This arti­cle is part 6 of 8 in the series The Hague Massage

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.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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