Bjorn felt immediately much better on leaving the restaurant.
"It was stuffy in there, wasn't it?" he commented.
"Not any worse than at the checkpoint," Ante replied.
"Well, I feel much better now," Bjorn continued, hoping to convince Ante to change his mind regarding David's pharmacy. "Let's go back to the checkpoint."
"And miss out on this little adventure?" Ante protested. "No way!"
"I'm curious, and now I got the perfect excuse to nose around," Ante continued. "Come on, do it for me!"
"But it's just a pharmacy," Bjorn ventured.
"No. It's not just a pharmacy. It's a drug store. Those guys sell everything you could possible want. Aren't you curious about that?"
"And you want me to take advice from those guys?" Bjorn asked, stopping by the pathway leading up to the pharmacy from the road.
"Hey! What harm can come of it. It's not like you have to buy a bottle of heroin if that's what they prescribe."
"No. But what's the point? They can't possibly be serious. I mean... just look at that board. The sky is not the limit. What kind of an ad is that? And those guys are going to suggest something for my dizzy spell?"
"Well, Katinka said she trusts them."
"Yeah... she trusts Roger too. That makes her an expert, right?"
Ante looked at Bjorn and then back at the pharmacy.
"Come on!" he exclaimed, putting one foot forward in the direction of the store. "Let's check this place out."
And with all his counter arguments exhausted, Bjorn followed Ante up the pathway. Ante opened the door and ushered Bjorn in as a guest of honor, closing the door carefully behind them as they stepped into another converted living room, this one full of little racks displaying all sorts of medicines and pharmaceutical products.
A woman sat by a PC behind the counter, barely sparing them a glance as they stepped into the room. She was busy typing something, and for a moment Bjorn got the impression that she had no interest at all in helping them. He looked around, and saw that the place did indeed look like a pharmacy, and not like a dealer's den. But a rack to the back of the store had a board with the word "recreational" typed onto it. There was also one with the word "opiates" typed on to it. But the two racks were otherwise no different from those that were marked with words like "dental" and "skin care" and the like.
"How can I help you?" the woman behind the PC asked, having finished her typing.
"Well, we need something against dizziness," Ante said. "My friend here suffers from dizzy spells."
"Oh, is that so?" the woman replied. "I'm not sure what David would recommend for that. Wait here! I'll check with him."
Bjorn recognized the woman at once as Maria, the self proclaimed law expert, and he mentioned this to Ante the moment she disappeared into the back room.
"She's a lawyer?" Ante asked, intrigued.
"That's what she claims."
"In a place with no laws," Ante commented with a smile. "That must be tough."
But the two men had no time to reflect on Maria's seemingly impossible profession, as she soon returned with David who she presented to them as being her husband and store owner.
David was a little taller than Maria, but still a relatively short man, not even as tall as Ante. But what he lacked in stature, he made up for in his presence. There was something confidence inspiring about the man.
"Dizzy spells?" David asked rhetorically, looking at Bjorn.
"Yeah, well, I had one on Friday, and one just now."
"Well, I was a little dizzy yesterday too."
"So you've just started having these spells?"
"You're in the military I see."
"And when did you have your latest check up."
"Oh... like a month ago. When I signed up for this job."
"And they didn't find anything wrong with you back then?"
"No, well, they said I could drop a few pounds. Maybe stop smoking."
"I see. And?"
"Well, I haven't given up on the smoke, and I haven't lost any weight, I don't think."
David looked at Bjorn with a critical eye.
"Anxiety?" David asked. "Ever feel claustrophobic or lost for no reason?"
"Eh, well... It happens."
"Actually, yes. But I'm not very bothered."
David went over to a rack next to the opiates where he picked up a small brown bottle with a thick liquid inside.
"This will help you stop smoking, and relieve some of that anxiety too," David said with a serious and confident look at Bjorn. "And it does relieve certain types of vertigo."
"What is it?" Bjorn asked.
"It's a cannabis oil that I've developed."
"Oh..." Bjorn replied, feeling suddenly uncomfortable. "I'd prefer something... ah... more pharmaceutical, if you will."
"Well, we have a synthetic alternative, but it is actually more dangerous, has more side effect. I prefer not giving that to people unless they specifically ask for it."
"No one ever died ingesting small quantities of cannabis. That's not the case for the synthetic alternative."
"The other one kills people?"
"It has been known to heighten blood pressure. And, well, that can be very dangerous."
"And this oil doesn't do that?"
"There's no side effects?"
"Apart from drowsiness, no. So you take one spoon of this in the evening, and you'll sleep like a baby."
"And the next morning?"
"You'll feel fine, and less of an urge to have a cigarette."
"Is that so?"
Bjorn reached for the bottle which David was happy to let him hold.
"But I'm actually here for those dizzy spells," Bjorn said, looking at the viscous liquid through the dark glass.
"It may work, or maybe not. But I think your real problem is the cigarettes. And this will help you stop smoking."
"So if I stop smoking, the dizzy spells will pass."
"And this will help me sleep better too."
"I won't get hooked, will I?" Bjorn asked.
"It's never a good idea to use a drug over time. But this is definitely not very addictive. This bottle will last you two weeks, and you should have no trouble quitting it right there."
"Unlike this," Ante commented from the side, holding a small bottle labeled "heroin" in his hand.
David gave Ante a tired look, clearly having been challenged about his drugs before.
"No, as I'm sure you know, that's very addictive," David explained. "But that's not what I'm recommending for your friend here, is it?"
"No, but you're actually selling this stuff?"
"Yes I do."
"Just like that?"
"What you mean?"
"Can I buy this bottle?" Ante asked.
"I wouldn't recommend it, but yeah."
"You're not going to stop me?"
"No. But I'm not pushing it either."
"But how about that sky is not the limit sign you got out on your front yard?"
"That's for the recreational drugs. What you got there is an opiate, and a very strong one at that."
Ante looked pleased with David's calm and down to earth explanations.
"So who is this for?" Ante asked.
"Well. It's meant for terminally ill people. People who are in a lot of pain. People like that don't care if they get hooked, since they are going to die anyway."
"Yeah, we have a few customers like that."
"Terminally ill people?"
"We even have a place for them to come and stay. But most people prefer to die at home."
"You got a hospital thing going on here?" Ante asked, impressed.
"Well, not in this house."
"That's a secret."
David looked at Ante with a critical smile.
"Well, why do you think?"
"I don't know."
"You're turning up here in uniforms, and you expect me to tell you all my secrets? How stupid do you think I am?"
"Oh... I'm sorry," Ante replied, putting the heroin bottle back in its place. "But you would sell me this bottle if I insisted?"
"Yeah, sure. But why would you want to buy a bottle of heroin?"
"Just for the heck of it, maybe."
"Sure! Be my guest!"
Ante looked at the bottle as if he was seriously considering buying it. Then he looked over at Bjorn, still holding on to the cannabis oil.
"Ah... well... I'll have this one," Bjorn commented, sending Ante a stern look.
"Okay," David said with a nod. "That will be seventy five MG."
They walked over to the counter where Maria was once again focusing on her PC.
"Remember to shake it well before use," David commented while Bjorn fished out a handful of casino tokens from his trouser pocket, picking out the correct amount for Maria. She in turn grabbed a small plastic bag from under the counter, dropped the bottle into it and handed it back to Bjorn.