WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?! …….. PIET MONDRIAN, chapter 25
At five in the afternoon, I called Mendocina. She answered on the first ring. The news was no news. She had not seen the guy, Bas, last night! I said to keep in touch and hung up the phone.
I thought about twiddling my thumbs some more then thought better of it. Instead, I made a pot of coffee.
I poured a cup and went to my easy chair and picked up the novel. I should have completed it days ago, but when I had the time, I didn't have the concentration. This was another of those times. I put it aside and just then the phone rang. I walked to my desk and picked up the receiver.
"Wes, this is Bert. Good news. One of my contacts---the one that gave me this guy Bas' phone number---just called and said he wants to talk to us." There was excitement in his voice and I felt its contagiousness.
"That's great news! I assume you have not called him?" I asked hesitantly. The Hog often went ahead and did things without thinking too much about what he was doing.
"No, No, of course not! I thought it best to talk to you first." He said it almost solemnly.
"That's good! You did the right thing." I knew it sounded condescending and that had been my purpose. I had to keep Hog under control. "But, now, the hard part. Where"? Obviously, your antique shop is out ... What about your contact's place?"
"I could ask her." Her! If must be one of his whores. Well, that had an upside and a downside.
Then, I thought, I should ask the next important question, "What have you offered her?"
"Yeah, but cash money or a percentage?"
"Cash money. She wasn't interested in a percentage. She says that's the way to get screwed and that is something that happens to her a lot. I think she meant that as a joke." She had a point, joke or no joke. I was beginning to think that maybe every slice of the pie was gone and only some of the crust had been left behind. Nothing left to divide up with any fruit inside. I wasn't sure where that put me financially, but decided to worry about it later.
"How much cash money?"
"It is like a sliding scale. I gave her a hundred guilders for the phone number. When I have seen what he has and I am still interested, I must pay her 1,000 guilders. You see, Wes, I have had enough faith in this little deal to have already committed a direct investment." The short little speech had been said with a heavy dose of smugness.
"Good! Very good. Ahhh, the meeting place ...? Maybe my office ... no, the two shadows may be hanging about ... Vic's place could be another option ... but, no, the shadows probably know that address, as well. I think we're back to her place ... so call and ask ... Tell her not to mention any names. In fact, don't mention that anyone but yourself will come along"
"Good! I will call her, now." And the line went dead. I was rather impressed. Give the Hog a bone and he got his teeth around it and didn't let go. There was a bit of terrier in him that I had missed. It was back to Psychology 101, don't underestimate anyone. Sometimes I was a slow learner.
I thought it best not to phone Vic at this point. I would wait for Bert to call back.
It was less than fifteen minutes before the phone rang again. I picked up the receiver and heard, "It's all arranged. I can come to her place. She said, she could only call him tomorrow at his shop. She suggested to meet at eight. We can meet at the antique shop at seven and all go from there ... Oh, and she wants the 1,000 guilders. I protested that after seeing the diamonds we would need time to evaluate their worth. She was quite blunt, she wants the money tomorrow."
Damn! That was a ripple that I hadn't been expecting. I was chagrin to admit, even to myself, that I didn't have 1,000 guilders in cash. Vic? Doubtful. So I asked Hog, "Can you cover that element?" And held my breath.
"Me!" There was a long pause." Then, "My wife and I have a buying fund for the shop. I haven't discussed this deal with her as of yet. She has been difficult about things like this since ..." his voice trailed off and he never completed the sentence. Finally, "I'll go to the bank tomorrow!" And he said it in a way that I knew he was convincing himself that it was the right move.
We said our goodbyes. I then called Vic and ran through the events of the last hour or so. First the talk with Mendocina, then, the Hog's first call and the second one. When I told Vic about Bert's 'donation' of 1,000 guilders into the pot he seemed duly impressed, "Maybe I've been wrong about the bloke. He seems to be full of surprises." I seconded the motion. He suggested I join him for dinner. I thought why not? I didn't feel in the mood to cook. I said I see him in an hour.