sportswear emphasized the concentration camp prisoner look.
“I left my fucking keys at home. Johnny, don’t you have keys to our place?”
“Why would I?” Johnny seemed genuinely bewildered.
“Mom always gives one to the guys she screws. There’s gotta be dozens of keys to our house strewn across the world. Aren’t you up to bat right now?”
“What the hell are you talking about, Aniliina! I just model for your mom.”
“Oh come on. I’m not blind. Never mind, I see the bitch now.”
With that, Aniliina strode off toward the exit, where Meritta was caught up in the crowd. We couldn’t hear their exact exchange over the buzz of conversation, but it was clearly angry.
“Johnny, are you in a relationship with Meritta?” Kaisa asked suddenly, intensely, as if her life depended on his answer.
“Come off it, Kaisa. Of course not. I just—”
A high-pitched scream from Aniliina cut off Johnny’s sentence. “Eat shit, bitch!”
When we turned to look, we saw her with two fists full of Meritta’s hair, pulling as hard as she could. Aniliina’s shirt was stained with punch, as if Meritta had emptied her glass on her daughter. The chatter in the restaurant had ceased, and people stared in bewilderment at the Flöjt domestic dispute, which to a law enforcement officer looked out of hand. Forcefully pushing my way through the crowd, I shook Aniliina free of her mother. The girl was alarmingly light—she couldn’t have weighed more than ninety pounds.
“Get the fuck off me. I’m gonna kill that bitch,” she snarled at me.
“I’m not giving you the keys unless you bring them back,” Meritta hissed.
“Borrow one from one of your man-whores! And you let me go, goddamn it. Who do you think you are?”
“She’s a cop,” Kaisa said surprisingly loudly from just behind me. “Why won’t you bring the keys back, Aniliina?”
“I want to go for a walk in the woods.”
“I’ve got my bike. I’ll take you and I can bring the keys back to Meritta. OK?” Kaisa asked.
“If this pig will let go of me.”
With that I released Aniliina, who was still dripping punch. She put out her hand to receive the keys from her mother, then loped down the stairs with Kaisa trailing after. With a snort, Meritta shrugged, making the heart-shaped copper earring hanging from her left ear bounce, and continued her conversation with the mayor as if nothing had happened.
Suddenly feeling like I didn’t belong, I walked out onto the terrace. The tailing field at the base of the hill glowed an intense copper color in the light of the setting sun, and the small pond in the center sparkled like sweet red wine. The colors were right outof a surrealist painting. Comparatively, the natural colors of the birch trees on the slopes of the hill where the mine buildings stood looked as if they had escaped from another piece of art entirely.
I wondered whether there was anything to what Aniliina said, whether there really was something between Meritta and Johnny. And what if there was? I wasn’t going to be jealous of a crush I had fifteen years ago, was I?
I wondered how much Meritta would charge for the paintings of Johnny. And what Antti would say if I hung one on my wall. Then I started thinking about which wall would be best. Suddenly my old bandmate Jaska appeared at my side.
“Can I offer the sheriff a drink?” he asked, pulling a bottle of cheap vodka out of his antediluvian leather jacket.
“Why not.” Tipping the bottle back, I took a good swig, wondering how many bottles of vodka just like this we had emptied together. “Table vodka”—the absolute cheapest, strongest liquor the state store sold—had always been his drink of choice.
“So, Uncle Jaska, can you tell me why Meritta and Aniliina aren’t getting along?”
Jaska took a gulp from the bottle and wiped his mouth before answering.
“Hard to say which one of them is crazier. Aniliina has that eating disorder, anorexia, I guess. And Meritta has