Tag Archives: Lighthouse

Episode 20. The Lighthouse keeper’s son

The lighthouse keeper’s son
June 20th.

I was determined to find out what the mid-summer victims had in common. Apart from committing acts that could not be judged by a court. I needed to find the personal connection between the victims and those who had killed them. I had gone to Grimstad with Emma in the morning so I could buyby a cork board to hang up on the wall over the desk in my room. I had also bought a block of post-it paper and some drawing pins. Now I was back home and I’d just managed to fasten the cork board.
The first thing I did was write all the victims’ names as well as year of death on post it notes.
Helene Hansen 1925, Janne Olsen 1935,
Sven Mikkelsen 1955, Nils Matsen 1960.
I stared at the four names and after a while added
Pernille (Gerdasgerdas sister) 1945. I did not know her surname. And Eline Martinsen 2005.
I hadn’t really thought of my mum as being one of the mid-summer murder victims, both because it happened in London, and thirty years after the last murder by the Nellevine torch. But with all the new evidence that had come to light recently about my now deceaseddiseased stepdad and his likely blood relation to Amund and his family as well as the fact that it had happened at mid-summer, something I hadn’t really thought of, made me do it.

On the row underneath, I wrote the few facts I had about each person as well as questions I needed to find the answer too.
Mistress of painter who lived in Lillesand. Newly married with baby on the way. I wrote underneath Helene Hansen’s name. I had first assumed that Gerda meant painter, as in someone painting houses when she talked about the painter Helene Hansen was allegedly dating. But I also wanted to check out if she’d perhaps meant a painter as in an artist.
Accused of killing pupil Toretore. I wrote below Janne Olsen’s name. She had died in 1935. Had anybody been alive then, who was alive now, that might have known her? Or even been a friend of the deceaseddiseased boy. Grandma Arlette had been three years oldyear-sold in 1935, so she wasn’t likely to have known anyone. Gerda would have been ten at the time. So it was likely. And Amund too, but he would probably not be able to give me any valuable information. His daughter-in-law had eventually found Amund with the help of some other neighbour, a man whom I always saw outside working on his boat, two hours later. He had wanderedwondered off to Nellevine and he had let them walk him home without putting up any resistance. They had taken him with them in to Grimstad to stay with them until they knew what the situation would be with Gerda.

Dead by hanging herself. I wrote under Pernille’s name. I put a question mark on purpose since I really struggled to believe that a girl in the spring of life would do such a thing. Merete had mentioned something about the lighthouse keeper being a Petrus Henriksen. Were any of these children alive? Or perhaps grand-children? It was a well-known enough story that descendants of Henriksen and his son should know about it. If not from their own parents and grandparents, then most certainly from others. Homborsund wasn’t the biggest place in the world and rumours probably spread fast. (Trace Henriksen’s descendants,= I wrote.

Death by drowning, on way to see mistressMistress Arlette Johnsen. I put under Sven Mikkelsen’s name. But apparently the weather had been bad that day, so couldn’t that have been an accident? I decided to call Arlette to ask if the weather really had been so bad that day.
Accused of killing baby. I wrote next to Nils Matsen’s name. That was in 1960 which was… I gasped, but laughed as soon as the thought entered my head. If the baby had been alive, it would have been fiftyfive years old today. Could it be that Christian Home, Karl Lund had been their baby? He had been a few years younger than mum. But then, why did he looks so much like Amund? I don’t even know where the thought came from, but it refused to let go, so I wrote it down with three question marks after.
I didn’t know what to write underneath mum’s name, because to understand why she died, I had to understand the previous murders and who had committed them. I was getting more and more sure however, that she had been killed and that her murderer had been her husband. But exactly why, I couldn’t really put the finger on. He had seemed like a perfect gentleman in the beginning before he started turning strange. But then, he wasn’t the first man who had tried to kill his wife seemingly out of the blue. I’d once seen an interview with the wife of an ex-army officer. Her husband had tried to murder her and her children by putting explosives in the car. But they had survived with major injuries. She never really talked about why he’d done it.
And then, there was his own death only two days previously. Who had done that? And why?
I wrote Christian Holm 2015. No (no mid-summer victim, and pinned it up with the note Why? underneathUnderneath.
I also wrote Sven Mikkelsen Jr. and Crib death? With a question mark underneath.
Finally I wrote, frank Mikkelsen 1986 and disappeared underneath.

I sat on the floor staring up at what I had written. How many murderers was I looking for? And would they somehow be related? One was clear already. I got up, and but a red X next to Christian Holm’s name. But he was dead as well as being a murderer. The question was, if I was looking at someone related to him. I paced up and down the room, until I decided to start from another angle. The victims. Maybe that would give me a better idea.
I decided to start with the newest murder and work backwards. I’d be stuck if I tried to find out who murdered a woman 90 years ago since that person likely would not be alive today. My mother was a clear one already. I looked further down at the other deaths that had two things in common. They could not have proven to be murders and in the case of my father, there was no actual proof that he was dead. There was one more thing too. The deaths were of my immediate blood relatives. It almost seemed as if somebody was trying to wipe out my entire family. Could Christian Home have killed both my father and somehow my baby brother? And was I supposed to have been killed too in that car accident? And what about the time I had met Laura Nilsen and she’d pushed me under? She definitely had a clear connection with both Gerda and Amund.
The two men, my grand-father Sven Mikkelsen and Nils Matsen had both been married to Gerda and there was a remote possibility that Tore had been in her class. But what abouto the first murder? I gave a loud, frustrated sigh and got up. Gerda seemed undeniably guilty of at least two of the murders. And she could have committed two more. She could have hung her sister and she could also have killed my baby brother. If she had somehow been around to see him as a baby. This wasn’t unlikely as I’m sure mum would have come over with him to grandma and grandpa. My grandpa had been a lot older than grandma and had died before I was born. Heart attack, completely unexpected, but definitely not murder. Gerda was after all, known for having a screw or five loose. Maybe she had killed my father too? It wasn’t impossible.

I went down to the kitchen where Emma, who had just arrived back, was unpacking the today’s food shopping.
“You’re looking serious,” she said.
I went over to the fridge and poured myself a glass of ice tea I’d made the night before. I drank slowly, enjoying the sweetness and mixed fruit flavour of the drink.
“I’m just trying to make sense of it all,” I said and poured myself a second glass. “But the first murder happened when my suspect was a baby.”
Emma shook her head.
“I was thinking we could have a little BBQ today. Why don’t you see if Markus is free? I will invite Anita and Lars and Daniel.” She blushed a little at the last name.
“Oooh, so it’s Daniel,” I said. “Please invite him. How did your date go the other day?”
“I’m a bad liar aren’t I”+ Emma sighed.
”Yeah work late my foot,” I said.
“I really like him,” she replied and smiled from ear to ear. “Please can you go outside and hang the seat cushions for the garden chairs up to dry? And then, I really want your help with the food.”
The sun was shining as I entered the garden. I wondered when it had stopped raining. We had stupidly forgotten to take in the cushionss for the chairs the night before, so there were wet. But if this weather persisted, they’d be fine by this evening.
Rune, Gerda’s son was doing something near the hedge and I called over to him.
“How’s Gerda?” I asked. “
“She’s in a stable condition, but not ready to be discharged just yet,” he said. “I’m here to water some flowers. She asked mee.
“Can she take visitors?” I asked tentatively.
“I’m sure she would be happy to see you. I sent your regards. But she’s still weak, so I guess it’s best to keep it short.”
I nodded.
“Sure. I smiled my most dazzling smile and went inside. I wondered if he was mixed up in all of this. I hoped not. He seemed like a decent man.

After chopping salad and marinating meat, I went upstairs to call Arlette. She was over joyed to hear from me.
“It’s so lovely to have someone asking for me after so many years,” she said.
I asked if she wanted to come to our BBQ later. Emma said she’d lend me the car so I could pick her up. “You can stay the night if you want. Too.”
“That would be lovely” she said. Her enthusiasm moved me almost to tears. I wasn’t somebody who had tons of friends, but the few I had were good and steady. And I couldn’t imagine what life without them would be like.
Ok. I’ll be there in an hour or so,” I said.
“Just one thing. Do you know if Henriksen, the lighthouse keeper back in the 1940s have any children or grand-children?”
“Henriksen?” Arlette asked in alarm.
“Yes. That was the lighthouse keeper, wasn’t it?”
“Oh good heavens no. Henriksen was a local greengrocergreen grocer who had a shop in Grimstad. I was friends with his youngest daughter. No. The lighthouse keeper back then was Olav Andersen. He’s the father of Amund Andersen.”
“Did he have any other sons?” I asked.
“Yes. Oscar. But he was my age. And a daughter, Irene”
“And do you know anything about an artist who lived in Lillesand in the 1920s?”
“Arlette was quiet for a while before she said.
“There could have been two. One of them is Atle Johansen. He later moved to Italy where he enjoyed great success. The second one was a guy called Frans Fransen. He was Gerda’s father.”

Episode 16. Mysterious eyes

Mysterious eyes
June 16th
I was running along the road and I was almost out of breath. Mica was running happily alongside me and didn’t seem tired at all.
“It’s unfair you know,” I gasped trying to ignore the increasingly stinging feeling on my right side. I had been very fit not that long ago, but the increase in office hours seemed to have had some effect on my fitness. Before I could run for over an hour. Not exactly marathon fitness, but at least it wasn’t bad. I liked jogging in the London parks in the mornings and I fit it in as often as I could and when the weather was nice. Now, I had been running for twenty minutes and I was ready to collapse. I made a mental note to never let my fitness laps this much again if I could help it.
I slowed down and Mica laid down on the ground next to me. I did some stretching exercises hoping they should enable me to continue my run while he watched me with big trusting brown eyes. Mica had taken so well to living with us that you’d hardly know that only a couple of days earlier; he’d not been a happy chap. And Emma was head over heels in love with him. I must confess I had fallen too. And after the events of the past couple of weeks, it felt nice to have a big strong companion around.
We started running again about five minutes later when my pulse had slowed down and I felt ready to go, but I had to admit defeat after another five minutes when my side started stinging again. I had to work gradually to get back to where I had been, but hopefully it wouldn’t take that long. Not feeling like sitting down and not wanting to leave Mica in the house if I went kayaking, I decided to take a walk out to Nellevine the lighthouse instead.
Emma had been quite alarmed when I had relayed my conversation with Rosa. She blamed herself up and down for not doing a more proper check on the woman. But I calmed her down by telling her she really had had no reason to.
“First of all, it was a bit of fun. And secondly, how could and did you know that this was going to be mixed in with all the other stuff going on?”
She had seen my point in the end, though she made a promise to herself that no more psychics should enter any party she was arranging.
My next step was to try and get a picture of the fake Clara. But that was hard because now that the fake Psychics association page was down, there were no pictures of her online. It was then that Emma got the brilliant idea of sending out a mass e-mail to the people who had been to the party to ask if they could forward any pictures they’d taken to be used in the digital photo album she wanted to create for the celebrations. And she especially asked if anyone had taken pictures of the fortune teller in the white tent. A lot of people came forward with their pictures. A lot of them were similar, so we sat in the evening picking the best ones to put in the album which she would make available on the Hansen & Dale Facebook page. But none of the pictures had been of the fortune teller, unfortunately. Although we had a slight hope that some people would still reply.
The walk out to Nellevine was a rocky and uneven one. And I was almost regretting embarking on it. But Mica enjoyed himself. He stopped and sniffed the flowers, trees and bushes. And in certain places, he marked where he had been so that the next doggy who came along would know that this was his territory. Despite the uneven path of the walk, I began to really enjoy it after a while. The smell of sunshine and flowers, the singing of the birds and the white clouds dotted all over the blue sky lifted my spirits. The clouds also gave me relief from the sun which was actually quite hot. I was thinking of nothing, except that I wanted to go for a swim later. And I was going to suggest to Emma that we’d do a BBQ. And I’d go look for wild strawberries we could eat for dessert, or maybe we could make some jam. The strawberries growing wild on the ground, in the forest, alongside roads and in gardens were my absolute favourite ones. They were small, sweet and had a stronger strawberry taste than the big ones.
My phone vibrated in my pocket and I took it out to see who it was. I was hoping it was a text from Markus. But it was an e-mail from Emma.
“We’re in luck. This just came through. Though it’s not the best quality.”
There was an attachment. My signal here wasn’t great, but I managed to download it. It was a picture of Clairvoyant Clara where she was standing next to the blond woman I’d met in the toilet at the party who thought she’d be the new Elizabeth Gilbert. The blond was dominating the picture. Clara was holding a hand up in front of her face, as if to obscure it. I sent the image to Merete along with the words: “Fake fortune teller naming herself Clairvoyant Clara. Any chance you can try and find out who she is? I’ll do a google picture search, but I have a feeling I won’t find anything of importance.”
Mica had started become impatient drag on the lead, so I sent the e-mail and started walking. We were nearly at the lighthouse. I could see it far away in the distance.
We reached it twenty minutes later. I had allowed Mica to run on a very long lead, because for some reason he had been so keen to get there. He’d run fast as lightning and stopped to see whether I was following whenever the lead was pulled to the max. I’d have wanted him to run freely had it not been for the sign that calfs and sheep were grazing nearby, though I dhadn’t seen any. . I was feeling just a little out of breath after my brisk walk, and I was sweating. I really couldn’t wait for that swim. The lighthouse, I knew, which was really just a torch hadn’t been operated for a while. Not after everything became automatic. Someone perhaps would fix the lights if they didn’t switch on. But there was no lighthouse keeper anymore. I was therefore surprised to find Mica sniffing the air and standing so calmly as if he was listening out for something.
“Let’s go home now,” I said. “It’s hot and there’s nobody there.”
The growl started from deep in Mica’s throat and grew till it became a deep, resounding bark.
“What’s the matter?” I said. As if he could answer me. But he barked again. And even louder than before.
“Mica,” I said, making my voice sound strict. But he wasn’t listening. It wasn’t possible to get any closer to the torch. But Mica looked as if he wasn’t going to accept that. He seemed to desperately want to enter it. Then I too saw something. At first, I thought the sunlight was playing a trick on me but know. I saw faint red light coming from the highest point. And I saw something else. A pair of eyes observing Mica and me. Someone was in there. But who could it be? How many people had the key to the lighthouse? I turned around and ordered Mica to follow me. At first he was unwilling, but when I pulled on his lead and strictly told him to follow me.

It was later in the evening. When I’d come home, I’d had a long swim. Mica, it turned out, was an excellent swimmer in class doggy and he had almost not wanted to get out of the water. Afterwards, I’d taken a shower and prepared for the BBQ. Emma had been delighted at the idea. And we were now sitting in the garden enjoying some strawberries for dessert. I hadn’t managed to pick enough wild strawberries. The few I’d found disappeared mysteriously into my mouth, so Emma had bought some on our way home.
“On days like this, I just can’t imagine myself ever going back to London,” I said.
“Have you thought anymore about that?” Emma asked.
I had told her and Arlette about my ex step-dad and how he had been the cause of my running away from everything. They had said the same thing as Markus. That I needed to face up to him and claim my innocence.
“I really don’t know. I think this south coast life is totally my thing in the summer, but I am a city girl.”
At that moment my phone rang and Merete’s number came up on the screen.
“Sandra,” she said. No introduction, no how are you.
“Who died?” I asked jokingly and sipped my glass of red wine.
“Can you meet me tomorrow? I think I may have found your fortune teller.”

Episode 8. Dinner by the sea

Dinner by the sea
June 8th
I was due to meet Merete down by the harbor at 3pm. Since I wasn’t sure how long it would take to cycle to Grimstad, I left home at 2 after a morning trip in the kayak and a shower. I arrived with a few minutes to spare, so I rested on a bench while watching more and more people coming from work and down to the pier to enjoy the sunny summer weather. Markus had told me Merete was short with light brown hair and that she was visibly pregnant. I didn’t see anyone fitting that description when 3 o’clock came, but 15 minutes later, I saw someone that must be her come running towards where I was sitting. Her face was red and flushed from the running and her hair was messy, but otherwise she looked nice in a cute sort of way in her maternal summer dress. To say that she was visibly pregnant was an understatement. She looked like she was about to pop there and then.
“You must be Sandra,” she said and held out her hand. “I’m sorry I’m late. I was in a meeting that took much longer than anticipated.”
“That’s fine,” I smiled and got up. “You’re here now. And as for me, I have the whole afternoon and evening at my disposal.”
She led the way to a small café that was situated towards the far end of the pier. “My friend owns this place,” she said. “The food here is amazing.” We sat down at an outside table, and soon afterwards, a girl who looked to be in her teens came out and placed menus on our table. I decided to go for a Greek salad with additional chicken and garlic bread and Merete went for the Caesar Salad.
She took down our orders shyly before disappearing back inside.
“So, my mid-summer murder series will start a week before mid-summer and run every day up till then,” Merete began.
“What made you want to write about it?” I asked.
“My mother comes from Homborsund and she mentioned the mid-summer murders once It must have been about two years ago. We were watching this documentary about The Flying Dutchman. How some people have seen this long disappeared ship in a certain place, or even disappeared and there disappearances had been linked with the Flying Dutchman. Mum told me then about the drownings outside Nellevine the lighthouse. I’ve always been a sucker for ghost stories and I wanted to write about it. But it took this long before it’s finally going to happen. You know, other work getting in the way. And the research of course.”
Merete bent down as far as her belly would allow and picked up her shoulder bag. She took out a silver iPad and a notebook.
“I’m going to split it all into several topics,” she began. “First, it’s the obvious who were the victims? The second one is what did they have in common? That’s a particularly interesting one. Considering there were two women and two men who died over a forty-five year time period. It seems very random, yet I’m thinking they must have something more in common than their way of death.
Following on from that question, we have to think of motives. The murders have been attributed to a ghost in the lighthouse. But of course that can’t be the case. I mean do you believe in ghosts?”
The question was rhetorical, so I didn’t answer. Only shrugged my shoulders slightly. I didn’t exactly believe in ghosts. But I somehow believed that the dead lived on. I could swear that when I was facing a difficult situation, or was at my wit’s end in some way, I got telepathic guidance from my mum. But I thought there was no point in mentioning that. I didn’t believe ghosts could commit such systematic drownings though. That would be impossible.
“Only in one out of the four cases was there bad weather the day that a victim drowned. Another clear indication that this is done with human intervention.
The fourth topic will be speculating in whether all of them were murders, and how many of them, if they all are, could have been committed by one and the same person. For instance, the first one could have been some kind of accident which was then ceased on by whoever then wanted to kill somebody else later.
Finally, there is the conclusion piece. What do we know so far? Can we guess who’s maybe done it? How did they get away? Is this truly the end of the mid-summer murders?
I’m not expecting a real conclusion to the story. Most people who were alive around the time of the first murders are long dead or have disappeared from both Homborsund and the people’s register. So this whole thing is more like an entertainment piece containing facts. And if you have any more ideas for a couple more topics, please tell me. I’d ideally like to have seven, but don’t want to overkill the story.”
Our food came. And the smell of garlic and roasted chicken made me realize how ravenous I was.
“I like the idea,” I said. “The whole factual entertainment thing. And who knows? Maybe people will come forward with tips once they start reading the articles. Maybe somebody’s old relative told them something or maybe some of the elderly people still alive can add pieces to the puzzle.”
“I’m thinking the same. Although I’m not really gambling on it,” Merete replied and sipped her sparkling water.
“What do the police reports say? Have you had any access to them?”
She nodded. “They are all questioning the possibility of murder, but there is just no proof to back it up. So although people have been detained and questioned, the police had to let them go in the end.”
We sat eating for a while before she added.
“I only wish I could speak to Gerda Henriksen. After all, she lost two husbands.”
“And she lost her sister,” I said.
“What? Really?”
“You don’t know?” I asked surprised. Merete shook her head. “But I suppose you can tell me all about it now.”
I told her the tragic story Gerda had told me about her young sister Pernille who, lost in unrequited love had ended her promising life in the magic forest.
“It also happened at mid-summer” I concluded. Enjoying seeing how she abandoned her food to scribble franticly in her notebook.
“This is awesome,” she said resuming her eating. “I will definitely include this in the article. I’ll even give it its own topic and relate it back to the other murders. I mean, although it’s a suicide, it’s interesting that she chose to do it exactly at mid-summer’s eve.”
“Unless,” I sipped my own sparkling water thoughtfully. “Unless this too is a murder masked as a suicide.”
“What makes you think that?” Merete asked.
“It’s just a gut feeling I have,” I said. “Mainly it is the mid-summer thing. It seems to co-incidental. And then there is the fact of the hanging. I too have been a rejected teenager. I know what it feels like. You want to die, but you don’t actually want to die. Unless of course you’re mentally ill, or suffer from depression. I guess they didn’t have that diagnosis back then. I don’t know. But assuming she was a mentally healthy sixteen-year-old, hanging yourself when a boy doesn’t want you is a little on the extreme side.
But it’s not only those two things. It’s also the fact that it happened where there is a lighthouse torch. The other deaths are also lighthouse related. Maybe the murderer was indirectly trying to shift this too on Nellevine?”
“I see where you’re coming from,” Merete said slowly and scribbled something in her notebook. “I’ll do some research on Pernille too. But as I said, I can’t get an interview with Gerda. She refuses point blank to talk to me.”
“That’s strange,” I said. “She seems happy to talk to me.”
“In that case, can you ask her a few questions from me?”
“Sure. Write them down, and I’ll slip them in to a casual neighbourly chat.”
“Great. Thanks a lot. I will find out who the lighthouse keeper at the time was and that way, find out who the son was who Pernille was in love with and who also found her.”
We waved the teenage waitress over to ask for the bill and while we waited, we exchanged e-mail addresses and phone numbers. I promised to write up everything Gerda had told me so far and Merete promised to give me any new information she came across.
“It’s nice to have someone else on board,” she said. “I nodded.
“I am so happy we meet too. This is very much a family drama for me. And I want to try and get to the bottom of this if I possibly can. Without your help, I’d probably have a harder time finding information.”
“I could say the same,” she said as we got up and walked towards where I’d locked my bike.
I’d told her about why this was so interesting to me while we’d enjoyed a coffee, after the meal.
“May I ask when you’re popping?”
She laughed.
“It’s about six weeks away according to my due date. But I’m huge because I’m having twins. So who knows?”
As I freed my bike, I felt as if somebody was watching me. Merete had continued walking as she lived within walking distance of the harbor, so I was alone. I turned, certain it was my overly active imagination. The old lady I thought I’d seen in the garden two days earlier was standing there looking right at me. She was wearing a long black silk dress and a black hat that seemed more appropriate for an autumn day. The brim of the hat was large and I couldn’t see her face properly. But her eyes, deep blue and intense, were looking straight into mine.

Episode 2. Nellevine’s revenge

Nellevine’s revenge
June 2nd

The combination of the long journey and the two glasses of white wine must have made me pass out as soon as I’d gone to bed. And when I woke up, it was nearly ten o’clock. I pulled the curtains aside and was instantly hit by bright sunlight that made me squint and pull back a little. I slept in the room that had been mum’s as a girl and then Emma’s. Emma had now moved in to the master bedroom and this room was now the main guest room. It had been redecorated with cream coloured wallpaper and white minimalistic furnishing. Back in the days, there had been a bunk bed in here and the wall paper had been yellow with little pink flowers. I’d seen the old pictures.

I went into the bathroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror above the sink as I took off my nighty to have a shower. God, I looked awful. You can say a lot of good things about London life. But it giving you a healthy complexion isn’t one of them. Especially if you spend most of the time in the office and take ages to tan, which I do. I looked pale and my cheeks were hollow. I had neglected the gym for a while. There just wasn’t time. But I had grown thin rather than fat. Probably because we’d been working so flat out in the office for the past weeks. The time running up to the summer holidays was always the busiest. But who was I kidding. The phone call, his phone call, from two days ago hadn’t exactly done wonders for my looks either. A crushing feeling came over me at the thought of the phone call. At the thought of why I was here.
I sighed and stepped into the shower. I needed time to think. Or better. Empty my head of all thought. Let my sub consciousness work on it and maybe then I would know how to react. What to do.

Clean and refreshed, I went downstairs to the kitchen to make some breakfast. A note from Emma lay on the kitchen table saying that I could help myself to anything in the fridge and that both the kayak and motor boat was at my disposal should I wish to go somewhere. I made coffee and a brie sandwich and went to sit outside so I could start working on my complexion and take in the atmosphere with all my senses. It was so wonderful to be here, I thought as I leant back. As a child I’d spent every summer in this house. The whole summer while mum was working in London. Grandma had been living here then. But she died when I was fifteen. She’d only been 74, but she’d died happily in her sleep.. And since then, my visits had been less frequent as well as shorter. I sipped my coffee and wondered what I was going to do today. Kayaking, I decided. The sea was calm, the sun was shining and I felt like getting back into shape as well as getting a tan.

I went into the Annex and found a lifejacket and a wetsuit. After having fitted it, I went inside and got my sunglasses and a bottle of water before I found the kayak and started dragging it down the garden path. “Good day. You must be Eline’s daughter.” I looked up and saw Gerda, Emma’s elderly neighbour who she, mum and grandma had told me had more than a screw lose. She’d always been nice to me though. Invited me over for juice and buns as a child and always gave me some change so I could buy sweets. When I got older, we’d mostly had short, but not unfriendly encounters.
“Hi Gerda,” I said and felt a genuine smile coming to my face.
“Off kayaking are you?” she asked.
She was wearing warn boots and a t-shirt that looked like it had seen better days. Her grey perm was meticulous as always. I’d never seen her with another hairstyle.
“Yes. Got to take advantage of the weather,” I replied.
“Would you like a hand carrying that down?” She pointed to the kayak. I figured I could probably do it myself. But she had a determined look in her eyes and though I’d never actually seen her mad side, I could easily believe it was there. Word had it that she’d killed two husbands. I wasn’t sure I believed it. Though they had both disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Amund, whom she was married to now, and had been for as long as I could remember,, was reputed to be senile, but still alive.
“Thanks that would be lovely.” I replied.
She stepped through the hedge parting Emma’s garden from hers and walked towards me. She was in good shape for her age. But I could tell from her stiff walking that she had some sort of knee problem.
“What was your name again?” Gerda asked as she and I approached the beach.
“Sandra,” I said I was ashamed at how exhausted I was already feeling from carrying the kayak. I really needed to get back into shape.
“Sandra. I’m sorry. You know what it’s like. Memories slip.” She laughed a laugh that somehow sent chills down my spine despite the heat.
“But one thing I will never forget is Nellevine’s revenge. Now that is gruesome. I take it you’ve not heard that story?”
We had reached the point where we could put down the kayak. All I needed to do now, was to push to get it out into the water
“No. I’ve never heard that story,” I said. I knew Nellevine was a lighthouse I always paddled, or drove past by motor boat. As far as I knew, Nellevine had been a lady who had first been the wife of one captain, and when he died had remarried the lighthouse keeper. He gave each of the lighthouses names, simply to distinguish them from each other, and the one that watches over the approach to the harbour was called after his wife. It was a common conception in the bay area that Nellevine’s ghost hung around, but that it was a good ghost.
“Of course. But let me tell you about Nellevine’s revenge.”
“You probably know Nellevine to have been a good woman.” Gerda started. “And people say too that her ghost is good.” She looked at me questioningly and I nodded. “That’s quite right,” she said. “Nellevine was and is good through and through. You see, I am in touch. I have spoken to her ghost many many times. And not just her ghost. I speak to a lot of dead people. My parents, my brother and sister, even my two dead ex-husbands.”
I didn’t like the way Gerda spoke and I was keen to get going on the water. But I felt I had no choice but to listen to her story.
One day in 1925 to be precise,, a terrible tragedy happened. A young, newly married woman by the name of Helene Hansen drowned under mysterious circumstances when she was going out to Lillesand in her husbands boat to meat a painter with whom she had an affair. Her husband, a carpenter by the name of Christian Hansen was utterly grief-stricken. They had only been married for six months and they were expecting their first child. Clearly, he did not know about the affair at the time. The day of Helene’s drowning was also a bit of a mystery. There had been no storm, and no reason for her to drown. Well, she wasn’t wearing a life jacket and she wasn’t reputed to be a good swimmer. It had happened so quickly. One minute she was there and the next, she wasn’t. The boat was found floating bottom up, unharmed. She was never found. But drowning could be the only explanation. It happened right near the lighthouse Nellevine, which is curious, because Lillesand is in the completely opposite direction. She must have been dragged there by a supernatural force.
“Then, ten years later, a local teacher, Janne Olsen also drowned. She was out kayaking when it happened. It was in the evening, but it was still light outside and the sea was calm. This also happened outside the lighthouse.. And digging into her life, the police found out that although Janne Olsen was seemingly a respectable young woman, loved by parents and children alike, she had been questioned about the death of one of her pupils five years previously. Also a drowning. The class had been on an outing to learn about local marine life. Some of the boys had gone out swimming, and thinking they were in control, Miss Olsen had not stopped them. She only told them not to swim further than she could see. What she didn’t know was that Tore, one of the boys had a heart failure and wasn’t supposed to swim. You can guess the rest.”
“Then it was my husband Sven in 1955. He went out with the fishing nets, although I told him it would be dangerous. I have grown up around here and I knew a storm would come. But Sven did not listen to me. He just laughed. Said the sea was calm. But I was right wasn’t I? The storm came quickly while he was out. He didn’t come back for the full two days the storm raged along the coastline. His body was washed to shore and found when it was all over. It later came out that Sven wasn’t just going out with the fishing nets. He was also going to meet his other woman. She eventually came to me and confessed everything.
Then, my husband Nils in 1970. Such a handsome man. And we’d just had a baby who had suffered one of those rare crib deaths infants sometimes suffer. Suffocated by its own pillow. Although I have a strange feeling Nils was behind the baby’s death. He always complained about it screaming and disturbing his sleep so that he was tired and performed badly at work. Well. He drowned too And neither he, nor his, my, motor boat were found. But they had last been seen outside the lighthouse Nellevine.”
You see Sandra. Nellevine is a lady who doesn’t like anybody getting away with things they’re not supposed to get away with. You could say crimes that can’t be proven to be crimes because there is either no evidence, or the majority doesn’t see it as a crime. Having a mistress for example, that’s not a crime. But it’s a horrible thing to do. And poor Tore, it could be murder. It was certainly careless. So that’s what Nellevine does. She punishes those who would otherwise get away with their, hmmm, crime is not the right word, misdeed is perhaps a better one.”
I stared at Gerda for a few seconds not sure what to think. Except I was now sure she had at least two screws loose if not more. “Are you sure about this?” I asked hesitantly, not knowing how she’d react if I upset her. “I am as sure as I am sure that something bad is about to happen again very soon. The last act of justice, that’s what I and Nellevine’s ghost like to call them, happened forty-five years ago. And it’s been quiet for a long time. But now…. It’s just a sneaky feeling I have. And I am usually right.”She looked out over the calm sea in front of her with a thoughtful glance. “But don’t you worry yourself dear. I’ve been talking quite enough now. Get out there now and enjoy yourself.”
With a smile she turned on her heel and walked back up to her garden.

I didn’t believe Gerda’s story in the slightest. It was farfetched. At least the part about Nellevine who was long passed away having something to do with it. Although, I made a note to ask Emma about the drownings. And although I was still convinced Nellevine’s ghost was a good one, I couldn’t help but paddle a little faster past her lighthouse towards the open sea.