Thursday, April 17, 2014


Frank got up from his easy chair, and followed Geir over to the doorway on Geir's way out. Then, sitting down with Espen and John over at the table with the deck of cards ready for their bridge playing session, he asked his colleagues if they had seen the news about Lundby. When they said they hadn't, Frank turned briefly to Bjorn to have him confirm that Lundby had actually been mentioned by name on TV.

"Sure," Bjorn said, still sitting in the sofa with the Gazette in his hand. "But its hardly the first time. It's not like it is a big secret that there is going to be a single asylum seeker centre up here."
"Well, yes and no," Frank retorted. "Compared to the war in Libya, and even the never ending mess in Syria, we're hardly being mentioned."
Bjorn shook his head thoughtfully. "It's not like there is a war going on up here. What is there really to say?"
"So, what did they say on the news," Espen asked, turning to Frank and ignoring Bjorn's rhetorical question.

Frank gave his interpretation of what he had seen, and since it was factually correct, Bjorn did not bother to interfere in the conversation. Instead, he turned his attention once again to his newspaper, only paying scant attention to what his colleagues were saying. From the little he heard, he gathered that both Frank and John were convinced that the Lundby experiment would eventually turn violent, and while Frank sounded rather exited about such an outcome, John sounded fearful. Espen on the other hand could not quite see a violent uprising coming out of such an isolated place. "They would be massacred on their way to Neiden," he said calmly and sensibly. "And if they tried to escape by boat, they would be sunk long before they managed to reach Kirkenes, or any other place for that matter."

"Or they would simply succumb to the cold and starvation," Bjorn thought to himself. "No one will ever successfully escape the village. Certainly not through violent means." And then his thoughts went briefly to the kid from Senegal, and the hopeless situation he and his father had gotten themselves into. "They are not going to get asylum in Norway, and there is no way they will ever get enough money to return to Senegal," he thought. "They are stuck, plain and simple. Imagine, coming from sunny Senegal and then get stuck up here."

Bjorn looked out of the window where he could see no let up in the low hanging clouds drifting in from the Barents Sea. Then, focusing again on his newspaper, he finished the last couple of paragraphs of the article on the bowling alley before leafing idly through two pages of advertisements.

There was no big and immediately recognizable difference in the ads in this copy of the Gazette compared to the previous one. The casino and Pingo were both generously represented, and the casino did not hide the fact that just about anything goes. Gambling and light entertainment was of course the main focus of the ad, but prostitution, and even recreational drugs were hinted at as being available for those seeking such vices. However, the casino ad was put together in such a way that it did not say straight out that this was available. Only a closer look at the ad's collage of images gave the hint of this.

However, smaller, more to the point offerings of sex for money, listed directly under the casino ad added to the general feeling of anything goes. And to Bjorn's surprise, there were even an ad making no secret of their business being recreational drugs. The ad was not very big, and Bjorn might have overlooked it in the previous copy of the Gazette, but the message was unmistakable. "The Sky is Not the Limit," it said. "Get your recreational drugs at David's Pharmacy." A small map indicated that the pharmacy was located next to the church, on the street running parallel to the village square.

There were also all sorts of other small ads in the paper, such as rooms for rent, houses for sale, and various taxi and delivery services, but none of this came as any big surprise to Bjorn who had seen first hand the hustle and bustle in and around the village square. But an ad shamelessly promoting recreational drugs was something Bjorn had never seen before.

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