فصل 26

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فصل 26

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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26

A MAN CALLED OVE AND A SOCIETY

WHERE NO ONE CAN REPAIR A BICYCLE

ANY MORE

Many people find it difficult living with someone who likes to be alone. It grates on those who can’t handle it themselves. But Sonja didn’t whine more than she had to. “I took you as you were,” she used to say.

But Sonja was not so silly that she didn’t understand that even men like Ove like to have someone to talk to now and then. It had been quite a while since he’d had that.

“I won,” Ove says curtly when he hears the slamming of the mailbox.

The cat jumps off the windowsill in the living room and goes into the kitchen.

Bad loser, thinks Ove and goes to the front door. It’s been years since he last made a bet with someone about what time the mail would come. He used to make bets with Rune when they were on vacation in the summers, which grew so intensive that they developed complex systems of marginal extensions and half minutes to determine who was most accurate. That was how it was back in those days. The mail arrived at twelve o’clock on the dot, so one needed precise demarcations to be able to say who had guessed right. Nowadays it isn’t like that. Nowadays the mail can be delivered halfway through the afternoon any old way it pleases. The post office takes care of it when it feels like it and you justhave to be grateful and that’s it. Ove tried to make bets with Sonja after he and Rune stopped talking. But she didn’t understand the rules. So he gave up.

The youth barely manages to avoid being knocked off the steps when Ove throws the door open. Ove looks at him in surprise. He’s wearing a postman’s uniform.

“Yes?” demands Ove.

The youth looks like he can’t come up with an answer. He fiddles with a newspaper and a letter. And that’s when Ove notices that it’s the same youth who argued with him about that bicycle a few days ago, by the storage shed. The bicycle the youth said he was going to “fix.” Of course Ove knows what that means. “Fix” means “steal and sell on the Internet” to these rascals, that’s the long and short of it.

The youth looks, if possible, even less thrilled about recognizing Ove than vice versa. He looks a little like a waiter sometimes does, when he’s undecided about whether to serve you your food or take it into the kitchen and spit on it.

The lad looks coolly at Ove before reluctantly handing the mail over with a grumpy “There y’go.” Ove accepts it without taking his eyes off him.

“Your mailbox is mashed, so I was gonna give you these,” says the youth.

He nods at the folded-double pile of junk that used to be Ove’s mailbox until the Lanky One who can’t back up with a trailer backed his trailer into it—then nods at the letter and newspaper in Ove’s hand. Ove looks down at them. The newspaper is one of those local rags they hand out for nothing even when one puts up a sign quite expressly telling them to do no such bloody thing. And the letter is most likely advertising, Ove imagines. Admittedly his name and address have been written in longhand on the front, but that’s a typical advertising trick.

To make one think it’s a letter from a real person, and then one opens it and in a flash one has been subjected to marketing. That trick won’t work on Ove.

The youth stands there rocking on his heels and looking down at the ground.

As if he’s struggling with something inside that wants to come out.

“Was there something else?” Ove wonders.

The youth pulls his hand through his greasy, late-pubescent shock of hair.

“Ah, what the hell. . . . I was just wondering if you have a wife called Sonja,” he manages to say.

Ove looks suspicious. The lad points at the envelope.“I saw the surname. I had a teacher with that name. Was just wondering. . . .” He seems to be cursing himself for having said anything. He spins around on the spot and starts walking away. Ove clears his throat and kicks the threshold.

“Wait . . . that could be right. What about Sonja?”

The lad stops a yard farther away.

“Ah, shit. . . . I just liked her, that’s all I wanted to say. I’m . . . you know . . . I’m not so good at reading and writing and all that.”

Ove almost says, “I’d never have guessed,” but he leaves it. The youth twists awkwardly. Runs his hand through his hair, somewhat disoriented, as if he’s hoping to find the appropriate words up there somewhere.

“She’s the only teacher I ever had who didn’t think I was thick as a plank,” he mumbles, almost choking on his emotion. “She got me reading that . . . Shakespeare, you know. I didn’t know I could even read, sort of thing. She got me reading the most hard-core thick book an’ all. It felt really shit when I heard she died, you know.”

Ove doesn’t answer. The youth looks down at the ground. Shrugs.

“That’s it. . . .”

He’s silent. And then they both stand there, the fifty-nine-year-old and the teenager, a few yards apart, kicking at the snow. As if they were kicking a memory back and forth, a memory of a woman who insisted on seeing more potential in certain men than they saw in themselves. Neither of them knows what to do with their shared experience.

“What are you doing with that bike?” says Ove at last.

“I promised to fix it up for my girlfriend. She lives there,” the youth answers, nodding at the house at the far end of their row, opposite Anita and Rune’s place.

The one where those recycling types live when they’re not in Thailand or wherever they go.

“Or, you know. She’s not my girlfriend yet. But I’m thinking I’m wanting her to be. Sort of thing.”

Ove scrutinizes the youth as middle-aged men often scrutinize younger men who seem to invent their own grammar as they go along.

“So have you got any tools, then?” he asks.

The youth shakes his head.“How are you going to repair a bike without tools?” Ove marvels, more with genuine surprise than agitation.

The youth shrugs.

“Dunno.”

“Why did you promise to repair it, then?”

The youth kicks the snow. Scratches his face with his entire hand, embarrassed.

“Because I love her.”

Ove can’t quite decide what to say to that one. So he rolls up the local newspaper and envelope and slaps it into his palm, like a baton.

“I have to get going,” the youth mumbles almost inaudibly and makes a movement to turn around again.

“Come over after work, then, and I’ll get the bike out for you.” Ove’s words seem to pop up out of nowhere. “But you have to bring your own tools,” he adds.

The youth brightens up.

“You serious, man?”

Ove continues slapping the paper baton into his hand. The youth swallows.

“Awesome! Wait . . . ah, shit . . . I can’t pick it up today! I have to go to my other job! But tomorrow, man, I can come tomorrow. Is it cool if I pick it up tomorrow, like, instead?”

Ove tilts his head and looks as if everything that’s just been said came from the mouth of a character in an animated film. The youth takes a deep breath and pulls himself together.

“What other job?” asks Ove, as if he’s had an incomplete answer in the final of Jeopardy!

“I sort of work in a café in the evenings and at the weekends,” says the youth, with that new-won hope in his eyes about perhaps being able to rescue his fantasy relationship with a girlfriend who doesn’t even know that she’s his girlfriend—the sort of relationship that only a boy in late puberty with greasy hair can have. “I need both jobs because I’m saving money,” he explains.

“For what?”

“A car.”Ove can’t avoid noticing how he straightens up slightly when he says “car.” Ove looks dubious for a moment. Then he slowly but watchfully slaps the baton into his palm again.

“What sort of car?”

“I had a look at a Renault,” the youth says brightly, stretching a little more.

The air around the two men stops for a hundredth of a breath or so. An eerie silence suddenly envelops them. If this were a scene from a film, the camera would very likely have time to pan 360 degrees around them before Ove finally loses his composure.

“Renault? Renault? That’s bloody FRENCH! You can’t bloody well go and buy a FRENCH car!!!”

The youth seems just about to say something but he doesn’t get the chance before Ove shakes his whole upper body as if trying to get rid of a persistent wasp.

“Christ, you puppy! Don’t you know anything about cars?” The youth shakes his head. Ove sighs deeply and puts his hand on his forehead as if he’s been struck by a sudden migraine.

“And how are you going to get the bicycle to the café if you don’t have a car?” he says at long last, visibly struggling to regain his composure.

“I hadn’t . . . thought about that,” says the youth.

Ove shakes his head.

“Renault? Christ almighty. . . .”

The youth nods. Ove rubs his eyes in frustration.

“Where’s this sodding café you work at, then?” he mutters.

Twenty minutes later, Parvaneh opens her front door in surprise. Ove is standing outside, thoughtfully striking his hand with a paper baton.

“Have you got one of those green signs?”

“What?”

“You have to have one of those green signs when you’re a student driver. Do you have one or not?”

She nods.

“Yeah . . . yes, I have, but wh—”“I’ll come and pick you up in two hours. We’ll take my car.” Ove turns around and tramps back across the little road without waiting for an answer.

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