Regina Rosenberg was a new hire, and this was her third day on the job. But that didn't make her a dimwit.
"I want to speak with Ann Lindell."
"There is no Ann Lindell at the department," Regina Rosenberg stated after a few quick finger taps and a glance at the screen in front of her.
"Of course there is. Are you new, or what?"
That couldn't be denied, so for that reason she did another search, but just like before she found only one: Lindell, Leif Torsten, in Lost and Found.
"I'm sorry, but there's no Ann Lindell in the building. What does this concern?"
"Knock it off, damn it! I've got to talk with her. Does she want to be anonymous, or what?"
"That tone isn't much help," said Regina, who was from a village in north Uppland, where people talk that way.
A few seconds passed. The man was breathing heavily into the receiver, as if he was jogging with the phone in his hand. Regina heard a clanging tone in the background, like the insistent, disquieting sound when the gate goes down at a train crossing.
"It's... Someone may die."
The alarming clang became more and more intense.
"I have to talk with her. She's the only one who listens. Someone may die."
"I'll transfer you to the Violent Crimes Unit."
Stefan Sanberg was not a good person. That was common knowledge. Essential features in his set of social skills were lacking. He had probably never watched a romantic comedy with enjoyment, or voluntarily listened to a peaceful ballad.
Even his grandmother, who'd had the sense, or the weakness some might say, to overlook and forgive a lot throughout her life, was forced to agree. "He's mean," she would say, "because he only thinks about himself."
For Evelina Sanberg, that characteristic was the most despicable, because she was familiar with circumstances where generosity was the only way to make life more or less bearable. She could even use the word "solidarity" without it sounding strange, having grown up in straitened circumstances in farmworker barracks in the village of Rasbokil. At that time in such quarters new ideas were circulating that the poor did not have the slightest problem accepting. In reality they were the ones who made the solemn proclamations meaningful, not least because they put force behind the words.
"Now it's just claptrap," she would exclaim when the talk turned to politics.
"But, Evelina, aren't you happy here?" replied Aamino, who was a nursing assistant at the home where Evelina had spent the past few years.
"I'm just saying," Evelina said, flashing her best crocodile smile, and the woman from Somalia smiled back, even though she had no idea what she meant.
Stefan was about seventy years younger than his grandmother. It was during that three-quarters of a century that Sweden was transformed in a strange pendulum movement: from building up, which Evelina took part in, to tearing down, which in the autumn of old age she could observe with increasing consternation. "There are documents for everything," Stefan's father, Allan, maintained, but that wasn't really correct, because in his work as a self-employed carpenter there were quite a few under-the-table jobs. In every election he'd voted like his mother, but now he was having doubts.
The pendulum movement had contributed to making Stefan Sanberg a heedless young man who could not spell "concentration camp," much less Auschwitz, but eagerly posted pictures on the internet of ovens from there, as the final solution to the problems that tormented him and his friends. All born in the nineties. Obviously they had never experienced carpet-bombing, snipers, or boats that capsized. The most dramatic event during their childhood was when the school bus slid off an icy road and ended up at an angle, fortunately caught by a spruce tree so that no one was seriously injured.
Hate was their primary occupation. It was exhausting, because they hated so much, and so many.