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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 5 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 5
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-01-31 17:13:47
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5. The second Leena

Four hours after I came out for another cigarette everything looked as though the big move was over. The big truck had left and the cars looked more carefully parked, even though some parked cars on the small road still made the life of some mothers with prams difficult. Actually, one of the mothers, obviously with twins in one very sophisticated pram, looked really puzzled till she decided to turn back and follow another way. But at least people seemed to have a lot of understanding; nobody really complained, all of them understanding that this was part of the moving issue.

Most of them were now sitting outside despite the cold, all dressed in heavy jackets and coats with hats, scarves and gloves and all carrying a makkara with the help of kitchen paper in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. It’s really funny the small details you notice in cases like that. For example, they were drinking a Finnish beer called ‘Karhu’ which in Finnish means 'bear'. I’m not a real lager drinker myself and somehow I don’t have the best opinion of the Finnish beers, but I suppose there must be something good about this one since it seems pretty popular among the locals.

Now remember that it was winter and in Finland winter means dark, people say good night sometime early-November and they are waiting for the sun to rise again sometime in late-April/beginning of May, which means the time our new neighbour decided to move it was dark and of course all the lights in the neighbourhood, including the small ones on the street, were on. Yet, with this small light I could see a thick line of yellow mustard on top of every single sausage! Strange things people notice sometimes! The new neighbour was the only one without a makkara, just a bottle of beer, and she really looked neurotic moving around, talking with everybody and moving things or checking something.

I suppose when all these people help you voluntarily to move house doing all this physical work you feel somehow obliged to make sure that they are fine and that they know how thankful you feel and a thank you accompanied with a cheers never hurts. And she did so all the time. She was definitely small and it was really funny watching her moving around her guests and friends like a bee among flowers which is a very exaggerating image when you picture it in the middle of winter in Finland. I think her bright-coloured jumper was helping the vision.

Marc called me to ask something about the day-after so for a bit I was too bothered with the telephone call and my cigarette that was nearly burning my fingers so I missed what happened and when the telephone call was over, with hopefully Marc happy with my answers, some of the cars were moving away while my new neighbour was saying thank you and her goodbyes to others. This is when I noticed him; he was standing in the shadows with a bottle in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He was standing away from everybody, a shadow himself, and he looked like he was there just watching. Strange!

“Moi Leena!” one of the drivers said and then the woman with the colourful jumper ran to them giving them something small. So now we had a name as well. Funny, all these years in this country I had met only one woman with the name Leena and she was the sister of a very close friend and suddenly in just a few weeks I had two Leenas in my own neighbourhood! Nothing special with the names even though a long time ago I had read a book about names and people and how much the name reflects the personality of the person; a lot of rubbish really but that period I was flirting that girl and she thought that this was really scientific so I read it. I missed our third date and she never called me again, well I would have avoided her, for an unexplained reason I don’t like women called Susan!

Soon the only ones left were Leena, my new neighbour, a young woman with a very funny hat and the man in the shadows. He was still smoking, I could see the small red flame and a couple of times I had the strange sense that he was looking at me, something like checking me out. Then I decided that I'd had enough of smoking and the cold was killing the last bits of my curiosity, so I turned to walk inside when the man suddenly moved. He said something to Leena, now I feel the liberty to call her with her name, and moved quickly to the white dirty van.

He stopped before opening the driver’s door and checked around giving me another long look and then with his left hand he opened the door. I don’t know why the man gave me a shiver and what made it worst was something red that shined while he was opening the door, then he moved fast, jumping in the car and sped off fast, something quite stupid in a small neighbourhood street.

Later in the evening I had my last cigarette of the day and I was glad to see that there was still light in my new neighbour’s house. I don’t know why but this new entrance in our neighbourhood was giving me the sense that we were alive, you know like an organism where the cells are moving all the time. I looked at the sky but there were no stars, I missed seeing the stars, living in a country where it is all cloudy in the winter and bright sunny during the summer is really funny the things you miss and even when the sky is clear you cannot see all the stars and the galaxies you can see in the night sky anywhere in Mediterranean for example!

All characters and events depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to persons living, dead, or fictional or situations past, present, or fictional is purely and completely coincidental.  

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