Two private detectives Dr. Troublemaker and Johan Eigeman enter the office of the editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper de Volkskrant in Amsterdam.
“Welcome!” Editor Roelf says, shaking hands with them.
“You see how fast everything happens. Last week at your home in Zwaag* you were still convinced that this sort of thing would never happen here,” says Dr. Troublemaker.
“Yes! I admit it, but who would have ever believed that?”
“What did I tell you?” sneers Johan. “You see, Dr. Troublemaker foresaw everything.”
“Johan told me that the Mafia is blackmailing you,” Dr. Troublemaker says, quickly turning his glance to the editor of de Volkskrant, “because you’re taking drugs.”
“It’s not true that I said Roelf was taking drugs,” Johan interrupts with an apologetic tone in his voice, patting Roelf on his shoulder.
“But?” Dr. Troublemaker spreads his arms.
Roelf looks down at the dirty red carpet. “I was forced to sniff cocaine,” he whispers.
“And to watch the execution of a famous kick boxer,” adds Dr. Troublemaker.
“What else could he have done!?” Johan says, trying to defend him.
“Nothing!” Dr. Troublemaker hits his open left hand with his right fist. “But he can help us now, can’t he?”
The editor becomes animated at once. “Yes! Yes I can!”
Somebody knocks on the door.“Come in,” says Roelf.
A plumb man, Victor Lebesque, the jurist of de Volkskrant, enters the office. “Oh! The private detectives have already arrived.”
Dr. Troublemaker offers his hand to the newcomer. “It’ll be an honor, if you don’t mind, to shake my right hand with the hand of a left-winger.”
“No! No! I don’t mind!” the jurist sneers.
Dr. Troublemaker seizes him up from top to toe and notices that, apart from being audacious, he is also very corpulent. “You know why we’re here!?”
“Yes! Roelf already told me everything.”
“And also the fact that the kidnapped millionaire is in the hands of corrupted members of the police and the Secret Service of the Kingdom of The Netherlands?”
“Yes! He told me about your declaration.”
“And also the possibility that he’s already been killed.”
“And now what?” asks Roelf.
“Give us the names of the kidnappers,” asks Victor Lebesque.
Johan cuts in. “But first give us a guarantee that the information will be paid!”
‘That’s no problem,” says Roelf. “The family of the kidnapped person guarantees half a million.”
“Guilders!” says Johan again.
“Yes! Guilders!” Roelf confirms.
Dr. Troublemaker looks at Johan and Roelf. He knows everything about them and their third partner Dirk as well. These two Dutch musketeers started their careers as spies a few years ago. As secret agents employed in three national daily newspapers, they were collecting information for the special anti-terrorist Secret Service of the Ministry of Transport and Waterways. Johan became involved in TROUW, Dirk in Het PAROOL while Roelf joined DE VOLKSKRANT. The first two of these Dutch papers had been run by the resistance forces, who helped liberate the Dutch people during the Second World War. After the war, the Dutch government was constantly keeping track of potential freedom fighters out of fear that they could turn against the new regime. “Who is this lawyer Victor? Is he Russian?” Dr. Troublemaker asks himself.
Then he says, “I was told that a press conference would be held here and not some secret hearing conducted by a few Dutch spies.”
The three men look at each other. “Is that a good idea?” Roelf says.
“Good or not! That’s why we came here, didn’t we?” says Dr. Troublemaker.
“Ha ha!” the lawyer sneers. “If you want a press conference, we’ll go to the conference hall.”
The press conference is scheduled in the main building of de Volkskrant located on Wibautstraat in Amsterdam. Ten journalists are gathered on the fifth floor, clamoring for information about the kidnapped millionaire.
“Give me back my brother!” shouts the brother of the kidnapped millionaire.
“Your brother has been killed,” Dr. Troublemaker says coolly. “The only thing you can do now to catch those criminals is to refuse to give them a cent.”
“How do you know that?” asks one of the journalists.
“He’s the director of Reserve Police-International,” says Johan, Dr. Troublemaker’s deputy.
“Aha!” shouts the brother of the kidnapped person, “so even the police want more money.”
“We’re not from the police,” the deputy responds. “We’re private detectives.”
“Give me back my brother!” The brother of the kidnapped man bangs his fist on the table so that everything on it shakes.
“We cannot bring your brother back. It’s too late now. Your brother has already been killed. The only thing we can still do is to catch the criminals, so that you can claim your brother’s remains. If you make mistakes, you won’t succeed in that either.”
“Who kidnapped my brother?”
“A very dangerous criminal organization,” Johan explains.
“Criminal members of the national security service of your country,” says Dr. Troublemaker. “The Secret Services of your country knew months in advance everything about the case and the plans to kidnap your brother. Why they didn’t prevent this crime, when it was still possible is a question you must investigate by yourself; that is none of my business. I did my best to prevent the kidnapping, but somebody did not want that, sabotaged everything and now we’re here to pick up the pieces.”
The path to the men’s room in the main building of de Volkskrant from the conference hall leads through a huge corridor to the other part of the building.
“Hi Bob!” somebody calls out loudly.
“Who are you?” Dr. Troublemaker asks a corpulent figure, settled comfortably in a sofa in the office of the sports department.
“Mart Smeets, I’m the sports editor.”
“Oh!” Yes! I recognize you now. You’re also on TV sometimes.”
“That’s right. How are you?”
“Not bad. Nice job you’ve got, Mr. Smeets.”
“Yes! Sure! I’m happy with it.”
“Where’s the men’s room?”
“Just around the corner. You can’t miss it.”
Dr. Troublemaker enters the lavatory and locks the door. He takes off his right, high-heeled boot and neatly pulls out a mini cell phone. It is smaller than a box of matches (a latest piece of technology from Phoenix developed by a Dutch electrical engineer) and pressed a key to make a call.
“Hi commissioner! How is it outside?”
“It’s all right. Only, your advisor has been here in front of the main entrance for some time now.”
“Really! How does he know we’re here?”
“What do you think?”
“Call the general and tell him to be ready. The red lawyer can call him at any moment.”
‘The red lawyer demands that we also call the professor.”
“I don’t like it!”
“Neither do I.”
“As you like. Be careful.”
“Bye.” Dr. Troublemaker closes his phantom phone, places it back in the heel of his boot and puts the boot on again. After washing his hands, he returns to the conference hall. On his way back, he greets the sports editor.
“Gentlemen, let me make myself clear.” Dr. Troublemaker is addressing those present at the press conference. “The whole affair is known to the police as well as the justice department. At the explicit request of a lawyer and a professor, we have deposited a written statement with a public notary in Amsterdam with the following information: The criminal organization, that we mentioned, consists of high-ranking police officers as well as members of the Secret Services of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Their aim was to kidnap the crown prince, heir to the Dutch throne and by means of blackmail to enforce the payment of a hundred million guilders, to be given in various types of foreign currencies and diamonds. Because this scheme was prevented in time, we thought that the potential kidnappers were eliminated from this operation. However, a few months ago a new danger emerged. Because we had not done everything in the way it should have been done, the whole criminal organization consolidated and in order to cover their expenses decided to kidnap a millionaire. This gang will demand to be paid 5 to 6 million guilders in various types of foreign currency as well as in diamonds. The gangsters knew that the command center of the police handling this case would ask for proof that the kidnapped person was still alive, so before having him killed, would demand that the victim count from one to twenty, which they would record on tape. Then they would cut off one of his pinks, after which they would kill and bury him. The gang is convinced that the family of the kidnapped person will pay the required sum as soon as they receive the cut-off pink of their family member.”
“You know then who the kidnappers are,” lawyer Victor concludes.
“They’re also known to the police authorities,“ Dr. Troublemaker responds.
“Why don’t you give us their names?” asks one of the journalists.
“First the money!” shouts Johan.
“If your information leads to the arrest of the kidnappers we guarantee that de Volkskrant will pay you the reward,” the red lawyer states.
“And the reward is…!?” Johan spreads his arms.
“Half a million guilders,” answers the brother of the kidnapped man.
“The only thing I can tell you right now is that an electrical engineer, who’s been fired from his job, is a member of this gang and that he has invented the most modern type of telecommunication for them.”
“Electrical engineer?!” The brother of the kidnapped man raises his eyebrows.
“Yes! Aeronautical-electrical engineer,” explains Dr. Troublemaker. “Everything is known to the police authorities.”
“What do you want?” inquires the director of de Volkskrant.
“We want you to publish this information as you promised us in de Volkskrant tomorrow,” answers Dr. Troublemaker.
“As soon as we are convinced that you really deposited that document with the notary public,” says the editor.
“That will be possible tomorrow morning,” affirms Dr. Troublemaker.
“Tomorrow then. If it is true that you have deposited that statement, we will publish everything the day after tomorrow,” the editor promises.
“And what about the financial reward?” mourns Johan.
‘That’s business for the family to take care of,” says Victor Lebesque.
“Give me back my brother!” shouts the millionaire.
“Give us the money first!” shouts Johan, rubbing his right thumb over his index finger.
“Typical Dutch businessmen,” concludes Dr. Troublemaker for himself.
* * *
* Village in the province of North Holland.