Scouting locations had taken most of the day, and I had been so engrossed in the process that I completely skipped lunch.
The day had been pretty warm and I was enjoying a shower before heading out for dinner. I had decided on Restaurant Alexander as it was not far from the hotel and I could walk there. It was also a place to sample a regional menu.
After a cordial greeting by the maître d’ I was ushered to a small table not far from the kitchen, from which the most delicious smells emanated each time the door was opened for a waiter to pass through.
Working my way through the menu I selected an appetizer of asparagus cream soup with spicy shrimps and a signature dish of the place, poulet noir, free-range chicken stuffed with foie gras, mushrooms, and truffle sauce along with a Corette Chardonnay Pays d’Oc IGP.
Waiting for dinner can be an enjoyable experience regardless of the length of time one has to wait, as long as the Chardonnay is a good one — the Corette definitely was — and the customers are sufficiently interesting to enjoy watching. Of course, listening to the Dutch language of my fellow diners was pleasurable as well even though I could hardly understand anything they were saying.
In what seemed a very short interval, the waiter approached with the main course and I ordered up a second glass of wine to accompany the chicken, whose vibrant aroma was causing the saliva to flow. Returning with the glass of light golden liquid, he gently placed it on the table and uttered a friendly “eet smakelijk.” Noticing the puzzled look on my face he smiled and said, “Enjoy your meal.”
“Dank ye,” I replied trying out what little Dutch I knew.
Savoring a wonderful regional meal of chicken and the last of the wine, I was pondering just how I was going to put plan B in operation and tried to recall the information in the packet that Marsden had given me.
Departing the restaurant, I took a leisurely stroll back to the hotel, stopping occasionally to look into shop windows along the way, all of them now closed for the evening, but with window displays offering a wonderful variety of goods along with haberdashers, camera shops, cheese shops, and small markets. The well-lit and clean streets made the walk very comforting as the heat of the day diminished. I found a small wine shop still open and stopped in to see about finding a bottle of regional wine to top off the evening.
With so many choices — and my lack of knowledge about regional wines — I finally settled on a bottle of Pure Viognier, a light fruity wine which might go well with the further study of my packet material, and I picked up a copy of New Europe, an English language paper published in Brussels.
Entering and crossing the small hotel lobby, I gave a polite nod to the desk clerk and a quiet “Goedenavond,” most likely making a bad pronunciation of it. Regardless, he smiled, nodded back, and responded similarly.
After securing the door of the room, I kicked off my shoes, retrieved a glass from the bathroom, and proceeded to open the wine with the corkscrew I had purchased along with the bottle, knowing that it was unlikely that there were any tools in the room for opening wine bottles.
I settled myself on the bed with three pillows to prop myself upright and the open packet beside me, with the wine close at hand on the bedside table.
As I worked my way through the voluminous material, reading about the habits and quirks of Stenolic, I realized that the extra material that I had brought with me was going to be the right choice and I was beginning to see how I would be able to administer it… and walk away without any suspicion being thrown onto me.
The amount of information on Stenolic was amazing. I could only hope that it was all accurate.
My target was someone who was trying to quit smoking and was using nicotine patches to aid that effort. Additionally, he was enamored of massages. He had a massage every day and the liberal policies of the prison allowed him this privilege. It was also reported that he had a favorite masseur and demanded that this particular individual be the one to minister to him each time. Of course, the masseur had to go to the prison to perform his duties. Even Dutch liberalism would not permit an inmate out of prison for a massage.
Oddly, the salon from which Stenolic’s masseur worked had the English name of Massage Sense and the masseur’s name was Niels.
The plan was made, at least as far as it could be barring unforeseen circumstances.
Putting the packet aside, I began to leisurely scan the newspaper and was startled to find on page four a short article about Stenolic and the trial, with the notation that Stenolic was likely to be acquitted by tomorrow and if so, would be released from prison within three days.
One of those unforeseen circumstances. It appeared that my schedule was going to have to be advanced.
I finished a glass of wine and drifted fitfully off to sleep, still in my street clothes.
Tomorrow should prove interesting.