WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?! …….. PIET MONDRIAN, chapter 16
I slept until nearly two in the afternoon. Once up, I went through the daily waking up routine and treated myself to another beautifully constructed and executed omelette.
Polished off several cups of coffee and finally got around to calling Sassy. Much to my surprise, she told me that Mendocina was still in the attic room, sleeping. I said, I would call back later. I thought about what I should do. The World Cup final was today, but since Holland wasn't playing, I wasn't much interested. I decided on the Park.
I pocketed the thriller I was reading; left the flat and walked to the Quella to see if the person had gotten my note which had read: Thou Shall Not Lock Your Bike To Mine! I immediately saw that he or she had removed their lock from my bike and relocked their's. I also saw that there was a small slip of paper wedged into my bell. I took it out and saw that they had written a reply to my note. It read: "It was a very stupid mistake of me ... sorry for the trouble! I must say; you revanch [revenge, I guessed they meant] must have made me a bit of pain equal for you. René." Yeah, well, there was that. I removed my lock from René's bike and pedaled off to the park.
Vondel Park was officially opened in 1865 as a public park at what was then the city's edge. The 45 hectare (115 acres) site's construction was unusual in that it was not done by the city of Amsterdam, but a group of prominent Amsterdammers---most of them having just constructed city-type villas along the perimeter. The architect was one L.P. Zocher who designed it with English parks in his mind. In 1867, it was named after the Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel. One of its features is that it was a tree and bush museum. Many trees still had small signs stuck into their trunks that gave the latin name for the variety. Unfortunately, since it had been done, many of these identifying signs have disappeared. I always thought some enterprising tree lover should compose a tree and bush guide with photos.
It was a beautiful Sunday in Amsterdam; about 23 degrees Celsius [73 degrees Fahrenheit] with drifting clouds and only a slight breeze. Summer in Vondel Park was special and Sundays' were even more special. There was a band pavilion near the big pond that had the geyser like water spout. There would be three entirely different performances. Each lasting about an hour. The summer program was eclectic featuring, Rock 'n Roll with groups from Holland, England and America. There could also be Blues, Soul and even Gospel and sometimes Country & Western, as well as, traditional Dutch pop. Instead of the smoke from bar-b-ques, like what you got in American parks, an odor of marijuana and hashish waft through the air. A new phenomena was people selling from blankets; everything from paperback novels---I bought two first edition Raymond Chandler's for one guilder each---to space cakes and everything in between. You could outfit yourself for the coming season for under 10 guilders. I found a park bench that faced a small pond with ducks paddling lazily in the noon day sun, actually it was later than that, but, hey, it was Sunday. Time isn't that important. I opened the book. McCorcle was hot on the trail of the desperadoes. Yeah, he would be! Me? I couldn't even find a trail. He was better! A lot better.
At six, I found my way back to my flat. I called Sassy and talked to Mendocina. She told me she was enjoying her time off and was not going to the window this night. She also said that she still had had no answers to her calls to the john. The Mondrian case was already a real drag and now the big diamond caper was stuck in a calm. Life is hard!
I put on an LP and went back to the book. At about eight, I put aside the book and headed for the kitchen. Before I had left for the park, I took out the salmon steak and sniff at it and it hadn't smelled fishy which meant it hadn't turned. I also had taken out a container of fruit compote from the freezer. Recently, I had read an article about a new cooking style developed by a chef in New Orleans. That had always been a nice city to visit, anyway for three or four days at the most. That gave you time for a few very good lunches---not to mention, a breakfast or two at Brennan's on Royal Street---and a few great meals. The French Quarter was fun, but after a few days, it started to get old. The new cooking style was called "blacking." You could cook beef steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts and even fish fillets using the technique. It called for the cook to use a heavy cast iron skillet which you put over a high flame and allowed it to get so hot that it turned white. You then took the meat---or fish---and buttered both sides; then coated it with coarse pepper or what was called a Cajun spice mix and threw it in the pan. What you got was a piece of meat with a crust and an interior that was juicy and succulent.
Since there had been a variety of fresh fruits nicely priced, at the market, I had bought strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and peaches. I cut them all into small chunks and sugared them. It made for a big pot. I ate from that for about three days and just before mold set in, I put the mix into a sauce pan and boiled it down stirring often. Let the thicken concoction cool and then took small plastic containers and filled each with the mixture. I had then put them into the freezer. The mix was now thawed and I put it into a sauce pan to heat. Just as it started to boil, I turned off the heat and let it rest.
I made rice and had added a sliced onion to it. I put on another pan of water for the broccoli. After the cooked rice had set for about five minutes, I threw the broccoli into the boiling water and the fish into the white hot skillet. Everything was ready within five minutes. I opened a bottle of Ruby Red---I'm not conventional when it comes to red-wine-with-meat, white-wine-with-fish. I use what I have. I put the fish, rice and broccoli on a large platter and poured the fruit capote over it all, except for the broccoli. It was a very good Sunday dinner.
I debated about making the rounds. Finally deciding why not? It would be a quiet scene. No crowds. Easy to talk.
At Arti, Bert said that he had the word out on the Mondrian and had left the photo with a few special contacts, whatever that meant. He said he had serious investors interested in the diamonds. He wanted to know what I had decided. I told him I was still thinking about it. "What's there to think about, Wes? This is what you Americans call a sweetheart deal." Yeah, I told him I could see that. I said, I thought, I would have an answer by tomorrow.
When I got to De Pels I could see that Vic was anxious to talk to me. I got that impression because I didn't see any birds flocking around him. He came to the point, "What's the deal you've worked out?" I laid it out for him. He said at least I had given away the store, but he didn't really like the added freight. I said, "Hey, if we join in with Hog's group it will probably mean a smaller take!" he answered that he could see that, but maybe we shouldn't be too hasty until we talked with the mark. I told him I was trying to reach the man. No one was answering the phone. He asked if I thought that strange and I said, "Hey, maybe he went to Spain for the World Cup." He reminded me that that was history and I remembered to ask him who had won. With a big smile he said, "Italy, 3 to 1! I won a bottle off my German's mates...Well, they were mates ... before the game."
And I was out the door.
Mazzo's was dead. I didn't see Kees either. Probably with his new found love. The scene was the same at both De Koer and Richter. I was home early and in bed before the clock struck two.