Chapter 32: Do They Know It's Christmas?

Author: Mallory Keaton
Date: 19th December 1997

Slipping slowly out of sight was a pattern of white snow studded with black lakes, trees and the occasional wooden building. Fifteen minutes to Helsinki. Erica returned to her Vogue and tried to concentrate on Melanie Griffith's yoga routine.

Two days earlier, with post-shag clear-headedness, she had used Flikka's American Express to book two flights to Helsinki. Out of a job -- she'd resigned from Price Attack, where they thought she'd been on sick leave for the last two weeks with chronic acne -- and with a bank balance of $7.30, she thought it probably an okay time to leave the country.

More anxiously, she wanted to put some distance between herself and men in black cars with incendiary devices and get to the bottom of Flikka's murky family history. No less important was the realisation that she was becoming a trollop and she needed to take the spiritual equivalent of a cold shower. Finland in December seemed the perfect solution.

"Whatever you want babe," was Flikka's laconic response after Erica told him her plans, before he launched into a rendition of Sonny and Cher's 'I Got You Babe'.

All Erica could get out of him about his twin, 'Lauri', was that Flikka had put him up to the joke of pretending he was dead Flikka in her apartment, and hadn't heard from him since. When Erica pointed out the slight improbability of Lauri surviving in her freezer for ten days, he merely laughed and said something about Finns being used to the cold.

"God, why didn't I refuse to have sex with him til; he told me the truth," she lamented. "I just gave it away!"

By Wednesday, Erica and Flikka were settled in the Laakksonen home in Lappeenranta. Flikka's parents and younger brother, Timo, were surprised to see Erica, no doubt about it, but were friendly enough and even helped her find a job, as a Santa helper in Santa Claus' Office in Turku, about an hour's drive away.

Staying with the Laaksonens proved restful after the weeks of mayhem. The job was a no-brainer and she watched re-runs of American sitcoms in the evenings. What's more, Christmas was coming up.

Santa Claus's Office was a tacky tourist trap selling overpriced fur slippers and inflatable reindeer where people could revert to their childhood and have a photo taken on Santa's knee. Erica's job was help English-speaking tourists mail postcards and send electronic Christmas greetings to folks back home that were ostensibly from Santa. "Yep, never thought I'd be doing this," she muttered, looking down at her fur trimmed boots.

She'd almost forgotten about the events of the past few weeks. Almost. While she hadn't found a way to broach the Lauri question, she was searching for traces of his presence at the Laaksonens. Then, at lunchtime on Thursday, Erica was trying to stymie her boredom by planning how she could buy that Shiseido rejuvenating masque that she had forgotten to bring when a thought flashed through her mind: she could use the computer with Internet access to search for Australian Psycho online. After all, Patrick's manuscript had references to Web addresses on each chapter, although she couldn't remember what they were. After an half an hour of searching she found Australian Psycho now had an eleventh chapter. She read on.

"Wednesday December 17 1997 09:20
Sydney, Australia
As Anttilanien boarded the BA flight for Helsinki he scanned the plane for familiar faces, making sure his tie was straight, his gun remained undetected and his meals would be vegetarian."