Monday, May 09, 2016

Woman in Turquoise

It seemed a harmless exercise and after I looked it over I thought it was all the more fitting as a play on the tip to the detective.  I had no idea if the tip had any value.  It was much as if I had made up a short story, or the start of a novel.  As if I had found a novel in the lobby, reworked it a bit, and then given it to the police and said here, here is what I think is a key in the crime you are solving. 

After three or fours months I had carried out about six deliveries.  By then I had established by custom, word-of-mouth and I suppose instructions by the hotel staffers exactly how to request my courier service.  Today a woman approached and she executed the situation with perfection that showed she had done her homework.  I appreciated that and told herself.  She smiled knowingly.  She might have been fifty.  Understated elegance, a dark turquoise suit, blonde hair styled into a flattering curve around her face.  She sat down in the chair next to mine in the lobby.  I would like to engage your service she said, sure that the usual introductory exchanges were not to be used.  Find, I said, explain the details.  Not a hint of her story, of anyone’s story.  No appeals, no explanations or background.  She opened her large leather purse, a fine piece of workmanship, perhaps Portuguese or Moroccan workmanship, I couldn’t be sure.  She handed me a medium sized, soft leather pouch, light gray colored leather, trimmed in burgundy welting.  For Thursday, she said simply, between 2 and 4, to room 57 at the Phoenix Copenhagen.  I nodded my approval and acceptance of the task.  She began to rise, paused and seated again, and said, perhaps I will say hello again to you on Friday or during the week after.  This is a bit unusual, I did not welcome or expect clients to check in with me after the job had completed or to seek any further information or approval.  Fine, I said, it won’t be necessay but it could be fine to chat a bit.  With that she rose and walked away. 

I like the Phoenix and had even considered using it as one of my three bases.  But it is too grand and showy for my taste these days.  I knocked on the door of room 57 at 3:12 Thursday afternoon.  An aide of some sort opened the door and took the pouch.  I thanked him for delivering it properly, I was sure he would.  This was the modus operandi I had worked out over the first six months in the city and it was what I wanted to use fore the remainder of my enterprise while I was there.  “Enterprise” is of course the wrong word.  No money was involved.  I had too much of that now and I simply wanted to “be of service” as the cliché has it.  I wanted some slight activity for this late phase of my life.  I enjoyed imagining what value it might have rather than knowing or want to know if it did or not.  What was in the soft gray pouch could have been anything.  I enjoyed making the judgment in an instant, as soon as I saw the person asking, much as a jury is said to make its mind up as to guilt or innocence as soon as it lays eyes on the defendant for the first time. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Jacobsen's Spoon

Fourth day in a row of solid rain and gray.  I am trying not to note such things.  Late in the afternoon Inspector Gronquist spoke to me where I was reading in the lobby of the Nyhaven.  He had another man with him.  This is Detective Bergen, he said.  This man looked like he was in his late forties.  Some experience but not yet enough.  Short-cropped brown hair, tall, an expressionon his face of startled alertness.  I could not tell if he is Danish or Swedish or from somewhere else.  He will be handling this from now on, said Gronquist.  This? I asked.  That body you happened to see a few weeks ago being carried out.  I didn’t know it was a “this” I had anything more to do with.  He smiled tightly and turned to go.  Bergen will fill you in, perhaps you can help him.  I nodded to Bergen and he sat in the big chair to my left.  He opened a case and took out some papers, shuffling them in a way that made me wonder if he was looking for a way to open his topic to me in the most favorable way.  He was, it turned out.  Gronquist suggested, we wondered, oh, I’m now in charge of this incident.  Gronquist passed it to me.  We wondered if you could offer some suggestions?  I told Gronquist weeks ago I had no interest in being involved in such things, I said.  Yes, but it turns out to be out of the ordinary.  Even for Copenhagen?  Yes, even for Copenhagen.  It was a welcome distraction on this dark gray late afternoon.  Bergen said the body was not that of a Brazilian diplomat afterall but that of a powerful Brazilian family who of course wanted every detail to be guarded as much as possible.  Drugs, sex, money, the usual items?  Jewels?  No, he nodded steadily, none of the above.  This is why we thought, Gronquist thought, you might think of something.  For you?  Well, for us, perhaps, perhaps with us.  How long had he been here?  It seems he had been traveling for a few months, Europe mainly, in and out of Denmark and Sweden during that time, a few days at a time.  How old was he?  Forties.  You’re age?  Yes, probably, my age.  Fashionably dressed of course, good looking, not married, but not involved so far as anyone has found out.  Right, Bergen said.  I took my Arne Jacobsen spoon out of my pocket.  Do you recognize this?  No, Bergen said.  This will seem too easy to me, but for you it might be a surprise then.  Seems so.  Was your Brazilian entangled in Design counterintelligence?  Computers, software, that sort of thing? Begen asked, looking a bit skeptical.  No, no, I said, look at this spoon, see how it angles, the shallow bowl turned to the left of the shaft?  Design as in Danish design for houses, furniture, dinnerware, crystal, cutlery, this spoon and others in its set.  Bergen tried to stifle a smile.  My parents talked about such things but I confess I don’t know about it.  Would this Brazilian have been killed because of something like this?  No, not exactly.  Since the rise of Scandinavian design as a “world power” as it were in the mid 1950s, Copenhagen, Oslo, these cities have become scenes of intense competition and a good deal of secrecy in the whole gobal world of high design.  Tremendous fear of new ideas being stolen, knocked-off, leaked, traded.  But the magazines are full of these things, photos, glossy spreads, ads, Bergen objected.  Yes, but as with all such worlds, what you see there is what has been secured, managed, branded they call it, made public.  But behind all of that stage-setting, power and its discontents make for more intrigue than any magazine browser could ever guess.  Much like the Paris fashion world.  The Paris, New York, Tokyo, Moscow etc worlds.  But how could we try to find out if this Brazilian fellow was involved in such things?  I don’t have much to offer you, Mr Bergen, and I had made clear to Inspector Gronquist that I wanted to offer you people nothing at all for your work.  He looked disappointed and went quiet for a few minutes, looking back through a sheaf of papers on his lap.