The Year of the Hare

The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna Read Free Book Online

Book: The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna Read Free Book Online
Authors: Arto Paasilinna
these concerns. Even though he had spent his life as a police superintendent in a country parish, he was astonishingly well informed about the constitutions of the Western countries, the nuances of parliamentary law, and jurisdiction in the socialist countries. Vatanen listened with keen interest to Hannikainen’s pronouncements on these major international questions, which constitutional lawyers often have to deal with in Finland, too.
    According to Hannikainen, Finland’s constitution gave the president far too great a power of decision in state affairs. When Vatanen asked if he didn’t think President Kekkonen had managed to make exemplary use of the powers devolved on him, Hannikainen replied: “Over several years I’ve been making a close study of President Kekkonen . . . and I’m coming to a most disturbing conclusion, disturbing to myself, too. I don’t mean I’m disturbed by his performance. I’m actually rather an enthusiastic supporter of his administration, but nevertheless ... All I’m doing is collecting information. I form comparisons, I sift, I make inferences. The result is extremely disturbing.”
    “And what conclusions are you coming to?”
    “I’ve kept this affair a careful secret. No one but Savolainen knows, and a certain carpenter in Puumala. Neither of them will reveal the results of my investigations. You see—the conclusions my research has led to would, if published, have a nasty backlash. I might well lay myself open to the law, and at the very least I’d be made a laughing-stock.”
    Hannikainen stared at Vatanen fixedly. His eyes froze.
    “I’m getting on in years, and perhaps a little senile . . . nevertheless, I’m not completely cracked. If you want to know what I’ve unearthed, you must give me your word that you won’t use your knowledge against me, or against anyone else.”
    Vatanen readily gave his word.
    “It’s a question of such moment that I can only beg you to give serious consideration to what I’m now going to tell you, and I insist that you never give me away.”
    It was apparent that Hannikainen had a burning need to share his secret. He screwed the vodka cork back in the bottle, pushed the bottle into some moss, and walked briskly to the cabin. Vatanen trailed after him.
    Hanging on the cabin wall, between the window and the table, was a large, battered brown suitcase. Vatanen had seen it the evening before but had paid no attention to it. Hannikainen lowered the case onto a bunk and snapped the catches open. The lid sprang upward, revealing a store of tightly crammed documents and photographs.
    “I haven’t yet done the final sorting out on this archive—the research is still incomplete. But most of it’s here. With the help of this, you’ll reach a conclusion without much difficulty.”
    Hannikainen started extracting documents from the suitcase: thick, typewritten leaflets, several books, and photographs all showing President Kekkonen in various settings. The books, too, concerned Kekkonen: they included editions of his speeches, Skytä’s books on the president, and several other accounts, including a book of anecdotes. The documents included many graphics, which also, Vatanen saw, centered on Kekkonen.
    Hannikainen produced several drawings on graph paper, showing careful longitudinal sections of human crania.
    “Take a look at these,” Hannikainen said, showing two cranium pictures side by side in the pallid light of the window. “Do you see the difference?”
    At first glance the pictures looked exactly alike, but on closer inspection they differed slightly in detail.
    “This on the left shows Urho Kekkonen’s cranium in 1945, just after the war. Then there is this one. It shows his cranium in 1972. I’ve prepared these drawings to show the changes with the years. My method has been to project outlines of ordinary photographs onto a screen—in different positions, naturally—and then transfer the outline of the cranium onto the graph

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