9. Risto in the mall
As I said, I very rarely hear my mobile and it was pure luck that I heard the sound and I felt the vibration this time, modern mobiles, along with the noise, vibrate as well, which reminded me that I had turned the sounds on and it was time to return to my usual mute state. ‘New message’ was on the small screen and I pressed ‘OK’.
‘Hei, how are you? I have not been out, it is very cold. I hope you are ok. Goodnight Leena.” I pressed ‘reply’ and I wrote in the new screen that appeared, “Hi, I’m fine. Glad to hear that you are ok, just stay in, it is pretty cold outside, hope I will see you tomorrow” and then pressed ‘send’.
smiled looking at her message that had returned on the screen after sending my reply. This woman definitely has a good timing because now I knew where I had seen the ring again, and the gray coat and the t-shirt, I mean exactly the same t-shirt. Most importantly I knew where this ring had stuck in my mind and even though I hadn’t noticed it then somehow, I knew that it was there. The man was one of the helpers the other day in the big move in my neighbourhood! I tried to remember if I knew his name, if somebody had introduced him to me but nothing came to my mind. And now the pictures were coming fast one after the other. The man had come with that small dirty white van and he was carrying boxes without saying anything. Actually that had made me notice him that he was the only one who never said anything, just carried the boxes inside the house and when he finished he had just …left!
And then when he was leaving he had used his left hand to open the door of his van and that’s when I saw the red ring and it was him I was sure it was him and that very moment he had turned and he had looked at me and he had this weird look I saw today cross the two tables in the sport’s pub while some kind of a hockey game was going on. “Hei!”
“Oh Damn Risto, you scared me!” and here was standing in front of me the stereotype of the Finnish man, average height, a bit round but with muscles, really short blonde hair, spiky with a lot of these things men put in their hair nowadays and they look constantly greasy, high face bones and blue eyes with small square glasses. “I thought you saw me, that’s why you were smiling!” man I was smiling! Of course I was smiling I had just found out who the man with the gray coat and the red ring was. “Are you ok? Long time, no see!” Yes, it must have been at least a few months the last time I saw him but that was the wonderful thing about Helsinki, a big village with the attitude of a metropolis; there was always the chance to meet somebody you know in the street.
I had lived in four big cities around the world in my life and it had never happened to accidentally meet somebody I know in the street. It is the sort of thing that just never happens when you live in cities that count five millions or ten millions. It happens in your neighbourhood or in the area around, perhaps in the local supermarket or the local pub but never in the centre of the city and I have to admit that’s one of the things I loved about Helsinki. A capital, a metropolis for Finland and still had something personal not the anonymity the other big capitals have and Risto was not the first person I met accidentally in the centre the years I live here.
“Sorry I couldn’t make it for your exhibition, I got your mail but I was really busy at the time!” I really hate it when people come with excuses like that, why don’t they say that I don’t like painting exhibitions I find them too arty-farty and most of the time I have no clue what the hell these confusing paintings suppose to mean and I don’t like most of them anyway! “Doesn’t matter my friend, there were a lot of people in the opening night that came to see my work!” Balls! There were not enough and I wish I had seen there all the top critics from all the newspapers but hey it was fine, at least a lot of my friends were there. “How’s the family? Still growing?” the man had already two kids from his first marriage, his partner had another two from her first and they were on their third together; the five of them living with them and the other two from his first wife visiting them very often.
Risto is a brilliant father and I have seen him with his kids. I mean to start with there is no way you would understand which ones are his biological kids and which are not and he has his way with the kids. “I have a lot of news to tell you but I’m going to meet my brother now, what about meeting the next time I will be in the city?” Risto doesn’t live in Helsinki but for professional reasons he’s coming often and sometimes we have the chance to have a couple of pints together and remember the period I was working for his then girlfriend, a dark period for both of us and I have to admit I never understood what the hell he was doing with her. His excuse is that that period was proved good to him, he found out what he doesn’t like and that helped him to make better choices later. I like his attitude.
“Risto, one question!” he was ready to leave but he stopped wondering what I was going to ask, “I mean you are Finn and this is something you might know,” he smiled, “Have you ever seen men’s red rings? Do you know anything about it?” Risto smiled, “Oh the blood rings!” and he left in a rush to meet his brother leaving me there waiting for something more than a …oh the blood rings!
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