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Authors: Henning Mankell

The Troubled Man (55 page)

BOOK: The Troubled Man
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He lined up his Lego pieces in his mind’s eye once more. They were all there: Louise and Håkan von Enke, Hans, Signe in her bed, Sten Nordlander, Hermann Eber, Steven Atkins in America, George Talboth in Berlin. He added Fanny Klarström, and then another piece—but he didn’t yet know whom it represented. Then he slowly removed piece after piece until there were only two left. Louise and Håkan. It was Louise who fell over. That’s how her life came to an end; she was knocked over somewhere on Värmdö. But Håkan, her husband, was still standing.

Wallander recorded his thoughts. Then he put the photograph from Washington in his jacket pocket and left the police station. This time he left through the main entrance, greeted the girl in reception, spoke to a few traffic officers who had just come in, then walked down the hill into town. Anybody watching him might have wondered why he was walking so erratically—now fast, now slow. Occasionally he held out one hand, as if he were talking to somebody and needed to emphasize what he was saying with various gestures.

He stopped at the hot dog stand opposite the hospital and stood there for ages wondering what to order; but then he kept on walking without having eaten anything at all.

The whole time, the same thoughts were running through his mind. Could what he now envisaged really be true? Could he have misinterpreted what had happened so fundamentally?

He wandered around town and eventually went to the marina, walked to the end of the pier, and sat down on his usual bench. He took the photo out of his pocket and examined it yet again, then put it back.

·   ·   ·

The penny had dropped. Baiba had been right, his beloved Baiba whom he was now longing for more than ever.

Behind every person there’s always somebody else
. The mistake he had made was to confuse those in the foreground with those lurking in the background.

Everything added up at last. He could see the pattern that had eluded him thus far. And he could see it very clearly.

A fishing boat was on its way out of the harbor. The man at the helm raised a hand and waved to Wallander. He waved back. Thunderclouds were building up on the horizon. At this moment he missed his father. That didn’t happen often. For a short while after his father’s death, Wallander had been aware of a frightening vacuum, but at the same time it was a relief that he had passed away. But at this moment neither the vacuum nor the relief was still there; he simply missed his father and longed to relive the good times they’d had together, despite everything.

Perhaps I never saw him as he really was, didn’t know who he really was, nor what he meant for me and for others. Just as little as I understood until now about Håkan von Enke’s disappearance and Louise’s death. At last I feel I’m getting closer to a solution, rather than drifting farther and farther away from it.

He realized that he would have to make another journey this summer, which had already involved so much traveling. But he had no choice. He knew now what he needed to do.

Once again he took the photo out of his jacket pocket. He held it in front of him, then tore it in two, right down the middle. Once there had been a world that brought Stig Wennerström and Håkan von Enke together, but now he had torn them apart.

“Was that the case even in those days?” he said out loud to himself. “Or was it something that came about much later?”

He didn’t know. But he intended to find out.

Nobody heard him as he sat there, at the very end of the pier, speaking aloud to himself.


Looking back, he had only vague and disjointed memories of that day. He eventually left the pier and went back into town, stopped outside a newly opened café in Hamngatan, peered in through the door, then left immediately. He made another tour of the streets before stopping at the Chinese restaurant near Stora Torget that he usually frequented. He sat down at an empty table—there were not many customers at this time in the afternoon—and somewhat absentmindedly chose a dish from the menu.

If anybody had asked him afterward what he had eaten, he probably wouldn’t have been able to tell them. His thoughts were elsewhere. He was formulating a plan to confirm his suspicions. He now held different cards in his hand; everything he had believed earlier had been proved wrong.

He sat there for ages, poking at his food with his chopsticks, then suddenly devoured everything, far too quickly, paid the bill, and left the restaurant. He returned to the police station. On the way to his office he was stopped by Kristina Magnusson, who invited him to join her family for dinner that weekend. He could pick the day, Saturday or Sunday. Since he couldn’t think of an excuse to turn her down, he told her he’d be delighted to join her on Sunday. He hung his homemade “Do Not Disturb” sign on the handle of his office door, switched off his cell phone, and closed his eyes. After a while he straightened his back, scribbled a few notes in his notepad, and knew that he had now made up his mind. For better or worse, he needed to determine whether things really were as he now thought. To make sure he wasn’t mistaken, hadn’t allowed himself to be fooled again. In a sudden outburst of anger he hurled his pen at the wall and cursed loudly. Just once, no more. Then he called Sten Nordlander. The connection was poor. When Wallander insisted that it was absolutely vital that they talk, Nordlander promised to call him back. Wallander hung up, and wondered why it was so difficult to call certain parts of the archipelago. Or was Nordlander actually somewhere else?

He waited. He spent the time going over all the thoughts filling his head. His brain was like a tank full to the brim. He was worried that it might start to overflow.

Sten Nordlander called forty minutes later. Wallander had placed his watch on the desk in front of him and noted that the hands pointed to ten minutes past six. The connection was now perfect.

“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. I’m moored at Utö now.”

“Not far from Muskö, then,” said Wallander. “Or am I wrong?”

“Not at all. You could say without fear of contradiction that I’m in classic waters. Submarine waters, that is.”

“We need to meet,” said Wallander. “I want to talk to you.”

“Did something happen?”

“Something’s always happening. But I want to talk to you about a thought that’s occurred to me.”

“So nothing’s happened?”

“Nothing. But I don’t want to discuss this on the phone. What are you doing for the next few days?”

“It must be important if you’re thinking of coming here.”

“There’s something else I need to take care of in Stockholm,” said Wallander, as calmly as he could.

“When were you thinking of coming?”

“Tomorrow. I know it’s short notice.”

Nordlander thought for a moment. Wallander could hear his heavy breathing.

“I’m on my way home,” he said. “We could meet in town.”

“If you tell me how to get to wherever you’ll be, I can make my way there.”

“I think that would be best. Shall we meet in the lobby of the Mariners’ Hotel? What time?”

“Four o’clock,” said Wallander. “Thank you for agreeing to meet me.”

Nordlander laughed.

“Do you give me any choice?”

“Do I sound that strict?”

“Like an old schoolmaster. You’re sure that nothing’s happened?”

“Not as far as I know,” said Wallander evasively. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

Wallander sat down at his computer and with some effort eventually managed to buy a train ticket and book a room at the Mariners’ Hotel. Since the train was due to leave early the following day, he drove home and took Jussi to his neighbors’. The husband was in the farmyard, tinkering with his tractor. He raised his eyebrows at Wallander when he saw him approaching with the dog.

“Are you sure you don’t want to sell him?”

“Completely sure. But I have to go away again. To Stockholm.”

“I seem to recall that only the other day you were sitting in my kitchen and telling me how much you hated big towns.”

“I do. But I have to go for work reasons.”

“Don’t you have enough crooks to deal with down here?”

“I certainly do. But I’m afraid I do have to go to Stockholm.”

Wallander stroked Jussi and handed over the leash. Jussi was used to this by now, and didn’t react.

But before leaving, Wallander had a question for his neighbor. It was only polite to ask at this time of year, as fall was approaching.

“How’s the harvest looking?”

“Not too bad.”

Very good, in other words, Wallander thought as he made his way back home. He’s usually pretty gloomy when it comes to forecasting crop yields.

Wallander called Linda when he got in. He didn’t tell her the real reason for his journey; he simply said he’d been called to an important meeting in Stockholm. She didn’t question that, merely asked how long he was going to be away.

“A couple of days. Maybe three.”

“Where will you be staying?”

“At the Mariners’ Hotel. For the first night, at least. I might stay with Sten Nordlander after that.”

It was seven-thirty by the time he had packed a few clothes into a bag, locked up the house, and settled in his car to drive to Malmö. After much hesitation he had also packed his—or rather, his father’s—old shotgun and a few cartridges, as well as his service revolver. He was going to travel by train and wouldn’t need to pass through security checks. He didn’t like the idea of taking weapons, but on the other hand, he didn’t dare travel without them.

He checked into a cheap hotel on the outskirts of Malmö, had dinner at a restaurant not far from Jägersro, and then went for a long walk to tire himself out. He was up and dressed by five the next morning. When he paid his bill, he made arrangements for his car to stay in the hotel parking lot until he returned, then ordered a taxi to take him to the train station. He could feel it was going to be a hot day.

Wallander usually felt at his most alert in the mornings. That had been the case for as long as he could remember. As he stood outside the hotel, waiting for his taxi, he had no doubts. He was doing the right thing. At long last he felt he was approaching a solution to everything that had happened.

He spent the train journey to Stockholm sleeping, leafing through various newspapers, half-solving a few crossword puzzles, and simply sitting back and letting his mind wander. His thoughts returned over and over
again to that evening in Djursholm. He recalled all the photos he had at home of that occasion. How Håkan von Enke seemed worried. And just one picture of Louise when she wasn’t smiling. The only picture in which she was serious.

He ate a couple of sandwiches and drank coffee in the restaurant car, surprised by the prices, then sat with his head in his hands, gazing absentmindedly out the window at the countryside hurrying past.

Shortly after Nässjö, what he always dreaded nowadays happened. He suddenly had no idea where he was going. He had to check his ticket in order to remember. His shirt was soaked in sweat after this attack of forgetfulness. Yet again he had been shaken.

He checked into the Mariners’ Hotel at about noon. Sten Nordlander arrived shortly after four. He was tanned, and his hair had been cut short. He also seemed to have lost weight. His face lit up when he saw Wallander.

“You look tired,” Nordlander said. “Haven’t you made the most of your vacation?”

“Apparently not,” Wallander replied.

“It’s lovely weather—shall we go out, or would you prefer to stay here?”

“Let’s go out. How about Mosebacke? It’s warm enough to sit out in the sun.”

As they walked up the hill to the square, Wallander said nothing about why he had come to Stockholm. And Sten Nordlander didn’t ask any questions. The walk winded Wallander, but Nordlander seemed to be in good shape. They sat out on the terrace, where nearly all the tables were occupied. It would soon be fall, with its chilly evenings. Stockholmers were taking advantage of the opportunity to sit outside for as long as possible.

Wallander ordered tea—he had a stomachache from drinking too much coffee. Nordlander decided on a beer and a sandwich.

Wallander braced himself.

“I wasn’t really telling you the truth when I said that nothing had happened. But I didn’t want to talk about it on the phone.”

He was observing Nordlander carefully as he spoke. The expression of surprise on his face seemed to be completely genuine.

“Håkan?” he asked.

“Yes. I know where he is.”

Nordlander’s eyes never left Wallander’s face. He doesn’t know, Wallander
thought, and felt relieved. He hasn’t the slightest idea. Right now I need somebody I can rely on.

Nordlander said nothing, waited. There was a buzz of conversation on all sides.

“Tell me what happened!”

“I will. But first, let me ask you a few questions. I want to make sure my interpretation of how all these events are connected is correct. Let’s discuss politics. What did Håkan stand for, during his time as an active officer? What were his political views? Regarding Olof Palme, for example? It’s well known that a lot of military men hated him and didn’t hesitate to spread absurd rumors about him being mentally ill and being treated in a hospital, or that he was a spy for the Soviet Union. How does Håkan fit in with that?”

“Not at all. As I’ve told you. Håkan was never one of the main antagonists of Olof Palme and the Social Democratic government. As you no doubt recall, he actually met Palme on one occasion. I think he thought that the criticism of Palme was unfair, and that there was an overestimation of the Soviet Union’s capacity for waging war and their desire to attack Sweden.

“Have you ever had reason to believe that he wasn’t being honest?”

“Why would I? Håkan is a patriot, but he is very analytical. I think he was turned off by all the extreme hatred of Russia that surrounded him.”

“What were his views on the U.S.A.?”

“Critical in many ways. I remember him saying once that the U.S.A. is in fact the only country in the world that has used a nuclear weapon to attack another country. Obviously, you can talk about the special circumstances that applied at the end of the Second World War, but the fact remains: America has used an atomic bomb on people. Nobody else has done that. Not yet.”

BOOK: The Troubled Man
12.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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