Bjorn was in no hurry to get back to his colleagues in the casino, but the cold was getting to him, so he did not feel like hanging around outside for much longer either. What he really wanted was simply to get back to the checkpoint and into bed, and once this thought settled with him he immediately started looking around for a taxi.
But there was no taxi to be seen, and Bjorn quickly realized that the village was way too small to support its own taxi operator. He was in other words stuck in the village until his colleagues too felt like going back to the barracks, and he felt a sting of resentment towards them for it having to be this way. However, he quickly supressed this feeling, telling himself that it really was him who was the odd one out, and that he had no reason to feel any kind of resentment towards his colleagues who had been nothing but kind towards him.
Bjorn finished his baguette and tossed its paper wrapping in a make shift garbage bin. Then, taking a last wide look of the market, he made up his mind to go back in and join the others in whatever conversation they were having. But just as he was about to pace quickly over to the casino, he caught sight of the security officer that had stopped him and his colleagues over at Nora's place, and seeing that the security officer looked rather idle where he was standing, Bjorn decided to ask him how things went after their last meeting.
The security officer recognized Bjorn from their earlier meeting, and was happy to answer his question.
"I have no idea what they were up to," he explained. "The kids I mean... But I told them to go back home, and I haven't seen them around since."
Bjorn nodded. Then, hoping to start a conversation Bjorn asked about the kids roaming around with no apparent purpose.
"Yeah, it is a problem. But many of them are finding useful things to do," the security officer explained.
"Like carrying groceries for people?" Bjorn suggested, thinking of his own experience over at Pingo.
"Yes, and other things too. Many of those dolls over there have been made by kids," the officer explained, pointing to the stall with the fluffy animals.
"Child labour?" Bjorn asked rhetorically.
"Yes, but it beats having them roaming the streets."
Bjorn was again shocked to learn about the hard reality of life in Lundby, but kept it to himself. And seen from the perspective of the security officer, having the kids locked up in factories all day must indeed be a good thing, so he simply nodded in agreement.
"And how are things going regarding the ongoing conflict with the stall owners?" Bjorn asked, curious to hear what this representative for Pedro was making of it.
"Not very good, I'm afraid," the man commented honestly. "They are pushing very hard for right out annexation."
"And you are just going to let it happen?"
"There's not really all that much we can do at the moment," the man continued, surprisingly open about the whole thing. "They are armed, so it is not like we can simply push them aside."
"And they outnumber you too, don't they?"
"Sure do! About twenty to one. Not the sort of odds you want to operate with."
Bjorn looked around, as if assessing the man's odds in a gun fight. Not that it was necessary in order to agree with the man's assessment, but more to get a full perspective on the hopelessness of Pedro's position.
"So, Pedro is going to give in to their demands?" Bjorn asked.
"No. But he isn't going to resolve this through brute force," the man explained. "It's not the way he does things, and it would be suicidal anyway. You won't see me opening any shots against these guys, and I don't think anyone else would be crazy enough to do that either."
The security officer looked over at one of the stall owners, giving him a friendly nod.
"So you are friendly with these guys?" Bjorn asked puzzled.
"Sure, I'm patrolling the square and the rest of the neighbourhood, and they appreciate that of course."
"And they are paying for that?"
"No, they aren't. But this is the centre of the village, and could easily become the centre of petty theft and thievery. Our clients are mainly people living in this area, and they are naturally interested in things being safe and orderly."
"And it does not hurt establishing a presence here in the village square either?" Bjorn suggested cheekily.
"Of course not."
"And the stall owners are fine with that?"
"Yes and no... They were sceptical to start with, but I think they appreciate my presence now. There is less petty thievery going on now after I've started patrolling this place."
Bjorn looked around again. The place looked peaceful and safe, and the teenagers who had previously roamed the place were indeed a good deal fewer.
"And the petty thieves aren't just doing their thievery other places while you are patrolling this place?" Bjorn asked.
"No... That's not how it works. The kids have started to look for alternative things to do. Crime has a tendency to stop once it does not pay to be a criminal."
"You're right," Bjorn agreed. "And I guess they risk getting shot if they try to break into any of those houses around here."
"Indeed, they do."
Bjorn could relate to the simple logic presented by the security officer. It resonated with his view of the world, and he felt a certain pride in being occupied in the same sort of business as the man in front of him. Bjorn too was an officer of the law. He too was occupied in the business of keeping the bad guys under control, and promoting peace and prosperity by forcing the would be thieves to find better things to do than to steal from people.
And on this happy note, Bjorn was again struck by a desire to return to the barracks. To get some well deserved rest. To celebrate, as it were, his return to society as a useful and productive member.
"There aren't any taxis in this place by any chance?" Bjorn asked, fully expecting the answer to be negative.
"Sure... Not taxis exactly... But those guys over there can get a car for you if you need one," the officer answered, pointing to Jan's two bouncers over at the casino.