Today's episode is brought to by the letter A.

A for airconditioning. How I wish my boss would use it!

And the number 0.
Otherwise known as the amount of money I'm making off this fic :)

Expect snark and grump and an attempt on my part to know anything at all about Swedish Geography, names, etc.

Bon appetit!

ERNIE AND BERT

True to the old saying: when it rains, it pours. After a distinct drought case-wise, the station had suddenly become a hub of activity; poorly timed considering the persistent presence of the renovation crew and their accompanying mess. Wallander stood among said mess, which had even infiltrated the chief of police's office, wearing last night's clothes and yesterday's stubble.

"You're telling me we don't have a single interrogation room available?!"

Lisa Holgersson crossed her arms and regarded Wallander's outburst with the practiced patience of someone by now well used to weathering them.

"I'm telling you that two are full, and the third's being renovated this morning;" she informed him, "We only have three; until the other two new ones being built are finished. Anne-Britt has that art forgery case now and it looks like it might have ties to organized crime in Stockholm. That's taking a certain priority. "

Wallander huffed and kicked peevishly at a pile of plastic sheeting in the corner of the police chief's office.

"We need to question Gold now, Lisa," he insisted, "We don't have much to hold him on as far as a lawyer will probably be concerned."

"But you think he's tied up in the Lund case?"

Wallander scowled, "I know he is. Which is why I need to be able to properly-"

He was interrupted by a sharp knock on the office door, followed immediately by the entrance of a man and woman. They both wore impeccably tailored suits in contrast to their bright yellow hard hats. He was tall and dark haired, late fifties maybe, and she was almost as tall and rake thin, but stunningly attractive, with long blonde hair; early forties maybe.

"Chief Holgersson," the man greeted, "I apologize for interrupting but I wanted to extend my thanks one more time for your hospitality. The renovations seem to be going well and," he turned to the woman at his side, "I'm sure I'll have a glowing report to submit to my fellow councilmen-and- women at city hall."

"Is this one of your officers?" The blonde woman asked acknowledging Wallander's presence.

"One of my detectives," Holgersson supplied politely, "Kurt Wallander."

Her smile was a little strained Wallander noticed. Lisa was a professional, effective chief, well used to the politicking the position required, but even she was reaching her limits with all of the city council members, auditors and press that kept barging into her station. The upcoming mayoral election that had provided them with the funding and support for the much-needed renovations was a double-edged sword, in that it also meant every politician and reporter in Ystad was watching the project with a political eye and a stifling amount of interest.

"Willa Westin." The woman extended her hand to shake Wallander's, "My company, Westin Construction is responsible for all of this disarray I'm afraid," she added with a charming whiter-than-white smile, "But I'm sure the new renovations will make things much more efficient when they're completed."

The man introduced himself stoically as city councilman Stefan Nyqvist, a member of the building committee. Wallander recognized him from his campaigning efforts on TV and around the city. The councilman was known for his tough on crime rhetoric and his promises to "clean up the streets" if elected mayor. This rhetoric also extended to squeegee kids and homeless youth. But it wasn't entirely his politics Kurt took issue with, as much as his gaudy purple campaign signs: "Put your trust in a real leader" "Vote Nyqvist for Peace, Security and Justice!" ... There were a few on the corner near his flat he was growing particularly tired of looking at...

"Pleasure," Kurt muttered at a pointed glance from Lisa.

The formalities were interrupted by yet another knock at the office door. Wallander sincerely hoped it wasn't more politicians.

"Kurt?"

Mercifully it was Martinsson's head that appeared around the door frame.

The lanky detective looked from Wallander to Holgersson to the two impeccably dressed guests, "Um... an interrogation room's freed up."

Without another word Wallander turned and followed Martinsson out into the hall, leaving Holgersson to make some apology or other for his abruptness.

They were met by a young cadet leading Gold in handcuffs: Anita Wu. It was her second day on the force and she still had the look of a wide-eyed cadet trying to appear imposing. Martinsson took up the head of the procession, guiding them on a detour past the canteen and down a cramped stairwell Wallander was sure he'd never used before, let alone been made aware of. It wasn't especially the kind of place one usually led a suspect through: too isolated. Lawyers could have a field day. There was some consolation though in that it made Gold visibly nervous at the apparent thought of being roughed up in a secluded stairwell by an old-overweight man, a one-handed detective, and a cadet so green it was practically written on her forehead in bold.

"We're taking the scenic route are we?"

Martinsson's facial expression did its best imitation of a cat to whom it's been suggested that it asked to take this bath; an expression he directed witheringly at the senior detective.

"Yes, obviously I just felt like stretching my legs."

Wallander glowered right back as his knees gave an audible crack of complaint.

"Where the hell are you taking us Martinsson? You know, there's a reason we don't usually traipse through back corridors with suspects."

This last part was directed more at the cadet.

Martinsson grumbled to himself and Anita Wu chose wisely not to add her two cents at this time.

Tristan Gold however was not so sensible.

"Listen fellas, I don't know anything. Whatever you think I did-"

"Shut up."

Wallander and Martinsson growled in unison.

The younger detective rubbed his injured wrist as they walked. A mixture of Wallander's needling, having had to pick his way through plaster and debris to rescue his laptop this afternoon, and the soreness in his wrist that told him he was just about due for another dose of painkillers, did nothing to improve his overall mood. "I'm saving us time. This way's quicker."

"Wonderful." Wallander deadpanned.

Cadet Wu shook her head listening to the two men who were supposed to be her superiors, but were beginning to remind her more of her two younger brothers bickering over a Playstation game.

"The main hall's clogged," Martinsson pointed out, "too much bloody traffic and everyone and his cousin's now camped out in the pit. Also the elevators are down, which is of course redefining convenience and efficient policing..." His list of grievances continued.

Much to everyone's relief, they soon reached the landing and Martinsson opened the grey door marked 2 holding it open for the rest of the impatient procession behind him.

"If this were Stockholm we'd never have to deal with this kind of-"

They were unexpectedly met by Westin and Nyqvist coming around the corner. There was a sort of awkward pause as the two parties met abruptly. The councilman and the head contractor simply stared for a few seconds until Wallander finally broke the silence

"We're um, on our way to... interview a suspect; if you'll excuse us."

"Of course," Willa Westin stepped gracefully aside.

Nyqvist stood staring at Tristan Gold for another second before similarly making way. Apparently the tough-on-crime councilman had never been face to face with too many of his constituents he proposed to be tough on. He looked as though he'd accidentally swallowed a particularly distasteful bug.

"How the hell did they get down here so fast?" Wallander griped when they were out of earshot.

Martinsson made a point of ignoring him.

As they made their way to INTERVIEW ROOM 2, they passed Anne-Britt and some officers leading a few of their own suspects back to the cell block. They exchanged nods and Wallander exchanged a particularly weary look with his with female colleague. True, he'd much rather be working a case to solve a disappearance and actually help the Lund family find their son, rather than chasing down forgers responsible for ripping off wealthy socialite's art collections; but it was also true that on any day, he'd rather be partnered with Anne-Britt, or possibly a bag of wasps, than young Martinsson. She almost managed to look sympathetic before she rounded the corner out of sight. Wallander however, caught the traces of a smirk in her eyes.

Cadet Wu left them to their own devices and Wallander and Martinsson took up seats across the scratched surface of the metal table from Gold.

"So, Tristan," Wallander began as Martinsson opened the folder that contained Gold's extensive record, "Do you stop by Bryn Svensson's bar often?"

Tense silence.

"What about Dag Lund?" Wallander slid a picture of the boy across the tabletop to Gold, "Do you know him?"

"A Bargain!" the weedy man squeaked.

"Sorry what...?"

Martinsson looked up from his papers.

"I want to cut a deal," Gold jabbered, "I'll give you names, information, whatever you want, but I want protection!"

"Protection from what?" Martinsson demanded.

Gold shook his head wildly, "Get me something on paper... witness protection..."

"Tristan," Kurt tried to keep his voice even, tried to placate the man who'd inexplicably broken into a panic, "I need you to talk to me. Who are you afraid of?"

But Gold continued to insist that: A) he was in danger B) he had information for the police vital to their investigation into Dag Lund's disappearance and C) he was only going to provide that information after he was given some sort of deal to sign ensuring his protection. After about twenty minutes of this, they were interrupted by a cadet informing them that Mr. Gold's lawyer had arrived. They were forced to leave the man with his client so they could confer. This however didn't seem to last long, as ten minutes later, Gold's lawyer Arne Haalson emerged from the interrogation room and nodded curtly at the detectives.

"I've been dismissed," Haalson informed them, "This is my card. Should Mr. Gold rethink his situation, I've encouraged him to contact me."

And with that, the young lawyer marched off down the corridor, leaving two perplexed officers in his wake.

Wallander handed the card absently to Martinsson and looked thoughtfully back at their suspect. Tristan Gold waited for the return of the detectives with all of the composure of a weasel trapped in the bottom of a rapidly filling rain barrel, and through the one-way glass, Wallander and Martinsson watched him squirm, by now thoroughly confused with the morning's events.

"Wolfe &Wolfe," Martinsson muttered.

"What?"

"The name of the firm Gold's lawyer works for."

"So?"

Martinsson tucked the card into his pocket and fished out a small bottle of pills.

"So," he continued, shaking out a couple into his palm and knocking them back with the remainder of his stale, cooling coffee and a grimace, "Wolfe & Wolfe generally don't take on low-life junkies as clients. They're big-shots. They like big flashy cases, lots of publicity; lots of money. Where the hell does Tristan Gold get the cash to hire them?"

"Or the connections..." Wallander wondered, "And why send his lawyer away?"

Martinsson frowned, "We need to find out what he knows."

Kurt went first, bringing a Styrofoam cup of water and his best good-cop demeanor. Time to try to put Gold at ease

"Ok Tristan. We can see you're serious about making a deal," he said, setting down the water in front of the suspect, "And I want to be able to offer you something... but we need something from you first; some kind of assurance that you do have information for us."

"I told you-"

Martinsson waved him off, "Great, yes and I'm telling you we need to see something worthwhile from you first."

"There's a house," Gold finally whispered as if afraid the walls had ears, "near Hedeskoga."

"And what would we find there?" Martinsson pressed him.

Gold was sweating now, looking more and more like a trapped animal, "More green squares."

"Why? What else?" Wallander prompted him "What else is there?"

But Gold shook his head, "l... I'll give you the address."

"Perfect," Martinsson scoffed, "until we get there and walk into a trap. How many of your closest friends will be there ready to welcome us?"

"It's- It's not a trap!" Gold protested. "It's a clinic."

Wallander leaned in curiously, "What kind of clinic?"

Gold turned his attention to the older detective, apparently now desperate to have someone believe him, "Rehab; it's a drug rehab clinic."

"Drug rehab?..."

They were interrupted by the sound of Martinsson's phone.

Wallander shot his young protégé a look, to which Martinsson shrugged a half-hearted apology and excused himself. Kurt sighed exasperated. Mobiles weren't his forte but he was pretty sure, he thought irritably, he knew how to put them on silent while he was trying to interrogate a suspect.

Gold didn't prove himself particularly enlightening during Martinsson's absence, apart from writing down the address near Hedeskoga he'd promised them.

"And who runs this clinic?" Wallander was persisting, as the door opened suddenly and Martinsson reappeared.

"Kurt."

The younger man looked grim.

"We need to talk."

Outside the interrogation room Martinsson ran his good hand back through his blond hair, "I just got a call from a friend of mine on the force in Malmo. I asked her to keep an eye out for me, in case Dag Lund really did just run away... I thought he'd likely head to the next big city..."

Wallander felt his stomach drop, but he knew he had to ask.

"And?"

"They just found Dag Lund's body."


The plot thickens! ...I think.

This story is my first crack at a mystery/detective story...

Anyway, if you're still following the bouncing ball THANK YOU! Your follows and reviews add fuel to the fire.

-Love, Amazon