The lights were soft, yet not too dark, like they were in need of a change soon but not enough that management would deign to buy more.
â€śIâ€™m sorry Alex, did you hear me?â€ť
Brought out of my reverie, I looked back down and noticed Lana standing there, a nervous smile playing across her lips. I didnâ€™t notice sheâ€™d come in.
Sheâ€™d chosen for us all to meet at a little quaint coffee shop that was modelled after the old-fashioned Swedish coffee-houses of the past. It looked like the late 1800â€™s met the 1920â€™s. Cool vibe.
The chairs and tables, the dĂ©cor, even the staff were all two seconds away from being whisked back to a museum. Anyways, back to my story.
â€śSorry, I didnâ€™t cop you had come in, please have a seat there.â€ť I gestured at one of the free chairs and she took the one directly opposite me.
Her bald gorilla of a brother, whoâ€™d mumbled a grunt of an inaudible greeting, took the one with his back to the window.
The sun shining through it made a nice ethereal halo around his chrome-dome. I chuckled drily to myself.
â€śI ordered already, the waitress seemed in a rush to take my money so I just ordered usÂ three black coffees. Thereâ€™s milk and sugar around the corner there. Yeah thatâ€™s it, just there. â€ś I said, pointing.
When they both came back with their now-White Americanos, I started off with what I hoped was a conversation starter: â€śSo, Siberia, that mustâ€™ve been rough eh?â€ť
The brother growled but Lana placed a sisterly hand on his arm and hushed him in quick Russian. Siberia was rough, she replied, without any obvious offence.
What was I doing?
She asked me about myself, where I was from and all that. She looked a bit taken-aback when I told her my original reason for being in the country. Apparently sheâ€™d gone through a messy break-up not too long ago herself, so she knew what I was going through.
What was I doing?
Here was a perfect-looking woman and Iâ€™d just insulted her and sheâ€™d been polite enough not to notice. Sheâ€™d even spilled some personal information over the past few minutes so she was obviously the trusting type.
Maybe too trusting. Maybe too perfect?
Wait, what was I thinking? There were no perfect women. I didnâ€™t believe that anymore, the Ex had seen to that. Hadnâ€™t she?
I hardened my resolve to keep it as a possible hit-it-and-quit-it scenario. She was a means to an end. Closure.
Then we talked the same usual awkward conversational crap that acts as a filler between the important stuff. The important stuff being where we would go from here.
I say that since she didnâ€™t look too keen on leaving me just yet, judging by her body language and the fact she kept asking me inane questions. Iâ€™d tuned her out for a bit, to be honest.
Keep aloof and uninterested, that was the key.
Her green eyes took my attention again though, sparkling with an intensity the bulbs ahead lacked. Her eyes opened a little wider and she stopped talking. I re-tuned in.
â€śDonâ€™t you agree?â€ť
â€śSorry?â€ťÂ Shit, I hadnâ€™t noticed she was asking me a question.
â€śI said the best way to put this behind us is to go out for a drink, a proper drink.â€ť She replied.
I looked to her right, at the big fucking boulder of aâ€¦.. â€śOr not, maybe, yes, maybe you wonâ€™t want toâ€¦â€ť She left the question hanging, like bait.
I snapped it up like a junkie on a fallen needle.
â€śYeah, sorry, I was away with the fairies. I mean yeah, I would definitely like to go for a drink with you.â€ť I said, indicating her and the mute at our table.
He still hadnâ€™t said anything, just sat there sipping his coffee and glaring at me. I wondered if he spoke English. I wondered if he spoke any other language than retarded caveman.
Well fuck him, heâ€™s not ruining this on me, I thought to myself as we finished our coffees and went to the nearest pub to have a drink.
Her dad was half-german, she explained, whose own father had been a soldier in Hitlerâ€™s Reich.
What a conversation starter when youâ€™ve only gotten your first drinks.
At least we were situated at a table where other people werenâ€™t too close to overhear us. Plus, the music in the club was aÂ heady mixture of samba or Reggaton or something, I couldn’t really tell over the energetic mechanicsÂ of theÂ couples on theÂ nearby dance floor.
They were making an equal amount of noise as the music; banging their feet on the floor and clapping their hands intermittently with the panache and fervour ofÂ some kind ofÂ fanatical bullfighter.
She continued on in her cute accent, blithely unaware of my slight discomfort.
Turns out, while Russia and Germany were enjoying an uneasy truce, her grandfather had been helping to oversee the offloading of some timber at some place I couldnâ€™t pronounce. Manchuria? Anyways, she said heâ€™d fallen in love with a local and theyâ€™d absconded to Siberia.
They lived there their whole lives. Until they both died of heart-attacks within months of each other just 5 years ago. The talk then revolved around her Dad, their only child.
He had never gotten over the fact his wife had left him for the postman, she told me. Add to that the death of his parents, and he crawled intoÂ the bottom of a bottle. He stayed there till he too died just a year later.
With only her brother left as family and a host of bad memories associated with the place, Lana had decided to continue her studies abroad.
She was studying International Relations and had hit upon the idea of going to Finland at first, but then after a few weeks there, she decided against it.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t the cost, you see, I just didnâ€™t feel right there. Then I heard from a classmate how great it is in Sweden next door and I thought, why not see for myself?â€ť
She and her brother, who was also a kind of bodyguard or bouncer or something, had come to Malmo with the express intention of leaving after her studies were done.
That was 5 years ago and they now had Swedish citizenship. How the hell her mute of a brother had gotten it, since Swedish was a prerequisite, I had no fucking clue.
Mustâ€™ve bribed the official in charge.
Anyways, her dad had been a right old bollocks, if what she said was to be even half-believed, yet he had left them both a considerable amount in his will. He’d been some sort of businessman before the drink had taken over.Â Selling stationary or office supplies, I can’t remember. Maybe both?
At the mention of the money though,Â she clammed up.Â Her fingers played with the rim of her glass. Â Nice slender hands, I thought.
I took her silence to mean it was my turn to do some soul-spilling. I told her about the Traitors, not embarrassed in the slightest. It felt easy to talk to her.
I donâ€™t know, she just seemed a good listener, as in she looked like she was actually listening. Thatâ€™s a rare trait in people, I find.
Most people pretend to themselves and others around them that theyâ€™re caring and good to talk to, when really theyâ€™re just waiting for you to stop talking so they can give you the advice theyâ€™d rehearsed in their heads while you talked on.
She seemed different though, which was a dangerous thought to have so I quelled it. I needed to speed things up more if I was going to have any chance of keeping this a short illicit affair.
I didnâ€™t need to fall in love again, I just neededÂ a cheap, sweaty way to fill the void in my life temporarily. I paused in my description of how many pieces Iâ€™d smashed the coffee-machine into to get us more drinks.
Her brother just nodded as I gave him a new pint. CheapÂ bastard couldnâ€™t afford one round to save his life, I and his sister were picking up the tab constantly. Not that he minded too much, he drank more than we did, and quicker. A stray thought entered my mind just then. Slowly that thought turned into a plan. Â I knew how get this idiot out of my way, and soon.