The pace of life slows down considerately on the Norwegian south coast at the height of summer. It’s an attitude that’s not shared to the same degree in the capital for example. Although I was shocked to discover how short a Norwegian working day is compared to a British one. Especially because they’re meant to be the same length. It wasn’t quite the height of summer yet, but we were rapidly approaching mid-summer and it was the unwritten rule at Hansen & Dale that after the yearly summer party, things could slow down. Emma had taken the morning off. She wanted to spend the day with the new addition to the household. Get to know Mica properly. I decided to spend the morning at Grimstad library since Markus had called me the day before, thanked me for a great evening on Saturday and asked if I’d have lunch in town with him on Monday. Since I wanted to do some research on Clairvoyant Clara and since I like to be on the move, I thought it would kill two birds with one stone if I went to town and used the computers there.
The library was empty except for two women who were browsing the shelves. Markus was happy to see me and he gave me a hug and a very quick kiss on the lips before he helped me log into a computer.
“I can probably get off for lunch at around twelve,” he said. “I’ll leave you to do your research, but feel free to shout if there’s anything you need.”
I opened the browser, and googled Psychics, Norway and association. It amused me that there should be an association for psychics, but then, there seemed to an association for everything niche these days. The most specific I’d come across in my work was the African and Caribbean society for the deafblind.
But all I found apart from “Calla clairvoyant today” were warning articles from the Humanist Association, articles on how much Norwegians spent every year calling these so called psychics and about a Norwegian psychic having been fooled by a BBC logo. But I saw nothing like an association. The only thing I got from googling Clairvoyant Clara was the figure in an Isabel Allende novel. Facebook wasn’t helpful either.
“How’s it going?” Markus bent over me and placed a pile of books next to me on the table.
“I think you’ll love these. A couple of books by André Bjerke that will give you the chills and a few more carefully selected by me.”
“You don’t think I have enough chills and creeps in real life?” I said and mocked anger.
Markus laughed. “I put some chicklet there too. In English so you get a break.”
Although I was Norwegian and spoke the language pretty much fluent, English was still my most preferred language and I still felt a little bit like a foreigner in my own Norway whenever I was here. But mum had done her best to speak Norwegian at home. And I’d kept it up when I came to Homborsund in the summer holidays where I read Norwegian books. So my writing was ok as long as I didn’t have to write very complicated things.
“Thanks,” I said. “Now, how do I get hold a psychic who has completely disappeared? And who may be a fake?”
“Thank you for calling The Fortune Tellers. A psychic will soon be with you to conduct your reading.” “Please wait, while a readers becomes available.” We had eventually managed to track down a Clara on the website of a company that would give you a reading by phone. An extensive google search Markus had also participated in since there was so little to do just then, had left us with only this result. And having nothing else to go on, I decided to call and ask questions since it was the only thing I could do at this stage. Mozart’s 40th Symphony was playing in my ear and for some reason that surprised me. I thought the waiting music of a psychics line would be Indian inspired meditation music.
“Hello. My name is Rosa and I’m going to do your reading today. Before we start, are you aware of the cost of this reading?”
“Yes,” I said.
This line made you pay according to how long the reading was, which was fair. The rates were extortionate though, at 15 Norwegian kroners, just over a pound per minute. When I’d called, I’d given a sort of receptionist to whom I’d given my e-mail address for the invoice to be sent to.
“What’s your name and what sort of reading do you wish me to do for you today?”
“I’m calling about another reader, Clara.”
All the readers had only been listed by their first name. There had been six of them in total.
“I am sure I can do your reading as well as she can,” Rosa said patiently.
“It’s just that, Clara did a face to face reading for me on Friday and I’m eager to talk to her about it.”
Rosa sighed at the other end of the line.
“Is this some kind of joke?”
The friendliness was gone from her voice.
“Because if it is, it’s really not funny and in very wicked taste.”
“How?” I asked feeling confused.”
“If you knew Clara at all, you’d not have called to make these untrue claims.”
“But, I really did meet her on Friday,” I said “I’m sorry, but I’m not joking. I live in Grimstad and she was present at a company summer party doing readings for the guests.”
“That can’t possibly be so,” Rosa said quietly. “Because my former colleague Clara who did live in Grimstad, died on June 2nd and was buried this Friday just gone.”
“This really doesn’t make sense,” I said frustrated. We had walked to a popular coffee bar to have lunch and I had just told Markus about the strange phone conversation with Rosa.
“Calm down,” he said and put a hand on mine. “I don’t know how yet, but we’ll get to the bottom of this.”
After the revelation that Clairvoyant Clara had been dead for some time, I had asked Rosa if there was any way I could see a picture of the Clara who had been her colleague. I had given her my e-mail address and she’d promised to send something through when her shift was over. She answered negatively when I asked her whether there could be any other Clara in Grimstad who was a psychic.
“Of course there could be, but even if we psychics have not organized ourselves into any association, we have some idea of the local ones and who they are.” Rosa herself was based in Kristiansand.“
“And we have some idea on a national level too, although we can’t know about everybody of course.”
What had made her think this was a bluff however, was the fake website that was set up to book Clara and the fact that Clara had approached Hansen & Dale.
“Normally, we don’t do company parties. Those so called clairvoyants are usually doing it as a hobby and it’s very clear from who they are. This girl tried to pass herself off as a proper psychic by setting up that website.”
I had ended the conversation by apologizing but Rosa, who had been very cold towards me when she thought I was joking, was fine about it and hoped we found the fake Clara.
“So you see,” Markus said taking a bit out of his cinnamon bun. “We’ll just have to find out who this woman is.”
“Easier said than done,” I said and bit into my own cinnamon bun.
As we turned into the street where the library was, a bike came driving passed, so close that it almost hit Markus. I turned around to see who the reckless biker was. She was obscured by the speed and the helmet, but I was almost sure that I could make out the strawberry blond bob of fake clairvoyant Clara.