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"Yes, sergeant."

"And that you, in the aforementioned establishment, grabbed hold of an invalid, a man who moves along with the help of a crutch, dragged the said individual outside, and threw him into the canal?"

"Yes, sergeant."

Sergeant Jurriaans lifted part of the counter, walked through the opening, and carefully took hold of one ear of each constable. He pulled in opposing directions. The constables pulled back and squeaked. "Eee-ee-ee-ee."



"I won't have this any longer. I won't warn you two again. The next bleeder you introduce into this station, the next suspect who has difficulty walking, the next civilian who doesn't look altogether healthy and happy-do you know what that arrest will do for you?"


"It will mean a transfer to a certain little village of fishermen that I won't mention, because the whole building may crash down on us if I do. And do you know what those God-fearing fishermen do with constables who haven't learned the meaning of the word proportion?"


"How they treat those officials who have no idea of human relations?"


"How they approach ignorant policemen who cannot weigh this against that?"


"They grind them to dolls' shit. Ground, sieved, purified, refined dolls' shit."

Sergeant Jurriaans let go. The constables tumbled away#and came to rest against opposite walls.

"Did I hurt you?"

"Yes, sergeant!"

"Do you wish to apply for sick leave?"

"No, sergeant."

"You may go to the canteen. The brothel on the other side of the street delivered some apple pie, because we. haven't interfered with it for the last five years. Madame baked the pies with her own puffy hands. Sometimes all this becomes too much for me. She sent her two prize whores to carry the basket; the handle was decorated with a plastic rose."

"I want some pie too," Grijpstra said.

"Be my guest, and tell me more. Something jolly this time. Tell me about some nice murder."

"Yes," Grijpstra said a little later, before plunging his fork. "A murder, you said. But I can't tell you much about it yet. It's not the right sbrt of murder, you see."

"Is there a right sort of murder?"

"Oh yes."

"What's wrong with this one?"

"No corpse."

"No," Sergeant Jurriaans said when Grijpstra had finished his story and three helpings of pie. "A murder because some furniture disappeared? And some silly poodle? And a wayward wife? Don't you have anything better to do? You've got a whole weekend ahead of you and the weather happens to be fine. Go fishing. Or count tits on the beach. Another two miles of beach have been set aside for the naked. I can give you directions."


"You've been doing something wrong, or you are jumping to conclusions. Is superstar de Gier in this too? How is our hero? He caused a few laughs at the range the other night. I always thought he was supposed to be a reasonable shot."

"You fellows gave him a pistol with the sights out of whack. He's doing badly. Nervous, Jurriaans, very. Stopped smoking and lives in pure insanity. Of course he is in this with me, it's my duty to keep him busy. I'm not expecting him to be useful but he can look at Titania while I work. That's a nice girl, although your Asta is better. What's the use of beauty without invitation? Your Asta is friendlier. Do you ever go to cafe" Beelema?"

Jurriaans grinned. "Sure, and I know Titania. Did you happen to look at her sideways?"

Grijpstra ate his last crumb and scraped his plate. "Yes. That blouse must have been specially designed, and they placed the bottles on a high shelf so that she has to reach up all the time. Whoever cut the armholes in that blouse should be decorated. She does have perfect breasts, doesn't she? Never saw anything like it Sure, on photographs, but that's all tricks. They photograph them upside down or attach nylon threads to their nipples and pull. Titania doesn't need any of that De Gier thought so too. We changed places a few times so that we could check the other side. Perfect, Jurriaans, perfect."

Jurriaans pursed his lips. "Not quite. Asta looks better."

"Yes? How do you know?"

"How do you think? I told you she has a father complex and I'm the right type for her. I live a strict life, of course, the police is housed in glass; but pressure is pressure, and there are limits, Grijpstra. I could tell you stories."

"Any more apple pie?" asked Grijpstra.


"Go ahead then."

"Just one story. Some weeks ago. My wife was watching a program I didn't like and we had an argument. I'm a pleasant man, but there are songs I have heard before, they're all the same anyway. So I left the house. There are evenings you're ready for anything and you should stay home. I couldn't stay home for there were those songs. I went to cafe" Beelema, it's the best place around here. I drank a bit but there was nobody there I wanted to be with, until Asta came in, she lives close by. She wears an old T-shirt and no bra when she is out of uniform. She's beautiful, Grijpstra, I tell you she's beautiful. I said hello and she came to sit at my table. I don't know what was the matter with the girl. She was stone cold sober, but she was all over me. Under the table mostly. Beelema is busy on Saturday nights and nobody noticed much but I wanted to get away. She wouldn't let me. She said she likes older men. I got so nervous I had more to drink. She got on my lap and got my hand under her shirt. Wow, Grijpstra, wow! I couldn't stand it and I left and she came with me. She has an old car and we went for a drive. She said she had a friend somewhere in the country, a rich divorced woman who gets lonely at times. Dame by the name of Magda. Good-looking, she said. Thirtyish or so. I didn't care, she was bending over and kissing me while she drove, didn't worry much about stoplights. I stopped worrying too. That car is the biggest mess you've ever seen, outside and inside. Half the stuff she owns must be in that car. She kept pushing it aside to reach for me. We got to some town, I can't remember which one, and it was a nice evening and there was a garden party. She stopped and we went inside, didn't know anybody there but it didn't seem to matter. Next thing she's stripping on a table, with a hundred men ogling her. Heavenly body, Grijpstra, moves right, too. She didn't have much on, so it didn't take long to take it ofi. Pity in a way. I thought I had lost her, but she came back to me and we were on our way again. She driving with her, shirt off, breaking the speed limit. We were drinking in the car; if the state cops had stopped us, well, never mind."

Jurriaans, overcome by memory and emotion, pushed at a crumb.


"Where was I?"

"They didn't get you."


"The state cops."

"No. We got to this Magda, or whatever her name was. The lady was asleep but seemed overjoyed to see us. Broke out the champagne. Served us in a tight black dress that was mostly transparent. I saw it all, even when she wasn't standing with the light behind her. She suggested a game on the Oriental rug in the living room."

"So?" Grijpstra was whispering too. He was leaning across the table. Jurriaans straightened up. "So nothing. The game started, but I don't know how it finished. I woke up eight hours later on that damned rug. Asta and Magda were having breakfast on the porch. I was sick; Asta took me to the bathroom and home afterward. I missed it. Maybe they did it together."

Grijpstra gaped, then frowned, "Yes?"

"That's it."

"No ending?"

"I just told you the ending. You don't think I would go out with that girl again, do you? My wife only talks to me since yesterday. That particular evening spent itself a week ago."

"Tell me another story with a better ending."

Jurriaans raised his voice to a normal level. "No. These are working hours. You tell me about your possible murder, and about what you did since your theory got away with you."