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“I’ll spring for the next round.”

“We’ll see. Jenna’s pregnant and she feels lost without me.”

I congratulated Tommy H. He’d been a satisfactory bed-

mate, if uselessly romantic at times. It was better for him to

spend his emotions on his wife.

Merja waved at me from behind her counter. I blew her a

kiss and left to do my security rounds. Petri was nowhere to

be seen that day. I caught a pair of teenage girls trying to

snatch some push-up bras. I threatened no gifts for the rest

of their lives unless the young ladies straightened out their

ways. Their response would have made gang members in

the Kerava Juvenile Prison blush. Long live gender equality.

I left them waiting for the police in the store detectives’


On Sunday the sleet blew horizontally. The storm winds

brought down one of the Christmas light garlands over the

store’s main entrance and it knocked a passerby

unconscious. From the coffee shop window next to the

cosmetics department, I watched as Petri called an

ambulance for the old woman. After it had come, he stayed

standing on the sidewalk even though the sleet had soaked

his light-blue Oxford shirt so thoroughly his nipples

showed through it. I turned away when he changed

position. His profession required him to be able to

distinguish one from another among us Santas. I drew back