Thursday, March 20, 2014


Still waiting for the black boy to come back from the casino with his change, Bjorn finished his coffee, tossed the paper cup into a bin next to Peter's stall, and started unwrapping his cheese and ham baguette while looking around at the people coming and going through the little market place.

There were a large number of cigarette packs, stacked neatly on top of each other on the right hand side of Peter's stall,  flanked by a metal basket containing what appeared to be the latest copy of the Lundby Gazette. "Pack of 20 cigarettes = 20MG" a small sign read, taped onto the table in front of the packs. "Free news" another sign read, this one taped onto the metal basket.

"May I?" Bjorn asked, reaching for a copy of the newspaper. "They are free, right?"
"Yes they are," Peter replied while handling another customer.
"And a pack of cigarettes," Bjorn continued.
"That will be 20MG... Help yourself!"

Bjorn grabbed a newspaper and a pack of cigarettes with his free hand, put the cigarettes in his pocket, and proceeded to read the top headline, all while taking a first bite of his baguette. "Preparing for the big invasion," the newspaper read in fat types all over the top half of the flimsy paper. "What's this?" Bjorn thought, immediately curious to read on.

The article turned out to be a local angle on the fact that all the asylum centres in Norway would soon be shut down, with the asylum seekers having to choose between going to Lundby or leaving the country. And while the author assumed that most people would choose to try their luck some other place, he was nevertheless convinced that the influx of new residents to Lundby would be significant over the next couple of months. However, before Bjorn had time to read all the author's thoughts on the matter, Peter's little helper returned with Bjorn's change as promised, and Bjorn had to stuff the newspaper into his pocket, together with the cigarettes, in order to handle the change.

Geir who had been inspecting, as it were, the rest of the tiny market place while Bjorn had been hanging around Peter's stall, suddenly appeared next to him, just as he clumsily directed a small handfull of casino tokens, held in his right hand, into his left hand trouser pocket.

"Stuffing yourself with free stuff, I see," Geir said with a smile, obviously finding it amusing to see Bjorn's difficulty in handling all the things he had eagerly acquired.
"Yeah, they really are giving stuff away for free down here," Bjorn replied, also with a smile, realizing how silly he must look with a newspaper sticking out of one pocket, a baguette in his left hand, and his right hand crossing over to his left hand pocket in order to put away his change.
"Here! Let me help you with that," Geir suggested, taking the baguette out of Bjorn's hand for a moment to give him two free hands.
"Thanks," Bjorn replied, relieved to have full control of the tokens again.

Handing the baguette back to Bjorn, Geir suggested they cut over to the casino to see what the work in front of it was all about. "Yeah, let's do that!" Bjorn answered, eager to see if there was any sense in it all.

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