Scotch and Water

He clearly hadn't been expecting her when she rang the doorbell. He came to the door in a dishevelled shirt and with his hair standing on end. My father, the sight for sore eyes, she thought. Nevertheless, he seemed pleased to see her and stood back from the door to let her in. She wriggled out of her wet jacket and he hung it up for her.

The melancholic strains of a cello reached her ears as she wandered into the living room.

"I'd just put my feet up when you rang," said Kurt Wallander to his daughter.

Linda raised an eyebrow, glancing at his messy hair and the nearly-empty glass standing on the table. He shook his head.

"It's been a hell of a long day," he sighed, sinking down into an armchair.

"It looks like it," she said, sitting on the sofa.

Wallander picked up a bottle and poured himself another glass.

"Do you want some?" he offered.

She shrugged.

"Why not, it's cold out there."

He smiled at her and fetched another glass, into which he poured a good-sized measure.

"See how you like this."

"What is it?"

"A new Scotch I'm trying." He turned the bottle so Linda could see the label, and she squinted at the name.

"How do you pronounce that?"

"Damned if I know." Wallander took a long sip, then stared into his glass. "I think it hits the spot, though." He sighed and leaned back in his armchair. For a moment Linda thought he was about to fall asleep, until he raised the glass and took another mouthful. He had already half emptied his glass again, while she had hardly begun to drink. If she tried to keep up with him the whisky would take her breath away and she would only end up coughing and spluttering. She took a sip, feeling it singe its way all the way down to her stomach. Already she could feel that her cheeks had begun to glow. She was beginning to forget about the cold night outside, the miserable rain that she had tramped through just to come and see him.

Linda pulled an open book across the table and picked it up, glancing at the cover. A Guide to Scotch Whisky. She smiled and flicked though the pages, a multitude of unfamiliar names leaping out at her from the pages. Talisker, Laphroaig, Scapa, Dalwhinnie. The names of strange, exotic places. She wondered what they were really like.

"Have you ever been to Scotland?" she asked.

Wallander shook his head.

"No, I've never got round to it. I'd like to go one day, and tour some distilleries."

Linda nodded and put her feet up on the sofa, stretching out her legs. She took another drink of the unpronounceable Scotch and grinned. Her father smiled back and cocked his head to one side.

"What is it?" he said. "Is it going to your head already?"

"No, it's not that. Remember when I was still in school, maybe about 14 or 15? You used to come home late, and sometimes I'd still be up, or I'd wake up from a nightmare or something. We used to sit at the table and you'd give me a drop of whisky and we'd sit and talk about all sorts of things."

Wallander grinned, lost in thought.

"Yes, I remember that. When I got home I remember I always used to hope you would still be awake so we could sit and chat." He smiled wistfully at her. "I learned a lot about you from those conversations, you know. It was one of the times when I didn't feel like you hated me."

"What? I never hated you!"

"Sometimes it seemed like it. A lot of days all we used to do was argue."

Linda shook her head.

"I really didn't hate you. It was... well, it was just the way I was back then. I was sort of angry and resentful, and everything was black."

"I worried about you back then. I still do, in fact."

They looked at each other and she could see the concern etched all over his face. She sat up and leaned across to him, laying her hand on his arm.

"There's no need to. I've grown up since then and I'm not that angry, confused person any more. And anyway," she grinned at him again. "I want it put on record that I was always very proud of my old man, the great detective."

Wallander laughed.

"Proud enough to follow in his footsteps, hmm?" He drained his glass, a thoughtful look on his face, then looked up at her again. "And I want you to know that I'm proud of you. It never occurred to me that you would want to join the police too, but I think you made the right decision."

Linda emptied her glass and her father poured her another drink. They clinked their glasses together and drank a silent toast. The rain battering on the window pane went unheeded.