The master stone layer excused himself before going over to a group of men, busy raking a heap of sand into place in front of the casino entrance, leaving Geir and Bjorn to themselves.
"Well, that sort of made sense, didn't it?" Bjorn said thoughtfully.
"If tearing up perfectly good asphalt in order to lay down cobbled stones is your idea of resources well spent, that is," Geir remarked. "I'd say it is a waste of everybody's time. Surely, there must be more pressing issues to tend to than this."
Geir looked around as if everywhere there were more pressing issues than replacing asphalt for cobbled stones.
"And you heard what he is making, didn't you?" Geir continued. "Yet he is not lifting a finger to help the people doing the real work. Just look at him, bossing those black guys around as if they were his personal slaves."
"Yeah, he is not going to break into a sweat any time soon," Bjorn agreed.
"And yet he makes as much in ten days as these people do in a thousand. Just think about that for a moment! That guy, bossing those guys around is making a hundred times more than them."
Bjorn nodded thoughtfully. Something was clearly not right, and yet he could not quite put his finger on it. Venturing an explanation off the top of his head he remarked that the big difference between the master and his slaves was the fact that the master was free to leave at any time, while the slaves were basically stuck in Lundy for at least the duration of their asylum application.
"And again I can't help thinking that we are partially responsible for their misery," Bjorn said. "Since our job is to make sure these people cannot escape."
"No, you are mistaken. The problem is that this village is completely outside political control," Geir corrected confidently. "There are basically no rules down here. Anything goes, and this is what we end up with. A few wealthy people taking advantage of everybody else. Their misery has nothing to do with us."
Geir's explanation was comforting and convincing, and Bjorn did not feel like questioning it.
"You think it's like this by accident, or is it all some sort of conspiracy," Bjorn asked, curious to hear Geir's thoughts on the murky dealings that lead up to the establishment of the Lundby colony.
"What you mean?" Geir asked, not understanding the question.
"Well... I mean... Did they intentionally leave the whole issue of law and order out of the deal?"
"But they didn't," Geir corrected. "They specifically left the issue of law and order to be dealt with by Pedro, the contractor in charge of the colony."
"So this situation is by design?" Bjorn asked. "Surly, the foreign minister must have known the consequences of such a decision."
"I'm sure he did. But he saved the Norwegian tax payers a fortune brokering this deal."
"So he put money ahead of dignity for these people?" Bjorn asked, feeling uncomfortable again.
"He put our money ahead of their dignity," Geir corrected. "You keep forgetting that we had a hell of a problem with these people down in Oslo, and everywhere else where we put up asylum seeker centres for them. And now that we finally got a solution you're concerned about social issues?"
Bjorn nodded in agreement. He was clearly the confused one. He kept feeling surprised and even outraged at times. Yet he was all for the establishment of the colony in the first place. The conditions for the workers were terrible. But at least they were doing something of value, all be it misdirected and frivolous at times. And the main issue as far as his fellow Norwegians were concerned, was that the old asylum seeker policy was in great need of serious changes, and this was clearly a huge improvement for everybody, not least because the colony was privately operated at virtually no cost to the tax payers. Two check points and a few guards was the total investment as far as the tax payers were concerned.
"I got a few things to buy for Ante, over at Pingo," Geir said, stopping Bjorn from analysing his thoughts further. "He gave me this grocery list. We are apparently short on cheese, carrots and wine."
"Okay," Bjorn responded, only happy to be distracted with another assignment. Then he turned around and followed Geir across the road in the direction of the tiny super market at the other side of the square.