Authors: Helena Anderson
Blue Blue Eyes
Anton and August
Copyright © Helena Anderson 2016
Cover image: Nicky Kirby
Tuesday June 4th
The decomposition process was well progressed. The stench was like an unpleasant blanket in the air, even though the corpse had been well covered in several black bin-liners. It would be an unpleasant morning for the lonely hunter.
He had been walking for close to four hours in the dry, natural reserve without seeing even a hint of prey. Not even the hound had got any scent despite the fact that she had been let on the loose all the time. The three year old bitch was running here and there with her nose down in the red soil. Her tail was held high and the hunter smiled when he saw his beloved mongrel running free in the natural environment.
With the dog on the truck bed he had driven out to Akamas, which made up the whole northern point of Cyprus, long before the family was awake. The sandy beaches stretched out beautiful and empty, miles along the coastline. The sea was shimmering in different turquoise shades and the limestone rocks were lightening up the brown, scorched ground with their light grey formations. The area was barren, only small conifers were winding their way up the low cliffs. On a rock ledge a bit further away the simple restaurant ”The Last Castle” was accommodated in a charming medieval building made of natural stones. The morning fog was slowly beginning lift and the sun was about to rise. It was a quarter to six and this was his free day.
He put the hunting rifle over his other shoulder with a new grip. He was taking a big step over the half a metre high, rusty barbed wire when he heard Zara barking. Quickly he woke from his reflections, took the gun he had inherited from his grandfather, and cocked it. The bitch continued barking. He could hear her whimpering and eagerness up on a limestone cliff just ahead of him.
”What the heck is she doing there?” He muttered to himself and started to climb the narrow path.
The stench that hit him was so strong he almost fell backwards. Of course he was used to different odours but this was something above the ordinary. After a couple of seconds he managed to control his breathing and started taking rhythmical breaths through his mouth instead.
”Stop it! Heel, Zara!” He shouted loudly when he saw from a distance that the bitch was going for the strange object.
The dog had no desire to listen and continued biting and scratching at the big plastic bundle. The dry sand whirled up when he slammed the dog leash on the ground and the air was vibrating when he shouted with his deep voice.
”Come here! Heel! I said.” He pointed with a military gesture to his right side and hit his leg a couple of times.
Zara flexed her ears and stopped for a moment. The hunter raised his voice again and the brown speckled bitch reluctantly listened. She approached her master in shame with her head and ears bent down and sat at his right side.
”Good girl.” He lovingly stroked the rough coated back at the same time rewarding her with dog treats.
The hunter left the dog tied to an olive tree while he curiously went up to the bare cliff. He stood for a long time looking at the bundle down there in the precipice.
What the hell is that?
The stench was horrible. He carefully bent down and opened the plastic where the dog had chewed. It took a while for his brain to register what he saw. All the blood drained from his head and he thought he was going to faint.
”Damn it”, he spat out. His heart was pounding like a bass drum in his chest and he couldn’t take his eyes off the body part. There was something not quite right. His eyes opened wide and the cold sweat gripped him when he realized what it was. Some of his breakfast found its way out through his nostrils and he continued vomiting until bitter gall came up. He spat, dried his mouth with his camouflage coloured hunting jacket and didn’t even notice that his black boots had been splashed. In shock he fumbled for his mobile and managed to dial one one two.
Tuesday June 4th
”Come in and have a seat.” Detective Kerstin Hogstrom made a sweeping gesture toward the red visitors’ chairs in front of the desk and comfortably leaned back in her office chair. As usual she was austerely clad with a face you couldn’t read. The purple reading glasses were on the tip of her nose and if you didn’t know better you could imagine her being a strict school teacher. Nikki followed the specks of dust that were dancing in the light coming in through the windows above the shiny desk, stepped in and sat down. She was not at all surprised to see the neat stacks of paper up in the left corner, Kerstin Hogstrom was known for being meticulous and orderly.
”You know that I usually back you up and care about you?” Kerstin took off her glasses, kept them in her hand and looked Nikki in the eyes. Nikki silently nodded and had a feeling where the conversation was going. This was the way her boss worked. Before she told you what you had done wrong or should change she gave positive feedback. But Nikki was surprised, this was not at all what she had expected to hear.
”What the hell, are you saying he did it again?” Nikki’s reaction was immediate. She shuddered and felt herself stiffening while a flaming wrath built up somewhere deep inside her stomach. ”Why doesn’t the bastard have a price on his head? Who is it this time?”
”The girlfriend. Unfortunately she is in quite a bad shape. This time we’ll hope he doesn’t come out for a few years but you know for yourself how the system works.” Nikki was moving around, cursing aloud and biting her cuticles as she always did when feeling upset. ”Damn it, can’t the prosecutor make sure the devil never comes out again. After all these years haven’t they got it that he is a danger to society?”
”I need to know if you and the children are in danger. Has he contacted you?”
”No, he stopped harassing us a long time ago and if he had continued I’d gladly put a bullet in his head. How bad is it?”
”A broken skull and several fractures. She is being operated on for internal bleeding right now. ”
”Swine.” Nikki quickly got up and knew that she had a duty to inform both her sons of what Stefan had done. At the same time she knew that Gustav and Axel didn’t care any longer, they always said their dad was dead when somebody asked. ”Anything else?”
”Actually yes, please have a seat again.” Kerstin sat upright in her office chair and put one leg over the other while playing with the ball pen. ”I want you to take a few days vacation.”
”What do you mean? We don’t have to go underground for this. Stefan will probably get some kind of sentencing for what he’s done, or what?” Nikki’s face was full of surprise.
”It’s not about Stefan, it’s actually about you Nikki.” Kerstin paused, leaned forward and clasped her hands on top of the desk. ”I don’t know what’s wrong with you but you have not been yourself during this latest investigation. You are perceived as being stressed and impatient, forceful in some way. Right now you are considered as being obstructive and working against the others. ”
Nikki opened her eyes wide and was just about to protest when Kerstin got up from the chair.
”Go away and have a rest. Just like everybody else you actually need some time off. You are not a robot. A little change of air will do you the world of good and I think it will be good for the group as well. ”
”Hang on a minute, is it not up to me to make this kind of decision?”
”See you on Monday again.”
”Bitch”, Nikki spat out and slammed the door so hard the noise reverberated along the corridor.
The following day Nikki Swahn was kissing her best friend’s husband while the wheels on their Airbus 320 softly landed on Larnaca Airport. Yesterday, for selfish reasons, she had accepted Patrik Kroona’s hasty invitation to accompany him on his business trip to Cyprus. But she didn’t feel comfortable at all with her thoughtless decision. The affair had been doomed to failure from day one and had been going on for a little over a year, but Nikki had finally come to her senses and decided to end the relationship.
Nikki actually had no idea what she was doing on Cyprus with her lover, who furthermore had no idea of what her intentions were. She blamed her boss for it. It was Kerstin who had insisted that she needed a change and here she was. Nikki also knew that within four days Patrik would no longer be her secret lover and she could start mending her guilty conscience she had for her best friend Linn. The question was if they would ever get back to the friendship they once shared.
Nikki knew that she was tough. Some people called her cold or shallow but deep inside she was just vulnerable. A year after leaving Israel, when only just 21, she made the biggest mistake of her life when she met Stefan. They’d been dancing all night long at the Valands Festvaning and she had fallen head over heels for his charm and attentiveness. When she was carrying her son Gustav, Nikki knew that she had an uphill battle to break free from the marriage. When the children were two and four years old respectively she’d had enough of both the physical and psychological abuse and had run away in the middle of the night to a women’s shelter. Raped and battered she’d had to go to the hospital and a long investigation had started. The same year she had made her life’s best decision, to retrain as a police officer and get all the bastards that didn’t deserve to be out on the street. Since then her confidence in herself as well as her self-esteem had been strengthened through years of therapy and the police academy. Stefan had continued to terrorize Nikki and the kids until one day he got a shorter sentence with a contact prohibition order as a result. In prison he found the next in a row of girlfriends whom he had charmed and then almost beaten to death.
There had not been many love stories in Nikki’s life since then. Of course she had dated every now and then, but as soon as it started getting serious she had made excuses and run with her tail between her legs. The only long-term relationship Nikki had was the one she was in now with Linn’s husband, Patrik. But it was not sustainable.
Nikki and Patrik were struck by the wall of hot air as they exited the airport’s large arrivals area. They got the keys and a road map from a blond voluptuous English girl at the Avis car rental desk and went in search of the Avis parking area.
”Finally, welcome to Cyprus”, Patrik said and stopped to hug Nikki.
”Thanks. Do you see how good it is with some Mediterranean heat?”
Nikki’s laughter got stuck in her throat. It felt false when she once again tried to smile while the hot air was caressing her skin. With her pink cardigan under her arm Nikki tried to shake off the feeling that she was betraying her best friend while linking arms with her lover trying to find the rental car. But Linn had already acted as a ghost for several months in Nikki’s body and she knew that the time had come. She could no longer keep deceiving her girlfriend - on top of that she needed to be true to herself.
The sun light was much more intense than she was used to and Nikki took out her beloved Maui Jim as her thoughts were dispersed when her mobile rang. A picture of her older sister Charlie came up on the display and Nikki answered:
”What? Sorry but why are you whispering? I can hardly hear what you are saying.”
Nikki stopped and put the receiver closer to her ear.
”I feel weird and just woke up with a strange man in my bed. Please help me…”
Nikki could hear the panic in Charlie’s voice and sharpened her senses. ”Tell me more so that I can understand...are you in danger?”
”I don’t know...I think I was drugged while in town with my work-mates yesterday. I don’t remember much and I don’t know how I got home. ”
Nikki could see the worst happening. Drugging and raping women had recently increased dramatically in Gothenburg. It was so unpleasant she got goose bumps on her arms.
”Think of something so he leaves. You could say you are expecting visitors or something but first I want you to secretly try to take his picture. Use your mobile. Then you have to go to….”
”I have to hang up….”
Nikki heard a click in the phone and tried shouting hello a few times. Without hesitating she called the crime department and asked them to send a car to her beloved older sister.
”What was that?” Patrik looked at Nikki with concern.
”Charlie. It was Charlie thinking she had been drugged. Damn it.”
”She sounded really weird and said she had just woken up with a strange man in her bed. I mean, damn it, it’s noon and Charlie should be at work by now. Something is bloody wrong. ”
”What should we do?”
”I have already ordered a car to her address. What more can I do? I’m almost two thousand miles away from her. Oh God”, Nikki whispered.
Outside the entrance to the Grecian Hotel Patrik put the hand brake on the car and switched off the engine. He had looked extensively for a luxury hotel where small children weren’t welcome and here they were, between Ayia Napa and Protaras, looking out over the beautiful Konnos Bay.
”Call Charlie so we know how she is doing.” Patrik was tenderly stroking Nikki’s cheek and gave her a loving smile.
Nikki who had been sitting with the phone clutched in her hand the whole trip didn’t hesitate for a moment.
”Come on, answer me.” She was filled with helplessness as the phone just kept on ringing. ”Do you think….”
”Try your place of work”, Patrik matter-of-factly interrupted. ”If they have been to Charlie’s house they will probably have more information. ”
Nikki called the department and her colleague Goran Karlsson answered at the second ring.
”Nikki here, do you have any information regarding my sister. I asked you to send a car to her home about an hour ago.”
”I’m at the hospital with her. She is fine considering the circumstances despite the fact that she probably was drugged.”
Nikki shuddered. ”And the man. Did you get him?”
”No. Charlie had made up a story that you were coming to visit and casually mentioned that you were a police officer. He seemed to have left in a right hurry.”
Nikki’s shoulders slumped. ”Is she hurt? I mean…do you know if she has been raped?”
”I actually don’t know. She’s with the gynaecologist right now.”
”OK, please take care of her for me, I’m not at home at the moment.”
”Of course. I’ll take care of her, you don’t need to worry. Call in a couple of hours’ time when I’ve got her to eat something.”
”Thank you.” Nikki hung up and stared into the air. There was nothing she could do at the moment and still she felt like the world’s worst sister. But she knew that Charlie was safe since Goran had been Nikki’s own protection officer when Stefan had been seriously threatening her . He knew what a woman needed in these situations.
The hotel was magnificent. In the lobby the crystal chandeliers hung high up on the ceiling and in the middle there was a pianist in a tuxedo playing classical music on a majestic white grand piano. Some of the hotel guests were enjoying their afternoon tea relaxing in large comfortable sofas, listening to the beautiful piano tunes. A butler dressed in red helped them with their luggage and showed them the way to their suite after they had checked in. Since Nikki suffered from mild claustrophobia she chose to take the elegant curved staircase instead of the lift to the fifth floor. At the same time her body was tense with frustration over not being there for Charlie so a sprint up the stairs was just what she needed. All the years of training had given her a strong and resistant body so Nikki was barely panting when she arrived at the room and took off her sandals. She thought of her father and how grateful she was to him for introducing her to the Israeli martial art Krav Maga the year they moved to Tel Aviv. Nikki was completely won over and several times a week she was training in defence against threats and attacks in a number of ways; standing, sitting , lying down, against weapons, multiple attackers, in darkness, in pressured situations and so forth.
The suite was light and airy. Nikki thought it was fantastic with two big bedrooms and three bathrooms, all with Jacuzzi and shower. The balcony was furnished with two sun-beds and a sitting area with comfortable chairs and a magical view of the beautiful bay. On the glass table there was a chilled bottle of champagne and a plate with delicacies but she couldn’t appreciate it, wondering instead why she had agreed to this trip. She’d much rather be with Charlie and try to catch the psychopath who probably had drugged her. But now she was here and had to play the game until she dropped the bomb.
”You never stop surprising me”, Nikki called out after she had gone around inspecting every room. She was standing on the balcony again, looking out at the turquoise sea in front of her.
The beach was full of tourists thirsting for sun and laughter was echoing around the hotel’s pool area. Some were having a drink just below the balcony and others were eating from the hotel’s afternoon buffet. Patrik came up behind her, put his arms around Nikki’s slim waist and kissed her neck.
”I think you need a distraction.”