This arti­cle is part 7 of 8 in the series The Hague Massage

The hot show­er felt espe­cial­ly good that morn­ing as I con­tem­plat­ed the rest of the day.  I decid­ed to head out for anoth­er quick break­fast near­by first and then to make a call to Massage Sense to set up the next stage.

This morn­ing’s break­fast con­sist­ed of more fresh bread, this time with cheese, orange juice, and the usu­al — and strong — coffee.

Thus for­ti­fied, I head­ed to a park not far from the café, found an emp­ty bench par­tial­ly shad­ed by mature trees, and placed a call to the Massage Sense num­ber that I had pre­vi­ous­ly pro­grammed into my cell phone.

“Hallo,” came a spir­it­ed acknowl­edg­ment over the phone.

“Goedemorgen,” I replied.  “I’m afraid I don’t speak much Dutch.  Do you per­haps speak English?” I ques­tioned the voice at the oth­er end.

“A lit­tle,” was the response.  “How can I help you?”

“My name is Michael Tallent.  I’m only in The Hague for a few days and I’m afraid I’ve suf­fered some pulled shoul­der mus­cles.  The concierge at the hotel gave me your num­ber and sug­gest­ed that a mas­sage might just be the thing to relieve some of my aches.  I was won­der­ing if you might have some open­ings today for a mas­sage?  Oh, and the concierge said that Niels was very good.  Might he also be avail­able today?”

“Just a moment.  Let me check our sched­ule book.”

There was silence from the oth­er end for a brief moment and I could hear a faint shuf­fling of paper before the voice came back with “Yes, Niels will be work­ing this after­noon and he has an open­ing at 3:00 p.m.  Would that be satisfactory?”

“Very much so,” I replied quick­ly.  “I’ll see you this after­noon.  My name again is Tallent, T‑A-L-L-E-N‑T. Dank ye.”

With a few hours to kill before the mas­sage appoint­ment, I decid­ed to vis­it some of the muse­ums in the city and set­tled on the Gemeentemuseum and the Maurithuis.  Visiting both would require some dri­ving, but it would also allow me to see some addi­tion­al sights while doing so.

After a few ful­fill­ing hours at the muse­ums, I drove to the mas­sage salon on Zoutmanstraat and entered into a clean and order­ly estab­lish­ment that was obvi­ous­ly not one of those par­lors cater­ing to clients look­ing for some­thing more than a massage.

“Goedemorgen,”  I greet­ed a pleas­ant-look­ing lady behind the counter.  “I’m Michael Tallent and I have a three o’clock appoint­ment with Niels.”

“English?” was the polite inquiry direct­ed to me.

“Yes,” I replied.  “I apol­o­gize that I don’t speak much Dutch.”

“Quite all right. Niels speaks a bit of English as well so you  should have no problem.”

“Dank ye,” I smiled. “I’m try­ing to learn a bit of your lan­guage even though I will only be here a short time.”

She offered direc­tions, “If you will go down the hall to the sec­ond door on your left, you can dis­robe there.  When you’re ready, just press the but­ton near the door and Niels will be with you short­ly.  Each room has a show­er and there are tow­els there as well.”

“Dank ye,” I said and start­ed down the hallway.

After shed­ding my clothes, don­ning a tow­el around my waist, and press­ing the but­ton on the wall, I lay face down on the padded mas­sage table to await the arrival of Niels.

The room was spot­less­ly clean, a high-class operation.

Before long the door from the hall­way opened and in walked Niels, clad in a white, short-sleeve shirt, white trousers, and white sneak­ers.  He was not a bulky indi­vid­ual, but wiry and tight-mus­cled, dark brown hair and about five feet, nine inch­es tall.

“Good after­noon, Mr. Tallent,” he began.  “I under­stand that you don’t speak much Dutch.  English is fine.  I trust my accent isn’t too pronounced.”

“Not at all.  You speak English very well.  May I call you ‘Niels’?”

“Of course.  You have pulled shoul­der mus­cles, yes?”

“Right.  Just aching right now.  I don’t think there’s any per­ma­nent dam­age, but I’m hop­ing you can make the sore­ness go away.”

“I’m sure a good mas­sage will help,” he said as he moved to a small met­al table and picked up a small jar of yel­low­ish cream, scoop­ing a size­able glob onto his fingers.

The cream felt quite cool at first when it hit the skin between my shoul­ders, but it began to warm pleas­ant­ly as Niels moved his hands expert­ly across the top of my back and onto the shoulders.

“That feels very good, Niels,” came my muf­fled voice from the facial slot in the table.  “Do you use this cream on all your clients?”

“Yes, indeed.  It’s a spe­cial con­coc­tion that I made up recent­ly.  My clients seem to like it so much that I’m think­ing of mar­ket­ing it.  I have one spe­cial client who likes it so much that he gets a mas­sage every day and wants to buy sev­er­al jars to take home with him. I heard he’s about to be released and tomor­row may be the last mas­sage he’ll get from me.”

“Prison?” I act­ed sur­prised.  “You give a dai­ly mas­sage to some­one in prison?”

“Yeah.  Rules here are pret­ty relaxed and he seems to be a per­son­al­i­ty.  Plus, he pays dou­ble my usu­al fee, so who am I to ques­tion things?  His name is Stenolic.  He’s from Serbia.  That’s about all I know about him.”

“Strange,” was all I could say as Niels con­tin­ued rub­bing and my imag­i­nary ache vanished.

After about twen­ty min­utes, Niels let me know that he was fin­ished, “That’s about all I can do for you, Mr. Tallent.  I hope you’re feel­ing some­what better.”

“Very much so, Niels,” I said.  “I appre­ci­ate being able to get in to see you so quick­ly and the reports of your abil­i­ty don’t give you enough credit.”

“Thank you, sir,” he respond­ed.  “You can make pay­ment at the front desk, but tips are always appreciated.”

We shook hands, he left the room and I went to shower.

After dress­ing I left a twen­ty Euro note on the table and a lit­tle some­thing extra in his mas­sage cream.

  • Chuck Witt

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

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