Monday, December 31, 2001

In the last month three young men have disappeared on their way home from parties here in Norway. I know: 47 people, all related, were killed in a car-accident in South-Afrika, and I am talking about three young men between 16-19 who didn't come home from the parties they were at. But it's such a different situation. If this had been women, we would have cried sex-crime and th police would be rounding up known rapists for questioning. But since it's three young men, they assume that they have gotten themselves into trouble such as stumbling into the frozen rivers, fights with rivalling gangs, falling down drunk and freezing to death... Well, not any more, really. Now the Kripos: Criminal Police have been called in on the latest case as well, the disappearance of 17-year old Lars Gillesen Hognes. They are checking his internet accounts, his chats and his cell-phone to see if it can give a hint as to where he went Thursday night, rather than going home.

Newspapers like to make cases as large as possible, and introduce a fourth mystical disappearance from 1998 to make it look larger and more dramatic. Who knows, it might be connected. I find myself looking at maps, wondering what kind of person is moving slowly from Hemsedal and south through wintery, frozen Norway, looking for young, pretty men - or boys, really, just few years older than my own son - seeking out parties and perhaps offering them a lift or the experience of their lives... It has to be someone who looks harmless, perhaps even seductive: an old man who needs assistance, a middle-aged woman who reminds them of their mothers or a favourite aunt, a pretty young girl who smiles at them, a cool boy who could be one of them...

It's like the plot of some particularly nasty mystery-novel. And I find that I watch the news with the same feeling of doom as I read crime-novels. Will the next boy disappear to the south... or back up north? We all know those plots: according to the conventions of literature, it can't stop now.

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