Merete had been all ears when I’d called her the night before to tell her about finding my paternal grandmother. And she’d promised to do a little digging around to see whether she could find out more about Frank Mikkelsen and also about the son Gerda had adopted. Now, we were sitting indoors at the place where we’d been eating on Monday because it was too windy and rainy to sit outside.
“Frank Mikkelsen was quite a high profile reporter,” she said flipping through a folder full of copied articles. She’d spent the whole day in the archives digging out information. And there was a lot more about Frank Mikkelsen here than what I’d found at the library.
“On way to mother in Kristiansand before disappearing”
Was one of the headlines.
“Frank Mikkelsen? What happened?”
Was another. The article was speculating in whether the disappearance of frank Mikkelsen was natural or if somebody was behind it. Since he was clearly observed one minute and gone the next.
“Eline denies affair. Says she loves husband and is waiting for him to come home”
Was another topic. I only skimmed a lot of the articles as they were not particularly interesting beyond the headline.
Merete was yawning opposite me.
“I could kill for a coffee right now,” she said. “But I guess I have to make due with tea as I’ve had the share of caffeine I am allowed being pregnant.”
I looked up from my reading and made sympathetic noises. Melissa was complaining about exactly the same thing. Although she’d gone extreme and even stayed off caffeine in soft drinks.
“How can she do that? I’d kill someone.”
“She’s been close to killing both me and her husband a couple of times,” I said. And we have to endure another 16 weeks.”
Merete laughed and got up. “You gave me an idea though. I’ll pretend I didn’t know there is caffeine in diet Pepsi. Want anything?”
“I’ll have a Pepsi too.”
She got up and stretched. “Look at this while I’m away.” She took a piece of paper out of her file and pushed it over to me.
“Was investigating the mid-summer murders when he disappeared,” said the headline. I read on:
Grimstad Daily News has learned that around the time of his disappearance, Frank Mikkelsen was making investigations into the Homborsund mid-summer murders.
It’s unclear as of yet whether he is making the investigations privately or publicly. However, he had been observed looking for old material in the archives.
Mikkelsen is the son of diseased Sven Mikkelsen who was third to drown outside the lighthouse Nellevine.
Could his disappearance be co-incidence, or is this calculated by somebody who was perhaps involved in the mid-summer murders?”
The byline read Karl Lund.
Merete came back with two bottles of diet Pepsi and two bags of ready salted crisps. I grabbed one of the bags and opened it.
“Do you know who Karl Lund is?” I asked after I’d swallowed my mouthful.
“Yes, I do as a matter of fact.”
“It’s not by any chance the boy Gerda adopted?” I asked unscrewing my Pepsi bottle.
“No. He is not that interesting a person. And I happened to know him. Not that I knew he was Gerda’s son until I started researching the mid-summer murders, but he is my ex’s neighbour and his name is Rune Andersen. He’s friendly enough. A painter. Like a painter who paints houses. Not an artist. ” She pointed to her stomach and drank greedily from her Pepsi. “The father of these two little devils. He’s my ex. We broke up.”
“While you’re pregnant with his kid?”
“Yes. We shouldn’t have been together in the first place. But as it happens, he’s a nice guy and he’ll be a good father to them and help me bring them up. But back to Karl Lund.”
“She pulled out a photo from her file.
“Karl Lund is a half Swedish, half Norwegian journalist who worked with Grimstad Daily News for about three years. I called the guy who was the editor at that time and he told me that Karl Lund was known for writing very spiteful opinion columns, which was what got him fired in the end. Although, he had apparently been a good news reporter. He got fired in 1987 after writing a speculative piece on how one local politician might have spent public money to buy a new boat, when he was supposed to do a cozy interview on how he spent the summer when he wasn’t working. The new boat was going to be featured heavily in the interview. Turned out Karl Lund was right about the money coming from public funds, but it was the way he attacked the piece the editor had an issue with.”
She pushed the photo over to me.
I picked up the photo and stared at it for two seconds before dropping it in horror.
“Sandra, are you ok?” I sat on the floor with my head between my knees and my breaths were coming out in gasps. I felt someone holding out a brown paper bag and I took it and breathed into it.
“Are you ok?” The voice which I now realized belonged to Merete repeated.
“I am fine,” I said when my breathing had slowed down enough for me to speak.
“Are you able to get up?” she asked.
I stretched my hands up and grabbed the table. And slowly I was able to place myself back onto my chair and push it towards the table. I picked up my Pepsi and drank. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “It’s just that, this man can’t be Karl Lund. His name is Christian Holm and he is, was my step-father.
“Really?” Merete had also got herself back on her chair. “You have to tell me everything Sandra.”
It was May 17th 2001 and the final year I let my mum drag me to the Norwegian constitution day celebrations in Southwark Park. I had really enjoyed it as a child, but as I got older, I found all the Norwegians insisting on parading in the streets and pretending to be in Norway a bit tacky. Mum wasn’t a huge fan either, but thought it was good to instill at least some Norwegian culture in me since I’d not been brought up in Norway, nor gone to Norwegian school. He had introduced himself to mum whilst I’d gone to try and get waffles and Solo, an orange drink similar to Fanta. The queue had been long and they’d managed to strike up quite a good friendship already when I’d returned.
“Sandra, meet Christian. He’s from Stockholm, but can you believe it, his mum is from Homborsund?”
I’d thought it to be quite a co-incidence, but didn’t think more about it.
They went for dinner the week after they met. The dinners became more and more frequent, as did his staying the night. I didn’t mind. I was sixteen, and during my childhood, mum hadn’t been dating anyone seriously enough to introduce them to me. So I’d had her to myself all my life. He moved in gradually and they married a year and three months after they met. Everything seemed to be fine. But when I’d moved out to go to university, I started receiving disconcerting phone calls from mum that had made me nervous. At first, she’d complained that she wasn’t sleeping well and that she was always drained. I told her to take it easy at work and leave more work for her second in command and the shop assistants.
Then she started complaining of headaches and stomach aches and then, she told me she’d started to feel scared and that it was because of Christian. But she hadn’t been able to continue the conversation as just then, he had come home.
The car accident happened the following week. The car accident that had killed my mum, and left me with serious injuries. Christian had just disappeared out of my life. He wasn’t even at my mum’s funeral which was held after four weeks to give me the chance to recover. I couldn’t understand what had happened. His phone had just been switched off and my e-mails were left unanswered. But I had somehow gotten through it, thanks to Melissa, her parents and Emma who had come to stay with me in London for a while whilst I was recovering and taking my exams at the same time. I hadn’t heard anything from Christian, not until recently when he called me at work and when he sent that anonymous text. He seemed to be both alive and well.
“That’s creepy.” Merete said. “Are you scared of him?”
“But the car accident…”
“Another time. Please, “I interrupted her. “I can’t talk about that today.”
Merete put a hand on top of mine on the table and squeezed it. “I’m happy to listen whenever you’re ready to talk,” she said. And I felt as if she really meant it.
“It’s interesting though about his name. Because I found out that Karl Lund was a pseudonym. His full name is Carl Christian Lundholm. And he quite rightly had a Swedish father and a Norwegian mother.”
Merete dug in her file again and pushed another piece of paper and an ancient looking photo over to me.
“And you might be interested to know that his adopted mother Irene Lundholm was Irene Andersen before she married. She was Amund Andersen’s younger sister.”
I picked up the photo which showed a handsome man in his thirties or forties dressed in a three piece suit and with his hair combed back from his forehead. Next to him stood a beautiful bride with dark hair elaborately arranged on top of her head. She was holding a large flower bouquet and was smiling at her groom.
“Who are they?” I asked.
“That’s Amund’s and Gerda’s wedding picture taken in 1963.”
“Wow. Gerda really was quite beautiful,” I said.
“But look,” she said, and pushed the photo of Carl Christian Lundholm towards me. “Don’t you see the family resemblance?”
I looked from him to Amund and gasped. The resemblance was striking to say the least. Like father and son. But was that possible?