Thursday, May 1, 2014


The van disappeared up towards the mountain pass, leaving Bjorn strangely content in its wake. He looked down at the pack of cigarettes in his hand with a content smile. However, it was not so much the cigarettes that had left him feeling happy, as it was the conversation. The little arguing back and forth before coming to the conclusion that everything was indeed in order had given him a sense of importance in an odd kind of way.

Later, when two more cars returned, each with the trunk fully loaded with all sorts of food and drink, Bjorn put on his stern face and commented to each of the drivers that their large imports were legal, but just barely, before letting them go. The insinuation that he was somehow well versed in the subtleties of the law and an expert in its various loop holes gave him a thrill, not least because the drivers seemed to go along with his little power play. They nodded and smiled politely, as they tacitly agreed that they were indeed taking full advantage of what would surely have been illegal if it had not been for some administrative oversight in Oslo, and they thanked him wholeheartedly when he finally pushed the green button to let them pass.

Bjorn was a little surprised by himself for enjoying his position of power as much as he did. With no colleagues around to restrain him, he could probably, if he so wished, pressure some of these people into giving up more than just a pack of cigarettes in order to get away from his uncomfortable scrutiny. But he would not do such a thing, of course. One thing was realizing that he could, if he would. An entirely different thing was actually doing such a thing. However, this did not stop him from fantasizing further around the possibilities he had discovered to be inherent in his position, and he soon found himself busy imagining ways to pressure people into giving up a bottle of whiskey, or a carton of cigarettes.

Bjorn was in the middle of such a fantasy when he caught sight of a green van appearing from behind the low hill half way down towards the fjord. He must have missed the car as it turned onto the road up to the check point. But now that he was made aware of it, it struck him as odd that he would have to stop a car that he had not seen coming into the colony the same morning.

He thought for a moment that the van may have come in earlier, or that it possibly was on a round trip from Kirkenes via Lundby to Neiden. But as it came closer, he could see that it had "Pingo" written in large friendly letters on its hood. And as it turned out, it was indeed a delivery van coming with more food and drink for the check point.

A large blond guy with a heavy Russian European accent rolled down the window on Bjorn's side. "Delivery for Ante," he said casually, as if he had done this many times before.
"Okay," Bjorn replied equally casually. "You know where to find him?"
"In the kitchen, as always, I guess," the man replied.

Bjorn was tempted to open the barrier right away, but hesitated. He did not after all know the man, nor did he know the normal procedures concerning deliveries from Pingo, so he picked up the phone on his desk and pushed the hotline for Ante. "I'll call him," Bjorn explained to the big blond guy who responded with a shrug of his shoulders.

Ante picked up his phone immediately. "Sure! Just let him in," he said. "I'll meet him outside." It was clear from the tone in Ante's voice that there was no need to call him before letting in the delivery man from Pingo, but Bjorn was nevertheless pleased with himself for having made the call. Being new in his job, erring on the side of caution was preferable to making an ugly mistake.

The van disappeared in behind the barracks, and Bjorn felt a sense of eager anticipation just thinking of all the good stuff Ante must have bought in order to max out on the food budget. The food budget, barely enough to keep colleagues at other military installations properly fed, was truly generous at the check point where cheap food, and even wine, were readily available at the local grocery store.

And with this thought in mind it struck Bjorn that he and his colleagues at the check point were little different from the people he had been pestering with his insinuations earlier on. He too was profiting from the low prices in the village. "Why on earth should there be any difference between him and his fellow Norwegians when it came to something as basic as food and drink?" he thought to himself, feeling a sting of guilt for having even contemplated the possibility of pressuring them into giving up some of their goods to him.

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