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Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 26 Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 26
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-01-12 08:34:43
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26. Coffee with Ivan and Alexei at Bakers

Things have changed rapidly, heavy snow is here and it is cold outside which can be translated as I smoke less. When you wake up in the morning the patio looks covered from some kind of white dust. It is not exactly dust but frost from the night. The change between autumn and winter in Finland is usual soft and gradual but this year the winter came literally storming in our lives freezing hands, faces and noses.

The streets turn to be dangerous and walling to be an adventure. On top of that a series of personal problems kept me away from everything and gradually Ferah’s face fainted in my mind. Pekka seemed to be really busy; some hate crimes have started to appear more and more often in the newspapers pages and Leena like every other winter had health problems that led her to the hospital for better help.

Ferah’s face had started fainting but Alexei’s face didn’t want to go and the day I saw him in the centre was the first time but not the last. The week after seen him with the woman I was sure she was Ferah’s sister I was in the centre heading for Stockman’s bookshop when I saw him again, this time alone walking fast on the other side of the street and I have to admit that for a moment I felt the temptation to follow him but it was like I didn’t want to know. The last few times I had thought of Ferah’s eyes the picture of Alexei with her sister in his arms was coming to destroy everything. It was like they were dancing over her grave and even though I am one of those people who believe that everybody is innocent until proven guilty I was afraid that something inside me was taking sides.

So instead of following him I run inside the bookshop and tried to forget browsing the art books. Then the other day it was him who saw me, actually it was Ivan and I was walking towards Baker’s, a café in the centre that also makes nice cheese-bacon sandwiches and nicely foaming cappuccinos when I heard behind me a “hei!” that made me stop and look. Ivan with his usual cigarette in mouth was walking fast towards me with Alexei next to him. I felt a cold wind going through my spine but I invited them for coffee and they accepted without hesitation.

Cappuccino and cheese-bacon sandwich for me, filter coffee with cream and a cinnamon ban for Ivan, just black filter coffee for Alexei. “He says that he’s doing fine, he bought some furniture for his apartment and now he’s back to work,” Ivan answered to my question on how Alexei was doing. “The police was around asking question the other day.” Ivan added and I noticed that Alexei was listening carefully and for the first time from the very first time I met him he was not looking the table or his shoes but straight in my eyes. Oh, was the only thing that came out of my mouth and I was sure I was blushing. “They asked strange questions.” What kind of questions, I asked trying to show as innocent as I could with Alexei keep staring at me.

“Just questions,” Ivan answered “Alexei didn’t really understand what they wanted to know but it was strange…” Ivan finished his coffee, “they asked strange questions,” he said again. Ok fine, I had done something and now I was thinking that everything was pointing at me and I started finding everything Ivan was saying suspicious. I took a deep breathe and some of my cappuccino and after pretending to think I asked if the police apart from asking him strange question if they had done anything with their investigation. Alexei just nodded negatively with Ivan adding a very Russian ‘niet’ and the conversation ended there and Alexei was still staring at me.

For a bit I was trying to think something to ask but it was like my mind had empty from everything else than the picture of Alexei with Ferah’s sister in his arms. I tried to ask if his life had found any kind of routine again but I had the feeling that my question came out wrong because Alexei continued been silent and Ivan didn’t answer. Suddenly and as it always happens in cases like that I didn’t stop my self and I asked if he had seen anybody of Ferah’s family. I was regretting asking the very same minute the question came out of my mouth but it was just too late.

Alexei said something in Russian to Ivan, then Ivan asked him something and he continued in Russian. It was like I wasn’t there for both of them; a tensed conversation had started between them two with me watching them in the middle. “He asked why you ask.” In the end Ivan answered. I said it was just curiosity because I had found strange their behaviour when we visited his house, taking all the things and everything. Ivan translated my answer and then it came a second round of exchanges between the two of them. “He saw her sister two times!” so he wasn’t sure if I knew something but he had to say something near the truth. Really, I said loud, and how is she, how is she dealing with the whole thing? Again the exchange in Russian, “She’s fine, much better!” Ivan stopped for a bit and looking Alexei he said, “I didn’t k now that you know” I know Ivan, I said to him quietly with Alexei looking very still and cold.

Finding an excuse for an urgent job I finished my sandwich and cappuccino and got ready to go with Ivan and Alexei following me, when we went outside we said goodbye and I crossed the street towards Stockman’s. On the other side trying to light a cigarette looked back and I saw the two men still standing in front of Bakers smoking, Ivan was still staring at me and Ivan was looking at two girls passing by. For the first time the shiver I felt on my spine had nothing to do with the low temperatures of Helsinki.

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