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The shop stood on the corner of two streets. It was quite old and looked as though it had once been a dressmaker’s or milliner’s and had now been taken over by the sex shop business. It had tall windows and the door into the building was sunk back a metre or so, providing an excellent display area. The windows were set into narrow but shapely, turned wooden pillars, as was the door frame. Two wooden-framed glazed doors met in the middle of the entrance and their book-matched pair of polished brass handles in the shape of an elongated letter ‘S’ set the tone nicely.
Bertram put his arm around Grietja, as though they were lovers on their way out for a meal and a few drinks. Stopping near to the boat, Bertram gave Grietja a hug and pretended to kiss her whilst he took a careful look at the barge, taking in every detail and memorising it for later.
The kiss was returned and quite passionately at that! When Bertram stopped, it took Grietja a second or two to realise that it had finished, so carried away was she at his advance. She came to her senses and stroked her skirt down, whispering, “Hey, you really are being quite the kisser, Agent Bertram. I was having no idea.”
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When he awoke, Bertram determined to make a series of scratches on the cell wall to mark the passing of days. There would be six vertical scratches crossed by a seventh diagonal scratch to mark off each complete week. It was a good system that he had seen used in many films, usually involving Steve McQueen. In the fullness of time, when every avenue of wrongdoing had been explored and Police investigations had come to fruition, when he was finally summoned to the processing office for charging, he counted the scratches on his wall and then counted them a second time to double check. There were none.
As it turned out, when Bertram and Gertrude met again in the processing office, they were told simply that they could go.
“You may go,” said the processing rozzer, and continued with his paperwork.
As they walked, Bertram asked Gertrude, “Have you ever visited Rene’s, old thing?”
“No. What’s Rene’s? Is it another sex shop?”
“Ah, no my dear, Rene’s is the best street café and cake shop in the known world and if I’m right, it’s only five minutes from here. A great place for an afternoon snack. They do very good coffee, great filled croissants and the best cakes that I’ve ever eaten. Their apple strudel is worth the trip to Amsterdam on its own.”
“Ooh, sounds yummy,” said Gertrude. “It’s lucky that I left my diet at home.”
When they got to Rene’s, the several coffees that she had drunk already that morning had made their collective presence felt in Gertrude’s bladder.
“Do they have a loo here? I’m bursting for a pee.”
It might be worth noting at this point that the Netherlands Guild of Calvinist Christian Women have stern views on Amsterdam’s red light areas. Very stern views.
They found a patisserie on Sint Antoniesbreestraat that Gertrude fell in love with immediately. It was uncluttered, furnished with old pine furniture and well lit by antique brass chandeliers niftily converted to electric. The walls housed large, gold-framed mirrors and were decorated in dark reds and greens, with a fleur-de-lys picked out in gold leaf here and there. Where the aging mahogany countertop, piled high with pastries, abutted the wall, it was lined with antique Delft tiles, adding a further splash of style to the old-world feel. The woodblock floor was well worn and welcoming to the visitor, as was the aroma of good coffee hanging in the air.