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"De Gier and I visited Beelema's last night as part of our preliminary investigation as to the whereabouts of Rea Fortune, wife of the suspect we found in the canal."


"She's missing, isn't she?" Grijpstra asked.

Jurriaans shrugged. "She is not. She isn't home but what does that mean? There have been some lifestyle changes you know; married women sometimes leave their homes without asking permission."

"While removing all household goods?"

"So what? Maybe it makes it special but not very special. You still haven't got a case. What does de Gier think about your theory?"

Grijpstra gestured. "Not much, but de Gier is never impressed by subtle reasoning."

"He consents to going ahead?"

"Of course. He's a simple sergeant and I'm an adjutant. I'm telling him what to do. He wants to work, he can't sit still in his present predicament. That's why he wouldn't come in with me. He's outside somewhere, watching tobacconists' windows."

"A murder," Sergeant Jurriaans said. "All right. I'm a simple sergeant too and I can't see your view; you have an elevated position. But I would think that you need serious suspicions. I learned that when I still learned. Nobody can be designated as a suspect without serious suspicions that the person has committed a crime. You don't have any."

Grijpstra grunted. "No? If a lady disappears, suddenly and without leaving a note, while all household goods are removed-that's a nice clause, I'm keeping it for my report-then I have serious suspicions."

"No," Jurriaans said.

"No what?"

"It's not a nice clause. Household goods are pots and pans. You're talking about everything, including the tiling that keeps the door from slamming against the wall and the chromium nut that prevents the toilet-paper bar from slipping."

"You know better words?"

"All contents of the house."


"See? I'm quite willing to help you. I can help you too, for I know the suspect."

"Because you've got him in your dungeon here?'* Grijpstra asked.

"No, I let him go this morning, with a sermon. But I've known him for years. I know the other actors on your stage too. I've been around for a while, adjutant, the environment is familiar to me and cafe" Beelema is where I go when the universal guilt becomes too much to carry."

"You know," Grijpstra said slowly, "when I hear that a woman has gone completely, and that nobody, except one particular person, has the slightest idea where she may have gone to, if such knowledge comes to me and I notice that the husband of the lady behaves in a most unusual manner…"

"What do you mean, unusual?"

"What? You weren't there. Frits Fortune didn't just behave strangely, he misbehaved. De Gier was trying to save his life… I mean, really… and the man was actually trying to brain my sergeant with his crutch."

"Man kills wife," said Jurriaans, "it has happened before in my practice. The other day, for instance. Man goes to his work, to some horrible daily drudge, and just before he leaves the apartment, his wife thrusts a verbal barbed dagger in his neck, liberally dipped in poison. The man wheels around, grabs the shrew by the neck, presses and shakes…"

"Dead? No!"

"As dead as a doornail. Man drops the body, telephones us and sits in a chair until my constables rush to him. Ketchup and Karate, of course, there happened to be nobody else available. They were throwing up when they came back. Ketchup had to visit the shrink a few times; he kept breaking into tears. That's odd behavior in a police station, I won't put up with it."

"Were you ever tempted to throttle your wife?" Grijpstra asked.

"Sure. Why?"

"Just thought I'd ask."

A slight tenderness moved the lines on Jurriaans's face. "She isn't too bad, and she's beautiful too, much younger than I am. She's been looking for a last fling lately, but she doesn't dare to make the break. Makes things awkward at times."

Grijpstra coughed.

"I don't help much," Jurriaans continued. "I have similar thoughts myself. As you know."

"Right," Grijpstra said. "Didn't mean to pry really. So you let Frits Fortune go. Pity, in a way. After a night in the drunks' cell, suspects interrogate easily."

"True, weakens their defenses. He didn't look in great shape, a little crumpled and his mouth was all dry and caked with filth."

"De Gier says he was blowing peculiar bubbles, like gum bubbles; they flew away."

"Because of the medication. He explained it to me. That's why I let him go. Extraordinary and extenuating circumstances. The doctor prescribed tranquilizers and they don't mix with alcohol. Probably explains his aggression, but this morning he was peaceful. He said he felt fine, wouldn't even take his crutch, didn't limp when he left."

Grijpstra's jaw hardened. "Really? There we go again, the man behaves in a suspicious manner. First he limps and the next morning he runs like a deer."

"That's correct; I watched him leave, nothing the matter with him."

"You said you knew him before. What's he like? Has he ever been in trouble?"

Jurriaans removed a cigar from Grijpstra's breast pocket and lit it. "He owns a warehouse further along the Brewerscanal where he has his business, and he used to live in one of those concrete blocks in the south. He didn't like it there and bought some horizontal property in a remodeled mansion next to the Oberon. Spent a lot of money to get it right and just when he wanted to move in, a bum broke into the place. Fortune came to see me about it, but you know that there's little we can do. The city fathers are socialists and they feel that a bum who finds an empty living place has a right to grab it. Property is theft and all that. The law states that such an act is illegal, but the authorities who employ us feel differently. A ticklish situation and I do what the chief constable tells me to do. He tells me to do nothing, and besides I'm busy, for the police are corrupt and we spend all our time taking bribes from the drug dealers. Right?"

Grijpstra sucked his cigar.

"That's what the papers say we do," Jurriaans said, "and I've learned not to argue. So I tell Mr. Fortune that regretfully there is nothing I can do to get his bum out of his brand new apartment. But because I know the guy, as I've met him at Beelema's and we've bought each other drinks, I blow into his ear that Beelema is known to be God's other son."

"So Fortune goes to see Beelema."

"He does. Beelema ponders the matter and gives him the address of a certain little pub in a certain little alley where ex-prize fighters meet. But now the fine point of it all. Do you know who the bum was?"


"Zhaver, the barman at Beelema's. You must have met him last night."

"I met him; lovely looking gent."

"Gent is an understatement. Zhaver is nobility, a count filled with the bluest of bloods, born in a castle that now houses a state committee and its girlfriends."

"You're joking."

"I'm not joking. Xavier Michel d'Ablaing de Batagglia is a count. His father went under with something and didn't come up again, and Zhaver became a bum, a city bum, an Amsterdam city bum, the worst variety. I wouldn't mention what he hasn't done, for it wouldn't be worth the trouble mentioning. But we are the police and we understand that sort of thing."

"Let me see now," Grijpstra said, "pickpocket, drug, pushing, prostitution and blackmail, breaking into cars, what else?"

"What else too. He also broke into Fortune's apartment. The turning point in his career, for Zhaver came to see me too, to complain about the ex-prize fighters who threatened to do nasty things to him."

"I can see it," Grijpstra said. "Big lumpy gents with soft voices, one on each side. 'Nice teeth you have, Zhaver,' one of them says and 'Pity they are loose,' says the other, 'we could knock them out in a jiffy, couldn't we, mate?'"