The chapter below is from the sci-fi, triller book Fear is in the Air by Eva Newermann
It’s February 2004 and I’m back in Stavanger, Norway. Last time, nine months ago, I had killed Erik at the Pulpit Rock. This time I have no evil planned. I’ll just spend some relaxing time with my flight crew.
Maybe I’ll even look up a bridge club. I’ve seen a flyer in the hotel’s lobby, saying;
Join us for bridge!
Gann Bridge Club, Sandnes.
Sandnes is a town just 20 minutes’ drive from Stavanger.
I can also do some shopping, visit museums and art galleries. Lucky for me, I’m rich! I don’t have to cry over how expensive everything is in Norway.
I’m not lucky with the weather, though. Strange, it’s Friday the 13th and since that’s supposed to be my lucky day, according to Adam Skai, the Sun should be shining. Instead it’s cold and rainy and the wind feels like a wet dust devil. Here they have a saying: There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. So I‘ve bought the best money can buy in the latest rainwear fashion.
My green rain jacket, slacks and boots are all covered with decorative prints of daisies and bluebells. The rain hat and my knitted gloves have daisies on them too. I look like a freaking, walking garden, wobbling down the streets!
The streets have cobblestones and are hard to walk on, the small wooden houses are all painted white. In the windows are colorful flowers and sometimes a cat peeking out.
Suddenly I see a large sign saying The Big Bang Gallery, Eva Newermann. In the windows are paintings of planets, Stonehenge and the giant three swords of Hafrsfjord, the same image that was on the postcard Erik gave me on the plane.
I’ll be dammed! This is the artist Lillian was going to introduce me to in Miami, back in 2001.
I go inside.
In the hallway a large stack of knitted socks are on a table. I hang my raincoat and hat on some brass hooks, then I take my boots off and put on a pair of socks.
I keep my gloves on, still feeling cold. I’m wearing a dark wig to protect my own hair from the rain.
The only person in the room and I presume she is Eva, is sitting on a high chair with her back towards the door when I walk in.
Her long blond hair makes her look like a typical Norwegian. She is working on a painting of a kitten chasing a butterfly.
“Hi,” I say, “what a cute kitten. Is it yours?”
She doesn’t turn around, but keeps on painting and starts mumbling in English.
“That’s Tussa, she is a wild cat.”
Cute, Tussa is the female name for the trolls that live in the Norwegian woods.
She continues, “She runs wild outside my cabin in the mountain. When I’m up there I feed her, and sometimes she lets me pet her.”
I step up a little closer. I can smell alcohol even though she’s not facing me.
I clear my throat, “You will never believe this, but my whole family was going to come to your vernissage in Miami, back in September 2001. My aunt and uncle had a restaurant chain all over the world, called the Big Bang and they were going to buy some paintings from you, but then the September 11 attack happened. They got killed in one of the Towers.”
By now, Eva has stopped painting, turns around and looks at me without smiling.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” she says, “I remember that well. My whole exhibition was affected by that event. Hardly any people attended my vernissage. Very few came to the art gallery the next three weeks. Everybody was so devastated by the attack. They had other things to do than to shop for paintings.” She peaks with a slight Norwegian accent.
“Well,” I say, “I see you have a painting of Stonehenge in the window. I would like to buy it. Money is no object.”
She smiles for the first time. “I’m leaving on a vacation tomorrow and it would be nice to have some extra cash, if that’s OK with you?”
“No problem. I just have to find an ATM.”
Eva has been taking sips from a glass while we were talking. She takes a look out the window and then back at me and puts her glass down.
“Why don’t we make ourselves comfortable for a while, and maybe the rain will stop?” she says, as she pulls up a chair for me.
“In this weather nobody will come to the gallery, anyway. You look like you could use a warm drink, what about an Irish coffee?”
“That sounds great!” I pull off my gloves and sit down.
“By the way, my name is also Ewa, but I spell it with a W. Ewa Lowe, I’m from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.”
“Ewa Lowe,” she says, almost dreamingly. “What a catchy name! Catchy enough to be an artist’s name. Are you an artist?”
Yes, but not the kind you can imagine.
“I’m a flight attendant, but I do some painting in my spare time.”
“Airline stewardess!” she exclaimed. “What an interesting life you must have!”
Well, compared to some other things I do, it’s almost dull.
I smile and put my gloves on the table. I get up and walk around the room looking at her paintings. She disappears into the kitchen. After a while she returns with two Irish coffees, in mugs.
We talk some more and I notice she is drinking way to fast, getting a little tipsy. When she has finished her Irish, she walks back to the kitchen. She returns with a bottle of Bacardi Rum and a large bottle of Coca-Cola.
So, we have the same taste buds, drinking wise.
“Listen,” she says, “I have some more paintings upstairs, if you would like to take a look. Would you like another drink to bring upstairs?”
“No, thanks,” I shake my head, “I’m fine.”
After she has mixed herself a Cuba Libre I follow her up the stairs.
The wall leading up to the second floor is covered with what looks to be family photos. I see one in black and white of a young Eva. She is wearing a polka dot bikini.
“That’s a delightful picture,” I say.
“Yes,” Eva smiles, touching the picture tenderly.
“That was many moons ago. I did some modeling in Hollywood, California. I lived there when I was 20 years old and I met many movie stars.” Her eyes are twinkling like stars, too.
Before I can ask her which movie stars she met, my eyes pop open.
I stop dead in my tracks. I’m staring straight into Erik, the Viking’s big brown eyes!
What is this? Am I going insane?
The biggest heebie-jeebies you can imagine are going through my body.
I let out a small gasp and point at the picture on the wall.
“Who, who is this in the picture?” I stutter. Eva turns around and sits down on one of the steps.
“This,” she says, “was my husband, Erik. He is the reason I’m drinking too much.” She empties her glass and starts to cry.
I turn away from her, hoping she hasn’t noticed how shook up I am.
“You know what?” I say, “I think I will have that drink after all. Why don’t we go downstairs and you can tell me what happened.”
She gets up, clinging to the rail. When she passes the picture of Erik, she takes it down and cradles it to her chest.
We go back to our chairs.