"Well, that's awkward," Ante said in a low voice. "What do we do now?"
"Ah... I was just showing these people around," Georgio explained to Pedro at the far end of the hallway.
"I can see that, Georgio. But why are you hiding your guests from me?"
"I'm not hiding them. I... We were... I mean, we were just about to leave."
"Is that so?"
Pedro looked unimpressed by Georgio's explanation.
"You know! Why don't you all come down here so I get to meet you guys?" Pedro continued. "If you have time, that is."
Georgio looked at Ante and Olga who both did as if they could spare a few minutes, nodding and smiling sheepishly.
"Okay, why not?" Georgio replied, still pretending that their rush to leave had nothing to do with Pedro and his guests entering the apartment.
"As you can see, I have some guests here of my own," Pedro continued, as Georgio and his guests headed towards the kitchen. "This is Jan and his two daughters, Vera and Hannah. They run the casino in the village, and Jan owns most of the land around here, isn't that so Jan?"
"That's right," Jan replied with a smile.
"And, who do we have here?" Pedro asked politely as Georgio came into the kitchen with his guests.
"Well, this is Olga and Igor from the village, and Ante and Bjorn from the Neiden road checkpoint, and this is Einar, my assistant," Georgio explained.
"And this must be your hand bag," Pedro commented, handing the bag over to Olga.
"Yes, thank you," Olga answered, looking bothered and embarrassed.
"And what sort of business are you in, Olga?" Pedro asked, looking genuinely interest.
"I'm running a sewing factory... cooperative."
"A sewing cooperative. Here in Lundby?" Pedro asked rhetorically, "Well, that's great."
"You think so?"
"Absolutely. Entrepreneurship is what Lundby is all about. What sort of things are you making?"
"Dolls and fluffy animals. And jackets and... well... lingerie."
"That's quite a range of different stuff," Pedro commented. "How many are you all in all."
"It's just me and two others here in the village, and three over in Nikel. Six all in all."
"So there's plenty of room for expansion?"
"There is," Olga replied with a modest smile.
"And you're her proud husband, I take it?" Pedro continued, looking at Igor.
"Yes, I am... Very proud of her."
"You work together?"
"No. I work for Pingo."
"When you're not driving people around at night, that is," Ante added.
"Well... Only when I'm off work."
"You drive people around?" Pedro asked.
"Yeah... Like a taxi service."
"A taxi service?"
"You know... Those apps that you can use. And you get a car to drive you from A to B."
"Yes, I do. Which one are you using?"
"Cool name, don't you think?" Pedro asked with a smile.
"You know, I own that app."
"Well... I own ten per cent."
"Absolutely!" Pedro replied with a satisfied nod. "I see a great future in that kind of services."
Then, looking at Einar, he asked how he was doing, working for Georgio.
"I'm doing fine," Einar answered.
"He's very talented," Georgio added. "He's been a great help."
"And what sort of plans do you have when you're finished here?" Pedro asked. "You're not going to Venice with Georgio and his friends, are you?"
"Oh no... That won't happen," Einar answered. "I don't know what I will do... I'll find something."
"I'll need a carpenter or two one of these days," Jan commented.
"Is that so?" Einar asked.
"Yep... You seem a little young, though. How old are you?"
"So! That's younger than I thought."
"How old did you think I was?"
"Seventeen... Or what do you think, Vera?"
"Yeah... More than fourteen, any way," Vera replied.
"But you know your stuff, do you?" Jan continued.
"He does." Georgio replied on Einar's behalf. "Do you already have a master carpenter?"
"I'm negotiating with one right now."
"Well, I would not hesitate to recommend Einar to him."
"Okay," Jan said with a nod. "You know... Give me a call when you're finished working for Georgio."
Jan handed a business card to Einar, who accepted it with stunned appreciation.
"And how are things up at the checkpoint?" Pedro asked, turning to Bjorn and Ante.
"Can't complain, really," Ante answered.
"You got any special skills?"
"No, not really," Ante answered modestly.
"He's one heck of a chef. But apart from that, no." Bjorn added with a smile.
"Is that so?" Pedro asked. "You're the chef up there?"
"Kind of, yes."
"Oh, come on now," Bjorn said, turning to Ante. "Of course you are. He's really talented!"
"Good enough to come work for me?" Pedro asked.
"Hey, wait a minute!" Bjorn protested. "He's our chef."
"He is your chef?" Pedro asked. "You own him?"
"And what about you?" Pedro continued, still looking at Bjorn. "Do you have any special skills?"
"No... Not really."
"You've been a soldier all your life?"
"No. I worked as an engineer once."
"You did?" Pedro asked. "So, why have you joined the army?"
"Ah... Because... I'd rather be in the army than an engineer."
"It's easier... And it pays just as well."
"After taxes," Bjorn added.
Pedro looked at Bjorn for a moment, as if he was considering whether or not to tell him a secret.
"You were over at Ane's factory the other day, weren't you?" Pedro asked.
"Yeah. Together with Geir. Why?"
"Nah... Nothing. Ane told me about you. That's all."
"Nothing bad... Just that you were over there at Wednesday, was it?"
"Yeah. She told you that?"
"She did indeed... But never mind that. What sort of stuff did you do as an engineer?"
"Ah... Electronics. But mostly programming towards the end."
"Is that so?" Pedro asked with a pleased smile. "What sort of programming?"
"Scripts, web pages, and some low level stuff."
"Well, that's very interesting," Pedro said with a nod. "We're looking for programmers."
"Well... Not me so much as my technical guru... You know... I'll introduce you to him on Wednesday."
"This coming Wednesday?" Bjorn asked puzzled.
"When you're down at the airport anyway."
"At the airport?" Bjorn asked even more puzzled.
"Sure. Haven't Frank told you?"
"Well," Pedro said with a knowing smile. "Then you have it from me. You'll spend most of Wednesday at the airport, together with Espen, provided you don't misbehave on Tuesday."
"And what's going to happen on Tuesday?" Bjorn asked.
"That's for me to know and you to find out," Pedro answered with a smile. "If I told you everything ahead of time, life wouldn't be any fun, would it?"