Vic took me to a new cafe-restaurant that called itself an English pub. It featured fish and chips. The idea of putting vinegar on french fries never had got my attention. Even the malt vinegar variety.

But an English "chip" is not a "french fry." They are much thicker and there is something likable about them. More potato flavor is preserved. So maybe the vinegar had a place. The fish was tasty.

We didn't really talk about the matter at hand. There was really not much planning involved. The important thing was to prevent the mark from bolting when he saw who the buyers were. I thought it best that we stop referring to him as a 'mark.' "What should we call him? An associate?" Vic asked.

"Hey, why not? That's what we want him to be." That approach might make it easier to talk with him. Everything had changed from buying the trove of diamonds or offering a percentage deal. The Israelian element was now the main factor and, I guess, they were in control; and it was necessary to explain to the guy how he had no choice in the matter while at the same time saying the choice was all his. Tricky. Maybe Tricky Dick Nixon was available for councelling. Probably was, but for a price and I would assume no percentages would be considered. Life is hard!   

We wandered from the place and found a brown cafe and resumed drinking. I was just nursing my way through one beer after another. I had no intentions of allowing myself to get drunk. I had to keep my wits about me. Too much that was unexpected was beginning to happen. It was getting late and Vic suggested the Okshoofd, but I begged off and said that I wanted to check out the Mazzo, I told him I was interested in seeing if my Amsterdam police connection had anything of interest. We bid each other a good night.

Through the evening, I had been watching my back. I wasn't sure if the one message would be enough for De Vet. His boys were hurting and he must now realize that it wasn't quantity that did the trick but quality. I had surmised that De Vet probably only had two goons working for him. I still thought that; the other four were pick-ups. Guys that hung around the two main players.  And, lucky for my side, the two players were strictly amateur.

The Mazzo was pretty much empty and that was fortunate because there had been an airplane crash into the middle of the dance floor. Kid you not. It was a single seat one engine plane. It had been set up on the dance floor at a tilting angle that had its propeller resting on the floor and its tail high in the air. The Mazzo was full of surprises. Never knew what to expect. It would be here tonight and gone tomorrow. Some of the more original stunts were always done between Sunday and Wednesday night when the crowds were thin. I ducked my head under a wing and made my way to the bar. Kees was standing there alone. He offered to order me a beer and handed me a joint. Well, I was working. Sorta. But one little toke wouldn't hurt, I thought.

It didn't take much time to mellow me out. The high really hit the spot. I felt relaxed for the first time in a couple of days, probably more than that. I asked Kees who the latest lady-of-the-night was. "Anyone I select!" was his macho and confident answer. I told him I had a good lead finally on the missing Mondrian. He said that was interesting. I said it really was. I said that I had learned more about art during the last two weeks than everything I had known up until then. "Hmmmm!" was his comment to that. He didn't seem interested in that affair so I switched to the diamonds, but did it in an oblique way, "Yeah, the lead came out of the red light district ... hear anything more about the diamonds you were telling me about?"

He looked at me directly, then said, "I do recall that it was you, Wes, that mentioned them in the first place. But, no, suddenly there is a lid on the thing. The boys who work the Wallen are not talking about it; and the bigwigs haven't passed down any word. That leads me to believe that there is something in this. Also, it is something big, with important players. The type of thing you would do well to keep your nose out of." He was giving me his most serious and intimidating look obviously meant to reinforce the message of the lecture. All I could think of was, "Tell me about it!" but I said nothing, only nodded my head and pointed to a very pretty lady that was dancing alone and pivoting from time to time under the airplane's wings. She was quite good.

I didn't stay long. Tomorrow could be an interesting day.






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