Ake Edwardson

The Shadow Woman

The fifth book in the Erik Winter series, 2010

Copyright © Ake Edwardson, 1998 Translation copyright © Per Carlsson, 2010 All rights reserved

Originally published as Rop fran langt avstand by Norstedts Forlag, Stockholm.

For three years a massive drug war between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos has ripped through Scandinavia. Antitank rockets swiped from the Swedish military have been launched at club-houses, gunfights have erupted in airports, car bombs have been planted and bystanders killed. A well-publicized truce will soon bring the Great Nordic Biker War to a close, but not before dozens of lives are claimed by the violence, many of them innocent.


SHE SAT WITH MOMMY A LONG TIME. SHE SLEPT FOR A WHILE in the backseat and then crawled up front. It was cold there and Mommy started the car and let it run for a while and then turned it off again. Mommy hadn’t answered when she’d asked, so she asked again and Mommy’s voice was hard. So she went quiet. “Why isn’t he coming?” Mommy said, but straight out and not to her. “Where in God’s name is he?”

Someone was supposed to come there and pick her up and then drive her home, but nobody came. She wanted to be with Mommy, but she also wanted to sleep in her own bed. It was darker now and it was raining. She couldn’t see out because the windows were fogged up. She crawled closer and wiped the window with her sleeve. Cars drove past and the headlights twirled around inside the car where they were sitting. “Why can’t we go?” she had asked. Mommy hadn’t answered, so she asked again. “Quiet now,” Mommy said this time. Then she didn’t say anything after that, didn’t dare when the voice from the front seat was so stern. Mommy said a few bad words. She had heard them so many times that it didn’t matter. She had said words like that herself and nothing had happened to her. But she knew it was wrong somehow anyway. The rain pattered against the roof. Pitter-patter, pitter-patter. She thought about the rain like that for a long while, drummed her fingers on the seat next to her: pitter-patter, pitter-patter.

“Oh God,” Mommy said, and said it a few times more. “Stay here.” Mommy opened the door up front. “You have to stay here while I go over there and make a phone call.”

It wasn’t quite evening yet, but it was dark out anyway.

“I can barely see you,” Mommy said. “You have to answer me.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m just going over to the telephone booth on the corner to make a call. It won’t take long.”

“Where is it? Can’t I go with you?”

“I told you to stay here!” Mommy said in her stern voice, and she said yes and Mommy slammed the door and she got rain spattered on her in the backseat. She gave a start from the drops of rain hitting her.

Then she sat quietly and listened for footsteps outside and thought she heard Mommy’s shoes against the pavement, like a clickety clickety clack. It might have been somebody else, but she couldn’t see. It was foggy outside.

She gave a start when Mommy came back. “Nobody there!” Mommy said, or more like shouted it. “Jesus Christ. They’ve left.”

Mommy started the car and they drove off. “Are we going home now?”

“Soon,” Mommy said. “There’s just something we have to do first.”

“But you said I was gonna go home.”

“We are going home.” Mommy stopped the car again, and then she got out and came and sat in the backseat with her.

“Are you sad, Mommy?”

“No. It’s just the rain. Now listen to me. First we’re going to go to this other place to pick up some men. You hear what I’m saying?”

“We’re going to pick up some men.”

“Yes. Now, these men are going to run to us when we drive up-it’s this game we’re going to play with them. And when they come, they’re going to jump into the car before it’s stopped. Do you understand?”

“They’re going to jump into the car?”

“We’re gonna slow down, and then they’re going to jump into the car, and then we’re gonna drive off again.”

“Then are we gonna go home?”

“After a little while we will.”

“I wanna go home now.”

“We’re going to go home. But first we’re just going to play this little game.”

“It’s a stupid game.”

“It’s very important that you lie down on the floor when we play the game. You have to lie down on the floor when I tell you to. Do you understand?”

“But why?”

Mommy looked at her, and she looked at her watch many times too. It was sort of all blurry in here now, but Mommy could see her watch.

“Because they’re going to run really fast and there may be other people who aren’t in the game who might try to jump into the car too. And they might bump into you or something. That’s why you have to lie down on the floor behind my chair.”

She nodded.

“I want you to try doing it now.”

“But you said that they-”

“Lie down!”

Mommy grabbed hold of her and it felt hard, smarting around her neck. She lay down on the floor and it smelled bad and wet and it was difficult to breathe. She coughed and lay against the coldness. Her arm hurt.

Mommy went back up front and started the car, and she sat up again. Mommy told her to get back down on the floor.

“Is it starting now?”

“Yes. Are you lying down?”

“I’ve crawled on the floor now.”

“You mustn’t get up,” Mommy said. “It can be very dangerous.”

And Mommy said more stuff about how dangerous it was. “And you have to be quiet too.”

She thought it was stupid for a game to be dangerous, but she didn’t dare say that now.

“Be quiet!” Mommy said in a stern voice even though she hadn’t said anything.

She lay still and listened to the sounds from underneath-it was almost like lying on the road, shakety shakety shake, bumpety bumpety bump- and suddenly she heard a scream and then another, and then Mommy shouted something. The door above her was yanked open. She felt something hard on top of her, and heavy, and she wanted to cry out but she couldn’t. Or maybe she didn’t want to. The doors opened and slammed shut, and opened again and slammed once more, and she heard a

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