Chapter no 43

Anxious People

Roger glanced over the balcony railing at the police, then took a deep breath and shouted: “We need supplies!”

“Medical? Are you hurt?” one of the police officers called back. His name was Jim, his hearing wasn’t great, and he hadn’t experienced many hostage situations before. Or any at all, if we’re being strictly correct.

“No! We’re hungry!” Roger shouted. “Angry?” the policeman yelled.

There was another police officer, a younger one, standing next to him. He was trying to shut the older one up so he could hear what Roger was saying, but of course the older one wasn’t listening.

“NO! PIZZA!” Roger yelled, but because he had cotton stuPed in both nostrils unfortunately it sounded more like “pisser.”


police officer shouted.



younger officer shouted at the older police officer down in the street, but by then Roger had already left the balcony in frustration. He hadn’t actually sworn that much since a group of damn activists had changed the name of his favorite chocolate bars because the old name was regarded as insulting to someone or other. He stomped back inside the apartment and waved his notepad and IKEA pencil in the air.

“We’ll make a list and throw it down,” he declared. “What sort of pizza does everyone want? You 1rst!” he demanded, pointing at the bank robber.

“Me? Oh, I don’t really mind. Anything will do,” the bank robber piped up feebly.

“Are you hard of thinking or something? Just make a decision for once! No one’s going to respect you otherwise!” Zara exclaimed from the sofa (where she had only sat down after 1rst fetching a towel from the bathroom to put between her and the cushion, because heaven only knew what sort of individuals had sat there before her. They probably had tattoos and goodness only knew what else). “I can’t decide,” the bank robber said, which were probably the truest words the bank robber had uttered all day. When you’re a child you long to be an adult and decide everything for yourself, but when you’re an adult you realize that’s the worst part of it. That you have to have opinions all the time, you have to decide which party to vote for and what wallpaper you like and what your sexual preferences are and which Aavor yogurt best reAects your personality. You have to make choices and be chosen by others, every second, the whole time. That was the worst thing about getting divorced, in the bank robber’s opinion, the fact that you thought you were done with all that, but now you had to start making decisions about everything again. We already had wallpaper and crockery, the balcony furniture was almost new, and the children were about to start swimming lessons. We had a life together, wasn’t that enough? The bank robber had reached a point in life where everything felt… complete, at last. Which means that you’re in no 1t state to be thrown out into the wilderness to 1nd out who you are all over again. The bank robber tried to make sense of all these

thoughts, but didn’t have time before Zara interrupted again. “You need to make demands!”

Roger agreed. “She’s actually right. If you don’t, the police will get nervous, and that’s when they start shooting. I’ve seen a documentary about it. If you take hostages, you have to tell them what you want so they can start to negotiate.”

The bank robber replied unhappily and honestly: “I want to go home to my children.”

Roger took this under consideration for a while. Then he said: “I’ll put down a capricciosa for you, everyone likes capricciosa. Next! What sort would you like?”

He was looking at Zara now. She seemed to be in a state of total shock. “Me? I don’t eat pizza.”

When Zara went to a restaurant she always ordered shell1sh, and made it very clear that she wanted them served with the shells intact, because then she could be sure that no one in the kitchen had touched the insides. If the restaurant didn’t have any shell1sh, Zara ordered boiled eggs. She hated berries, but liked bananas and coconuts. Her idea of hell was a never-ending buPet with her stuck in the queue behind someone who had a cold.

“Everyone’s having pizza! Besides, it’s free!” Roger clari1ed, with a badly timed sniAe.

Zara wrinkled her nose and the rest of her face followed suit.

“People eat pizza with their hands. The same hands they use to renovate apartments.”

But of course Roger didn’t back down, just looked in turn at Zara’s handbag, shoes, and wristwatch, then scribbled something on his pad.

“I’ll say you want whatever the most expensive one is, will that do? Maybe they’ve got something with truAe, gold leaf, and some sort of endangered baby turtle on it, like some ridiculous stuck-up marinara. Next!”

Estelle looked worried about having to decide so quickly, so she exclaimed: “I’ll have the same as Zara.”

Roger peered at her, then wrote “capricciosa” on his pad.

Then it was Ro’s turn, and her face took on an expression that only a mother or a manufacturer of de1brillators could love.

“A kebab pizza with garlic sauce! Extra sauce. And extra kebab. Preferably a bit charred. Hang on, I’ll go and see what Jules would like!”

She banged on the closet door.

“What is it?” Julia yelled.

“We’ve ovdeving 9izza!” Ro cried.

“I mant a Hamaiian mithout 9inea99le and mithout ham, but mith banana and 9eanuts instead, and tell them not to coob it fov too long!”

Ro took such a deep breath that her back creaked. She leaned closer to the door.

“Can’t you have a pizza from the menu just for once, darling? A nice, normal pizza? Why do I always have to call and give them a set of instructions like I’m trying to help a blind person land a plane?”

“Rnd extva cheese if it’s good cheese! Rsb if they haue good cheese!”

“Why can’t you just haue something off the menu libe a novmal 9evson?”

It wasn’t entirely clear if Julia had failed to hear what Ro said, or if she was ignoring her, because she yelled back from inside the closet: “Rnd oliues! Rot gveen ones, though!”

“That isn’t a Hawaiian,” Ro muttered very quietly to herself.

“Of couvse it is!”

Roger did his best to note all that down. Then the closet door opened and Julia peered out, then said out of the blue in a friendly voice:

“Anna-Lena says she’ll have the same as you, Roger.”

Roger nodded slowly, looking down at his pad. He had to go out into the kitchen so that no one saw him write a new note, because the 1rst one was impossible to write on when it was wet. When he got back to the living room the rabbit raised his hand timidly.

“I’d like a—” the voice said from inside the head.

“Capricciosa!” Roger interrupted, blinking away the tears and giving the rabbit a look that said this wasn’t the time to be vegetarian or any other crap like that, so the rabbit just nodded and mumbled: “I can take the ham oP, no problem, that’s 1ne.”

Then Roger looked around for something heavy enough to attach the note to, and eventually found a round object that seemed just the right density. That was how the police came to hear someone shout from the balcony again, and when Jack looked up, a lime hit him on the forehead.


From that distance, that makes one hell of a bump.

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