Argh three posts in and I’m already wildly behind. Rab has been dead four days and we’ve made an absurd hash of things, which is, I suppose, why I’ve not had time to write about it. I’ll do my best to get caught up today, and apologies if it means quite a long post.
Firstly, I need to explain a bit about Åke. The main thing you need to know about him is that he did not attack me that day at Loch Lomond. I’m not certain of a lot these days, but I am certain of that.
Because I remember the guy who did. I can’t remember exactly when the nightmares started, but for weeks, months, now, I’ve woken regularly, drenched in icy sweat, heart hammering, with a clear picture in my mind’s eye of a face looming over mine. It would be hard to describe him in words that wouldn’t make you think, uhh Linley – that’s Åke, but it’s hardly my fault all Scandis have a bit of a look about them.
Eight feet tall (give or take), blond hair of a shade you only get in babies or from bottles outside of the Nordics – albeit filthy and tied back with a rancid strip of leather – ragged stubble (if there’s a visual difference between designer stubble and not-invented-razors-yet-stubble I’d like to know what it is), eyes so deep blue they look like marbles. Or fjords.
But this guy had a wild look about him. He’s not a warrior who fights when he has to because that’s his lot in life, this guy hurts for the pleasure of it. My friend Solveig told me about the Berserkers, a tribe of vikings fames for fighting with such unbridled ferocity that they went into trances in which they felt no pain. I don’t know if he was one of those or just an evil bastard who lived in a time where he could channel his serial killing in a socially approved sort of way – but I know he was an evil bastard.
And Åke isn’t. He’s fearsome, don’t get me wrong. He’d lop off your head and wear it as a handbag as soon as look at you, and trust me when I say I don’t forget that in a hurry when I’m around him. But somehow, he’s a wee pet too.
The first time I met him, he was in an identity parade after being caught trespassing on a farm after a spate of cows were stolen and killed. The police had already connected the cow killings – they were drained of blood and hung up as sacrifices (gruesome, but now I thought about it, any different to a butcher’s shop?) – to a horrific murder in which a young guy, a Scottish bodybuilding champion had been – well, there’s no easy way to say this. Turned inside out. Basically. And to my attack. I suppose vikings haven’t really been watching crime dramas to know about leaving DNA that can identify them.
Anyway, they arrested him, and he apparently beat half the station black and blue before they managed to wrestle him into a cell, then they put him in a parade for me to identify him, but as I’ve already said, I couldn’t.
Solveig had come along with me for moral support. She’s from Iceland, and her language is amazingly close to what he speaks – she says that for her, it’s a bit like us listening to Shakespeare. You have to concentrate a bit, and there are a few unfamiliar words, but once you get into the swing of it you can follow the gist fine. So she spoke to him that day and has translated since.
She even lets him stay on her couch from time to time, even though she’s got a three month old baby daughter. She says he’s good with her. He’s not interested in a permanent roof over his head though, apparently reckons it’s wrong and weird to cut yourself off from the elements the way we do. You’re supposed to be cold in winter and hot in summer (well, hot by Scotland standards 😂) and wet when it rains and sleep when it’s dark. He actually does go off to his bed at 6pm in the winter. Like I said, he’s a funny wee guy.
Huge guy, that is. He’s well over six foot, with shoulders so broad he could cuddle a Grizzly Bear (and very possibly has). His muscles are hard and grisly, not the kind you get pumping iron but the kind you get hauling trees several kilometres to build yourself a house and rowing across the North Sea. And his entire body is a maze of tattoos and scars, some faded and white, others raw and angry.
And let’s just get this out the way right now.
He’s sexy as hell.
Not that I would do anything about that other than think it from a distance, but I’d rather admit it here and now than imagine you all twigging and thinking I don’t know or something. Solveig told me she reckons he looks at me that way sometimes too, but come on. He is a viking. He may be a viking who lives in a tent we all clubbed together to give him last Christmas (even though he laughed his head off for several minutes at the concept of Christmas) and wears whatever any of us can find off the internet in his size (mostly bizarre American sports gear), but still.
Aside from anything else, could you imagine having the condom conversation with a viking? ‘Yes, let’s do what comes naturally, but you need to put it in a wee bag first…’
You should probably also know how to pronounce his name. It’s a bit like Oak-ie. My friend Cara calls him, alternately Åke-dokey or the Åke-cokey.
I didn’t go looking for him on Thursday because I fancy him. I went looking for him because he’s the only person I know with experience of killing somebody with his bare hands.