Back inside the casino everything seemed louder and more intense than when he left, and Bjorn felt again a relief from knowing that he would not have to hang around there waiting for his colleagues. He was on his way back to the checkpoint, and all he had to do was to tell his colleagues that he had found himself a taxi.
"I haven't seen Frank anywhere," Bjorn told Ante as he reached their table.
"We know," Ante answered with a smile.
"Yeah, he appeared out of nowhere, and now he's out on the dance floor."
Bjorn turned around to see if he could see him, and there he was showing off to two girls as if he was some sort of gift to women. The girls on their side were more than happy to indulge him, but the dance floor was so crowded that it was hard to say if they were girls who just happened to enjoy his clownish behaviour, or if they were in fact impressed by his slick appearance.
"He is not exactly hiding his gun, is he?" Bjorn said as he turned back to Ante.
"No, he's not... He clearly thinks of it as a great girl magnet."
"And it seems to be working, doesn't it?"
"That, and his gold card."
"He's showing that off too?"
"Waves it about every time he's buying a drink."
"What a clown!"
Ante smiled, and nodded in the direction of Thomas and Espen sitting at the other side of the table, engaged in conversation with an attractive blond girl. "But we're not complaining," Ante added. "He's like a honey pot the way he attracts the flies."
Bjorn looked at Ante with a frown, finding his statement a little too indiscrete. "Oh... Don't you worry," Ante said with a smile. "They are all Russians. They hardly know a word of Norwegian."
Still, Bjorn found Ante a bit out of line with his derogatory comment and promptly switched the conversation to his latest discovery.
"They got taxies here in Lundby, did you know?" Bjorn proclaimed proudly.
"Yeah! The bouncers at the door will get you one if you need one, and I've ordered one for myself."
Bjorn shrugged his shoulders. "Well, I'm an old guy I guess," he said, partly to prevent Ante from being the first to bring up his age.
"You're not that old," Ante protested. "Come on, why don't you stay. The party has just started."
Bjorn was happy to hear Ante's protest, but he had made up his mind, and the taxi was already ordered, so he excused himself, fending off Ante's protests, and headed back to the exit. He walked briskly out of the large room, noticing on his way that Jan was standing by the table where drugs were traded openly to anyone who cared to buy some. Jan was clearly engaged in some sort of business discussion, and it struck Bjorn as odd that this man who seemed to welcome both druggies and prostitutes to his establishment was at the same time a patron of the church charity, and also enforcing strict anti smoking rules on his premises. It made absolutely no sense. But at the same time, there was something refreshingly eccentric about these inconsistent rules, and it put a smile on his face.
Stepping once again out into the cold night air, Bjorn was told by the bouncer that his car would arrive in about five minutes. "Just enough time to have a cigarette," Bjorn answered, letting the bouncer know that he would be standing over by the paraffin heaters having a smoke while waiting.
The bouncer nodded silently, and Bjorn went over to the designated smokers' area to have his cigarette. There were several other people standing there, and some were sitting in the chairs that had been put outside with woolly blankets for the guests to cover up while having their smoke. But there were no familiar faces among the smokers, and Bjorn was no longer in any mood to start a conversation, so he smoked his cigarette in silence, looking idly over at the market, the church up the hill, the moon, and the people coming and going.
Then, just as he finished his cigarette, a car pulled up to the curb, and the bouncer signalled to Bjorn that this was his taxi.