Bjorn felt increasingly nervous and edgy as the dinner progressed. Listening to Ante's rendition of their day in Lundby, however lighthearted and fun, was making him feel uncomfortable. Many of the episodes down in the village had had a sinister undertone to it. And with Ante describing it all in his own colorful way, it all seemed even more crooked and weird than it had appeared first hand. The picture painted by Ante was of a place completely out of control, and Frank and John were clearly impressed. Espen, on the other hand was less convinced. He sent Bjorn the occasional glance to have Ante's story confirmed, to which Bjorn responded with a silent grin, signalling that the real story was not quite as wild as Ante was making it out to be.
But Ante was basically right. He wasn't making up stuff. He was just emphasizing certain aspects and episodes. And it all added up to a strange mix, both fascinating and repulsive. By the end of their meal Bjorn was sitting uncomfortably on his chair, and he was eager to get away to be on his own again. He was also starting to feel tired. It had been a long and eventful day, and he had had little sleep the night before.
When everybody got up and he was on his way out of the kitchen, Bjorn grabbed instinctively his pack of cigarettes in his pocket, yearning for a cigarette to calm his nerves before going to bed. But as he pulled out the pack he was reminded of David's advice, and the medicine that was waiting for him in his desk drawer upstairs. Bjorn put the cigarette pack back in his pocket and headed up the stairs to his room, excusing himself to his colleagues who went in to the common room to end the day there.
Bjorn ascended the stairs quickly, and he felt a rush of childish excitement as he entered his room. Finally it was time to try David's brew. It was sure to calm down his nerves, and Bjorn could not help thinking that it would give him a rush of well being too. The medicine contained cannabis oil after all. It contained other stuff too, no doubt. But it was bound to give him a pleasant experience. He was convinced of that.
Bjorn locked his door before going over to the window to pull the curtains properly shut. He sat down in his chair at his desk, opened the drawer, and pulled out the bottle. "David's Anxiety Relief" it said in large friendly letters. Just looking at the bottle made Bjorn feel calmer. Then he poured the thick liquid into the measuring cup. He took a sip of it to taste it. Then he poured the rest into his mouth, swallowing it without any problems. It was bitter, but not unpleasant.
Bjorn leaned back in his chair, half expecting some immediate effect, but nothing happened. And feeling himself a little silly for thinking that something would happen immediately, he put away the bottle and the measuring glass. Then he got up and headed for the bathroom to prepare himself for bed. That too went without incidents, and he was still feeling completely unaffected by the medicine on returning to his room.
Bjorn set the alarm on his mobile phone, turned on the TV to catch the latest news, and got into his pajamas. He only half paid attention to the drone from the TV until he finally got into bed where his attention could again be fully directed towards the events of the day.
The big headline news was a coordinated police raid on several barber shops in Oslo. Quite a number of illegal hair dressers had been operating without a license for several months, and this was now finally being dealt with by the law enforcement officers. The unlicensed hairdressers had started to crowd out the licensed shops, and this could simply not be tolerated anymore. Just like unlicensed taxi drivers, unlicensed hair dressers had to be dealt with in order to even out the playing field and make business conditions fair for all. Furthermore, unlicensed business owners of all sorts were notorious for not paying taxes, and moving with determination and force against such rogue actors was required in order to keep the economy afloat, it was argued.
Bjorn nodded in agreement. People avoiding taxation was a big problem. It was unfair to those paying their fair share, and it was bad for the economy. The welfare of the public was at stake after all. How could such things as schools and hospitals and pensions etc. be paid for if people stopped paying their taxes? Things would decay into anarchy. Things would soon be as bad as in Lundby, a place so miserable that people had to guard its limits to keep people from fleeing in droves.
Bjorn smiled for some reason. It all seemed ridiculous. He chuckled. And he knew that it had to be the medicine kicking in. He felt warm and fuzzy, and nothing seemed to matter. There was a short mention of a coldblooded assassination of two cops in London, and this bit of news which would normally have made Bjorn's heart leap in anxiety did nothing to lessen his sense of well being. Some homeless guy had shot the two officers, blaming them for his misery, which was absurd since they were out in the streets for the specific purpose of making life more secure for the homeless.
The world was going insane. But Bjorn just chuckled and shook his head in disbelief. Then he turned off the TV and light, and soon he was fast asleep.