WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?! …….. PIET MONDRIAN, chapter 9
Bas was left the keymakers shop when the man had died. The keymaker has never married and his only siblings were a brother who had left for the United States many many years before---and they had lost touch---and another brother, who like Bas' father had gone off to a Nazi work camp and never returned.
Bas liked the work. Work? Compared to his father's job, the work wasn't really work. Frame making was easy, of course, compared to laying bricks on the streets---in all kinds of weather---and the money was good. But locksmithing was better work. Good money and interesting. You can unlock a strong box and unlock a person's life long secrets.
His best mate, from when they had been kids, Gerard, was still around, but not much anymore. He had married about 15 years before. That had put a stop to his going with Bas to the auction houses, "The kids take up all my time," was his reason.
They still went to Ajax games together. And during the past two seasons it had been a real joy. The previous season, 1970-1971, had been a year of glory. Ajax had come close to winning the European treble. This year, they did it all: the national championship, national cup, Euro Cup I, World Cup and Supercup. They were referred to as the "Twelve Apostles;" and at the center of the table was Johan Cruijff. And still a kid. He had extraordinary technical skills, speed---especially his acceleration, like a cannon ball coming off the lip of a cannon someone had said. How do you stop a cannonball? You don't! Cruijff had had 21 goals in 25 matches the previous season; and, this year, he had been even better with 25 goals in 32 matches. He could not imagine Ajax of ever not having Johan Cruijff! Jersey number 14 would guarantee great Ajax clubs for years to come.
The auction houses were closing left and right. The smaller ones went first. Others were selling to larger houses. It made his quest a bit easier---the fewer they're were the less he had to do---but he never minded anyway. You see all of society's history pass through them. At some sales, at the liquidation houses, you would see boxes of books and know just who the person had been. It was like locksmithing and opening a strong box. People maybe couldn't describe themselves, but their belongings did.
Bas never married. But he had his business and his lock and key collection to keep him occupied. When he felt his manly needs he just went to the Wallen, the red light district. The prices were okay, 25 to 50 guilders depending...Depending? He often thought about that. Sometimes a girl would insist on 50 guilders and at other times said only 25. He thought the 50 guider charge came about on Friday or Saturday nights, when the girls were busy, and maybe when he had had a few too many pils and jenevers. When he got the urge on Mondays or Tuesday, it generally cost him no more than 25 guilders. And he had picked out one girl that he liked a lot. He went to her often. Sometimes twice in a month. She gave him a good deal. Just like any business; you treat your repeat customers with respect.
As to the picture frame, well, the truth be told, he really didn't think of it all that often any more. At the beginning, he had carried with him the photograph nicely folded. But it began to come apart at the fold creases so he had put it in his specially designed safe; it was as impregnable as the French Maginot Line! No, strike that! He didn't need to carry the photo because the image was burnt into his mind like a brand mark on a horse or cow in American western films. When he saw it, he would know! It was only a matter of time.
Lars Wetering, like Willem van den Valk, had been convincing. I had read an article about body language that said when you ask a person a question, there is almost always a pause before they answer. While they think about composing the story they will generally look away from you. Which direction they turn to---the right or left---will tell you if they are making up a story or telling the truth. I hesitate to document here which way means what. I mean, the bad guys might read it---yeah, even bad guys can read. Mostly they learn how in jail where there is nothing else to do.
Wetering's idea of coffee had been passable, but I now I intended to wet my whistle in a more appropriate way. I was in the neighborhood of De Prins. There was a series of cafes all beginning with "P’s." I had been told they were all owned by the same man. Should check it out one of these days when it was boring in the city.
There was a good crowd. People where leaving their work place. Needed to unwind. Okay. In my case, I needed to wind up my spring so I could spring into action if need be. Oh, that was cute: spring into action. There was not only no action, but I could not envision any in the foreseeable future. The case hadn't gone stale ... there just wasn't a case I could determine. I mean, if I could put a few facts together, I could maybe get a few results. No facts! No results! Like as dog trying to catch its tail. Which reminded me I should talk to the Hog again. Maybe Vic had uncovered something? Well, it was still too early in the evening to find either of them at their "place of business."
After the second beer and when no brain storms had interrupted my frustrating detecting or lack of detecting, I decided to bike home, check out the thriller I was reading and then consider dinner.
Once at my flat and into the book---with a glass of wine close at hand---I had a flash. In the Ross whodunnit, everyone was suspecting everyone else as to had taken out the old man. We, the reader, knew that it was just some kid, with no axe to grind, who had done it. So everyone else, who came to center stage as a possible perpetrator, was a red herring. Was that the case here? There was still no motive that I could determine. No one was getting hurt or turning up dead as I went around asking inane questions. Which led me to conclude, I was not getting anyone’s attention. Not getting anyone’s attention meant that no one was feeling guilty nor protective of their wellbeing. And that all added up to the big ride down a cul-de-sac. A dead end in layman terms. And I, for once, felt like the layman.
I put the book aside and went into the kitchen. I had bought fresh pasta at a new little shop at the beginning of the Spuistraat not far from the Sonesta Hotel, an American four or five star joint that sat next door to the Salvation Army. Was there a message in that? The shop was out-of-the-way for me, but since I had been on my way to De Zon, it wasn't all that far out-of-the-way. Fresh made pasta was as different from the pasta---spaghetti, noodles, macaroni, call it what you wish---that came in a box as was the difference from store bought bread and the homemade variety. I had bought three lamb sausage links from a Turkish meat market and broccoli. I boiled a pot of water and cut the sausage links into two to three centimeter lengths; diced a garlic clove, a small onion and the rest of the red paprika left over from a few nights before.
I poured what I felt was a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into my well seasoned wok. Got a flame going from the gas burner. Let the wok heat up to hot and just before the oil would to begin to smoke, added the garlic, onions and paprika. The mix sizzled happily away like a hen club's chitter-chattering over the gossip of a day's events. I added the sausage. Tossed it all. The water, in the pot, was at a good rolling boil. I tossed in a teaspoon of salt. I added the flowerettes cut from the broccoli stalk...and I went back to thinking. My concentration was broken by the pot with the broccoli; it was boiling again and water was splashing out of it. I threw the pasta into the boiling water with the broccoli. Simple trick of mine. Why dirty two pots when one could make do for the job at hand. No doubt that an Italian gourmet would argue the merits of my simple little ploy to improve the efficiency of my kitchen as to how it affected their Italian delicacy; but no dinner guest had yet to complain that the pasta "...is a bit off." Hey, there was a another side benefit, the vitamins and minerals, released by the boiling water, from the broccoli, would be absorbed by the pasta. In my cook book, that was a win-win final score. ..And that ain't bad!
I drained the broccoli and pasta. Here is where the tricky part came in. There are two schools of thought as whether the pasta should be "rinsed" in cold water or left alone. The rinsing gets rid of the surface starch; and it also stops the cooking process. I have tried both and I have been unable to reach any conclusion. Ah, the cooking art ... An on-going adventure and experimental process. I decided not to rinse it and had put the colander to sit atop the pot I had used to boil the water in after draining it. I poured a little of the juice into the meat mixture, tossed that a few times then threw in the pasta and veggie combination and tossed some more. Damn, should have bought some freshly grated parmesan cheese, too late now. I put it all on a plate and sat that and a bottle of Ruby Red on the table and sitted myself and went to work. How long did it all take me from start to finish? Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. I chuckled at the thought that people said it was too much trouble to cook for one.
I had cleaned the dishes. Went back to the book, and, at one point, my mind began its wandering exercise which indicated I didn't have my mind on the printed page. I looked at the time and saw it was nearly eleven. Good time to make my way to the Arti where I would start my nightly rounds.
There was no bicycle race this time. No mysterious rider who had egged me into a race by riding on the rims of his tires; and then had passed me like I was standing still. Oh, the humiliation.
As I walked through the door of the Arti, after having rung the bell, I looked immediately in the direction of the bar. Hog had already spotted me and was motioning me over. I speeded up my gait. Once there, he said, "Wes, I have news for you about the Mondrian." He was nearly hopping from one foot to another trying to get out what he had to say. I told him to calm down, I wasn't going anywhere.
"I called a few people I know intimately in the art world. Very knowledgeable people. All of them---"
"Drop the editorial...Cut to the chase, Bert!"
"Oh, yes, of course, "cut to the chase" as you say...One of my sources said that only yesterday a man was talking to him about a Mondrian from the artist's luminosity period. He said...wait until you hear this...he said, the man was an American---"
"Who was this man Bert?"
"My source would not give me that information---"
"No, Bert, who is your source?"
"Oh, I see, a noted dealer---"
"What's his name, Bert?"
"Van den Valk?"
Hog's eyes lost their sparkle and all of his chins seemed to go into a repose state. He asked, "But how do you know that?"
"Sorry to have to tell you this, Bert, but I'm the American who talked to Van den Valk about a Mondrian from the luminosity period."
"Oh!" was the closest he could come to a rejoinder. But I bought him a beer anyway. I told him to keep up the good work. I told him there was no more I could say because I had no more to go on from when I first brought up the subject. Well, at least I knew one thing more, put out the word, in the art market scene, and you get results. Not the results I was expecting nor hoping for nor any that would do me any good, but results, never-the-less. But, okay, you gotta believe. Wasn't that what Dorothy said to Toto? Couldn't recall.
I didn't stay long at the Arti. I was anxious to see if Vic had anything for me. So I made my way to De Pels, less than five minutes away.
I locked the bike and went through the open doors. Vic was at his usual station, leaning at the bar. He was, again, chatting up a bird. It looked like the same one from last night. When he came over to me, I asked, first off, "Is that the same bird from last night?" I love the British argot.
"Nah, but she is British and British birds' do have a habit on coming out of a cookie cutter. And the fact that Prince Charles went and married a commoner, it gives them all hope that the same thing will happen for them. They are now all dying their hair blond and using the cutest side-way glance smile like this Diana. That's jolly good, I suppose. And, after all, there are two more brothers waiting in the wings for an altar appearance. So maybe they know what they are doing. But I really wish the birds could cut a dash when it comes to their behavior. Somethings get old fast."
"Yeah, I know what you mean...Got anything for me?" I said as I raised my hand to single the bartender. When I had his attention, I pointed to the glass Vic held in his hand and raised two fingers.
Vic's answer about information was disappointing, "Not really. But I'm glad you got me into this. I am beginning to see some business for me."
"I have been putting the word out and most people only stare back at me when I mentioned this artist Piet Mondrian. It is like dropping the name Prince Charles and someone saying "I'm not a pipe smoker!'"
"I beg your pardon---"
"There is a pipe tobacco called, Prince Albert. I've never heard of a Prince Charles brand---"
"Stand corrected. Got the-big-prince-who-marries-commoner on my mind...Anyway, no one knows anything!"
"But what did you mean there may be some business in it for you?"
"Ah, my good man, thanks for reminding me. After our chit-chat, I went to the Okshoofd. There is a proper tart that comes there nearly every night to scare away her demons, no doubt..." Sometimes Vic would surprise me and sound like a poetic psychologist. He continued, "...She is a good dancer. I could watch her for hours even if I wasn't stoned. I do chat her up, but I've never got any freebies. You know, whores hear things. I guess it comes from what you American's call 'Pillow Talk.' So I didn't feel it could hurt to ask. Anyway, she doesn't know Mondrian from a hunk of mozzarella. But she tells me someone is hustling diamonds. She can put me on to it."
"You know diamonds," I asked incredulously.
"Know diamonds? I am a son of the Empire. South Africa was a proud member, once upon a time, if you recall your history, Wessie. Of course, I know diamonds!"
"You learned about diamonds in South Africa?"
"What were you doing in Angola? Were you a mercenary?" I looked at Vic disbelieving, he would never consider putting himself into a position that could bring him into a situation where there was any possibility to physical harm---or so I had thought. He just wasn't the type. But, the truth be, I guess, there was much I didn't know about Vic. Angola! Indeed.
"If you mean by 'mercenary' one who sells their services for the purpose of engaging in mortal combat...the answer is NO with both a capital 'N' and ''O.' If you assume a further meaning, to wit: one primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics, well, guy's gotta live. It's God's own truth! Innit?" Yeah, it was. We agreed on that much.
"So why did you split the scene?"
"Yeah...well, the money was good. Very good. Diamonds is what has been feeding that little tiff even more so than oil. Oil requires a lotta collateral support. But, diamonds? Nothin' to it! They're small; and people dig the dirt with their fingers to get 'em. But what good is money if there is nothing to spend it on. Hell, man, the whores charged ten times what they cost in the red light district here; and there wasn't that big a choice; plus you had to stand in line most of the time. Lotta soldiers, not much pussy."
"How you get ém out?"
"No, dammit, the diamonds?"
"Blimy, mate, stick 'em up your ass"!"
"Hey, no need to get testy---"
"That's how I got them out---to answer your question---I stuck them up my arse!"
"Clever. You're always surprising me Vic. Maybe that's why I put up with you!"
"I'll take that as a compliment, Wessie."
"But, Vic, back to this whore, what does she know about diamonds?"
"Never discount a whores knowledge of being able to judge the intrinsic value of something; especially if it gleams, sparkles or just plain reeks a legitimate flashiness. She says that those who have seen a sample copy says it has more sparkle than a strippers g-string, if you can imagine that!"
"Well, Vic, since it was at my initiative that has allowed you to stumble onto this possible pot of gold, or in this case, I guess, pile of stones would be more apt to say ... And since you have suggested remuneration should my quest for this mysterious painting produce more than fool’s gold, does that mean that you are willing to share the booty of the diamond hoard with me like I am to do with you? That is, I get a cut like you get a cut if I or you get more?"
"Hmmm...I see what you are driving at, my good man. Let me ruminate over that...." His brows arched, his mouth quivered slightly and I swear he wiggled his ears---someone in the old movies could do that, too. Vic wasn't in a trance, but close to it. When it came to money, he took his time. "Cord," He picked up his glass and I picked up mine. He extended his arm and raised the glass, I did the same and we clicked glasses lip to lip as he said, "To our success, mate."
After we both had had a good long draught; and when we both had come up for air, Vic said to me, "Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but they tend to attract some of the lower elements of society especially when splashed openly in an area like the red light district ... And I have no doubt that the word is getting out quietly---or otherwise---that there is a pirate’s trove of the speckled sparkling beauties and the asking is a pittance. What I am getting at, Wes, it wouldn't hurt having back-up should I pursue this lead. Since you're now in for the ride perhaps you will assist with any needed support. Can you handle that, Cord?"
"Seems fair ... I can handle it!" I had got all keyed up expecting some excitement from my current assignment and the let down was setting in. Maybe this "diamond route" would provide a jolt or two. Not to mention, I wasn't goin' to pay all the bills from Meneer Jansens small donation to my cause.
"Good. That is good! Look, I told the tart, her name is actually Scarlet, like in 'scarlet woman,' wasn't that a film noir title?.. I said to her last night to find me a contact. I'll be going back to the Okshoofd again tonight. Why don't you join me there at about three or so."
"It's a date, Vic."
I finished my beer and made my way out the door; unlocked my bike and turned in the direction of Mazzo.
Wim was at the door when I entered. We exchanged pleasantries. I then entered the main room. It was getting crowded. In the half-light there appeared to be an element a chaos as men and women swiveled, pumped, gyrated and generally exerted each and every appendage as they tried to stay with the beat and keep to the rhythm of the music. The song blaring from the multiple speaker system---and at more decibels than the top speed registered on a Ferrari speedometer---was a rather recent international hit, "YMCA." It was about as close as you could come to an openly homosexual anthem without saying anything right out. The gays were starting to come out of the closet like someone had set fire to their jockey shorts. Even the term was still unknown to most of the population. Say to them, "He's a gay guy"," they just nodded and asked, "What is he so happy about?"
I made my way through the crowd and began to circle the bar looking for Kees. I found him standing at the bar talking with the lady that I recognized from the night before. She was a blond and nearly as tall as he was. He introduced me, but with the blare of the music it was lost on me and never registered. We screamed at each other trying to be heard. Finally, in desperation, I told Kees to excuse himself from the lady and follow me to the toilet.
Once in the foyer, that separated the main room from the cubicles, I asked him if he had had time to make the calls?
"Sure. Nothing ever happens bad in Amsterdam. Don't you know that Wes? They just hire us police officers because it provides a good excuse to charge taxes. You got to know how the Dutch mind works to fully appreciate us. But...There isn't much to say. The report shows that someone claims his house was broken into and claims a valuable painting---which he admits he paid less than 1,000 guilders for---was stolen. Close report."
All I could do was shake my head erratically back and forth like one of those head-bobbling dolls I see behind the windshield of the big semi pulling tractors. I probably looked as foolish to Kees as the boobling-head dolls looked to me. "None of this is making any sense!...Damn...Oh, I almost forgot. I went by De Zon---the auction house?---this morning asking who had put the painting in to the sale. They won't say! Actually, they can't say. It's a confidentiality matter---"
"Lotta that going around, Wes."
"Yeah, anyway, the lady I talked to said that they had had a break-in recently---about two or three weeks ago---and, get this, no sign of forced entry and nothing seemed to have been stolen. Possibly, just possibly, someone took a file card with the information to who bought this painting in the sale."
"Hmmm. That is interesting---"
I cut in with, "Coincidence?"
"I don't like coincidence. Especially when they are so coincidental."
"Nor do I."
Kees asked me to run through the scenario as I so far understood it to play---one more time. In this presentation, I presented a better form of the story. He nodded often. At the end, he stared at me and asked me a one word question: "Motive?"
I couldn't come up with one, I told him. That's what was putting the squelch on all the deductive---my dear Watson---analysis. I told him that my friend Augie had said that there seemed to be an element of "The Maltese Falcon" in all this. The jewel encrusted bird that Lorre had described as, "A black figure of a bird." I remembered that a lot of people had died in the search for the bird and the joke was---if you could call it that---it was a fake. Well, in this case, that was the premise I had started with. Now that it has been stolen, can I assume that that proves it authenticity? Or maybe only that the person or persons who took all the trouble think it is? And what could they possibly know that Jansen doesn't know? He seems to have covered a lot of territory and pursued various routes to authenticate and unauthenticated Mondrian; and came up blank. Also, there may or may not be a crossing of paths, so to say, as I again mentioned the two unforced entrees. Catch 22?
I ran all these suppositions through Kees' cop filter brain hoping he could see through to the obvious. None of it was logical. Hey, Sherlock, I'd like to see you handle a contemporary who-did-it-and-why a hundred years after Freud and Jung changed the rules about why people will do what they do. Like why are they motivated to do things like steal an oil painting worth eight bills and change. A whole lot of trouble for nothing. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'll make some calls again tomorrow."
We went back to the blond. She was talking to another woman. The woman had enormous tits and to set them off to their best potential, she was wearing a t-shirt that read, "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend." That reminded me of my discussion with Vic. The song playing now was not as blaring as what had come before and it was possible to communicate with Kees at a near normal voice level...well, a little louder than that. I quickly sketched what Vic had told me about the "hoard" of diamonds that may or may not be on offer. He said he thought that that was interesting especially since the word was coming from the Wallen. "It is not the place in the city where diamonds deals go down ... unless they are stolen diamonds...or should I say hot-rocks." He leaned over to me and said in my ear, "And, I think my chances of getting my rocks off tonight is looking better and better. Take a powder, Wes. No offense, of course, but I want to get back to my action."
I wandered off towards the dance floor and watched a few pretty asses swing to the music ... and the beat goes on. After a few more cigarettes and beers it was time to make my exit and head for the Okshoofd which was a hop-skip and jump from Mazzo. Nearly.
The Okshoofd had opened sometime in the late 60s as a student societeit. It was located, of all places, on the Herengracht. This was ironic for a couple of reasons. First of all, the Herengracht was a high rent street or, in this case, canal. You didn't expect a disco. Secondly, because it was for students. When I had first come to Amsterdam, on the money trail of the embezzler, I had been taken there. You had to buy a "membership" card at the door. You could also arrange for a yearly membership. But I quickly discovered I could avoid either contingency by tipping the huge stoic man who sat on a stool at the entrance.
While originally for students it quickly evolved into a dive that attracted the sleazy side of Amsterdam: dealers, whores, tough guys and ladies who made a tough guy look like a pansy. That gave it flavor. What made it interesting was that the students still frequented the place along with models, creative people from the art world, and media folks who wrote the copy that sold you beer and cigarettes. Then there was always the "rich kid" element guys and girls who thought they were Walking on the Wild side. And the truth be told, they were! I guess there was much inspiration in a place like this for everyone from every walk of life. Real egalitarianism and much like the Dutch society.
The place had three bars. The big one was where the dance floor was located and, in the early days, there had been a football game table. It had been at the rear of the dance floor. It had now disappeared so as to allow for more people to shake their booty. Another thing had changed from those earlier days. The bartenders, then, had acted as the dj’s and because they were always busy, they would put an LP on the turntable and play the whole side. You got 20 or so minutes of the Doors or Stones at no extra cost. There was now a real dj, but he did his own thing. In fact, now I never heard the original---and long---version of The Temptations' masterpiece "PaPa Was A Rolling Stone." All changes are not to be defined as progress.
I began my search for Vic the easy way and systematically. I went to the first bar which was up a short flight of stairs at the entrance. Not more than 10 or so people were in the room. I exited, walked down the short flight of stairs, made a right and walked down another and even shorter flight of stairs. This opened into a long hallway. The walls seems to vibrate with 10CC's "The Wall Street Shuffle," emanating from the dance room. But before the main room, I turned into the other small bar. Less than ten people here ... and no Vic. So I made my way to the main room. It was packed.
I maneuvered myself between the sweating bodies tediously. Too bad I wasn't tall. I could have seen over everyone. But it was a like a forest of people and all I could discern where the trunks of the trees and not the plume of leaves at the top. I got to the edge of the dance floor and stopped. It would be a risk to life and limb to try and traverse this mating call of dancing manics. Just then, I felt someone tapping me on my shoulder. I turn to find Vic standing behind me. He motioned that I should follow him. With his other arm he motioned across the room to someone else and pointed to the entrance to the hallway. As we made our way through the crowd, it passed through my consciousness that should anyone ever yell fire ... it would result in a stampede. No, cross that out, no one would even hear the warning. Everyone would be consumed by fire in the spot they stood. What a revolting thought that was.
The three of us---I could now see the new member of the party was a woman---made our way to the top bar. The most quiet. The bartender was the dj and, tonight, the bartender was someone into Bob Dylan. That kept the noise level within a bearable talking limit but as Dylan sang about "Maggie's Farm" my attention was diverted from the matter at hand.
We all took a seat at a table. I asked for drink orders. The lady ordered white wine. Vic wanted pils and jenever. I walked to the bar. I decided to splurge and after giving their orders, I asked for a Remy Martin. Why not? I had made 800 guilders already this week and for doing almost nothing. I took the drinks back to the table.
We did a little small talk before Vic said, "Scarlet has heard from one of her fellow...or, I should say, female colleagues that there is a sack of diamonds for sale. She says her friend has seen one and it was big. Her friend doesn't know a good diamond from a flawed one, but she does know a real diamond from one made of glass or paste."
I turned to the lady he had indicated to as Scarlet. She was in her 20s, somewhere, and she was heavy on her make-up, but she did it well. Her pert nose almost gave her an innocent teen-age girl look. But her wary eyes brought back the reality of what she did for a living. Over all, she was a pretty brunette with fly away hair. I asked, "Do you think that this is reliable information. Is this woman knowledgeable enough?"
"Like Vic said, she knows real from fake. Same with gold and silver. In our business ... profession, it is important to know these things. If a bloke offers you his Rolex in return for my favors, I don't want to discover the next day that it isn't even gold plated. Know what I mean?" I nodded my head indicating I knew exactly what she meant. And she continued with, "... So, when she says it was a real diamond, I believe her."
"Well, Vic and I would like to talk to her."
"Yeah, so would a lot of other people I am starting to think. What's in it for me. I would like to add a little something to my dowry ... and forget about crochet doilies. I'm not the type!"
"You bring up and interesting topic, Scarlet. It is something I think that Vic and I should discuss. But perhaps you can give us some idea what you had in mind."
"Besides hard cold cash? Nothing. I don't do percentage deals. If I can't put in in my bra it ain't worth putting anywhere. If it’s enough that I need to get a new double cup size bra, well, I can arrange that too."
"So, you are asking for cash up front."
"Up front!" She took a finger and pointed to the center dip in her cleavage and said, "Here's up front!"
I turned to Vic. He stared back at me. He didn't make any suggestions; he didn't offer to kick into the kitty; he didn't even give me a good reason to think he had heard any of what had transpired. What the hell. Vic had never stiffed me. I'll give him that! I reached into my pants pocket and came out with my small roll of bills. I tore off a 50, rolled it and stuffed it between her tits and put the roll back into my pocket. She sat there as silent as a movie made in 1910. I looked to Vic; he shrugged his shoulders. After a few more beats, I reached back into my pocket and took out the roll again and skimmed another 50 from the center of the fold. That exposed a 25 guilder note as coming up next. She must have seen it too, because this time, when the bill was nicely tucked away, she said she would write down the address of her friend. She said she would tell her I would visit. She told me not to show up any time before four in the afternoon. I thanked her for her assistance. Chatted a bit more. Finished the cognac and to all who wanted to listen, "I'm going to bed!"
Scarlet looked up at me after I had risen from my chair and said, "Going to bed? Alone?" I nodded my head. "Pity. Your cute!" And with a twinkle in those wary eyes, she said. "I could make you forget you were ever sleepy."