sâmbătă, martie 10

THE DEATH OF A BLOGGER, part 2 - a story by JMS (3)

Chapter 2

At the police station, Åke was put in an interrogation room and made to wait for several hours. When someone finally came, it was a tired looking man in a suit, a uniformed police and a woman. The man in the suit sat down as did the woman, the uniformed policeman leaned against the door and kept looking at Åke.
The man said something to the woman who translated it into a question for Åke, “So tell me what you were doing at the café, Mr Nilsson?”

Åke explained how he was supposed to meet Marius for a game of Go, how he had been late but found a table with a Go board set up in the café, so he had sat down and waited. When Marius did not turn up he had gone to the bathroom and found him bleeding, so he had ran out and told the man behind the bar to call an ambulance and the police.

You said to one of the officers that you bumped into another man?”

Yes, on the stairs, he seemed to be in a great hurry. I did not notice his face as he looked away, but he was wearing a dark suit, medium hight, black hair.”

The woman continued, “The barman said that he did not see any such man. What do you have to say about that?”

As she interpreted the question, the man in the suit leaned forward and watched Åke intently.

But he must have seen him!” he exclaimed.

The man must have passed the bar when he left, and the barman was sitting behind the bar when I came down so he must have seen him!”

Maybe you just dreamed up this man, maybe it was you who were angry with Marius?” the detective continued in English.

No, he was there, you have to believe me,” Åke said again, not liking at all where this was going. If there had been no other man, the only suspect would be him or the barman, and as a foreigner he would for sure be the main suspect.

Ask the teenagers that were outside. I asked them for direction, they must have seen the man exiting just as I had entered the café,” he pleaded.

A quick conversation in Romanian between the detective and the policeman. The detective left for 20 minutes before he returned and sat down again.

For a while he did not say anything and Åke's nervousness grew with the silence. What if the kids had not seen anything, what if they had not even given a statement? “This looks bad, really bad,” he thought.

So Mr Nilsson,” and then he paused again, playing with Åke like a cat would with a mouse, a psychological game to break down the guilty and make the innocent feel the jitters.

Finally he did continue, “The teenagers confirmed that a man rushed out of the 'The Last Flamingo' just after you entered. Seems at least that part of your story is correct.”

He sighed, read Åke's statement again, folded the paper and stood up.

You are free to go for now. Don't leave Bucharest until further notice,” the unnamed detective said, something Åke Nilsson agreed to with a firm nod, feeling much relieved.

How is Marius, will he be OK? Will you catch the man who attacked him?” he blurted out.

Why do you think he was attacked?” the detective replied as he stood at the door.

Well, there was a lot of blood, and he had a bad injury to his head that did not look like it had come from a fall.”

As I said, you are free to go, but don't leave the city just yet. We will be in touch.”

Åke stood up, but under an irresistible urge to keep talking he asked, “Do you have any suspects?”

Why would we need any suspects, it looks like an accident to me. But don't worry, we will turn every stone, and if we ever need a suspect you will be the first one to know, you can be sure of that.”

Åke wanted to keep asking questions, but he managed to stop himself. Something told him that pressing this issue would not be in his best interest. So he thanked them, as being polite could never hurt, and then got escorted out of the police station.

The policeman warned him again not to leave Bucharest, and Åke again agreed.

He was worried he had gotten mixed-up in something bad, and he felt like they were pointing the finger at him. If he stirred the pot, maybe he would end up as the main ingredient in the stew of “Lets find someone guilty,” but he also needed to find out what had happened.

Åke's mind started working on the part that might give him some answers, and that was, why had Marius been killed?

He had a way to work that made him very good at his job, and he used the same technique now, he simply subdivided any given problem until it was small enough to be solved, and he would do that enough times until the overlaying problem got solved by the sub-solutions.

So, as he was leaving the police station and jumping into the taxi he did not dream of alcohol, or even think about it. Åke thought about the problem of a dead friend he never met, and why had he been killed?

What can I do that the police are not much better at doing?” was his first thought.

His second thought was, “Who was the man I met in the stairs? If he killed Marius, why did he do it? Why kill a simple Go player?”

As the Taxi pulled into the small street where his hotel was located, his mind had reached a small enough problem he could work with, “What had Marius been working on that would threaten someone so much they had to kill him?”

This question he might be able to answer, if he could find out what he was working with. Åke and Marius had never really talked about their respective work, but he knew that Marius had been a blogger, and that was a starting point.

Thinking about this he entered the hotel and walked up to front desk to get his key.

Of course, Mr Nilsson. I would however require your passport,” the young man behind the counter said.

My passport, why? Did you not copy the information when I checked in?” asked Åke a bit perplexed by the request.

I am sorry sir, but the police have requested that we keep your passport for the time being.”

The man seemed to feel a bit awkward about the request, maybe his imagination was running wild, or he was just embarrassed to ask.

Åke Nilsson had the urge to start explaining, like most people would, that he was no criminal, that he was just a witness and so on. But as he was about to start talking, he instead found himself handing over his passport.

What would be the point to explain,” he thought.

The man would most likely not care, and if he did, anything Åke would say would only paint him in dimmer light. The “No smoke without fire” was so ingrained that trying to explain would only cause even more virtual smoke, making the non-existent fire even bigger.

So he handed over his passport and got the room key in return, just as normal, except the normal pleasantries had been excluded.

Åke, however, did not linger on that for long, as he reached the stairs he was already back on the problem he had put before himself.

He had not brought his laptop to the meeting with Marius, and the police had not asked if he had one, if they had he most likely would have had to hand it over to them. But now it was still in his room, and that was the tool he need to work on the sub-problem.

In the room he threw his jacket on the bed, kicked off his shoes, walked to the small mini-bar and took out one of those small bottles of whiskey you only find in hotels and on planes. As he poured the drink in a plastic cup he started up his computer which did not take more than a few seconds, the benefit of a SSD hard drive.

For once he did not really need alcohol, but he drank it anyway, out of habit, as he started up his web browser and email client.

He searched after the emails from Marius, as he though he had seen a link in the signature at some point. Going through the emails he worked himself backwards towards the earliest ones, and finally he did indeed find a signature with a link to a blog, “The Kassandra News of Romania.”

Clicking on the link he got taken to a site, a WordPress blog from the look of it. It had several photos, and a layout that made it look like a newspaper, but what the articles said Åke did not understand, they were all in Romanian.

To get a grasp of the content, he used a machine translation web page that did an adequate translation, so he at least got a grasp of the content. The translation was of course littered with grammatical errors, like all automatic machine translations are, but it did a good enough job for Åke Nilsson.

The latest article seemed to be about corruption in Romanian, swindling EU funds and connection to people in high places.

He clicked on the link and got an error, “404 Not found.”

So Åke hit the back button and pressed update, thinking that someone was working on the site, but he got the same error again.

That's strange,” he thought, and did another refresh of the web browser, but got the same error again. The domain, or the site, had been taken down.

Have they blocked my access,” he said out loud, feeling a bit paranoid.

He started up his Thor browser, a way to get around most Internet blocking, but he again got the same error, the website had been taken offline.

Why would anyone take down a blog just a couple of hours after the death of the owner, or one of its owners,” Åke thought out loud.

He made sure to save the web pages that had been cached when the site was still up, and then as he was about to move the computer off his bed his phone rang.

He struggled to get the mobile phone out of the pocket, and it took five rings from the withheld number before he managed to answer.

After a swipe and a press he said, “Åke.”

A voice started speaking, “Don't meddle. Go home if you know what is best for you. Accidents can happen so easily,” and after that the call ended, leaving Åke Nilsson with a metallic taste in his mouth, the taste of fear.

He sat there for a long time holding his phone, thinking what he should do. The clock showed 21:30, too late to call the police he thought.

Why would anyone try to scare me, I don't know anything.”
Then he remembered the man he had passed in the stairs. If Marius was killed, he was most likely the killer, and then Åke the only real witness.
Would the man now come after me to clean-up,” Åke thought, as he stood up and put the security chain on the door.
The mini-bar provided several other small bottles of alcohol, that he finished in quick succession as he watched the door. Finally he fell asleep, still looking at the handle and the security chain.

To be continued... 

© 2018 by J.M Svanström  

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