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Authors: Henning Mankell

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BOOK: The Troubled Man
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Lundberg seemed to hesitate again. Wallander waited, didn’t nudge him.

“Shortly before he died, he told me about something that happened at the beginning of the 1980s,” Lundberg said eventually. “You could say that he’d become less malevolent, finally reconciled to the fact that I was going to take over everything, no matter what.”

Lundberg stood up and left the room. Wallander was beginning to think that he wasn’t going to say any more when he came back, carrying a few old diaries.

“September 1982,” he said. “These are his diaries. He noted down catches, and the weather. But also anything unusual that happened. And something unusual happened on September 19, 1982.”

He passed the diary over the table to Wallander and pointed out the appropriate place. It said, in very neat handwriting:
Almost pulled down

“What did he mean by that?”

“He told me about it once. At first I thought he was confused and sinking into senility, but what he said was too detailed to be imagined.”

“Tell me all about it, from the beginning,” said Wallander. “I’m especially interested in what happened in the fall of 1982.”

Lundberg moved his cup to one side, as if he needed the extra space in order to tell his story.

“He was drifting off the east coast of Gotland, fishing, when it happened. The boat seemed to come to a sudden stop. Something was tugging at the nets, and the boat nearly capsized. He had no idea what had happened, apart from the obvious fact that something heavy had become caught in the nets. He was very careful because in his younger days he had occasionally fished up gas shells. He and the two assistants he had on board tried to cut themselves loose—but then they realized that the boat had turned and the trawl had worked itself free. They managed to haul it in, and found they had
caught a steel cylinder about three feet long. It wasn’t a shell or a mine; it looked more like a part of a ship’s engine. It was heavy, and it didn’t seem to have been lying in the water very long. They tried to decide what it was, but to no avail. When they got back home Dad continued examining the cylinder, but he couldn’t work out what it had been used for. He put it aside and continued repairing the trawl. He had always been cheap, and it went against the grain to throw anything away. But there’s a sequel to the story.”

Lundberg slid the diary back toward himself and leafed forward a few days, to September 27. Once again he showed Wallander the open page.
They are searching
. Three words, no more.

“He’d almost forgotten about the cylinder when navy vessels suddenly started turning up at the precise spot where he’d found it. He often used to fish there, off the east coast of Gotland. He knew it wasn’t a routine maneuver—the ships were moving in such strange ways. They would stay still for a while, then start moving in ever-decreasing circles. It wasn’t long before he figured out what was going on.”

Lundberg closed the diary and looked at Wallander.

“They were looking for something they had lost. But Dad didn’t have the slightest intention of returning the steel cylinder. It had ruined his trawl. He continued fishing and took no notice of them.”

“What happened then?”

“The navy had ships and divers deployed there during the fall and on until December. Then the last of the ships moved away. There were rumors that a submarine had sunk there. But the place where they were searching wasn’t deep enough for a submarine. The navy never got its cylinder back, and Dad never really understood what it was. But he was pleased to have gotten back at them for destroying his jetty. I honestly can’t believe that he was in close touch with a naval officer.”

They sat there without speaking. Wallander was trying to work out how von Enke could have fit in to what he had just been told.

“I think it’s still there,” said Lundberg.

Wallander thought he must have misheard, but Eskil Lundberg had already gotten to his feet.

“The cylinder,” he said. “I think it’s still in the shed.”

They left the house, the dog scampering around at their feet sniffing for tracks. A wind was blowing up. Anna Lundberg was hanging wash on a line suspended between two old cherry trees. The white pillowcases were smacking in the wind. Behind the boathouse was a shed balancing precariously on the uneven rocks. There was just one lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Wallander entered a space full of smells. An ancient-looking eel spear hung
from one of the walls. Lundberg squatted down and rummaged around in one corner of the shed among tangled ropes, broken bailers, old cork floats, and tattered nets. He poked and prodded with a degree of violence that suggested he shared his father’s anger at the trouble caused by the navy. He eventually stood up, took a step to one side, and pointed. Wallander could see a cylindrical object, in gray steel, like a large cigar case with a diameter of about eight inches. At one end was a half-open lid, revealing a mass of electric cords and switching relays.

“We can take it outside,” said Lundberg, “if you give me a hand.”

They lifted it down onto the jetty. The dog ran up immediately to examine it. Wallander tried to imagine what the cylinder’s function could be. He doubted it was part of an engine. It might have something to do with radar equipment, or with the launching of torpedoes or mines.

Wallander squatted down and searched for a serial number or a place of manufacture, but found nothing. The dog was licking his face until Lundberg shooed her away.

“What do you think it is?” he asked when he stood up again.

“I don’t know,” said Lundberg. “Neither did my dad. He didn’t like that. That’s one way in which I’m like him. We want answers to our questions.”

Lundberg paused for a few moments before continuing.

“I don’t need it. Maybe it’s of some use to you?”

Wallander didn’t realize at first that Lundberg was referring to the steel cylinder at their feet.

“Yes, I’d be happy to take it,” he said, thinking that Sten Nordlander might be able to explain what the cylinder was used for.

They put it in the boat and Wallander unfastened the line. Lundberg turned east and headed for the strait between Bokö and Björkskär. They passed a small island with a building at the edge of a clump of trees.

“An old hunting lodge,” said Lundberg. “They used to use it as a base when they were out shooting seabirds. My dad sometimes stayed there for a few nights when he wanted to spend some time drinking and be on his own. It’s a good hiding place for anybody who wants to disappear from the face of the earth for a while.”

They docked at the pier. Wallander reversed the car to the water’s edge, and they lifted the steel cylinder into the backseat.

“There’s one thing I’m wondering about,” said Lundberg. “You said that both husband and wife vanished. Am I right in thinking that they didn’t disappear at the same time?”

“Yes. Håkan von Enke disappeared in April, and his wife only a few weeks ago.”

“That’s strange. The fact that there’s no trace of them at all. Where could he have gone to? Or they?”

“We simply don’t know. They might be alive, they might be dead.”

Lundberg shook his head.

“There’s still the question about the photograph,” said Wallander.

“I don’t have an answer for you.”

Was it because Lundberg’s reply came too quickly? Wallander wasn’t sure, but he did wonder, purely intuitively, if what Lundberg said was true. Was there something he didn’t want to tell Wallander about, despite everything?

“Maybe it will come to you,” said Wallander. “You never know. A memory might rise to the surface one of these days.”

Wallander watched him backing away from the quay, then they both raised their hands to say good-bye, and the boat shot off at high speed toward the strait and Halsö.

Wallander took a different route home. He wanted to avoid passing that little café again.

When he arrived he was tired and hungry, and he didn’t pick up Jussi from the neighbor’s. He could hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. It had been raining; he could smell it in the grass under his feet.

He unlocked the door and went into the house, took off his jacket and kicked off his shoes.

He paused in the hall, held his breath, listened intently. Nobody there. Nothing had been disturbed, but even so he knew that somebody had been in the house while he was away. He went into the kitchen in his socks. No message on the table. If it had been Linda, she would have scribbled a note and left it there. He went into the living room and looked around.

He’d had a visitor. Somebody had been there and had left.

Wallander pulled on his boots and walked around the outside of the house.

When he was sure that nobody was observing him, he went to the dog kennel and squatted down.

He felt around inside. What he had stashed was still there.


He had inherited the tin box from his father. Or rather, he had found it among all the discarded paintings, tins of paint, and paintbrushes. When Wallander cleared out the studio after his father’s death, it brought tears to his eyes. One of the oldest paintbrushes had a maker’s mark indicating that it had been manufactured during the war, in 1942. This had been his father’s life, he thought: a constantly growing heap of discarded paintbrushes in the corner of the room. When he was cleaning up and throwing everything into big paper bags before losing patience and ordering a Dumpster, he had come across the tin box. It was empty and rusty, but Wallander could vaguely remember it from his childhood. At one time in the distant past his father had used it to store his old toys—well-made and beautifully painted tin soldiers, parts of a Meccano set.

Where all these toys had disappeared to he had no idea. He had looked in every nook and cranny of both the house and the studio without finding them. He even searched through the old trash heap behind the house, dug into it with a spade and a pitchfork without finding anything. The tin box was empty, and Wallander regarded it as a symbol, something he had inherited and could fill with whatever he pleased. He cleaned it up, scraped away the worst of the rust, and put it in the storeroom in the basement in Mariagatan. It was only when he moved into his new house that he rediscovered it. And now it had come in handy, when he was wondering where to hide the black file he had found in Signe’s room. In a way it was her book, he thought; it was Signe’s book and might contain an explanation for her parents’ disappearance.

He decided the best place to hide the tin box was under the wooden floor of the kennel in which Jussi slept. He was relieved to find that the book was still there. He decided to pick up Jussi without further ado. The neighboring farm was at the other side of several oilseed rape fields that had been harvested while he was away. He walked until he came to where his neighbor was repairing a tractor and collected Jussi, who was leaping around and straining at his chain at the back of the house. When they arrived home he dragged in the cylinder, spread some newspapers out on the kitchen table, and started to examine it. He was being very cautious since alarm bells were ringing deep down inside him. Perhaps there was something dangerous inside it? He carefully disentangled all the cords and disconnected the various
relays and plugs and switches. He could see that some sort of fastening device on the underside of the cylinder had been torn off. There was no serial number or any other indication of where the cylinder had been made, or who its owner had been. He took a break to make dinner, an omelette that he filled with the contents of a can of mushrooms and ate in front of the television while failing to be enthused by a soccer match as he tried to forget all about the cylinder and missing persons. Jussi came and lay down on the floor in front of him. Wallander gave him the rest of the omelette, then took him for a walk. It was a lovely summer evening. He couldn’t resist sitting down on one of the white wooden chairs on the western side of the house, where he had a superb view of the setting sun as it sank below the horizon.

He woke with a start, surprised to realize that he had fallen asleep. He had been oblivious to the world for nearly an hour. His mouth was dry, and he went back inside to measure his blood sugar. It was much higher than normal, 274. That worried him. The only conclusion he could draw was that it was time to increase yet again the amount of insulin he injected into his body at regular intervals.

He remained seated for a while at the kitchen table, where he had pricked his finger when checking his blood sugar level. Once again he was overcome by feelings of dejection, resignation, awareness of the curse of old age. And by worry about the blackouts when his memory and sense of time and place disappeared completely. I’m sitting here, he thought, messing around with a steel cylinder when I should be visiting my daughter and getting to know my grandchild.

He did what he always did when he was feeling dejected. He poured himself a substantial glass of schnapps and downed it in one go. Just one big glass, no more, no refill, no topping up. Then he messed around with the cylinder one more time before deciding that enough was enough. He took a bath, and was asleep before midnight.

Early the next day he called Sten Nordlander. He was out in his boat but said he should be on land in an hour and promised to call back then.

“Has anything happened?” he shouted in an attempt to make himself heard above all the interference.

“Yes,” shouted Wallander in return. “We haven’t found the missing persons, but I’ve found something else.”

Martinsson called at seven-thirty and reminded Wallander of the meeting due to take place later in the morning. A member of a notorious Swedish gang of Hells Angels was in the process of buying a property just outside
Ystad, and Lennart Mattson had called a meeting. Wallander promised to be there at ten o’clock.

He didn’t intend to tell Sten Nordlander exactly where he’d found the cylinder. After discovering that somebody had invaded his house while he was away, he had decided not to trust anyone—at least not without reservations. Obviously, whoever the intruder was might have had reasons for breaking in that had nothing to do with Håkan and Louise von Enke, but what could they possibly be? The first thing he did that morning was make a thorough search of the house. One of the windows facing east, in the room where he had a guest bed that was never used, was ajar. He was quite certain he hadn’t left it open. A thief could easily have entered through that window and left again the same way without leaving much in the way of traces. But why hadn’t he taken anything? Nothing was missing, Wallander was sure of that. He could think of only two possibilities. Either the thief hadn’t found what he was looking for, or he had left something behind. And so Wallander didn’t simply look for something that was missing, but also for something that hadn’t been there before. He crawled around, looking under chairs, beds, and sofas, and searched among his books. After almost an hour, just before Nordlander called, he concluded his search without having discovered anything at all. He wondered if he should talk to Nyberg, the forensic expert attached to the Ystad police force, and ask him to look for possible hidden microphones. But he decided not to—it would raise too many questions and give rise to too much gossip.

BOOK: The Troubled Man
13.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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