by Andrea Lena DiMaggio
Based on characters created by Henning Mankell
and the BBC and Swedish series Wallander
- the story takes place after this author's Wallander - Tvillingar
When there’s so much darkness closing in
Just swerve around slowly
You’ll find an opening
A light will appear like an animal between the trees
Previously, from Wallander: Tvillingar...
His face was a mask of horror. The same overwhelming pain that took him down destructive paths after the other girl killed herself months ago returned. No murder but for the soul…the souls that were destroyed by an uncaring, cruel man. No homicide but for the death he caused by his ignorance and selfishness. And no real accomplishment as Ulfie’s death did nothing to change anything but further proved how utterly wasteful her act had been. Perhaps some relief from the sadness. Some mitigation from her hopelessness and despair. But no one benefited from her death.
And the worst part about it is that she died alone…. Without a name. In that moment, without any real connection in this lifetime to the twins, Kurt became their father. He closed his eyes and wondered how the girls’ mother would see him. A failure in his own life? He was not the son he should be and he still wondered about how badly he had been as a father to his own daughter. But now he cared for the girl on the slab in the morgue and the girl in the bed in the hospital as if they truly had been his own children….
‘Erickson, damn it. Come to the door.” Again no answer. Kurt stepped inside the darkened living room; lit only from the dimmed sunlight of the rainy day outside. Blinking a few times he looked around the room. The furniture was in disarray and broken from what looked like a very nasty fight. And then he spotted a hand sticking out from under the overturned couch. He knelt down and pushed the couch off the lifeless body of Anders Erickson.
“Fan dig!” Kurt sad as he stood up. The final ironic disappointment. All the sacrifices the two girls had made for the man had been for naught. Lost innocence and hurtful shame only to be rewarded with the death of a man who never really appreciated how blessed he had been. It was too much. Kurt stood up and punched the wall behind the couch; cracking the plaster and sending a picture crashing to the floor. The frame and glass shattered; leaving the photograph unprotected. Another picture of happier times. Inger Erickson sitting on a bench in a park somewhere; flanked by two adorable little children. Even then they didn’t look like boys. Kurt leaned against the wall and wept harder than at any time in his life.
Chapter 3 – Undra (Wonder)
Kurt sat in his car as he waited for Anne-Brit. He stared Linda’s picture on his phone. Like his relationship with his father, reconciliation with Linda had almost come too late. He hit another icon, revealing a somewhat peaceful looking teenage girl. Kurt frowned as he stared, feeling entirely condemned for not keeping touch. The girl had sent him the picture to stay connected with the man she considered her savior, albeit if among more than a few saviors.
Years of neglect and even stark abuse of the girl had been replaced with a loving family, but that didn’t make Kurt feel any better about himself. Learning that he was not her father, as remote as that possibility had always been, the disappointment drove him back into emotional isolation, at least at first. He tried without success to step past his fears to call the girl, and certainly Anne-Brit had tried to encourage Kurt, but realized that Kurt would open up in his own time.
When he finally emerged, he made quick atonement in a way, and had literally thrown himself into being Farfar Kurt for Linda’ daughter Karla. And his presence was helping Linda negotiate the maze of disappointment in her estrangement with her husband Hans.
Barely a father and no longer a husband, Hans was still there in a way since he had refused to divorce Linda. Kurt wondered if that was still the case. His twin disappointments seemed to harass him until he realized he was doing as much as he could for his own daughter and only time would reveal if he could do anything for Inger. He sighed.
A voice came through the slightly open window of the Volvo. He turned to his left to find Anne-Brit standing with her arm around a familiar, if a bit more mature girl. He shook his head in surprise at Inger’s presence. At some point he had wanted to talk with her, given her likely friendship with the small imperiled group of girls ‘like her.’ Ann-Brit noticed his surprise and half-smiled.
“I read the papers, Kurt, and I’m online as well.” She glanced at the girl before throwing a teasing glare at him. The girl smiled and shrugged nervously before stepping backward a bit. Anne-Brit tried to urge Inger forward but the girl did not budge until she heard Kurt speak.
“I…I am sorry.”
No need to expand, since both understood and that simply was that. She walked swiftly to the car and put her hand on the door, grazing Kurt’s arm slightly. Anne-Brit stepped closer and motioned, leaving the girl to back away slightly as Kurt exited the car. The touch on his arm was the only sign the girl would offer, but it was closer than any moment that led up to the reunion as they walked to the entrance of the restaurant.
“Kurt? Inger and I were going shopping. Perhaps we can drop by the station to have the talk we all know is needed?” She smiled, leaving him shrugging with a grin. It was a light moment that perhaps foreshadowed a breakthrough? Inger was probably friends with at least two of who now numbered eight victims since the beginning of the year.
“That’s fine. Why don’t you two enjoy lunch and I’ll see you after three or four?” He stood without waiting for the response. Small talk seemed to escape him more each day, but work left him with a purpose and a helpful focus. He laid some cash on the table as Anne-Brit nodded.
“I’ll see you later, yeah? And it’s good to see you….both.” With that he smiled again and walked out. Life continued to be challenging and almost circuitous, but seemed to be coming full circle.
Ystad Hospital Intensive Care…
Kim and Linda stood in front of the wide window looking into the unit. They both had folded their arms in a mixture of dread and impatience. The attending doctor stepped out of the unit. He walked up and nodded slightly.
“She’s out of the woods, at least physically. She has been sobbing since she was bought in… sort of. She hardly uttered a sound. There’s no ID, so it’s up to the Malmo police to get in touch, assuming she’s even from there. With several girls missing in the whole area, she could be from anywhere between here and Malmo or even beyond. The pediatric psychiatrist will be dropping by in a short while to discuss her case with you. Fingerprints may be useless since she’s likely not in the system. We expect…” Dr. Patel faced Kim.
“We expect Malmo will have someone looking for her.” He turned and gazed through the window. Someone had managed to brush what little hair she had left and a kind grandmotherly nurse had gifted some clothing and a stuffed bear that the girl hadn’t stopped hugging since she woke up. The toy was of some solace, but the horror was still etched into each expression as the tears continued to flow.
“No words? Fan dig!.” Linda said, sounding almost exactly like her father.
“What type of man can do this?” It was an assumption that bore little connection to any reality. Kim corrected her with a sigh and a touch on Linda’s shoulder.
“No man did this.” Kim bit her lip and shook her head with what Linda would come to recognize was controlled anger.
“Imagine the worst horror movie you ever saw and multiply it by a thousand… that’s what this girl and all the others have seen face-to-face. I would not hesitate to…”
“We have to stay focused,” Linda said with a wave toward the girl behind the window. Kim half-smiled.
“This is focused, Inspector Wallander,” she blinked her eyes and yawned. The two had been up since the call came into the station the night before.
”I’ll call you when Dr. Nillsson gets back in, and I will certainly call you if the girl’s condition changes. Especially if she says something.” Dr. Patel nodded and returned to the girl’s side.
“Coffee?” Linda used her eyes to glance down the hallway. Kim nodded and they walked out.
The man sat at his desk. If his co-workers knew what he was doing, they’d thank him. Some probably would help. But there were those who stood in his way, and would never do…
There you’ll find your pocket of peace
Make a perfect circle, it’s all around you
Put your mark on the map anywhere or nowhere
It’s up to you it’s not too late to find an opening
The hospital coffee bar…
“I wanted to thank you for being so kind,” Kim said almost in a whisper. Linda almost shook her head in disagreement. While things seemed to be smoothing out, she still felt awkward and even a bit resentful that no one, including Kurt, had spoken with her regarding his step back. And the woman who was ostensibly replacing him appeared to have her own agenda; speaking when convenient and either changing the subject or just not talking when it suited her.
“I am convinced that this monster will ramp up this horror. These girls have been terrified, but more and more with each succeeding victim.”
“How many so far?” Linda asked almost reflexively. She wanted to move past her hurt to focus on the cases that were now converging like a flash flood of terror.
“Seven between here and Malmo, with another two further north.
“So he… he’s moving.” Kim nodded and Linda continued.
“Any hits on any of the registries?”
“Nothing concrete. No history anywhere like this in Sweden or Denmark. We’re waiting on others jurisdictions. Nothing in any archive that resembles this….mostly…?” Kim sighed at her own words.
“Mostly?” Linda seemed impatient, but for the first time since she had been paired with Inspector Svedin , she had regained her focus.
“Adult victims; prostitutes for the most part, but localized. Something near Helsinki on a wider scale, but the guy who did it was killed in prison.
“I cannot imagine how much hate fills this man’s soul.” Linda shook her head and Kim replied.
“I’m not sure he has one…”
“One what?” Linda tilted her head slightly in question.”
“A soul. I don’t think this monster has a soul,” Kim breathed out as a scowl crossed her face.
“Does this have?” Linda paused, and her gaze fell upon the scar on Kim’s face.
“NO!” Kim snapped at Linda and went to stand up.
“I’m sorry,” Linda said. Absent-mindedly reaching to grab Kim’s hand. Kim pulled back and repeated her reply, but in an almost soft tone.
“No, Inspector Wallander…. Not that.” She stopped at the door and half-smiled.
“The doctor just had the nurse text me. You coming?” Kim had gone from almost hostile to practically inviting in an instant. As curious as Linda was at the sudden change, she was more annoyed that she was stuck in this pairing, left to negotiate the twists and turns of what little Kim chose to reveal about herself. She wondered if that caution extended to the case…the cases. Kim waved toward the doorway and raised an eyebrow as if to say, ‘Well?” Linda smiled and nodded as she grabbed her purse before they headed back to the ICU.
A few minutes later…
Linda stood almost behind Kim as they talked with Dr. Nillsson. The woman moved her gaze between Linda and Kim and used her arm in a broad gesture to indicate the girl resting somewhat peacefully behind them.
“She’s a fighter underneath it all. This is as sadistic an assault as I’ve ever seen, but she… Now that she’s coming around, she’s not as scared as you’d expect. She still is struggling to speak, but she’s there. It’s like the words are not just stuck, but there’s something in her face that seems to indicate she just hasn’t figured out what to say.
“She’s afraid?” Kim asked.
“No. More like she doesn’t want to say the wrong thing. Almost like she’s not speaking until she’s precise?” Kim shook her head and replied.
“I worked with a girl in Malmo… not one of these…” She realized what she just said and added,
“Not that the trauma is any less painful, but the girl was not transgender. The same need to be precise, however, seemed to steer her first words once she began to speak.” Dr. Nilsson nodded and Linda tilted her head slightly.
“How so?” Kim half-frowned, but her expression was not directed at Linda.
“It was as if…well, she said later, actually, that she didn’t want to make a mistake. Her counselor helped her realize that she was wracked with guilt that she didn’t stop him. That somehow she felt the need to…apologize.” Kim looked through to the girl and her face darkened just a bit.
“Does that sound about right, Doctor?” Linda looked back and forth between the two women. There’s a time, many times, actually where a psychiatrist has to remain objective almost to the point of appearing dispassionate. Dr. Nillsson’s expression almost mirrored Kim’s and now Linda’s.
“Whoever did this…” She paused, searching for her own precision.
“Whoever did this, whatever he said to her as he hurt her? He wants her and all of the others not just to feel pain, but to feel guilt. As if everything isn’t so much… He wants them to believe everything he’s done is their fault.” Dr. Nillsson’s face almost appeared sullen but for the slight flare of her nostrils and the growing angry pink on her cheeks.
“If you don’t mind, Inspector Wallander, I would like to quote you?” Without waiting for a reply, Kim breathed out and spoke,
In a conference room at the station later that afternoon…
Kurt sat across from Anne-Brit and Inger at the large conference table.
“I’d like to have Linda and Inspector Svedin join us at some point, but I…” He paused. Anne-Brit spoke but hesitated.
“I’m not sure…” Inger waved her left hand slightly.
“It’s okay. I want to help,' Inger replied. Kurt half-smiled in relief. As much as he had wanted to defer to the girl’s needs, the moment demanded a quicker approach.
“It’s okay, sir. I’m not ömtålig.”
“Yes, of course, Kurt said, knowing that Inger was likely one of the strongest persons he had ever met.
“I know two of the girls from school. We… we got stuck in a club we didn’t join, but we need each other? We…” Inger bit her lip as her eyes welled up with tears.
“Ask me anything.” She frowned and her hands gripped the arm of the chair. Kurt nodded.
“I’m going to leave the interview to my daughter… to Inspector Wallander and Inspector Svedin. I just wanted to get your impressions? What you know about your….” Anne-Brit rose up a bit and spoke.
“Were they doing anything to… invite this? Come on, Kurt. Don’t blame the victim?” Kurt resisted the urge to correct her. First, she was as protective as ever. But second, he probably could have been more precise in his question.
“I’m sorry…Inger.” It was almost a struggle to say the girl’s name given his disappointment and her history.
“Do any of your friends have someone who supports them like Carol and her family?” Inger had been with Anne-Brit’s sister and her husband Thomas and their two girls.
“Anneke has her sister and her mom. Her dad is okay, but he lives in Stockholm. Lisa’s family wasn’t there for here until….” Inger sighed heavily. Better-late-than- never was hardly comforting to a child traumatized in such a manner, but it was all her friend had.
“That makes me wonder? With some support, your friends weren’t isolated so much as targeted?” Anne=Brit nodded and Inger looked away slightly.
“None of us is safe,” she said. Having already been through one lifetime of unspeakable hurt and loss, Inger had almost lost the ability to fear save for a deeply instilled healthy sense of caution. Her words were merely an observation by one who had seen way too much in such a short span. At one time a victim of her father’s abuse, the girl had moved past her own shame and guilt. Fueled by knowledge that her sister and her mother had loved her in their own means of sacrifice, Inger was no longer a victim but a survivor, and a very strong one at that.
“The inspectors were at the hospital and have been briefing the team. They’ll join us shortly,” Kurt said. Inger faced Anne-Brit.
“Can we just talk like friends until they get here?” Anne-Brit turned to Kurt, who nodded almost in hesitation. He’d barely been a good friend to Anne-Brit since she left the police, and he hardly knew the girl sitting across from him.
“My…friends helped me with something. My sister only had her boy name before she died. You remember?” Kurt could never forget that Inger’s sister had despaired of life to take her own in an effort to protect Inger. Ulfie died alone and ashamed and almost unknown. The girl needed more than a nod.
“I remember she loved you very much and I knew then and I know how much you miss her.” Inger lowered her head slightly.
“I… yes, sir. Anne-Brit told me how you paid for her… and that you had them leave her first name blank? My friends…we came up with a name. Johanna.”
It was all the girl could do just to finish before she turned and fell into Anne-Brit and sobbed. Kurt tried to recall what to say and he suddenly realized that he did not need to think, but just remember what it was like for him when his mother passed. He got up and walked around the table. Uncharacteristically, he knelt down on a very stiff left knee, almost genuflecting as he spoke softly to the girl.
“That is a beautiful name.”
In Kim and Linda’s now shared office…
Linda arose from her chair and walked over to shut the office door. She wiped a bit of sleep out of her left eye in a brief effort to avoid the confrontation she feared would arise at her next few words.
“Can I… May I ask you a question?” Confrontation arrived swiftly as her words were curt. Kim looked up from the file splayed across their joined desks.
“Yes,” she said calmly despite the abruptness of Linda’s tone.
“I was wondering, are you angry … are you angry and disappointed with this arrangement? I can handle you being on this case, but it feels like you can’t handle me?”
“Why do you say that?” Questions answering questions do sometime lead somewhere. She smile in her now firmly established deferential manner. Which seemed to further frustrate Linda.
“You don’t appear to want to answer questions. I feel like I’m an interloper in my own team. What am I doing wrong.” Kim smiled as Linda finished.
“You’re not doing anything wrong, Inspector Wallander.”
“That’s another thing. You don’t call me by my name. Inspector Wallander?”
“I only want to continue to defer to your own expertise and position within this department. I’m sorry for giving the wrong impression.” Linda folded her arms, almost shouting out how dissatisfied she was with Kim’s answer.
“I’m sorry that I’m here. I’m sorry that you were shoved aside. I am very sorry that I truly am a poor substitute for your father. Mostly and likely this will never get better, I am sorry that my presence is because these girls are being hurt. But no, Linda….” Her voice softened and grew quiet.
“I am not disappointed in you at all.” Linda’s eyes widened as her confusion diminished only somewhat.
“I’m sorry too. I didn’t want to…”
“To put me off? I’m a big girl, Linda. I would have been surprised if you didn’t resent me. But here we are, as you know, Inspector Wallander, with a horrible job to do. I am confident that we shall work well together, but I fear that we cannot work fast enough to prevent this fiend from hurting another child. That is my only disappointment. We need not speak of this again, yeah?” Kim stood and reached over their desks and offered her hand.
“Partners?” Kim smiled at Linda, and while animosity seemed to evaporate, Linda was still left feeling small and even more awkward than before. Nevertheless she shook Kim’s hand, echoing the word.
“Can you meet me over at the conference room with your dad? I need a moment.”
“Sure,” Linda said. She smiled and walked out of the office, leaving Kim to her thoughts. Off-putting would barely describe her demeanor. One might have worried about Inspector Svedin’s almost cloying behavior. But she knew from experience it was almost easier to push people away with sweetness, however authentic.
Kim did want to work with Linda, but she also feared that the partnership was already too close for comfort. She wasn’t disappointed at all in her new partner. Kim Svedin was disappointed in herself because as much as she tried not to, Kim was falling in love with Inspector Linda Wallander.
Make a perfect circle it’s all around you
You know that everything lingers for you to follow through
It’s up to you
It’s not too late to find an opening
Do you wanna rediscover or do want it all to be over
Do you want to see the meaning of the circling?
Next: Tro (Faith)
As performed by the composer
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