We sat back on the wooden chairs, two rows facing each other and a thermos flask in the middle. A woman smiled at us. ‘Help yourself to coffee,’ she said, heading back out the door. There were plastic cups and a container of biscuits. The magazines were old. From the 1960s. I flicked through the car ads, and read an article about the health of Prince Bertil.
Someone else joined us. He looked worried, just like us. We were all waiting. In the distance we could hear a man’s voice rising and falling, coming from the open door of a small office. Occasionally a face appeared through the doorway as the man collected the next person in line.
I poured myself a coffee. Rolf was wondering what we were going to say. We’d talked about it, but you never know until you get there.
‘Usch. So cold.’ The man opposite me was warming his hands round the plastic cup. ‘It’s harder when you’re older. It feels colder. When I was young I didn’t care.’
I smiled sympathetically, and noticed his shirt wasn’t buttoned up and there was bare flesh revealed in the opening of his down jacket.
‘We don’t move around as much as we used to,’ I suggested. The man nodded.
The woman who had offered the coffee came back sat herself down next to us and poured herself a cup.
‘Did you get away last weekend then?’ she asked the man. ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Björn came. We went out on the ice, fishing.’ ‘Oh,’ she replied. They sat in companionable silence.
I wondered what the man’s particular problem was, though it was none of my business. We were all here to get some help. Then someone whisked him away.
A couple more people arrived and sat down opposite, eyeing us up, then looking nervously towards the man in the office in the distance. We all had problems or we wouldn’t have been here..
Finally it was our turn. We followed the man into his office, where he sat down, and we stood. He listened patiently while we described the symptoms – when they’d first appeared, how frequent they were, and finally, when everything had finally broken down. The prognosis was not good. Repairs could perhaps lengthen our fridge-freezer’s life, but it might be kinder just to let it die. The fridge doctor assured us it was a reasonable lifespan for a fridge and we shouldn’t blame ourselves.
After writing us out a prescription for a new fridge he offered us the loan of a life support machine in the form of a chest freezer. It was no trouble, he said. It turned out to be too big for our car. The surgery was just closing, so he said he could drive it to our house in his van.
We started to discuss where he should park when he arrived, but he said he’d be there before us. We were getting straight into our car to drive home so we knew we would be there first. Wrong. We never saw him en-route but when we drove up outside the house, a mere five minutes later, he was already down our driveway and had unloaded the chest freezer.
A troll fridge doctor – it was the only explanation. Unsettling, since you never know quite where you are with a troll, but at least it meant we could pay him in raspberry toffees….
(see, ‘DIY tail’ http://blog.68degrees.se/#post36 ).