A Little Amsterdam Crime Story: Chapter 4
By The Holland Times Thu. 13 June 2013
“My God, look at yourself.” Sonia van der Sluis looked in the mirror. At 38, the effects of her lifestyle were beginning to show.
The perfect features at 18 had been replaced by a gaunt, high cheek-boned, maturity. The soft, honey-blond hair had succumbed to constant exposure to the chemicals in hair-dyes. Her once luscious figure had thickened from irregular eating and drinking habits.
However, her muscle-tone had not suffered.
Life in the mountains of Colombia where she grew up was not for city-bred maidens. CIA training camps had toughened the already fit young woman into a formidable close-combat expert, who trained daily and returned regularly to an Agency base in the Appalachians to keep her condition and skills honed.
Home had been a sheep farm a kilometer under the snow-line; a crisp, dry heat in the summer and a savage, dry cold in the winter. At 16 she joined a local band of freedom fighters.
At 24 the CIA put her to work infiltrating drug cartels. Hardly a city in the world had escaped her attention. North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, her native South America; she knew them all.
Picked up by the FBI in San Diego, California, smuggling cocaine to finance the group, the inexperienced 22 year-old Sonia, real name Constanza Malegro, had impressed them with her almost impeccable English. They passed her on to their CIA colleagues.
A child from a peasant background, at the village school she had excelled in Spanish, her native tongue. English, she picked up along the way.
Amsterdam, ah Amsterdam, she thought, where all the drugs traffic in Europe comes together. I always come back to you. How come, such a small country like the Netherlands has such a great transport system?
Dutch was, surprisingly, a language she had never mastered. The ease with which she picked up languages was what had made her of interest to the Agency.
Seduced by the lifestyle in the USA, as portrayed by the Agency, it was not difficult to persuade her to join their ranks.
Two years at Langley language school turned the awkward farm-girl, Constanza, into a sophisticated American lady, though one who was still able to revert to her original persona, enabling her to operate in both cultures.
One of the CIA’s most effective agents, she had infiltrated many groups. Highly regarded, even in the highest security circles, she was known only as Magnesia.
She cast her mind back to the previous evening. Breaking into a new gang was always difficult. Last night had been no different. Being the connection between the CIA-controlled suppliers and the buyers in Holland, had meant a night club ‘til two o’clock. They were Haitians.
She was not convinced by her handler’s arguments. “You know the Haitian scene. You’ve been there half a dozen times.”
“I’ve been in there too many times. Too much of a risk that somebody will recognise me.”
“We’ll have somebody in there with you as back-up. He’ll be watching your back 24/7.”
The back-up got lost on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, being more interested in watching a red-headed prostitute’s tits than watching Sonia’s back.
“You into Voodoo, Sonia?”
“There’s a place over on the south side where some of us get together regular, and set up some rituals. Interested?”
“Sure, why not?” She was not about to reveal that, having spent four years in Port-au-Prince, she was not only a devotee, but a priestess of some rank.
It was now Wednesday, 10 a.m. She had got back to the hotel at six. Jesus, I need to get my ass in gear. Reaching for her make-up case, she poked at the bags under her eyes. Although they had been naive and quite innocent, she had participated in the rituals the evening before.
Picking it up before the second ring, she spoke into the phone. “This is Sonia. Everything all right? Yes, here too. No, no problems. Half an hour. The corner of the Dam and Kalverstraat.” She dropped the phone in the cradle.
“Useless piece of shit,’ she said to the mirror. “If that’s the best they can find to back me up, they can shove him.”
The useless piece of shit waited for half an hour for her to show up. He stood at the fallback rendezvous for another half hour before calling his contact.
“She never showed up. What did you say? I can’t hear you.” The clanging of a passing tram drowned the handler’s instructions. The number went straight to voicemail when he tried to call back.
Killing time, wandering around the city until it was time to meet the Haitians that evening, Sonia pondered the Voodoo connection.
Could I use that somehow to get their confidence more quickly?
It could short-circuit all the damned preliminaries by more than a week. Save all the night-clubbing and pissing about.
Drinking a koffieverkeerd in a brown café in the Jordaan, she decided to play her Voodoo card. She wiped the moustache left by the milky coffee from her upper lip with a paper napkin. It’s worth the risk, and I’m getting too old for playing these games.
She shuddered, thinking of the bed she had shared with the gang-boss the previous evening.
Not going through that again if I can help it.
She paid the bill and went out into the October rain.
She had just enough time to get back to the hotel to collect her box of Voodoo paraphernalia, before meeting the Haitians at the restaurant. Dinner that evening was a more sedate affair in the three Michelin-star restaurant of a major hotel. Over coffee and liqueurs, Sonia broached the subject of the Voodoo rituals.
“I didn’t tell you last night, but I am a third-level priestess. I was inducted in a small village to the north of Port-au-Prince.” She named the village, which was known only to initiates.
“Your priest is only a novice. If you like, I could lead you in some more advanced rituals which you might find interesting.”
After dinner, five men and Sonia, caught a taxi to the apartment in Sloterdijk. As they sat around an imitation open hearth, drinking a native Haitian home-brewed rum, the door-bell rang.
“I’ll get that.” The big man who never spoke, obviously a minder, left the room.
Unlike Sonia, the other four Haitians did not react to the commotion in the hall.
“Hello, Michael. Nice of you drop in.” The gang-boss put down his glass, stood up and went to confront the useless piece of shit who was being dragged into the room by two large gang members. “Come to introduce us to your lady friend, have you?”
As he turned to Sonia, she was grabbed from behind by two other gang members who had appeared from the bedroom.
“You must think we’re awful dumb.” He paused. “Get rid of them. For God’s sake not with that. You’ll have every cop in Amsterdam in here.”
The silent man put the pistol back in the holster under his shoulder.
“Here, use this.” The boss produced a blackjack from a drawer. He swung it at the useless piece of shit, immediately knocking him unconscious.
As he turned to Sonia, she spat at him, “You are cursed. Your spirit will never sleep. I will follow you till you join the un-dead.”
He laughed at her. “D’you really think anybody believes that shit? Get them out of here.” He moved to strike her with the blackjack, but she broke free of her captors.
Pointing the outstretched fingers of her left hand, she intoned a curse in a language none in the room recognised. Foam bubbled from her mouth as her eyes turned up into her head, and she collapsed.
The silent man bludgeoned the two unconscious bodies till they stopped breathing.
“Get them out of here.”
“What will we do with them?”
“Dump them in a canal somewhere. They’re always fishing bodies out of the canals here. Don’t dump them both in the same place.”
The boss picked up his glass and finished his grog.
(Image: Sarah Roche)