38. The other Leena and theories
Of course there was somebody else who talked to me on my way out of the mall after Leena’s news, and of course it was Leena, the other Leena, my other neighbour. Half a cigarette had somehow calmed me down, so when I felt somebody watching me, I turned around to see her in her wheelchair. She was watching me from the other side of the big glass doors, and it made me feel embarrassed. I had walked past her without noticing her, but she was kind enough to understand that something was on my mind.
I’m sorry Leena, will you believe me if I say that I didn’t see you? “Is something wrong? Is there something wrong with your health?” No, no, I laughed, there is nothing wrong with my health, there is something wrong with our neighbour, I added in a quieter voice. “Oh, I see!” was the only thing she said, looking at the far away sky outside the glass doors. Do you know? “What? There is news in this …” and she said something in Finnish I didn’t understand but I could guess.
We sat down in a small place to have lunch or a sandwich, well; at least I sat down, since Leena was bringing her own chair. Actually, Leena looked very good that morning. It was one of her good days and she had had a good night’s sleep, she said with a smile. I have my own problems, but honestly I cannot imagine her life in constant pain, knowing that her life will gradually move from the wheelchair to the bed, without being able to do anything to change it. At least in my case, even if the worst case scenario is pretty bad, there is always a bright side with a lot of chances; I might be perfectly alright and able to enjoy everything around me, including a good walk, the sunset and a nice bourbon!
I told her the latest news about Leena and she listened without saying anything, she just moved her head every so often and looked down at the floor. “This man is going to destroy her!” Yes, but we cannot do anything! She nodded. “What about if I speak to her?” I think it sounds like a really bad idea, I said, emphasizing the word bad. I could tell that Leena really wanted to help and it was strange how close the three of us had become in such a short time. A foreigner who doesn’t speak the language; a wheelchair-bound woman and an unlucky-in-love nurse. It sounded like a black comedy when I said it to Leena and we both laughed out loud. “Well, we are all handicapped by the sound of it!” she said, laughing even louder.
Then we both suddenly realized what she had said, and we both got quiet. We had both seen the signs and we had both thought about it, but we had never said it out loud. Juha was beating Leena and some of those beatings had been bad. They obviously didn’t stop to what you could see, bruises and black eyes. Sometimes we could see that the beatings had been all over her body, but we always found it difficult to accept what our eyes could see. I think this made us feel more embarrassed and guilty.
I mean, here I was, having preached and written about domestic violence for a long time, and now somebody close to me was victimized. I had been proven late even to notice the signs, and still I hadn’t done anything about it. The guilt overwhelmed me and I could feel my eyes burning. The sigh from Leena made me feel even worse. “What are we going to do?” I have no idea; damn I have no idea at all. It is so easy to give advice to somebody you don’t know, but when it comes to somebody who you know well, there are so many things and doubts that come up that you have no idea what to do and how to handle it.
“Does she have any family you know of?” Well, she must have, and she has a few friends, if you remember her moving day, I answered. I thought the idea of contacting her family was disastrous and I would stop it if Leena insisted. “We have never seen them again!” Leena said in a matter of fact tone. She was right, we had never seen anybody of them around, and knowing Leena now, I was sure that if any of them had been, she would have found a way to introduce them to us. Oh come now, Leena, we are overdoing it! I said, trying to smile and change the tone of the conversation. Can you hear what you just said? She said something in Finnish and smiled but I didn’t understand. It was true though, after Leena’s move we hadn’t seen anybody visiting her. Now that I remembered her moving day, the blood ring man was isolated from the others, not speaking or joking with them, just carrying whatever he was carrying quietly and then he left, alone.
This is when I told Leena about the blood ring; about what Risto had told me and the times I met Juha in the centre or around the mall. Leena listened to me quietly. It was weird because when I told her about all the times I had seen Juha and the conversations we had had – well, if you can call the exchanges of attitude for conversations - I noticed or remembered more details than I had thought of before. I remembered the strange feeling that he had been following me, or at least watching me a few times, and I remembered the way he stared at me that day in the sports’ pub. Leena didn’t say anything while I talked and the sandwiches in front of us remained half eaten. Neither of us were in the mood for food, actually I was sure that if I had suggested a bourbon, Leena would have asked for a double.
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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