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Authors: Henning Mankell

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BOOK: The Troubled Man
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After the meal she wanted something to drink. But he said no, he wasn’t going to give her another drop as long as she was in his house. If she didn’t like that she could call a taxi and spend the night at a hotel in Ystad. She started to argue, but she gave up when it became clear that Wallander was serious.

When she went to bed at midnight, she made a tentative effort to embrace him. But he resisted, merely stroked her hair and left the room. He listened outside the door, which was ajar; she was awake for a while, but eventually fell asleep.

Wallander went out, let Jussi out of his kennel, and sat down on the garden hammock that used to be his father’s. The summer night was bright, windless, and filled with scents. Jussi came to sit at his feet. Wallander suddenly felt uneasy. There was no going back in life, even if he were naïve enough to wish that was possible. It was not possible to take even one step backward.

When he finally went to bed, he took half a sleeping pill in the hope of
avoiding a restless night. He simply didn’t want to think anymore, neither about the woman asleep in his bed nor the thoughts that had tortured him when he’d been sitting in the garden.

When he woke up the next morning he was astonished to find that she had left. He was normally a very light sleeper, but he hadn’t heard her get up and slip quietly out of the house. There was a note on the kitchen table: “Sorry for being here when you came home.” That was all, nothing about what she actually wanted to be forgiven for. He wondered how many times during their marriage she had left similar notes, apologizing for what she’d done to him. A vast number that he neither could nor even wanted to count.

He drank coffee, fed Jussi, and wondered if he should call Linda and tell her about Mona’s visit, but since what he needed to do above all else was talk to Ytterberg, that would have to wait.

It was a breezy morning, with a cold wind blowing from the north; summer had gone away for the time being. The neighbor’s sheep were grazing in their fenced-off field, and a few swans were flying east.

Wallander called Ytterberg in his office. He picked up right away.

“I heard that you were asking for me. Have you found the von Enkes?”

“No. How are things going for you?”

“Nothing new worthy of mention.”

“Nothing at all?”

“No. Do you have anything to report?”

Wallander had been planning to tell Ytterberg about his visit to Bokö and the remarkable cylinder he had found, but he changed his mind at the last minute. He didn’t know why. Surely he could rely on Ytterberg.

“Not really.”

“I’ll be in touch again.”

When the short and basically pointless call was over, Wallander drove to the police station. He needed to devote the whole day to going through a depressing assault case in connection with which he’d been called as a witness. Everybody blamed everybody else, and the victim, who had been in a coma for two weeks, had no memory of the incident. Wallander had been one of the first detectives to arrive at the scene, and would therefore have to testify in court. He had great difficulty recalling any details. Even the report he’d written himself seemed unfamiliar.

Linda suddenly appeared in his office. It was about noon.

“I hear you had an unexpected visit,” she said.

Wallander slid the open files to one side and looked at his daughter. Her
face now seemed less puffy than it had been, and she might even have lost a few pounds.

“Mona’s been knocking on your door, has she?”

“She called from Malmö. She complained that you’d been nasty to her.”

Wallander reacted in astonishment.

“What did she mean by that?”

“She said you only reluctantly let her in despite the fact that she was feeling sick. Then you gave her hardly anything to eat, and locked her in the bedroom.”

“None of that is true. The bitch is lying.”

“Don’t call my mom that,” said Linda, her face darkening.

“She’s lying, whether you like it or not. I welcomed her, I let her in, I dried her tears, and I even made up the bed with clean sheets for her.”

“She wasn’t lying about her new man, at least. I’ve met him. He’s just as charming as psychopaths usually are. Mom has an odd talent for choosing the wrong man.”

“Thank you.”

“I don’t mean you, of course. But that lunatic golf player wasn’t much better than the guy she’s with now.”

“The question is: What can I do about it?”

Linda thought for a moment before answering. She rubbed her nose with the index finger of her left hand. Just like her grandfather used to do, Wallander thought. He’d never noticed that before, and now he burst out laughing. She looked at him in surprise. He explained. Then it was her turn to laugh.

“I have Klara in the car,” she said. “I just wanted to have a quick word about this business with Mom. We can talk later.”

“You mean you left the baby alone in the car?” Wallander was upset. “How could you do such a thing?”

“I have a friend with me; she’s looking after Klara. How could you think I’d leave her alone?”

She paused in the doorway.

“I think Mom needs our help,” she said.

“I’m always here,” said Wallander. “But I’d prefer her to be sober when she visits. And she should call in advance.”

“Are you always sober? Do you always call before you visit somebody? Have you never felt sick?”

She didn’t wait for a reply but vanished into the hallway. Wallander had just started reading his report again when Ytterberg called.

“I’m taking a few days off,” he said. “I forgot to mention that.”

“Going anywhere interesting?”

“I’ll be staying in an old cottage in a lovely location by a lake just outside Västerås. But I wanted to tell you a few of my thoughts about the von Enkes. I was a bit curt when we spoke a few minutes ago.”

“I’m all ears.”

“Let me put it like this. I have two theories about their disappearance, and my colleagues agree with me. Let’s see if you’re thinking along the same lines. One possibility is that they planned their disappearance in advance, but for some reason they decided to vanish at different times. There could be various explanations for that. For instance, if they wanted to change their identity, he might have gone ahead to some unknown place in order to prepare for her arrival. Meet her on a road filled with palm fronds and roses, to use a biblical image. But there could be other reasons, of course. There’s really only one other plausible possibility: that they’ve been subjected to some sort of attack. In other words, that they’re dead. It’s hard to find a reason why they might have been exposed to violence, and if so, why it should happen at different times. But apart from those two alternatives, we have no idea. There’s just a black hole.”

“I think I’d have reached the same conclusions as you.”

“I’ve consulted the leading experts in the country about possible circumstances associated with missing persons, and our job is simple in the sense that there’s only one way for us to approach this.”

“Find them, you mean.”

“Or at least understand why we can’t find them.”

“Have there been any new details at all?”

“None. But there is one other person we have to take into account.”

“You mean the son?”

“Yes. We can’t avoid it. If we assume that they engineered their disappearance, we have to ask why they’d subject him to such horrors. It’s inhuman, to put it mildly. Our impression is that they are not cruel people. You know that yourself; you’ve met them. What we’ve dug up about Håkan von Enke indicates that he was a well-liked senior officer, unassuming, shrewd, fair, never temperamental. The worst we’ve heard about him is that he could occasionally be impatient. But can’t we all? As a teacher, Louise was well liked by her pupils. Uncommunicative, quite a few said. But refraining from speaking nonstop is hardly grounds for suspicion—you have to listen now and then too. Anyway, it doesn’t seem credible that they could have lived double lives. We’ve even consulted experts in Europol. I’ve had several phone conversations with a French policewoman, Mlle. Germain in Paris, who had a lot of sensible things to say. She confirmed my own thought, that we also need to look at the matter in a radically different light.”

Wallander knew what he was getting at.

“You mean what role Hans might have played?”

“Exactly. If there was a large fortune at stake, that might have provided us with a lead. But there isn’t. All in all, the Enkes have about a million kronor—plus their apartment, which is probably worth seven or eight million. You could argue that it’s a lot of money for an ordinary mortal. But given contemporary circumstances, you could say that a person with no debts and the assets I’ve referred to is well off, but hardly rich.”

“Have you spoken to Hans?”

“About a week ago he was in Stockholm for a meeting with the Financial Supervisory Authority. He was the one who took the initiative and got in touch with me, and we had a chat. I have to say that he seemed genuinely worried, and that he simply couldn’t understand what had happened. Besides, he earns a pretty substantial salary.”

“So that’s where we are, is it?”

“Not exactly a strong position to be in. But we’ll keep digging, even if the ground seems very hard.”

Ytterberg suddenly put down the receiver. Wallander could hear him cursing in the background. Then he picked up the receiver again.

“I’m leaving in two days,” said Ytterberg. “But you can always contact me if there’s an emergency.”

“I promise to call only if it’s important,” said Wallander, and hung up.

After that phone call Wallander went down to sit on the bench outside the entrance to the station. He thought through what Ytterberg had said.

He stayed there for a long time. Mona’s sudden visit had tired him out. This was not the way he wanted things to be; he didn’t want her turning his life upside down by making new demands on him. He would have to make this clear to her if she turned up on his doorstep again, and he must persuade Linda to be his ally. He was prepared to help Mona—that wasn’t a problem—but the past was the past. It no longer existed.

Wallander walked down the hill to a sausage stand across from the hospital. A lump of mashed potato fell off his tray, and a jackdaw swooped down immediately to steal it.

He suddenly had the feeling that he’d forgotten something. He felt around for his service pistol. Or could he have forgotten something else? He wasn’t sure if he’d come to the hot dog stand by car, or walked down the hill from the police station.

He dumped the half-eaten sausage and mashed potatoes into a trash can and looked around one more time. No sign of a car. He slowly started to trudge back up the hill. About halfway there, his memory returned. He broke into a cold sweat and his heart was racing. He couldn’t put off consulting
his doctor any longer. This was the third time it had happened within a short period, and he wanted to know what was going on inside his head.

He called the doctor he had consulted earlier when he’d returned to duty. He was given an appointment shortly after Midsummer. When he put the receiver down, he checked to make sure that his gun was locked up where it should be.

He spent the rest of the day preparing for his court appearance. It was six o’clock when he closed the last of his files and threw it onto his guest chair. He had stood up and picked up his jacket when a thought suddenly struck him. He had no idea where it came from. Why hadn’t von Enke taken his secret diary away with him when he visited Signe for the last time? Wallander could see only two possible explanations. Either he intended to go back, or something had happened to make a return impossible.

He sat down at his desk again and looked up the number for Niklasgården. It was the woman with the melodious foreign voice who answered.

“I just wanted to check that all is well with Signe,” he said.

“She lives in a world where very little changes. Apart from that which affects all of us—growing older.”

“I don’t suppose her dad has been to visit her, has he?”

“I thought he went missing. Is he back?”

“No. I was just wondering.”

“Her uncle was here yesterday on a visit. It was my day off, but I noticed it in the ledger where we keep a record of visits.”

Wallander held his breath.

“An uncle?”

“He signed himself in as Gustaf von Enke. He came in the afternoon and stayed for about an hour.”

“Are you absolutely certain about this?”

“Why would I make it up?”

“No, as you say, why would you? If this uncle comes back to visit Signe, could you please give me a call?”

She suddenly sounded worried.

“Is something wrong?”

“No, not at all. Thanks for your time.”

Wallander replaced the receiver but remained seated. He was not mistaken; he was sure of that. He had studied the von Enke family tree meticulously, and he was certain there was no uncle.

Whoever the man was that had visited Signe, he had given a false name and relationship.

Wallander drove home. The worry he had felt earlier had now returned in spades.


The following morning, Wallander had a fever and a sore throat. He tried hard to convince himself that it was his imagination, but in the end he got a thermometer, which registered 102. He called the police station and told them he was sick. He spent most of the day either in bed or in the kitchen, surrounded by the books from the library he still hadn’t read.

During the night he’d had a dream about Signe. He’d been visiting Niklasgården, and suddenly noticed that it was in fact somebody else curled up in her bed. It was dark in the room; he tried to switch the light on, but it didn’t work. So he took out his cell phone and used it as a flashlight. In the pale blue glow he discovered that it was Louise lying there. She was an exact copy of her daughter. He was overcome by fear, but when he tried to leave the room he found that the door was locked.

That was when he woke up. It was four o’clock and already light. He could feel a pain in his throat, but he felt warm and soon dropped off to sleep again. When he eventually woke up he tried to interpret his dream, but he didn’t reach any conclusions. Apart from the fact that everything seemed to be a cover-up for everything else when it came to the disappearance of Håkan and Louise von Enke.

BOOK: The Troubled Man
2.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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