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“Hey, Santa, can I have some candy?” I was again sur-

rounded by creatures the height of fire extinguishers, there

were at least four of them. I said Captain Cavity had

forbidden me from handing out candy and that no one

wanted false teeth for Christmas when they grew up,

anyway. That got the crowd of mothers giggling.

“Could we at least take a picture?” one mother asked, and I

couldn’t refuse. By the time that was done, Petri had

disappeared. I, too, vanished to my secret place. Time for

Tommy H. again.

“Jansson?” he sighed when he heard my question. “Some-

times I think Jansson’s as mythical as Santa Claus. In any

case, no one’s been able to catch him at anything, though

it’s general knowledge that he deals drugs and sells stolen

goods. But Jansson’s vassals won’t talk. Quite a number of

them have just happened to get their fingers caught in a

saw or their toes run over by a lawn mower. Be careful with

him. He takes no pity on women, either.”

I reminded Tommy H. that I was not just any woman, and I

promised to let him know as soon as I got more

information on Jansson’s doings. I straightened my beard

and returned to work. There were rarely children in the

furniture department, so I headed there to think things

through. I had accomplished my assignment; I just needed