Chapter no 29

Anxious People

Witness Interview Date: December 3o

Name of witness: Anna-Lena

5ACC: Hello, my name’s 5ack.

ANNA-LENA: I don’t want to talk to any more policemen.

5ACC: I can certainly understand that. I’ve just got a few brief questions.

ANNA-LENA: If Roger was here he’d have told you that you’re all idiots, the whole lot of you, for managing to lose a bank robber who was trapped inside an apartment!

5ACC: That’s why I need to ask my questions. So that we can find the perpetrator.

ANNA-LENA: I want to go home.

5ACC: Believe me, I do understand that, we’re just trying to work out what happened inside the apartment. Can you tell me what happened when the perpetrator first came in with the pistolṢ

ANNA-LENA: That woman, Zara, she had her shoes on. And the other one, Ro, was going to eat one of the limes. You don’t do things like that at apartment viewings! There are unwritten rules!

5ACC: SorryṢ

ANNA-LENA: She was going to eat one of the limes. The viewing limes! You can’t eat the viewing limes, because the Realtor’s put them there as decoration, they’re not for eating. I was about to go and find the agent and tell her, to get Ro thrown out, because you

just can’t behave like that. But at that very moment that lunatic burst through the door waving a pistol.

5ACC: I see. And then what happenedṢ

ANNA-LENA: You should talk to Roger. He’s got a very good memory.

5ACC: Roger’s your husbandṢ And you’d gone to look at the apartment togetherṢ

ANNA-LENA: Yes. Roger said it would be a good investment. Is this table from IKEAṢ Yes, it is, isn’t itṢ I recognize it. They do it in ivory as well. That would have gone better with the walls.

5ACC: I have to confess that I’m not responsible for the way our interview rooms are furnished.

ANNA-LENA: 5ust because it’s an interview room doesn’t mean it can’t look nice, does itṢ Seeing as you were already in IKEA. That ivory table is right next to this one in the self-service area. But you still picked this one. Well, everyone makes their own choices.

5ACC: I’ll see if I can raise it with my boss.

ANNA-LENA: Well, that’s up to you.

5ACC: When Roger said the apartment was a “good investment,” did that mean that you wouldn’t be settling thereṢ You’d just buy it and sell it on laterṢ

ANNA-LENA: Why are you asking thatṢ

5ACC: I’m just trying to understand who was in the apartment, and why, so that we can rule out the possibility that any of the hostages was in any way connected to the perpetrator.

ANNA-LENA: ConnectedṢ

5ACC: We think someone may have helped him.

ANNA-LENA: And you think that could have been me and RogerṢ 5ACC: No, no. We just need to ask a few routine questions, that’s all. ANNA-LENA: So you think it was her, that ZaraṢ

5ACC: I haven’t said that.

ANNA-LENA: You said you think someone helped the bank robber. That Zara was dodgy, I could see it the moment I set eyes on her, she was obviously too rich to want that apartment. And I heard that pregnant woman tell her wife that Zara looked like “Cruella de Vil.” I think that’s from a filmṢ It sounds dodgy, anyway. Or do you think it was Estelle who helped the bank robberṢ She’s almost ninety, you know. Are you going to start accusing ninety-year-olds of helping criminals nowṢ Is that how modern policing worksṢ

5ACC: I’m not accusing anyone.

ANNA-LENA: Roger and I never help anyone else at an apartment viewing, I can promise you that. Roger says that the moment we walk in it’s war and we’re surrounded by enemies. That’s why he always wants me to tell everyone that the apartment needs a lot of work done to it and that the cost of that would be very expensive. As well as the smell of damp. Things like that. Roger’s a very good negotiator. We’ve made some extremely good investments.

5ACC: So you’ve done this beforeṢ Bought an apartment only to flip itṢ

ANNA-LENA: There’s no point in an investment if you don’t sell, Roger says. So we buy, Roger does the renovations, I sort out the decor, then we sell and buy another apartment.

5ACC: That sounds like an unusual thing for two people who are retired to do.

ANNA-LENA: Roger and I like working on projects together.

5ACC: Are you okayṢ


5ACC: You look like you’re crying. ANNA-LENA: I’ve had a very trying day! 5ACC: Sorry. That was insensitive of me.

ANNA-LENA: I know Roger doesn’t always come across as particularly sensitive, but he is. He likes us to have a project in common because he’s worried we’d run out of things to talk about

otherwise. He doesn’t think I’m interesting enough to be with all day unless we’ve got a project.

5ACC: I’m sure that’s not true.

ANNA-LENA: What would you know about thatṢ

5ACC: I guess I don’t know anything at all. Sorry. I’d like to ask a few questions about the other prospective buyers now.

ANNA-LENA: Roger’s more sensitive than he seems.

5ACC: Okay. Can you tell me anything about the other people at the viewingṢ

ANNA-LENA: They were looking for a home.

5ACC: SorryṢ

ANNA-LENA: Roger says there are two types of buyer. Those who are looking for an investment, and those who want a home. The ones who are looking for a home are emotional idiots, they’ll pay anything because they think all their problems will just disappear the moment they move in.

5ACC: I’m not sure I understand.

ANNA-LENA: Roger and I don’t let our feelings get in the way of our investments. But everyone else does. Like those two women at the viewing, the one who was pregnant and the other one.

5ACC: 5ulia and RoṢ


5ACC: You think they were the sort who were “looking for a home”Ṣ

ANNA-LENA: It was obvious. People like that go to viewings thinking that everything would feel better if only they were living there. That they’d wake up in the mornings and not find it hard to breathe. They wouldn’t have to look in the bathroom mirror with an invisible weight in their chest. They’d argue less. Maybe touch each other’s hands the way they did when they were first married, back when they couldn’t help it. That’s what they think.

5ACC: You’ll have to excuse me, but it looks like you’re crying againṢ

ANNA-LENA: Don’t tell me what I’m doing!

5ACC: Okay, okay. But you seem to have put a fair amount of thought into how people behave at apartment viewings, is that fair to sayṢ

ANNA-LENA: Roger does most of the thinking. Roger’s very intelligent, you know. You need to know your enemy, he says, and all your enemy wants is to get it over with. They just want to move in and have done with it and never have to move again. Roger isn’t like that. We saw a documentary about sharks once, Roger’s very interested in documentaries, and there’s a particular type of shark that dies if it stops moving. It’s something to do with the way they absorb oxygen, they can’t breathe unless they’re moving the whole time. That’s how our marriage has ended up.

5ACC: Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand.

ANNA-LENA: Do you know what the worst thing about being retired isṢ

5ACC: No.

ANNA-LENA: That you get too much time to think. People need a project, so Roger and I became sharks, and if we didn’t keep moving, our marriage wouldn’t get any oxygen. So we buy and renovate and sell, buy and renovate and sell. I did suggest that we try golf instead, but Roger doesn’t like golf.

5ACC: Sorry to interrupt, but I wonder if we might be getting a little off the point hereṢ You only have to tell me about the hostage situation. Not about you and your husband.

ANNA-LENA: But that’s the problem.

5ACC: What isṢ

ANNA-LENA: I don’t think he wants to be my husband anymore.

5ACC: What makes you say thatṢ

ANNA-LENA: Do you know how many IKEA stores there are in SwedenṢ

5ACC: No.

ANNA-LENA: Twenty. Do you know how many Roger and I have been toṢ

5ACC: No.

ANNA-LENA: All of them. Every single one. We went to the last one fairly recently, and I didn’t think Roger had been keeping count, but when we were in the cafeteria having lunch Roger suddenly said we should each have a piece of cake as well. We never have cake in IKEA. We always have lunch, but never cake. And that was when I knew that he’d been keeping count. I know Roger doesn’t seem romantic, but sometimes he can be the most romantic man on the planet, you know.

5ACC: That certainly sounds romantic.

ANNA-LENA: He can seem hard on the surface, but he doesn’t hate children.

5ACC: WhatṢ

ANNA-LENA: Everyone thinks he hates children because he gets so angry when real estate agents put “children’s room” on the plans. But he only gets angry because he says children push the price up like you wouldn’t believe. He doesn’t hate children. He loves children. That’s why I have to distract him when we’re walking through the children’s section in IKEA.

5ACC: I’m sorry.


5ACC: Sorry, I took that to mean that you couldn’t have children. And if that’s the case, I’m sorry.

ANNA-LENA: We’ve got two children!

5ACC: I apologize. I misunderstood. ANNA-LENA: Have you got childrenṢ 5ACC: No.

ANNA-LENA: Our two are about your age, but they don’t want kids of their own. Our son says he’d rather focus on his career, and our daughter says the world’s already overpopulated.

5ACC: Oh.

ANNA-LENA: Can you imagine what a bad parent you must have been for your children not to want to be parentsṢ

5ACC: I’ve never thought about that.

ANNA-LENA: Roger would have been such a good grandfather, you know. But now he doesn’t even want to be my husband.

5ACC: I’m sure things will work out between you, no matter what’s happened.

ANNA-LENA: You don’t know what’s happened. You don’t know what I’ve done, it was all my fault. But I just wanted to stop, it’s been nothing but one apartment after the other for years now, and in the end I’ve had enough. I’m looking for a home, too. But I had no right to do what I did to Roger. I should never have paid for that darn rabbit.

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