Chapter no 19

Anxious People

Jim and Jack were the 1rst police officers to arrive on the scene outside the building. That wasn’t so much an indication of their competence as a sign of the size of the town: there just weren’t that many police officers around, especially not the day before New Year’s Eve.

The journalists were already there, of course. Or maybe they were just locals and curious onlookers, it can be hard to tell these days when everyone 1lms, photographs, and documents their whole life as if every individual were their own television channel. They all looked expectantly at Jim and Jack, as if the police ought to know exactly what was going to happen next. They didn’t. People simply didn’t take other people hostage in this town, and people didn’t rob banks here, either, especially now that they’d gone cashless.

“What do you think we should do?” Jack wondered.

“Me? don’t know, I really don’t, you’re the one who usually knows,” Jim replied bluntly.

Jack looked at him despondently.

“I’ve never been involved in a hostage drama.”

“Me neither, son. But you went on that course, didn’t you? That listening thing?”

“Rctiue listening,” Jack muttered. Sure enough, he’d been on the course, but precisely what use that might be to him now was hard to imagine.

“Well, didn’t that teach you how to talk to hostage takers?” Jim said, nodding encouragingly.

“Sure, but in order to be able to listen, there has to be someone talking. How are we going to contact the bank robber?” Jack said, because they hadn’t received any kind of message, no ransom demand. Nothing. Besides, he couldn’t help

thinking that if that course on active listening was as good as the tutor claimed, then surely Jack ought to have a girlfriend by now.

“I don’t know, I really don’t,” Jim admitted. Jack sighed.

“You’ve been in the police your whole life, Dad, you must have some

experience of this sort of thing?”

Naturally, Jim did his best to act like he de1nitely had experience, seeing as dads like teaching their sons things, because the moment we can no longer do that is when they stop being our responsibility and we become theirs. So the father cleared his throat and turned away as he took out his phone. He stood there for a good while, hoping he wasn’t going to be asked what he was doing. He was, of course.

“Dad…,” Jack said over his shoulder. “Mmm,” Jim said.

“Are you seriously googling ‘what should you do in a hostage situation’?” “I might be.”


Jack groaned and leaned over with his palms on his knees. He was growling silently to himself because he knew what his bosses, and his bosses’ bosses, would say when they called him in the very near future. The worst words Jack knew. “Perhaps we should call Stockholm and ask for help?” Sure, Jack thought, because how would it look if we actually managed to do something for ourselves in this town? He glanced up at the balcony of the apartment where the bank robber was holed up. Swore under his breath. He just needed a starting point, some way of establishing contact.

“Dad?” he eventually sighed. “Yes, lad?”

“What does it say on Google?”


Jim read out loud that you have to start by 1nding out who the hostage taker is. And what he wants.

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