Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Bjorn leafed through the newspaper, reading the article about Nora's place, and skimming through an article about the casino. The paper was clearly a mix of local news, right out promotions of various kinds, and bits of global news, probably cut and pasted directly from the internet. But it was certainly very unexpected for a village the size of Lundby to have a newspaper, and this was the biggest new as far as Bjorn was concerned.

However, as soon as the four o'clock news came on TV with its characteristic fanfare, Bjorn put the Lundby Gazette back on the table, turning his attention instead to the  news readers. There was nothing truly new on the news this afternoon, and the predictability of the official line and editorial focus made it almost a mind numbing experience to watch it. International news was again about the Middle East and Israel's supposed provocations and meddling in the region. Economic news was all about the crisis, with politicians talking tough, promising more regulations, and central bankers arguing for continued monetary stimulus in order to stabilize the markets.

The local news from Norway was an equally predictable series of reports on lay offs, financial hardships due to rising interest rates and rising unemployment, and deteriorating health services as well as a general lack of old people's homes. And once again, there were the usual promises by politicians to sort out the troubles, but also stern faced appeals to people to be patient and positive.

Then there was the usual series of short news flashes from around the world, with sex scandals in France and the US, and a viral video, this time of a singing dog from Singapore. And finally there was about fifteen minutes of sports highlights from the day before.

Espen, John and Thomas all appeared pretty much immediately after the end of the TV news, and Frank turned the TV off as soon as they entered the room. The four men had clearly made a habit of playing cards in the afternoon, seating themselves around the table where Bjorn had met them the day before.

"Do you play Bridge?" John asked, looking over at Bjorn, out of politeness rather than any genuine desire to invite a fifth person into the group.
"No, I don't," Bjorn answered, clearly causing a bit of relief in the card playing group.
"You should. It's fun," Thomas added, as he sat down, making an effort to take the edge off the rather transparent fact that they did not really want to include him.
"I might, one day," Bjorn replied, not feeling offended in any way by the group's desire to keep things unchanged.

Ante left for the kitchen as soon as the other men entered the room to play cards, and Bjorn decided to go and join him for a while before going up to his room. He had taken an immediate liking to Ante, and he had a feeling that Ante felt the same way about him. Come to think of it, Ante did not seem to have any great liking for any of his other colleagues. Not that he gave any indication of disliking them either, but it could well be that Ante was in need of a proper friend at the check point just as much as Bjorn.

Ante was in the process of taking out some fish and vegetables from the fridge when Bjorn entered the kitchen, and Bjorn was welcomed by Ante's usual talkative friendliness. Bjorn poured himself a mug of coffee, and pretty soon the two men were busy talking about everything from current affairs, their background, their plans for Friday, and about life in general. All while Bjorn sipped his coffee and Ante prepared the dinner for the day.

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