فصل 33- مردی به نام اوه و بازرسی روزانهای که مثل همیشه نیستکتاب: مردی به نام اوه / فصل 33
فصل 33- مردی به نام اوه و بازرسی روزانهای که مثل همیشه نیست
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33 A MAN CALLED OVE AND AN INSPECTION
TOUR THAT IS NOT THE USUAL
Sometimes it is difficult to explain why some men suddenly do the things they do. Sometimes, of course, it’s because they know they’ll do them sooner or later anyway, and so they may as well just do them now. And sometimes it’s the pure opposite—because they realize they should have done them long ago. Ove has probably known all along what he has to do, but all people at root are time optimists. We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people.
Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”
As he marches down the stairs the next morning, he stops in the hallway. It hasn’t smelled like this in the house since Sonja died. Watchfully he takes the last few steps down, lands on the parquet floor, and stands in the doorway of the kitchen, his body language that of a man who has just caught a thief red-handed.
“Is that you who’s been toasting bread?”
Mirsad nods anxiously.
“Yes . . . I hope that’s okay. Sorry. I mean, is it?” Ove notices that he’s made coffee too. The cat is on the floor eating tuna. Ove nods, but doesn’t answer the question.
“Me and the cat have to go for a little walk around our road,” he clarifies instead.
“Can I come?” asks Mirsad quickly.Ove looks at him a little as if Mirsad has stopped him in a pedestrian arcade, dressed up as a pirate, and asked him to guess under which of the three teacups he’s hidden the silver coin.
“Maybe I can help?” Mirsad continues eagerly.
Ove goes into the hall and shoves his feet into his clogs.
“It’s a free country,” he mutters as he opens the door and lets out the cat.
Mirsad interprets this as “Of course you can!” and quickly puts on his jacket and shoes and goes after Ove.
“Hey, guys!” Jimmy hollers as they reach the pavement. He turns up, puffing energetically, behind Ove in a fiercely green tracksuit that’s so tight around his body that Ove wonders at first if it’s in fact a garment or a body painting.
“Jimmy!” says Jimmy, panting, and offering Mirsad his hand.
The cat looks as if it would like to rub itself lovingly against Jimmy’s legs, but seems to change its mind, bearing in mind that the last time it did something similar Jimmy ended up in the hospital. Instead it opts for the next best available thing and rolls about in the snow. Jimmy turns to Ove.
“I usually see you walking around about this time, so I was gonna check with you if you’re cool with me tagging along. I’ve decided to start exercising, you know!”
He nods with such satisfaction that the fat under his chin sways between his shoulders like a mainsail in stormy conditions. Ove looks highly dubious.
“Do you usually get up at this time?”
“Shit, no, man. I haven’t even gone to bed yet!” He laughs.
And this is why a cat, an overweight allergy sufferer, a bent person, and a man called Ove make the inspection round that morning.
Mirsad explains in brief that he and his father are not getting along and that he’s temporarily staying with Ove; Jimmy expresses disbelief that Ove is up at this time every single morning.
“Why did you have a fight with the old man, then?” asks Jimmy.
“That’s none of your business!” Ove barks.
Mirsad gives Ove a grateful glance.
“But seriously, man. You do this every morning?” Jimmy asks cheerfully.
“Yes, to check if there have been any burglaries.”
“For real? Are there a lot of burglaries around here?”“There are never lots of burglaries before the first burglary,” Ove mutters and heads off towards the guest parking.
The cat looks at Jimmy as if unimpressed by his fitness drive. Jimmy pouts and touches his stomach, in the apparent belief that he has already lost some weight.
“Did you hear about Rune, then?” he calls out, hastening his steps into a half jog behind Ove.
Ove doesn’t answer.
“Social Services is coming to pick him up, you know,” Jimmy explains once he’s caught up.
Ove opens his pad and starts noting down the license plates of the cars.
Jimmy evidently takes his silence as an invitation to keep talking.
“You know, the long and short of it is Anita applied for more home help.
Rune is just past it and she couldn’t deal with it anymore. So then the Social did some investigation and some guy called and said they’d decided she couldn’t handle it. And they were going to put Rune in one of those institutions, you know. And then Anita said they could forget about it, she didn’t even want home help anymore. But then that guy got really aggro and started getting totally uncool with her. Going on about how she couldn’t take the investigation back now and she was the one who had asked them to look into it. And now the investigation had made a decision and that was all there was to it, you know.
Doesn’t matter what she says ’cos the Social guy is just running his own race, know what I mean?”
Jimmy goes silent and nods at Mirsad, in the hope of getting some kind of reaction.
“Uncool . . .” Mirsad declares hesitantly.
“BLOODY uncool!” Jimmy nods until his upper body shakes.
Ove puts his pen and pad in the inside pocket of his jacket and steers his steps towards the trash room.
“Ah, it’ll take them forever to make those kinds of decisions. They say they’re taking him now, but they won’t pull their finger out for another year or two,” he snorts.
Ove knows how that damned bureaucracy works.
“But . . . the decision is made, man,” says Jimmy and scratches his hair.“Just sodding appeal it! It’ll take years!” says Ove grumpily as he strides past him.
Jimmy looks at him as if trying to evaluate whether it’s worth the exertion of following him.
“But she has done! She’s been writing letters and things for two years!” Ove doesn’t stop when he hears that. But he slows down. He hears Jimmy’s heavy steps bearing down on him in the snow.
“Two years?” he asks without turning around.
“More or less,” says Jimmy.
Ove looks like he’s counting the months in his head.
“That’s a lie. Then Sonja would have known about it,” he says dismissively.
“I wasn’t allowed to say anything to Sonja. Anita didn’t want me to. You know . . .”
Jimmy goes silent. Looks down at the snow. Ove turns around. Raises his eyebrows.
“I know what?”
Jimmy takes a deep breath.
“She . . . thought you had enough troubles of your own,” he says in a low voice.
The silence that follows is so thick you could split it with an ax. Jimmy does not look up. And Ove doesn’t say anything. He goes inside the trash room.
Comes out. Goes into the bicycle shed. Comes out. The penny seems to have dropped. Jimmy’s last words hang like a veil over his movements and an unfathomable anger builds up inside Ove, picking up speed like a tornado inside his chest. He tugs at doors with increasing violence. Kicks the thresholds. And when Jimmy in the end mumbles something about, “Now it’s all screwed, man, now they’ll put Rune in a home, you know,” Ove slams a door so hard that the entire trash room shakes. He stands in silence with his back to them, panting more and more heavily.
“Are you . . . okay?” asks Mirsad.
Ove turns and points with anything but controlled fury at Jimmy.
“Was that how she put it? She didn’t want to ask for Sonja’s help because we had ‘enough troubles of our own’?”Jimmy nods anxiously. Ove stares down at the snow, his chest heaving under his jacket. He thinks about how Sonja would have taken it if she’d found out. If she’d known that her best friend had not asked for her help because Sonja had “enough problems.” She would have been heartbroken.
Sometimes it’s hard to explain why some men suddenly do the things they do.
And Ove had probably known all along what he had to do, whom he had to help before he could die. But we are always optimists when it comes to time; we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.
Time to appeal.
Again Ove turns to Jimmy with a grim expression.
Jimmy nods. Ove clears his throat. For the first time he looks unsure.
“I thought she’d just started. I thought I . . . had more time,” he mumbles.
Jimmy looks as if he’s trying to figure out who Ove is talking to. Ove looks up.
“And they’re coming to get Rune now? Seriously? No bureaucratic rot and appeals and all that shit. You’re SURE about this?”
Jimmy nods again. He opens his mouth to say something, but Ove has already started moving off. He makes off between the houses with the movements of a man about to take his revenge for a deadly injustice in a Western. Turns off at the house at the end of the road, where the trailer and the white Škoda are still parked, banging at the door with such force that it’s difficult to tell whether it will open before he reduces it to wood chips. Anita opens, in shock. Ove steps right into her hall.
“Have you got the papers from the authorities here?”
“Yes, but I tho—”
“Give them to me!”
In retrospect, Anita will tell the other neighbors that she had not seen Ove so angry since 1977, when there was talk of a merger between Saab and Volvo.
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