Authors: Henning Mankell
“It looks pretty serious. He might have been ambushed in the woods and abducted. That’s what I think is most likely at the moment.”
Ytterberg asked for Wallander’s cell phone number before hanging up. Wallander returned to his cup of tea, thinking he would have much preferred coffee. Louise returned from the kitchen and looked inquiringly at him. Wallander shook his head.
“Nothing new. But they are taking his disappearance extremely seriously.”
She remained standing by the sofa.
“I know he’s dead,” she said out of the blue. “I’ve refused to think the worst so far, but now I can’t put it off any longer.”
“There must be some basis for that conviction,” said Wallander cautiously. “Is there anything in particular that makes you think that way right now?”
“I’ve lived with him for forty years,” she said. “He would never do this to me. Not to me and not to the rest of the family either.”
She hurried out of the room. Wallander heard the bedroom door close. He waited for a moment, then stood up and tiptoed into the hall and listened outside. He could hear her crying. Although he wasn’t an emotional
type, he could feel a lump in his throat. He drank the rest of his tea, then went to von Enke’s study, where he had been the previous evening. The curtains were still drawn. He opened them and let in the light. Then he started searching through the desk, one drawer at a time. It was all very neat, with a place for everything. One of the drawers contained several old pipes, pipe cleaners, and something that looked like a duster. He turned his attention to the other pedestal. Everything was just as neatly filed—old school reports, certificates, a pilot’s license. In March 1958 Håkan von Enke had passed a test enabling him to pilot a single-engine plane, conducted at Bromma Airport. So he didn’t spend all his life down in the depths, Wallander thought. He imitated not only the fish, but the birds as well.
Wallander took out von Enke’s reports from the Norra Latin grammar school. He had top grades in history and Swedish, and also in geography. But he only just scraped by in German and religious studies. The next drawer contained a camera and a pair of earphones. When Wallander examined the camera, an old Leica, more closely, he noticed that it still had film. Either twelve pictures had been taken, or there were twelve exposures still available. He put the camera on the desktop. The earphones were also old. He guessed that they might have been state-of-the-art some fifty years ago. Why had von Enke kept them? There was nothing in the bottom drawer apart from a comic book with colored pictures and speech bubbles retelling the story of
The Last of the Mohicans
. The comic had been read so often that it almost disintegrated in Wallander’s hands. He recalled what Rydberg had once said to him:
Always look for something that doesn’t fit in with the rest
. What was a copy of Classics Illustrated from 1962 doing in the bottom drawer of Håkan von Enke’s desk?
He didn’t hear Louise approaching. Suddenly she was there, in the doorway. She had removed all trace of her emotional breakdown, and her face was newly powdered. He held up the comic.
“Why did he keep this?”
“I think he got it from his father on a special occasion. He never told me any details.”
She left him to his own devices again. Wallander opened the remaining large drawer, at waist height between the two pedestals. Here the contents were anything but neatly ordered—letters, photographs, old airline tickets, a doctor’s certificate, a few bills. Why was everything jumbled up here, but not anywhere else? He decided to leave the contents of this drawer untouched for the time being, and left it open. The only thing he removed was the doctor’s certificate.
The man he was trying to track down had been vaccinated many times.
As recently as three weeks ago he had been vaccinated against yellow fever, and also tetanus and jaundice. Stapled to the certificate was a prescription for antimalarial drugs. Wallander frowned. Yellow fever? Where might you be traveling to if you needed to be vaccinated against that? He returned the document to the drawer without having answered the question.
Wallander stood up and turned his attention to the bookcases. If the books told the truth, Håkan von Enke was very interested in English history and twentieth-century naval developments. There were also books on general history and a lot of political memoirs. Wallander noted that Tage Erlander’s memoirs were standing next to Stig Wennerström’s autobiography. To his surprise Wallander also discovered that von Enke had been interested in modern Swedish poetry. There were names Wallander didn’t recognize, others of poets he knew a little about—such as Sonnevi and Tranströmer. He took out some of the books and noted that they showed signs of having been read. In one of Tranströmer’s books somebody had made notes in the margin, and at one point had written: “Brilliant poem.” Wallander read it, and he agreed. It was about the sighing of coniferous forests. There were what appeared to be the complete works of Ivar Lo-Johansson, and also of Vilhelm Moberg. Wallander’s image of the missing man was changing all the time, deepening. Nothing gave him the impression that the commander was vain and merely wanted to demonstrate to the world that he was interested in the arts. Wallander hated those types.
Wallander left the bookcases and turned his attention to the tall filing cabinet, opening drawer after drawer. Files, letters, reports, several private diaries, drawings of submarines labeled “Types commanded by me.” Everything was neat and tidy, apart from that desk drawer. Nevertheless, something was nagging at Wallander without his being able to put his finger on it. He sat down at the desk again, and contemplated the open filing cabinet. There was a brown leather armchair in one corner of the room, a table, and a reading lamp with a red shade. Wallander moved from the desk chair to the reading chair. There were two books on the table, both of them open. One was old, Rachel Carson’s
. He knew it was one of the first books warning that the advance of Western civilization constituted a threat to the future of the planet. The other book was about Swedish butterflies—short blocks of text interspersed with color photographs. Butterflies and a planet under threat, Wallander thought. And a chaotic desk drawer. He couldn’t see how the various parts fit together.
Then he noticed a corner of a magazine sticking out from under the armchair. He bent down and picked up an English, or possibly American, journal on naval vessels. Wallander thumbed through it. There was everything
from articles on the aircraft carrier
to sketches of submarines still at the drawing-board stage. Wallander put the magazine down and looked again at the filing cabinet.
Seeing without seeing
. That was something Rydberg had warned him about: not noticing what you were really looking for. He went through the filing cabinet once again and found a duster in one of the drawers. So he keeps everything in here spotless, Wallander thought. Not a speck of dust on any of his papers, everything shipshape. He sat down on the desk chair and looked again at the open drawer that was such a mess, unlike everything else. He started to work his way carefully through the contents, but he found nothing to raise an eyebrow. All that worried him was the mess. It stuck out like a sore thumb; it didn’t seem to be how Håkan von Enke would have arranged things. Or did chaos come naturally to him, and it was the orderliness that broke the pattern?
He stood up and ran his hand over the top of the unusually tall filing cabinet; there was a folder lying out of sight, and he took it down. It contained a report about the political situation in Cambodia, written by Robert Jackson and Evelyn Harrison, whoever they might be. Wallander was surprised to discover that it came from the U.S. Department of Defense. It was dated March 2008, only just out. Whoever had read it had evidently felt strongly about it, underlining several sentences and making margin notes with big, forceful exclamation marks. It was titled
On the Challenges of Cambodia, Based on the Legacies of the Pol Pot Regime
He went back into the living room. The teacups had been cleared away. Louise was standing at one of the windows, gazing down into the street. When he cleared his throat, she turned so quickly that she gave the impression of being frightened, and Wallander was reminded of the way her husband had behaved at the party in Djursholm—the same kind of reaction, he thought. They are both worried, scared, and seem to be under some kind of threat.
He hadn’t intended to ask the question, but it simply came out of its own accord when he remembered Djursholm.
“Did he have a gun?”
“No. Not anymore. Håkan probably had one when he was still on duty. But here at home? No, he’s never had one here.”
“Do you have a summer cottage?”
“We’ve talked about buying a place, but we never got around to it. When Hans was little we used to spend every summer on the island of Utö. In recent years we’ve gone to the Riviera and rented an apartment.”
“Is there anywhere else he might keep a gun?”
“No. Why are you asking?”
“Perhaps he has some kind of store somewhere. Do you have an attic? Or a basement?”
“We keep some old furniture and souvenirs from his childhood in a room in the basement. But I can’t believe there could be a gun there.”
She left the room and came back with a key to a padlock. Wallander put it in his pocket. Louise asked him if he’d like more tea, but Wallander said no. He couldn’t bring himself to say that he would love a cup of coffee.
He went back to the study and continued leafing through the report on Cambodia.
Why had it been lying on top of the filing cabinet?
There was a footstool beside the easy chair. Wallander placed it in front of the filing cabinet and stood on tiptoe so that he could see the top of the cabinet. It was covered in dust, except for where the folder had been lying. Wallander replaced the stool and remained standing. It suddenly dawned on him what had attracted his attention. There seemed to be papers missing, especially in the filing cabinet. To make sure, Wallander worked his way through everything one more time, both the things in the desk drawers and those in the filing cabinet. Everywhere, he found traces of documents having been removed. Could Håkan have done it himself? That was a possibility; or it could have been Louise.
Wallander went back to the living room. Louise was sitting on a chair that Wallander suspected was very old. She was staring at her hands. She stood up when he came into the room and asked again if he would like a cup of tea. He accepted this time. He waited until she had poured his tea, and noticed that she didn’t take a cup herself.
“I can’t find anything,” Wallander said. “Could someone have been through his papers?”
She looked quizzically at him. Her tiredness made her face look gray, almost twisted.
“I’ve been searching through them, of course. But who else could have?”
“I don’t know, but it looks as if some papers are missing, as if disorder has been introduced into all those neat and tidy files. I could be wrong.”
“No one has been in his study since the day he disappeared. Except for me, naturally.”
“I know we’ve talked about this already, but let me ask you again. Was he neat by nature?”
“He hated untidiness.”
“But he wasn’t a pedant, I seem to remember you saying.”
“When we have visitors for dinner, he always helps me set the table. He checks to make sure the cutlery and glasses are where they should be. But he doesn’t use a ruler to get the lines exactly right. Does that answer your question?”
“It certainly does,” said Wallander gracefully.
Wallander drank his tea, then went down to the basement to take a look at the family’s storeroom. It contained a few old suitcases, a rocking horse, plastic boxes full of toys used by earlier generations, not just Hans. Leaning against the wall were some skis and a dismantled device for developing photographic negatives.
Wallander sat down cautiously on the rocking horse. The thought struck him as suddenly and relentlessly as the thugs had attacked him only a few days ago: Håkan von Enke was dead. There was no other possible explanation. He was dead.
That realization not only made him feel sad, it also troubled him.
Håkan von Enke was trying to tell me something, he thought. But unfortunately, in that bunker in Djursholm, I didn’t understand what.
Wallander was woken up as dawn was breaking by a young couple arguing in the room next door. The walls were so thin that he could hear clearly the harsh words they were exchanging. He got out of bed and rummaged through his toiletry bag for a pair of earplugs, but he had evidently left them at home. He banged on the wall, two heavy blows followed by one more, as if he were sending one final swearword via his fist. The argument ceased abruptly—or maybe they continued arguing in voices so low that he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Before going back to sleep he tried to recall if he and Mona had also had an argument in the hotel when they visited the capital. It happened occasionally that they dredged up pointless trivialities—always trivialities, never anything really serious—that made them angry. Our confrontations were never colorful, he thought, always gray. We were miserable or disappointed, or both at the same time, and we knew it would soon pass. But we would argue nonetheless, and we were both equally stupid and said things we immediately regretted. We used to send whole flocks of birds shooting out of our mouths and never managed to grab them by their wings.
He fell asleep and dreamed about somebody—Rydberg, perhaps, or possibly his father?—standing in the rain, waiting for him. But he had been delayed, perhaps by his car breaking down, and he knew he would be told off for arriving late.
After breakfast he sat in the lobby and dialed Sten Nordlander. Wallander began with his home number. No reply. No reply on the cell either, although he was able to leave a message. He said his name and his business. But what was his business, in fact? Searching for the missing Håkan von Enke was a job for the Stockholm police, not for him. Perhaps he could be regarded as a sort of improvising private detective—a title that had acquired a bad reputation after the murder of Olof Palme.