by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson
One day, Jonas, who has recently migrated to the city, discovers that all his records including his assets have been erased somehow. No longer able to get work, buy anything on credit or sell his now legally non-existent car, his life becomes a unique adventure.
The news of the fire in the Bureau of Personal Information Protection building overshadowed everything else. It was still going on, and there were reporters on scene, commenting on the smoke, the fire department, and the events leading to the fire.
They already knew it was arson. Three policemen were reported dead and six were injured after a fight broke out between them and the arsonists. One of the perpetrators had been caught, and interrogations were starting.
It was the worst building fire in years. Two whole levels were on fire, and it was still spreading, they said.
Firemen could be seen spraying water at the flames in the distance behind the reporter as he spoke. There were some close-up shots of flames coming out of broken windows, and some shots of the whole building, wrapped in smoke from the third floor up.
The sprinkler system had not worked, and an investigation would be under way as soon as the fire was extinguished. Jonas grinned. Someone must have already found the problem and fixed it by now, but the media was not reporting that. There are a lot of things the media does not report.
Jonas waited for a while. He did not hear any mention of problems caused by the destruction of the new national archive system. Not yet, anyway. He wondered why. Perhaps it was to keep the public calm. Jonas wondered how VISA and the other credit card companies would deal with it when everybody would suddenly call in and complain that their card did not work. He doubted the companies would agree to be hooked up with a central computer again, terrorists or no terrorists.
Finally he heard what he had been waiting for. There might be some problems over the course of the week, but they would all be cleared up within the month.
Assuming this was true, he had about a week to steal the next-door apartment. Jonas grabbed the phone and called Frank.
Frank answered after a short while: “Frank here.”
“Hey, Frank, I was just watching the news, and it seems that my troubles might all end sometimes this month.”
“Good for you. I’m kinda busy right now, do you think you could call me later?” Despite all the soundproofing, Jonas could hear that Frank was driving on a gravel road.
“No need. Just come over here, there is something hanging next door I need you to make disappear,” said Jonas.
“What’s in it for me?” asked Frank.
“The fun of it,” said Jonas, jokingly.
“This I gotta see. I’ll come, but you’ll owe me one,” said Frank, and they ended the conversation.
Jonas wondered if anyone would come and look for his neighbour; or if the children’s father might be worried. What could he say to him?
Jonas smiled at his own worries. He did not need to say anything to the remaining parent. He had just recently moved to the building, he could claim she moved away before he came, or better yet, was moving when the Bureau of Personal Information Protection building caught fire. He could say she was talking about moving out of the country.
Or he could say some men came and took her with them. That would be closest to the truth, and would then be least likely to show up as a lie on Jonas’ face when he told it. Or he could just shut up, say he knew nothing. That would be the best.
Jonas exited his apartment and locked the door behind him. He opened the door to the neighbouring apartment and went in. He was planning to search out any information on the dead neighbour, look it over, and then throw it away.
He went into the kitchen in search of a trash bag. He found some, and put them on the living room table. He took one, and brought it with him.
All clothes had to go. He began in the master bedroom, and emptied the contents of the closets into the bags. He quickly saw he would need more bags. He should buy some, he thought. But later. First he would fill the bags he had.
Jonas put the bags up against a wall near the door. Perhaps he should not just throw this stuff away, he thought. Perhaps he should give it all to the Salvation Army, or the Red Cross. It could hardly matter for the dead woman. Or maybe it was safer just to dump the stuff.
Jonas thought it over. If he got smaller bags, he could let all this stuff disappear little by little down the garbage chute. It could hardly take more than a few months. No, too long, he thought. But it would be less conspicuous than taking it all at once out the door.
And what about all the furniture? No need to worry about it. He would just rent it out with the apartment.
Jonas found a lot of miscellaneous papers while searching the apartment. Many were just bills and warranties concerning electrical devices. Jonas threw them in the trash. All papers concerning the existence of the woman and her children had to go. He did not expect all such papers to be in the apartment, but the disappearance of any little thing would help.
Family photos, they had to go. Jonas cleared the walls of every picture, just in case. Even the paintings. If someone in the woman’s family had made them, they would be nothing but trouble.
Jonas examined the photos before he dropped them in a pile in the sofa. Most of them only had the woman and her children; the woman alone; the woman and a child; the woman and two children; one of one or another of the children; both of them together... no father. That would make things easier. If the woman disappeared, the father, whoever he was, would only be happy that he no longer needed to pay her alimony.
Jonas felt good about finally making someone happy.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2010 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson