twitching mouth. "Boronski! The bastard! Dropped Marian like a sack of potatoes when he was through with her. Destroyed her dignity. She was a beautiful woman, intelligent, witty. You should see her now. He saw her. He came to the hospital to see if she was about to get out. Looking for a free fuck. Man hasn't been in Amsterdam for years and he has no connections here. He let her go in Bogotd, pushed her out of his palace with hardly enough time to pack her suitcase, but here he comes running after her. Marian has just been operated on again; she's fiat on her back and in pain. It's the second operation and they don't know yet if they got the disc back in place this time. If it's where it should be, it'll be another six months before she can walk. When Boronski realized there 205 was nothing doing, he shook her hand and left. I'm surprised he didn't take his flowers with him; he could have given them to somebody else. He had wasted his money."