Friday, November 7, 2014


Bjorn started leafing through the menu in front of him, mostly to check what sort of prices they were charging for the food. It was the very same glossy menu that he was used to from Oslo, but all the prices were covered with little handwritten tags expressing the prices in MG.

"I wonder how they make ends meet with these prices," Bjorn commented. "Hundred MG for a pizza. That's nothing."
"Well, everything else is cheep too," Ante replied. "I bet they can make that pizza for less than fifty. And then they make some money on the drinks and stuff, too. They'll make like a hundred MG on the two of us by the time we're finished."
"That's still not a lot, is it?"
"Maybe not, but better than what Ane's workers are getting."
"And let's say they sell like twenty pizzas in a day, plus extras. That's two Gram in a day. That's not so bad here in Lundby."
"So you think they're doing all right?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"Well, there's wages for one, and renting and heating this place. And what about the license for the franchise. That's not free either. Two Gram can't possibly cover all that."

Ante looked out of the window, as if searching for an answer.

"And yet, here they are," Ante commented thoughtfully. "Maybe they're not paying the franchising license."
"Well... Actually... That would explain a few things, wouldn't it? Like the beer, and this interior. You think they are just pretending to be a Peppe's franchise?"
"It would explain their concern about getting arrested too, wouldn't it?"
"It would."

Bjorn was impressed by Ante's reasoning. It made perfect sense, and explained all the little oddities.

"You're quite a detective!" Bjorn said, lifting his beer to his lips.

Ante too, took a sip of his beer. Then he placed the glass back on a coaster in a deliberate and thoughtful manner.

"You know, my grandfather would have loved this," he said.
"No. Opening a restaurant like this. Or rather... a restaurant of his own, in his own house."
"Yep. He actually did so. He got laid off at the iron mine. And the first thing he did was to make an informal restaurant in his house. He was a bit of a wizard in the kitchen."
"A little like you, in other words?"
"Yeah. Thanks. Only better. He made these fantastic reindeer steaks. And he had all these local herbs that he knew how to use."
"Local herbs? Here in the arctic?"
"Well, yeah. Things grow here too you know. It's not like we don't get any summer at all."
"Yeah. Well. Anyway... So he opened a restaurant?"
"He did."
"How did it go?"
"Pretty badly. He got shut down almost immediately. And he had to pay a fee and all."
"Yep. They took a big chunk of his savings."
"But why?"
"Well. He didn't have the licenses and the papers and stuff. It was illegal back then to open a restaurant in a private home."
"It still is, isn't it?"
"Yeah. Except here in Lundby. They got different rules here now."
"More like no rules at all."

Bjorn took another sip of his beer.

"It's not going to end well," he commented thoughtfully.
"You keep saying that," Ante protested. "Yet nothing wrong has happened."
"Not yet, no."
"And what exactly is going to go wrong, you think?"
"Well, I don't know. But it's not like all those rules we live under serve no purpose. They are there for a reason."
"You think so?"
"Yeah, of course!"
"So you feel unsafe, having a pizza here in Lundby, eating at Nora's Place and having a sandwich down at the market?"
"No. But it would have been better if it was regulated in some way."
"But it is."
"No it isn't. This is completely unregulated. You know that."
"It's regulated by the market."
"If any of these guys serve bad food, people will stop going to their restaurants. You don't need anyone to shut down places just in case."

Bjorn had no idea why he was defending the regulatory bodies that had shut down Ante's grandfather's restaurant. He just did. Almost mechanically, as if it was his duty to defend the rules and regulations that so obviously were infringing on people's freedoms. Yet he could not stop himself from playing the devils advocate.

"And what about the so called pharmacy across the road here?" Bjorn said defiantly. "Surely, you don't think that's all right too?"
"Well, actually I do. But here's the pizza."

And sure enough, Katinka was heading straight for their table with a large pizza, straight from the oven and cut into a grid of palm size pieces.

"You want some garlic sauce to go with that?" Katinka asked as she put the pizza on the table between the two men.
"Yeah, that would be nice," Ante answered.
"Okay, I'll be right back."

Katinka hurried back off to the kitchen to get the sauce, which gave Ante an opportunity to mention Bjorn's intention to question Katinka about her worry about getting arrested.

"And here she is," Ante said with a smile on seeing Katinka return. "I'm all ears."

Katinka put the garlic sauce on the table.

"And you are fine with drinks and all?" she asked looking from Ante to Bjorn.
"Well, I have a question," Bjorn ventured.
"Is this a real Peppe's franchise, or just a copy?"
"Ah... Why do you ask?"
"Well... You seem to be concerned about getting arrested, right?" Bjorn continued, feeling suddenly uncomfortable about his intrusive questioning.

Katinka straightened up and looked at Bjorn with suspicion.

"We're protected by Lance."
"And?" Bjorn asked puzzled.
"You're under their jurisdiction."
"What you mean?"
"It means you cannot come here and arrest people or harass us or anything like that."
"And if we did, what would they do?"
"Well, they would arrest you."
"Arrest us?"
"They would send some guys over and put you in irons, I guess."
"Like immediately?"
"No. We would call them first."
"But you'd be on your way to Kirkenes long before they get here."
"Only if you managed to get out of the house. And even then, they would arrest you at their first opportunity."
"Well, we carry guns you know."
"So do they."

Bjorn was stunned by Katinka's insinuation, and was unable to come up with more to say.

"Well, thank you for your explanation," Ante added. "So I take it, you're insured by Lance."
"Yes. I think everyone here is. Everyone with a business, that is."
"Like David across the street?" Ante suggested.
"Oh yeah. I mean... He really needs protection."
"Well, it's not exactly legal, what he's doing."
"Not even here in Lundby?"
"No. It's legal here of course. But. Well, he's selling drugs, you know."
"And what's your feeling about that?"
"Ah. Well, As long as he's not pushing his drugs on anyone."
"And he isn't, is he?"
"No. I don't think so."

Ante sent Bjorn a knowing smile and a nod.

"Well, thank you Katinka," he said. "Thanks a lot."

No comments:

Post a Comment