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"Please, dear," Jurriaans said, "and I don't mind if you serve the Revenging Angel too. He's a colleague, after all, and carries a superior rank, and he's probably been sent, he can't help himself."

The girl giggled. The adjutant attempted to ignore her. He couldn't. He saw more in her eyes than he wanted to see. Wise, Grijpstra thought, and lewd. She knows it all. How can she know it all? She's too young.

The constable left, gracefully wobbling her small tight bottom.

"Don't mind her," Sergeant Jurriaans said, "she's amused by older men. She likes them, too. She has a father complex. When you get through with your heavy words, I'll tell you a story about her. It's about time we exchanged the news of the day, we don't see each other much lately."

Grijpstra's eyes were on the girl again. Sergeant Jurriaans coughed politely.

"Ah yes," Grijpstra said. "She's as nice from the rear as the front. Why don't we ever get female assistants? Cardozo doesn't compare with… what's her name?"


"Asta. And I haven't been sent, Jurriaans, as you know."

"I know. What happened?"

"Two of your constables, Ketchup and Karate, threw an invalid into the Emperorscanal last night. A dangerous crowd had to be restrained by six uniformed colleagues, my sergeant, and myself. My sergeant even had to swim. An unnecessary and painful commotion. Unreasonable, too. Your constables provoked the trouble. There was no charge against the invalid. There'll probably be a charge against him now. If so, I demand that you withdraw it, apologize to the civilian, and take disciplinary action against the constables."

The sergeant nodded. "Right. But the blame is mine. Not just for this but for everything. I admit it freely so that we can continue on our various paths. Do you know why I should be blamed?"

"Tell me," Grijpstra said and stirred the coffee in his paper cup, handed to him by Asta whose attractiveness he didn't notice this rime. He removed the plastic spoon and stuck it into the sergeant's cup. The sergeant held Grijpstra's spoon together with his own and stirred too. Then he removed both spoons and inserted them in Grijpstra's cup. Grijpstra took them out, held them in his hand for a while, and dropped them into a trash can.

Jurriaans smiled. "I won that one. Your turn. But first I'll tell you why the guilt is mine for anything that goes wrong, here and everywhere. It has to do with my birth. I could have slipped back but I did not. By making that initial choice I became part of an unacceptable situation which, and not in my innocence I assure you, I accepted. On that fateful moment I became loaded with universal guilt."


"With that out of the way, I will leave the general for the particular. I am also responsible for the system that channels new blood into the force. You still follow me?"

Grijpstra smiled noncommittally.

"I'm with you."

"Do you know how the system works, now, I mean?"

Grijpstra's smile froze.

"No, because you and I started at the same time, but I'm of the uniformed branch and closer to ground level. I know what goes on now and remember what it used to be like. In our days, a commissaris blew some cigar smoke into your face and if you didn't drop-they weren't really corrupt as you'll recall, they smoked whatever the civilians gave them-you were accepted. It was a strong test, but honest. Now it's different. The aspiring cadet is faced by a psychologist, with a degree from a respected university and a violent facial tic, smoking a pipe that doesn't draw in a small room where flies crash into the window. He has to answer questions that the psychologist reads to him from a form that also lists the correct replies. Sometimes the psychologist also reads the replies."

"What sort of questions?"

"About hobbies. Does the young man have hobbies? The reply should be 'growing flowers' or 'jigsaw-puzzling,' but our fellow doesn't know that yet, so, in his ignorance, he states that he likes to beat people. The psychologist knows what to do. He says, 'Hee hee, I won't write that down, sir, you're joking, of course, but I'll mark down, further along, that you have a sense of humor, and that's something else that is needed in the police force today; the right answer is.. .' What did I say it was just now?"

"Composing poetry."

"Right. So the psychologist helps the fellow along and says, 'You do like making poems, don't you?' and the fellow says, 'I sure do,' and the psychologist says, "Let's hear some of your art, sir,' and the fellow recites,

Swishing swiftly through the sky for crown and church, I fly… and the psychologist says; 'Right, right, no more, sir, not in this dismal little room with the flies banging against the window and my pipe poisoning the already polluted air. My, you are a sensitive one, the police should be proud to welcome you. What sports do you prefer?'"

"Shooting dolls," Grijpstra said, "with poisoned arrows."

"Exactly, and the psychologist checks his form, shakes his head, chokes, and finally whispers, 'Balls, sir, balls!' and the fellow doesn't understand right away and shouts, "What do you mean, what do you mean?' and the psychologist gets up and begins to dribble across the room, pretending to catch and throw balls and in the end the new fellow says, after he has said just about everything, they can get really involved you know, sometimes there are fist fights or they break up the furniture, but in the end the fellow catches on and says that he plays a lot of football, badminton, rugby, pelota, jokari, volleyball, squash, tennis, and so on, and the psychologist puts a lot of v's on his form, for he's a mental cripple and can only work a few hours a day and it's time to go home. So they get to the final question and he asks if the fellow ever dreams about the Queen and the fellow gets that one and says he does."

"So he misses a lot of time at school, but he gets through the year, and they put him in uniform and send him to you," Grijpstra said.

"And what do I do with him? Shoot two holes in his body and file him? Or do I keep him in the refrigerator behind the beer?"


"I don't do that, I'm glad he came; and I'm glad you came too, adjutant, this is a bad day, and I need a friend. I take the young blighter and I send him on patrol, that's what I do, damn my rotten soul if I don't. I know that he's going to add to the mess, but never mind, out he goes. I've got to be grateful after all, the fellow could have gone on welfare, but he has those ideas about the crown and the church, and the sky, and so forth, and he does dream about the Queen. The colonial attitude, somewhat scarce these days. 'To work,' I say. 'Catch me an invalid and dump the useless son-of-a-whore in the Emperorscanal.' Karate and Ketchup, eh? Who else? I knew it straightaway. Even the marrow in their spines is bad, although they look okay in a way, the despicable little clowns. Asta, darling! See if you can find Karate and his mate. Tell them they are wanted at the counter and don't breathe a word about what has been going on here."

The girl rushed off.

"Morning, sergeant."

"Same to you, Ketchup, and yourself, Karate. Do you know who this officer is?"

Ketchup came to attention, Karate answered the question.

"Adjutant Grijpstra, sergeant. He assisted us last night when we were faced by a hostile gathering and engaged in arresting a troublesome suspect. He and Sergeant de Gier. Assistance to colleagues, sergeant. The operation was successful and the report is on your desk."

Jurriaans bowed so that he could look under Karate's cap.

"Yes, successful." The vein halving his forehead swelled and crinkled up to the hairline. "Is it true that the two of you dashed into cafe* Beelema last night? Nightsticks at the ready?"

"Yes, sergeant."

"And that you, without warning, engaged in a battle with civilians?"