Saturday: Week One


Tobias needed luck to get out of the steep-sided bunker guarding the ninth green at Skovlynd. He had driven his ball safely over the lake, only to see it drop into the sand. Sofie, his playing partner, had driven two balls in succession into the water before giving up with a shrug and a cheery call to Tobias, “It’s up to you now, partner.” The other two golfers in the fourball – Norbert and a former colleague of Sofie’s called Hannah who was an excellent, if taciturn, golfer – had driven their balls to the rough grass at the edge of the green and were still a long way from the flag. Tobias steadied himself, hovered the club over the sand behind the ball, muttered to himself, “keep your head down,” and swung the wedge. The ball flew up in a flurry of sand, cleared the edge of the bunker, landed on the green and rolled to within half a metre of the flag. 

Hannah and Norbert chipped their balls to within two metres of the flag, but missed their putts. Tobias confidently sank his ball. 

“Good par,” said Norbert. “Keep this up and you’ll win a prize.”

“Only in the raffle,” said Tobias. 

But from then on, every ball he hit flew straight and true. He had never played better. Four hours later, he and Sofie stood on a podium to receive third prizes in the competition – a pink cashmere golf sweater for Sofie, a navy cashmere golf sweater for Tobias, a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal each – from one of the stars of a television soap opera who now shook Tobias vigorously by the hand. Tobias had seen the man’s face in the newspapers but had never watched the show. A photographer bounded forward to capture the actor kissing Sofie on the cheek. 

Sofie blew kisses and smiled and acknowledged congratulations as they weaved their way back through the tables to their seats. 

“You seem to know everybody in the room,” said Tobias. 

“Of course I do. I’m in PR. It’s my job.” Sofie returned a wave from the deputy leader of the Centre party.   

When they finally got back to their seats, there were more congratulatory hugs and handshakes from Norbert and Hannah. 

The dining room in the clubhouse was laid out in long rectangular tables each seating twelve guests. Tobias sat opposite Sofie at one end of a table. Norbert and Hannah sat beside them.  At the other end of the table, Tobias recognised the mayor of Aarhus and a politician in the Green Party called Nicholas Hove who exchanged a cordial salute with Norbert. 

“Hove has changed his tune,” said Norbert quietly. “He was one of the protesters who wanted to stop this golf course being built.” 

Tobias glanced at the apple-cheeked man in the too-tight dinner jacket. 

“Kurt invited him because of his wind farm project. And also because he’s going into politics,” said Sofie. “You never know whose support you’re going to need in a coalition.”

“True enough,” said Tobias, absentmindedly. He was thinking about Agnes. Was she still camping out in the forest? At least the weather was better. It hadn’t rained all day and the wind was from the south. 

“If the way to a man’s vote is through his stomach, Malling will do well in politics,” said Norbert. “That was an excellent dinner.”

“Kurt always puts on a good spread,” said Sofie. “He understands the importance of public relations. Which is why he’s such an easy client. Wouldn’t you say, Hannah?”

A burst of applause signalled the end of the prize-giving. Talk broke out. The Mayor beckoned to Norbert.   

A small dance band – piano, trumpet, double bass and drums – set up on the podium and began playing a rhumba. Tobias tapped his feet under the table in response to the beat. They met Sofie’s feet. 

“Sorry,” he made a little gesture of apology.

Sofie smiled. She moved her shoulders with the music.

The actor led an elegant blonde in a long black dress to the space created for dancing. Chairs scraped on the floor. Tobias moved to get up, but Kurt Malling was already drawing Sofie to her feet. She sashayed away from him. 

“The early worm catches the bird,” said Hannah.  

Tobias glanced quickly at her. Her expression was as innocent as her tone but he thought she was secretly laughing at him.  

“It happens all the time,” said Hannah. “It’s been happening since I was in Kindergarten with Sofie. The boys queued to walk home with her.”

Tobias couldn’t stop himself. “Did she prefer the rich ones then as well?” To his own ears he sounded churlish and sulky, as though he was four years old instead of forty.

“Kurt Malling is our biggest client,” said Hannah. “Sofie is an excellent business woman.” 

Tobias got to his feet. “Would you like to dance, Hannah?”

“I’m not a consolation prize.” 

Hannah’s tone was light but her cheeks were flushed. Tobias saw he had hurt her pride.

“I hate all this black tie, stuffed shirt hoo-ha, but I love dancing. Humour me.”

She shrugged. “If you like.”

Tobias studied her face as they danced.

“Well? What do you detect in my features?” 

“I haven’t seen you smile,” he said. “You didn’t smile on the golf course.”

“My game wasn’t up to scratch.” 

“You play well,” he said.

“I’m out of practice.” 

“So am I,” said Tobias. 

“Really? I’d never have guessed.” Her lips twitched. Her eyes were definitely laughing at him.

She was really rather attractive, Tobias thought. Big breasts. Easy company. He glanced at her hands drumming the air. No wedding ring. No ring of any kind. The music stopped

“Maybe we could have dinner some time,” he said. 

Hannah smiled. “I’d like that. But my girlfriend might object.”

Before Tobias could add words to his apologetic shrug, she slipped away to speak to a friend. 

He made his way back to the table. Sofie was already seated. Malling was on his feet, talking to the police commissioner. 

“Ah, Lange,” said the commissioner. “Working hard I see,” he laughed genially and clapped Tobias on the shoulder. “I like to see my officers enjoying themselves, mixing with the wider world. You can get too narrow and jaundiced a view of life when you’re only dealing with criminals.”

Tobias felt like saying there were criminals in all walks of life. Fortunately, the commissioner had already turned away and was busy greeting another politician whose face Tobias recognised but whose name he could not recall. He sat down.

“That will have done you no harm,” said Sofie.  

“Dancing is good exercise,” he said blandly.

Sofie stared at him. “You know exactly what I mean, but you deliberately misinterpret me. Meeting the commissioner socially is good for your career. You know that perfectly well. But you won’t admit it. You think you’re above that kind of thing. You want to be promoted entirely on your merits. Well, the world doesn’t always work like that.”  

Tobias flinched inwardly. She had touched a nerve. He glanced around. There was no one else at the table. 

“Any man who’s good at his job wants to be promoted. To go as far as he can,” said Sofie.

“At least you think I’m good at my job.”

“Well, aren’t you?”

There was no right answer. If he said no, he’d be lying. If he said yes, he would have to concede that he wanted promotion.

“If you’re too proud for office politics,” said Sofie, “You should run your own business.”

“Like you?”

She shrugged. “I’m my own boss.”

“And Hannah?”

“We started the business together. She looks after all the sports clients. I look after business and politics.”

“Which are often connected,” said Tobias. “Which is how the world works.” He felt dispirited.

“Denmark is probably the least corrupt country in the world,” said Sofie sharply. “All I do is smooth the path of business. I persuade people to listen to my clients and persuade my clients to listen, or at least give the appearance of listening to their opponents.”

Tobias couldn’t help glancing at Kurt Malling, now dancing with the blonde woman in the black dress whom he took to be the Mrs Malling who liked to do things in style.

“Kurt is a case in point,” said Sofie. “There was a lot of opposition to this golf course. I was still at college at the time, of course. But I gather Kurt met it head on at first. Bad idea.” She shook her head. “There were arrests and demonstrations. That isn’t the way to do things. Now there’s opposition to the wind farm on the West coast. My advice to Kurt is, listen to the arguments, be nice to the protestors, invite them to lunch. If you use the velvet glove you shouldn’t need the iron hand.” 

“I’m glad to hear it.” Tobias smiled. He didn’t think either Agnes or her boyfriend would be easily bought for the price of a lunch with Kurt Malling. 

There was the plinking of a fork rapped on a glass. The dancers returned to their tables. Silence fell. Kurt Malling thanked the guests for their support. The draw for raffle prizes had taken place. The winning cards were pinned to the prizes on the table in the entrance hall. He wished his guests a safe journey home. Sofie was spending the night at her father’s house. Hannah was going to her parent’s house in Silkeborg. Tobias was driving back to Aarhus. 

“We should have driven up together,” said Sofie. “I could have been company for you on the way back.” 

And something more, her demure tone seemed to imply. 

High maintenance, thought Tobias. Great fun, but high maintenance. Did he have the energy for her?  

“Another time, perhaps” he said.

Sofie and Hannah went to get their coats. Norbert lingered in the dining room for a last word with the mayor. Tobias glanced at his raffle card, the Six of Hearts. He joined the guests milling around the long oak table in the hall, uttering little cries of delight or moans of disappointment. He cast his eye over the cards attached to sets of wine glasses, bottles of champagne, golf bags, golf shoes, golf caps and mysterious envelopes. To his surprise, for he could not remember ever having won a raffle prize, the Six of Hearts was pinned to an important-looking envelope. Inside, were two tickets to Rigoletto at the opera house in Copenhagen. 

He tucked the envelope into the pocket of his dinner jacket. He thought he might give the tickets to Norbert and Inge. His stepmother loved opera and would appreciate the gesture. Norbert, Sofie and Hannah were now checking their cards against the last four prizes on the table. Hannah picked up a red and black golf umbrella. 

“At least one of us has won a prize,” said Sofie. “Did you have any luck, Tobias?” 

“I never expect to be lucky in raffles,” said Tobias. Which was true. 

“Lucky at cards, unlucky at love,” said Sofie. She smiled. 

Tobias thought he might have the energy for her after all.


He felt wide awake driving back to Aarhus. He liked driving at night, especially when he was alone. It was one o’clock in the morning. The roads were almost empty. There was a pleasing rhythm in the way occasional headlights glittered in the distance, grew brighter and flared as they passed, briefly illuminating a fine drizzle of rain. The windscreens wipers rose and fell occasionally. His mind was like that. Empty for long periods. On screensaver. Then a flash of thought. Life was strange. Few women had quickened his interest since his divorce. You wait a long time for the bus then three turn up at once. He corrected himself. Two. Hannah preferred women. A pity. She was restful and focused. Curvy. Soft. She was probably swatting men away all the time. Sofie was playful and teasing but no fool. She would keep him on his toes. If he could afford her. He ought to telephone Pernille Madsen. She’d get his report on Bruno Holst. Case closed. But he’d telephone anyway. She’d been right. Holst walked out. Just like that. Left his partner and their daughter. Without so much as a note. Would Holst get in touch with them now? They’d have moved on. What would have happened if he’d walked out on Karren and Agnes? Karren was happy now. Hans Frederik was a better husband for her. Agnes liked her step-father well enough. Agnes and Magnus in a tent in the forest. When did he last sleep in a tent in a forest? In the scouts? There was that week in Crete with Karren. Beside a beach. Toes full of sand and a sky full of stars. Not many stars tonight. The clouds are moving fast across the sky. There’s the moon. Nearly full.  Roligmose. Left, 5 kilometres. Who was Bogman? Was he killed on a night like this? Shadowy figures moving in the moonlight. A hand raised to strike. Was he killed in the bog or somewhere else? Who carried him to the pond? Two men? Or one strong man? Not a woman. Unless she was built like the desk sergeant at Randers. She could throw a body over her shoulders like a sack. Was she gay? Was Bogman Swedish? A tourist unlucky enough to meet a psychopath? He must have been travelling alone. Or with a friend. Maybe someone he picked up. There was something pathetic about that naked, leathery foot. Tollund Man in his glass case. A sacrificial victim, resigned, calm. Katrine said what they’d all been thinking. Was some sick bastard fixated about bog bodies? Was another one going to turn up? A bright girl, Katrine. Not a girl. A young woman. Long legs. Pert breasts. She was going to be a good detective. Sign for the University of Aarhus Department of Anthropology on the right. Good work by Brix and Brigitte. Another attractive woman. Blonde springy hair. Two tickets for the opera. Maybe he should ask Sofie after all. She wrong-footed him. He was out of practice on the niceties. Hilde didn’t bother with all that. She said what she wanted. She didn’t flirt. She probably couldn’t be bothered. Maybe she saved eyelash fluttering and sideways glances for Eric. She was probably asleep beside him now. Eric the cuckold. Maybe they made energetic love all night when he was at home. Eric the absent. Hilde didn’t talk about him much. He was over-worked. Maybe he was always tired when he got home. I didn’t bring my dinner jacket over. Didn’t want to meet him. Too guilt-inducing. Has that made Eric suspicious? Maybe he’ll ring my doorbell and punch me in the face. I wouldn’t blame him. I didn’t punch Hans-Frederik when he told me he was sleeping with Karren. That’s when I knew there was no spark left. Only ashes. 

Tobias parked the car in the square and automatically glanced up at Hilde’s flat. No lights. On the other side of the square, drunk students swarmed below the glaring lights outside the café bar. Raucous laughter. Shouts. He could still hear the roar when he walked up the stairs in his flat building. The lights were on when he opened the door. He smelled toast.

“Hi, Dad,” said Agnes. “You look nice in a dinner jacket. Had a good time?” 

Tobias looked around quickly, half-expecting to see Magnus sprawled on the sofa.

“Classes start on Monday. I thought I’d call with you on my way back.” Agnes dropped another slice of bread into the toaster.

“Where’s Magnus?” He stopped himself adding, “Still up a tree?”

“He’s gone to talk to the group about tactics. The company building the Wind Farm has invited us to a meeting. A lunch meeting, no less. What do you think, Dad?”  Agnes carried her plate to the table. She had lit the candle and poured herself a glass of wine. 

“It can’t do any harm to listen, Agnes. And you can put your side of the argument to them.” Tobias took another wine glass from the cupboard. 

“They’re not interested in our side of the argument,” said Agnes. “They’re going to go ahead whatever we say.” She brushed a crumb from her mouth and grinned. “On the other hand, a free lunch is a free lunch.” 

Tobias nearly voiced the old cliché, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.“ He said instead, “Lunch isn’t much of a bribe.”

“That’s what Magnus says. He says if they want to bribe us they should offer to give money to a green charity.” 

“If they did that, would Magnus accept it? Would you accept it? Would you call off the protest?” Tobias was immediately sorry he’d asked. If he saw Sofie again, he would feel uncomfortable knowing something that could affect her business.

“They’d never give money to Greenpeace,” said Agnes. “It’s far too political. But there are other charities. Saving whales, saving dolphins, saving lots of species. Bechstein’s bat lives in that forest, you know.”

Tobias didn’t know. Where had he heard something recently about bats and forests? 

Agnes propped her chin on her hands and gazed at the moon through the window. “Would we stop the protest if they gave money to a green charity? I don’t know. It’s a difficult ethical question, Dad.”

“I quite agree,” said Tobias. “Finish your toast before it gets cold.” 

“And maybe play a duet? You choose.” 

The flat wasn’t big enough for a piano. Tobias had an electronic keyboard. It sat on a stand against an inner wall. Above it hung a portrait of J S Bach. In front of it sat the double piano stool in whose depths Tobias kept his sheet music, arranged alphabetically. He picked out Ravel’s piano suite for two hands, Ma Mere l’Oye. He had played it with his mother. Agnes loved it too. And it was a quiet piece. There was no need to listen in headphones. 

They played the first part, Pavane for Sleeping Beauty, sitting side by side at the keyboard. In perfect harmony. 


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