They were all in excellent spirits as they stepped out into the cool crispness of the arctic evening. The sun was setting, giving everything around them a warm glow that no doubt further lightened their mood. John too stepped out for a bit of fresh air, even though he was going to stay at the check point to take the night shift after Geir. However, he too seemed festive in his own way, probably taking enjoyment from seeing his colleagues all being so up beat and eager for a night out.
Ante opened the doors of his red sedan by a click of a button on his key, and everybody but John crammed into it, making themselves as comfortable as they could. It being Thomas' birthday, he had the pleasure of taking the seat next to Ante, while Espen had to take the middle seat in the back, being the smallest of the three going in there.
Bjorn, sitting behind Thomas, was suddenly struck by curiosity regarding the cars at the check point, and asked Ante about this as soon as the car started rolling.
"So why are we always using your car?" Bjorn asked leaning a bit in Ante´s direction. "This is your car, right?"
"Yep! This is my car," Ante confirmed. "But it doubles as our shared military vehicle."
"It´s all part of the cuts in the military budget," Frank added helpfully. "They pay Ante a monthly lease instead of giving us one of their own cars. Saves them money, they figure."
"And gives me a bit of extra money to spend," Ante concluded with a smile.
Bjorn leaned back in his seat, pleased with the explanation, and further impressed by Ante's ability to make the most of every opportunity.
"But you managed to convince the guys in Oslo to set up a fence for us anyway," Bjorn asked casually of Frank. "I'm sure that's not going to be cheap."
"Ah! But I'm a master negotiator," Frank answered with a smile. "They are putty in my hands!"
Everybody laughed, and then there was a bit of silence before Espen set the conversation going again.
"Is that your gun?" he asked Frank.
"It sure is!"
"You brought your gun?" Thomas asked, visibly shocked and concerned. Turning in Frank's direction he added "why the hell did you do that?"
"You know what they say," Frank answered with a smug smile, while patting the side of his chest where the contours of his gun could be seen under his thin summer jacket. "When in Rome, do as the Romans."
"Well, we are not going to Rome," Thomas noted dryly.
"But we are going to Lundby. And they are all a bunch of gangsters down there, aren't they?"
"Which suits you perfectly it seems," Thomas added, still dismayed by Frank's decision.
There was again silence among the colleagues. But this time it did not take long before Espen broke it with another question.
"I thought it was against the rules to take arms into the village," he asked.
"Not anymore," Frank answered with a triumphant smile. "In fact, we are from now on always going to carry guns with us when in uniform, and this includes times spent on duty in the village. And there are no restrictions regarding guns when going down there as civilians, as we do now."
There was again a bit of silence, this time to let the news sink in. Then, Bjorn asked when Frank had put on the gun, since he did not see Frank wearing it while in the living room.
"I made a snap decision to put it on when I went up to get my jacket," Frank replied helpfully. "I couldn't resist it, actually. And I figure we might as well start broadcasting the message right away, that we're not going to take any abuse from anyone laying down."