Chapter no 62

Anxious People

“I’ll get it,” the bank robber said.

“No! What if it’s the police?!” Ro exclaimed.

“It’s probably just the pizzas,” the bank robber guessed.

“Are you mad? The police would never send a pizza delivery guy into a hostage situation! I mean, you’re armed and dangerous!” Ro said.

“I’m not dangerous,” the bank robber said, hurt. “I didn’t mean it like that,” Ro said, apologetically.

Roger got to his feet over by the 1replace, which was smoking considerably less now, and pointed at the bank robber with a lump of wood as if it were his hand.

“Ro’s right. If you open the door, the police might shoot you. It would be better if I went!”

Julia agreed, albeit a little too readily for Roger’s liking. “Yes! Let Roger go! Who knows? We might manage to come up with a way to help you escape, and then the police will never know that you’re a woman. Everyone will just assume that the bank robber’s a man!”

“Why?” Roger wondered.

“Because women aren’t usually that stupid,” Zara interjected, ever helpful.

The bank robber sighed hesitantly. But Anna-Lena took a tiny, tiny step toward the middle of the room and whispered: “Please, don’t open the door, Roger. What if they shoot?”

Roger got some smoke in his eyes, even though there wasn’t any now. He didn’t say anything. So Lennart stepped forward and said: “Oh, let me do it! Give me the mask and I’ll pretend to be the hostage taker. I’m an actor, after all

—I was in The Mevchant of Fenice at the local theater.”

“Isn’t it The Mevchant from Fenice?” Anna-Lena wondered. “Is it?” Lennart asked.

“Oh, I like that play, there’s a lovely line in it. Something about a light!” Estelle declared happily, but she couldn’t for the life of her remember what it was.

“God, just stop babbling and concentvate for a minute!” Julia snapped, because there had just been another knock on the door.

Lennart nodded and held his hand out to the bank robber. “Give me the mask and pistol.”

“No, give them here, I’ll go!” Roger snapped, with a renewed need for validation.

The two men squared up against each other, as well as they could. Roger would probably have liked to hit Lennart again, all the more so now that the rabbit’s head was gone. But perhaps Lennart could see how much Roger was hurting, so before Roger had time to clench his 1sts, he said: “Don’t be angry with your wife, Roger. Be angry with me.”

Roger still looked angry, but that must have struck home somewhere, making a tiny crack in his anger where the air slowly seeped out of it.

“I…,” he grunted, not looking at Anna-Lena. “Let me do this,” Lennart asked.

“Please, darling,” Anna-Lena whispered.

Roger looked up, only as far as her chin, and saw it was quivering. And he backed down. It could have been a touching moment, actually, if only he could have stopped himself muttering: “For what it’s worth, I hope they shoot you in the leg, Lennart.”



It was nicer than it sounded.



At that moment Estelle managed to remember the line from the play, so she declared: “That light we see is burning in my hall. How far that little candle

throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”

There was another she remembered now, such a mant-mit sadness mabes of me, but she didn’t say that one out loud because she didn’t want to spoil the mood. The bank robber looked at the little old lady.

“I’m so sorry, I’ve only just remembered that you were waiting for your husband—Knut, wasn’t it? He was parking the car when I… he must be so worried!” she said, distraught with guilt.

Estelle patted the bank robber’s arm.

“No, don’t worry about that. Knut’s already dead.” The bank robber’s face turned white.

“While you’ve been in here? He died while you were here…? Oh, dear Lord…”

Estelle shook her head.

“No, no, no. He’s been dead awhile. The whole world doesn’t revolve around you, dear.”

“I…,” the bank robber managed to say. Estelle patted her arm.

“I just said Knut was parking the car because I get lonely sometimes. And it feels better to pretend that he’s on his way. Especially at this time of year, he always used to like New Year, we used to stand at the kitchen window watching the 1reworks. Well… we used to stand on the balcony for years… but I couldn’t bring myself to go out there after something that happened down on the bridge ten years ago. It’s a long story. Anyway, Knut and I used to stand in the kitchen watching the 1reworks through the window, and… oh, you miss such peculiar things. I almost miss that more than anything. Knut loved 1reworks, so I suppose I always feel extra lonely at New Year. I’m such a silly old woman.”

Everyone else had fallen silent, listening as she related this. It could have been a touching moment, actually, if Zara hadn’t cleared her throat at the other end of the room.

“Everyone thinks Christmas is when most people kill themselves. That’s a myth. Far more people commit suicide at New Year.”


That spoiled the mood. It’s hard to deny that it did.



Lennart looked at Roger, Roger looked at the bank robber, the bank robber looked at them all. Then she nodded decisively. When the apartment door was 1nally opened, Jim the police officer was standing outside. A short while later he went back down to the street and told his son he’d spoken to the bank robber.

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