Lars is from Scandinavia. If you didn’t know it in advance, you’d know it within minutes of meeting him. He has a habit of telling how much better things are there.
“In Scandinavia, music is better.”
“We are not weak men in Scandinavia.”
“We like to talk about Scandinavia in Scandinavia.”
Yeah, so the last one is mine, but you gotta admit you smiled, right? The constant comparisons will get under your skin. It’s like ants crawling over your brain. Tiny little feet, always moving, that itch you can’t scratch.
He’s a damned good driver, though. Dealing with his bullshit comments is a small price to pay for a driver of his caliber. Word has it he was the wheelman for the Latimer Family for a while, not that he would confirm the story. No one would be dumb enough to pry, anyway. Some things just get left alone. Last thing you want is one of their specialists showing up to perform a vivisection on you in front of your kids.
“Highways are better in Scandinavia,” Lars says as he tweaks the wheel and passes a slower-moving minivan of some kind. I can see a couple of kids in the back, watching a cartoon on the backs of the front seat headrests. For a moment, I wonder what it must be like to have a mundane existence.
I lose myself in the gentle susurration of tires passing across asphalt. We’ll be at the job soon enough. I need to keep myself focused, not wonder about kids and minivans. That’s a life for someone else.
He downshifts as we exit the highway, light flashing off those silver horseshoe cufflinks he wears. He’s silent as we roll through a couple of intersections and down a street. I think my lack of response has calmed the country comparison thing for the moment.
We pull up at a house. Big ugly green thing, but it blends perfectly with every other house on the block so that it won’t stand out. Mungo and Shiva are sitting on the porch, pretending to read the paper.
“We are here,” Lars says.
Elements: vivisection, ants, Scandinavia, horseshoe, susurration