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41

What the hell's going on? wondered Ackermann.

I don't know, said P"aude, starting the car. In the middle of the match as well.

The match? said Ackermann. Fuck the match. I was just about to start pulling her panties down when he phoned. That delicious little Nancy Fischer, you know.

P"aude sighed and switched on the radio to hear the end of the soccer report, instead of having to listen to an account of his colleague's love life-he was treated to enough of that on a regular basis.

Halfway in, you might say, said Ackermann.

What do you think of this Biedersen character? asked P"aude in an attempt to change the subject.

Cunning, said Ackermann. Do you reckon we should just arrest him for vagrancy and wait for further orders? You don't think he's dangerous, do you?

Munckel said he wasn't.

Munckel can't tell the difference between a hand grenade and a beetroot.

Okay, we'd better be a bit careful then. How far is it to Wahrhejm?

Eighteen kilometers. We'll be there in ten minutes. Shall we put the siren on, or the light at least?

Good God, no! Discretion, Munckel said. But I don't suppose you know what the word means?

Of course I do, said Ackermann. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Another one? said Korhonen.

Yes, of course, said Biedersen. Must just go and take a leak first. But that's a good-looking piece of skirt you've got there. A hell of a good-looking piece of skirt.

Easy to maintain as well, said Korhonen, smirking.

Biedersen stood up and noticed that he was a bit tipsy. Perhaps it'll be as well to cut out the whiskey and stick to good old beer, he thought as he worked his way past a contingent of women sitting at two long tables and disturbing the peace. Laughing and singing. Apart from himself there were only two male customers in the whole of the bar. The old school janitor who was sitting at his usual table with a newspaper and a carafe of red wine. And an unaccompanied man in a dark suit who had arrived a quarter of an hour ago.

All the rest were women, and he held on to the gun in his jacket pocket as he passed them, with his back to the wall.

Women's Day, he thought as he stood and allowed the beer to take the natural way out. What a bloody silly idea!

The door opened and the man in the dark suit came in. He nodded at Biedersen.

At least we can get a bit of peace in here, said Biedersen, gesturing with his head at all the commotion outside. I've nothing against women, but

He broke off and reached for his jacket pocket, but before he had a chance to grab his pistol he heard the same plopping sound twice, and knew it was too late. A dark red flood washed over his eyes, and the last thing he felt, the very last thing of all, was a terrible pain below the belt.

P"aude pulled up outside the inn.

Go in and ask the way, he said. I'll wait here.

Okay, said Ackermann with a sigh. His name's Biedersen, right?

Yes, said P"aude. Werner Biedersen. They're bound to know where he lives.

Ackermann got out of the car and P"aude lit a cigarette. It's a relief to be rid of him for a few minutes, he thought.

But Ackermann was back after ninety seconds.

Stroke of luck, he said. I bumped into a guy on his way out who knew where he lives. Keep going straight ahead, a hundred and fifty meters or so.

All right, said P"aude.

Then turn left, added Ackermann.

P"aude followed the instructions and came to a low stone wall with an opening in it.

Looks dark in there, said Ackermann.

But there's a house there in any case. Take the flashlight and have a look. I'll wait here. I have the window open so you only need to shout if you need me.

Wouldn't it be better if you went? wondered Ackermann.

No, said P"aude. Get going.

Okay, said Ackermann.

I'm seven years older, after all, thought P"aude as Ackermann got out of the car. With a wife and children, and all that.

The radio suddenly crackled into life.

Hello. P"aude here!

Munckel! Where the hell are you?

In Wahrhejm, of course. We've just gotten to his house. Ackermann's gone in and

Get him out again! Biedersen's been shot dead in the john at the inn. Get your asses there and cordon the place off!

Oh, shit! said P"aude.

Make sure that not a soul leaves the premises! I'll be there in fifteen minutes.

Roger, said P"aude.

More crackling, then Munckel vanished. P"aude shook his head.

Oh, shit, he thought again. Then he got out of the car and shouted for Ackermann.


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