Excerpt of He Who Fears The Wolf by Karin Fossum
(Page 2 of 3)
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Then he went back inside the house.
This is a story about Errki.
It began like this: at 3 A.M. he left the asylum. We don't refer to it as the
asylum, Errki, and even though you sure have the right to call it whatever you
like in private, you ought to take other people into consideration and give it a
different name. It's a matter of courtesy. Or tact, if you will. Have you ever
heard of that?
She was so eloquent, God help her, that her words seemed to seep out of her like
oil. After the words came her sound, a shrill electric organ.
"It's called the Beacon," he said, and gave an acid smile. "Those
of us here in the Beacon are all one big family. The telephone rings, may I
speak to the Beacon please? Could someone get the mail for the Beacon?"
"Precisely. It's all a matter of habit. Everyone has to show a little
"Not me," he replied in a sullen voice. "I was committed against
my will, per Paragraph 5. Dangerous to myself and possibly to others."
He leaned forward and whispered in her ear.
"Thanks to me you can moon around on pay grade 27."
The night nurse shivered. This was the time of day when she felt most
vulnerable. This no-man's-land between night and morning, a gray void when the
birds stopped singing and you couldn't be sure that they'd ever sing again. When
anything might have happened and she didn't yet know about it. She slumped a
little, feeling faint. She didn't have the strength to see his pain, to remember
who he was, that he was her charge. She simply found him repulsive,
self-absorbed, and nasty.
"I realize that," she snapped. "But you've been here for four
months now, and as far as I can tell, you seem to like it well enough."
As she said this her lips pursed like the beak of a hen. The organ struck a
And so he left. It wasn't hard. The night was warm, and the window was nearly a
foot open. It was locked with a steel bar, but he managed to remove the whole
bar, using his belt buckle. The building was more than a hundred years old, and
the screws came smoothly out of the rotting wood. His room was on the second
floor. He jumped out the window as light as a bird and landed on the lawn.
He didn't cross the parking lot but instead headed through the woods toward the
small lake, which they called the Well. It didn't matter which route he took.
The point was that he didn't want to stay in the Beacon any more.
The lake was beautiful. It didn't put on airs, just lay there without a ripple,
resting in the landscape, open and still. Didn't push him away, didn't lure him
forward. Didn't touch him. Was simply there. The asylum was only a stone's throw
away but invisible because of the trees. Nestor asked him to stop for a moment,
and he did. He stared down into the black Well, and thought of Tormod, who was
found floating face down in the water, wearing rubber gloves, as always, with
his blond hair waving in the greenish black water. He didn't look very good, but
then he never had. He was fat and sluggish with colorless eyes, and besides he
was stupid. A disgusting, puddinglike fellow who went around asking people to
excuse him, afraid of infecting them or of being in the way, afraid that someone
would notice his contaminated breath. Now the poor man was with God. Maybe he
was sloshing around on a cloud, freed at last from his clammy gloves. Maybe he'd
met Errki's mother up there, maybe she was floating on the cloud next to his.
Errki loved his mother. The thought of Tormod's fluttering eyes with the blond
eyelashes made him swallow hard. He gave a couple of irritated shrugs of his
thin shoulders and kept walking.
Copyright © J. W. Cappelens Forlag, A. S. English translation copyright © Felicity David 2003.
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