The Living and the Dead in Winsford

The Living and the Dead in Winsford by Håkan Nesser

Book: The Living and the Dead in Winsford by Håkan Nesser Read Free Book Online
Authors: Håkan Nesser
Tags: Detective and Mystery Fiction
finally die: I’ve already chosen her in fact – and she me, but I don’t know if she’ll remember. About a year after her difficult divorce we went on a trip to Venice together, just the two of us, and one night after a long and wine-soaked evening in a restaurant we stood on one of the bridges over a deserted canal and exchanged promises to that effect. Whichever of us survived longest would look after the other’s ashes and make sure they ended up in the right place. I assume that what we had in mind was the black waters in the city where we were at the time, and that by scattering our ashes there we would be assured of eternal life – but we never talked about it afterwards. Obviously, we were a little drunk at the time . . .
    Unfortunately I didn’t have Christa by my side after that incident in Gothenburg. She was on a reporting mission in South America with her new husband, a photographer, and they didn’t get back to Stockholm until August. We had exchanged a few e-mails and spoken on the phone once or twice, but we didn’t meet face to face to discuss the matter until a few days after I had been in Gothenburg and interviewed the woman who may or may not have been raped. We had lunch at the Ulla Winbladh restaurant, and sat there talking for three hours. But to be honest, I felt somewhat disappointed when I left.
    And to be even more honest I don’t really know what I had expected; but we hadn’t met for over six months, and if truth be told . . . well, if it were told, our friendship had cooled off a little over the last few years. We had not been colleagues since the autumn of 2008. We had met increasingly infrequently, and kept in touch by e-mail, a few times a month and occasionally more often. Short factual reports, no more than that – ironical and rather playful, which is the simplest way of writing when it doesn’t concern real life. Or rather, when it does.
    Right now, of course, it concerned rather a lot of important things – or so I tried to convince myself, and if I didn’t get in touch for several weeks after leaving Stockholm Christa would suspect there was something fishy going on. Despite everything. Or at least would think it was odd – surely there are internet cafes in Morocco just as there are everywhere else in the world? We had spoken on the phone three days before Martin and I left.
    As I sat there on the ferry with my unsolved crossword puzzle, I had the feeling that I had drifted away from her, and that it was my fault. The thought made me sad. I had never managed to be the sort of woman who always has half a dozen close friends on call, and I can live with that. But maybe my relationship with Christa had never been for real either? Whatever that means. For real? I don’t know. Angst or potato?
    It’s remarkable how geographical changes can stir up so many other different things. It was as if everything I had been and thought and believed had to do with that house in Nynäshamn. And with the Monkeyhouse. Gunvald’s comments that time and the horrible image of the mirror came to mind in any case, and out there in the middle of the Baltic Sea it suddenly dawned on me that there was nobody out there who could give a toss. About what would happen to me. Or to Martin. We had lived our lives, had been in the premier league for a few years, danced in the headlines for a few months, and then we had fled. And the rest is silence. Or the big sleep, if you prefer Chandler to Shakespeare. Eugen Bergman had an interest, of course, but that was professional rather than brotherly love. Our children? Huh. Christa? I doubted it.
    Perhaps I underestimate the significance of the circle of academic friends that Martin had assembled over the years, but that is not for me to judge. I have been underestimating things and making wrong choices all my life.
    The fact that I saw no point at all in exchanging such thoughts with the man snoring by my side spoke volumes, of course. I remember leaning

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