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"Those very words. Zhaver drops to his knees, prays and begs for mercy, his tears are cleaning the pavement. 'Please dear bad men, leave my teeth alone.' The teeth stay where they are; Zhaver moves out of the apartment."

"And visits you," Grijpstra said.

"And I see that Zhaver hides some good in his character, but that it won't come out by itself, and that he needs help. I help him."

"Do you help people?"

"Sure, often."


Jurriaans stopped smiling.

"Because it is the task of the police and because I work for the police. I refer you to article 28 of the Police Law. It is the duty of the police to assist those who are in need of help. I try to adhere to the law, insofar as the authorities do not restrict me."

"Boy boy boy!" Grijpstra said.

"You want to tell me that I didn't dig that up from the law?"

"You're leaving out the middle piece. I don't recall the exact wording, but that article also tells us that we should maintain order actively. And by help the law means that we should help those who have suffered because of some crime perpetrated by another."

"So? Wasn't Zhaver the subject of a crime? Didn't those two gorillas threaten him? And where was our friend supposed to sleep that night? Wouldn't he be stealing or even robbing to obtain the wherewithal to take care of his normal needs?"

"Certainly, but you do go on," Grijpstra said. "You referred the blighter to Beelema knowing that Beelema would refer him to the gorillas. I've never been accused of perspicacity but it does seem to me that you are twisting your argumentation."

Jurriaans took a deep breath. Grijpstra jumped up. "All right, you're nice. Go on. I'm sorry I interrupted."

"And you won't interrupt me again?"


"You may sit down, adjutant. Zhaver needed help. Also because he is a nobleman. His grandfather burned native villages in the colonies and his father made a mint out of creating work for the unemployed during the depression. We have to respect good deeds performed in the past, and a son from a noble family cannot sleep in the gutter."

Grijpstra touched Jurriaans's hand. "How right you are."

"I am. And I thought of how I could save Zhaver. Again I happened to think of Beelema. I went to see him. I had to see him anyway, for a lady visited me here at the station and stated that she had been bothered by a gentleman late one evening in one of the alleys, and her description of the suspect's features and mode of dress reminded me somewhat of Beelema. Bony Beelema is a good man, of course, and God is his father, but he does tend to forget his manners when out for a stroll, and has been known to upset civilians, both male and female, by making certain propositions. The complaints are never too serious as he adheres to certain limits, so we can usually send the complainants home but…"

"Beelema, eh?"

"Beelema. And I was upset for another reason. He had given me a bad haircut. Too long. And I felt annoyed for a third reason; another lady had been complaining, bothering us, us the police, as if we don't have enough to do, about Beelema's oversexed dog's forceful behavior. All in all, I was in the proper mood to persuade Beelema…"

"The dog!" Grijpstra's hand whacked the table. "You should have seen that dog with de Gier last night. All over the poor sergeant, Hello, dog,' the sergeant says, and the animal jumps him and doesn't let go. As if de Gier was the whore of Babylon. The beast went easy at first, but he does know how to quicken his rhythm. Staring into de Gier's eyes too, slime dribbling off his jaws, disgusting, absolutely disgusting!"

Jurriaans grinned. "That's what he does. They say owners and their pets become alike after a while. True in this case, but Beelema isn't as strong as Kiran and the dog's teeth are bigger. Did you manage to liberate your sergeant or did he get the full dose? About half a liter, I would guess; that dog likes to finish what it starts."

"Is that his name? Kiran?"

"Named after a Russian prince, couldn't leave anybody alone either."

"We got him off the sergeant, but everybody had to help. Beelema kicked him out after that, for the dog kept watching the sergeant and slavering."

"So that's what I did," Jurriaans said and frowned impatiently. "Got myself worked up and saw Beelema. I knew he needed somebody to tend bar and Zhaver needed a job and a place to sleep. I'm always happy when the pieces fit. Two or three years ago that was. Zhaver still has the job and he gets on with Borry who has obtained more time to look after his hair salon. Fortune visits Beelema's cafe regularly; so does his wife, Rea. You want to know about Rea? Analysis of the victim, very important in murder cases it seems."


Jurriaans shook his head. "Don't know much about her. I believe she used to be on the stage, long time ago, before she married. A quiet woman, arrogant, talks as if she has a mouthful of hot potatoes. Because she comes from The Hague, I believe they all talk like that out there, but they say that The Hague people are real too. I wouldn't know, I've never been there. You?"

"Once or twice. Attractive?"

"The Hague?" Jurriaans asked.

"No! Rea Fortune, an attractive lady?"

"I wouldn't say so. Not unattractive either. Wishy-washy. I preferred her poodle, a woolly rag with a silk collar, known as Babette. I'll say that for Babette, she knew how to deal with Kiran. One yap from Babette and Kiran was scratching at the door. Admirable behavior, even for an animated needlecraft kit."

"Love and friendship," Grijpstra said, "that's what we see when we want to see it. But in reality there's nothing but evil behind the rosy shades. Zhaver grateful to Beelema, what do we know? He probably hates the exploiter's guts and curses him daily from his cramped quarters above the bar."

Jurriaans nodded. "Possibly. He does have the smallest room ever, even smaller than Titania's who lives on the same floor."

"And Zhaver hates Frits Fortune because Frits threatened him through the gorillas," Grijpstra said. "And Zhaver has an affair with Rea Fortune, so has Beelema. Fortune and Titania carry on too."

"Who carries on now? Although you're right that Zhaver isn't gay, he only looks gay. I've given you facts, the rest you can imagine and try to prove. Jealousy is a fact of life, but it isn't always everywhere. I wouldn't follow you in any of your accusations. Fortune, for one, is a fine upstanding specimen. All he ever does is work and when he drinks he only has one or two. Last night was an exception. Personally, I like them all, except Rea. She can stay away for all I care and I won't miss Babette either."

Grijpstra got up. "People are no good, Jurriaans. I don't have to stress the point. If you haven't found out by now, you should leave the police. I suspect Fortune of having murdered his wife. Maybe he should have, but that's the court's business. I plan to pursue the man. If only I knew what he did with the corpse. So far, I move in empty space. I don't like that much. All that emptiness, it's eerie. Bah!" He brought out his wallet.

"On the house," Jurriaans said. "Come again. Don't forget to say goodbye to Asta when you leave."

De Gier waited in the street; he was talking to a small black boy. The boy smoked a cigarette.

"I knew it," the boy said, "but I forgot for a moment. Thank you." He dropped his cigarette stub and walked away.

Grijpstra touched de Gier's shoulder. "Weren't preaching, were you? What did that boy know? That smoking is bad for the health?"

"Wrong conclusion, adjutant. I just managed to pull that boy from under an oncoming truck and probably saved his life. Whereupon I said, 'Don't you know that you should look before you cross?' He answered politely. A nice little boy, even if he happens to be pitch black."

"You discriminate," Grijpstra said. "So did your colleague inside, but he was referring to people from The Hague."