" 'The boy, four months old, was found dead in his bed. The autopsy reveals that the cause of death was an epidural haematoma. A bleeding between the cranium and membrane of the brain. This is a result of a head injury. Such haematomas arise over time. They lead to increased pressure, and the swelling travels down the length of the spine, where it affects the respiratory system. Essentially, the child died because he stopped breathing. Immediately following the event, the child may seem perfectly normal, without visible symptoms. The doctor at the casualty department cannot be faulted for his evaluation. After a few hours, fatigue and lethargy set in. Lapsing in and out of consciousness. It is therefore reasonable to surmise that the child died as a direct result of his fall from the pram. The fall which, in turn, can be blamed on the assault perpetrated against the mother.'"
"Does this mean that we could have charged 353 Andreas with manslaughter?" Skarre wanted to know.
Sejer smiled bitterly. "Not even with the most illtempered judge in the land. They stole a handbag from her pram. They didn't touch her. That's simple theft, with a maximum sentence of three years. But it would never have happened. A young boy. First-time offence. He would have got off. With a severe fright and a warning."
"But the baby's mother what about her?"
"Well. The mother is responsible for her own child, under any circumstances. She let go of the pram. And she didn't set the brake properly." He shook his head. "What does the report say about Andreas? What did they find out?"
"It looks like a nightmare. If they're correct in their assumptions."
"That either he fell, or was pushed down the cellar steps. When he landed on the cellar floor, he broke his neck, or to be more precise, cervical vertebra number four. The injury would have caused significant paralysis from his neck down. So that's where he lay."
"And then she bashed in his head with a hammer," said Skarre.
"Yes. But not straightaway."
Sejer pushed the papers aside and stood up. He 354 leaned against the filing cabinet, tapping his fingers against the green metal.
"There are indications that he lay there for a while. All alone on the floor. With a broken neck."
"Define 'a while'."
"Several days. He disappeared on September 1, right? One of the wounds on his head, probably caused by his fall, was different from the rest. It wasn't deep enough to have caused a coma, maybe just occasional loss of consciousness. And it was severely infected. That kind of thing takes time. In addition, he had bedsores, on his back and elsewhere. And there was a blanket covering him. And a heater nearby. She was holding him prisoner. He must have taken in nourishment in some way, at least water. She gave him water," he concluded, sounding amazed.
"The baby bottle," Skarre said.
"What are you talking about?"
"She gave him water in a baby bottle. I stood behind her in a queue at the supermarket and she left it behind. It surprised me that she was buying such a thing. What do you think Andreas was doing there?"
"Money," Sejer said. "He had a knife with him. They found it under the workbench. A confirmation gift from his father."
"At the house of his mother's friend? Was that smart?"
"He may not have known who lived there. By the way, Irma Funder is in our files."
"She came here eleven years ago to report her husband missing. He disappeared without trace. Emptied his bank account and took his passport with him. Yet she claimed that something must have happened to him. Later her son showed up. Ingemar Funder. Quite embarrassed. He had found a letter in his father's office in which he explained that he couldn't stand things any more and was leaving the country. Some people can't handle that," he said. "Being abandoned that way. It must have been too much for her."
Neither of them spoke for a while. Skarre bit his lip. "You've talked to the son? What did he say?"
"Not much. He just sat and nodded gloomily. He already looked pretty gloomy, even before this. He looks like his mother."
"This is bloody awful sorry," said Skarre, "but I'm thinking about that day when she stood in my office. I remember what she said. 'I know where he is. He probably won't live much longer.' And afterwards, when I asked her where she lived. And she gave me her address. Prins Oscars gate 17. Carefully enunciating the consonants as she looked into my eyes. She wanted to tell me where he was, 356 but I didn't understand. He may still have been alive then," Skarre said.
"It torments me no end that we'll never get to hear Irma's version. And now it's too late. We can't charge anyone with anything. Can we?"
He had talked to everyone. Runi Winther and Ingemar Funder. Tried to explain. Did his best to find a version that they might be able to handle, but that seemed impossible. Zipp's mother had called, again and again. He didn't have much to tell her, just that they were doing everything they could. Then he went out to his car and drove through the streets, trying to take stock of things. Of what had happened and where he stood in his life. He was going home to Sara. Mother is dead and buried, he thought. And he felt the thin grooves of the steering wheel under his fingertips. His shoes were big enough for him to curl his toes. Am I living in the moment? No, he thought, because in my mind I'm already home. Without knowing what awaits me. Sara. With a hot meal. Or maybe she's left. This life is inhuman. One long descent, that ends in . . . well, what did he know? Lukewarm water? Shattered glass? That's more than enough, he concluded. Then he started making plans for the following day, as he always did. A few fixed points. For any eventuality. Even though anything might happen, 357 and something important might turn up, he liked to itemise things, no matter how insignificant. Kollberg was alone. He patted the dog to calm him and looked around. Caught sight of the note on the dining-room table. She's gone, he thought. He walked across the room and took a deep breath. Spread out the piece of paper. "Had to go see Pappa. Will be right back. Fish casserole in the oven. For you, you sugar dumpling."
Not what he had expected.
Ingemar Funder was driving an old Ford Sierra. He was a stout, dark-haired man with a heavy face and dark, deep-set eyes. He did everything with a quiet and modest manner, and he never drew attention to himself. He was known as a calm and meticulous man who never complained. But he lived alone. The company of others was too difficult for him. He stopped at the gate and got out. Looked up at the ruined house. He walked along the gravel and around the side of the house. It was dark, but he could see the gazebo that his father had built. A 40th wedding anniversary present for his mother. It was untouched by the fire and quite beautiful. He walked up the two steps and sat on the bench inside. He sat there for a long time. He thought about everything that had happened, and realised that he could go on as he had before. Then he stood up. He tested the floorboards with his foot. Some of the planks were loose and gave under his weight. He went out to the lawn. It had stopped raining. The clouds split open, and the light of a pale moon 359 struck his powerful shoulders. For a moment he stood there, bathed in the bluish-white light. Eleven years had passed. Fifteen minus eleven is four, he thought. "Statute of limitations regarding penalties and other legal consequences: A deed is no longer punishable when the statute of limitations has occurred in accordance with clause 67-69." Four more years. At times, over the course of the past years it had occurred to him that his mother didn't remember. That she had simply repressed it all. They had never checked the handwriting on the letter. It had never occurred to them to do so. He was trustworthy. In a flash he remembered his mother's voice, her desperate scream and burning eyes. You have to help me, Ingemar!
As for the body of Andreas Winther and what took place in the cellar of the deceased, the police consider place in the cellar of the deceased, the police consider this a mystery. It is also unclear why he was in Funder's this a mystery. It is also unclear why he was in Funder's house. The only one who might he able to clarify house. The only one who might he able to clarify matters is 18-year-old Sivert Skorpe, who spent matters is 18-year-old Sivert Skorpe, who spent September 1 with Andreas. However, this individual September 1 with Andreas. However, this individual has disappeared. He is 1.70 metres tall, with blond has disappeared. He is 1.70 metres tall, with blond hair, cut short. He is wearing tight black jeans and hair, cut short. He is wearing tight black jeans and probably a leather jacket. He speaks with an eastern probably a leather jacket. He speaks with an eastern Norway accent. When he says anything at all, that is. Norway accent. When he says anything at all, that is. Any information about this individual should be Any information about this individual should be reported to the nearest police station. reported to the nearest police station.
Maybe you've seen him?
ALSO BY KARIN FOSSUM.
Don't Look BackHe Who Fears the WolfCalling Out For You