Chapter 37: Under Pressure

Author: Mallory Keaton
Date: 12th March 1998

No, it wasn't Trudee, but goddam it looked like her. Erica realised she was losing it, just like the time she did too many whipped cream capsules.

"Make that two," said an unfamiliar voice behind her.

Erica now noticed the conversation had dropped away. She turned around to find herself looking into the stubbly chin of Renny Harlin. It was attractive stubble.

"Hi, Renny. We need to talk right?"

"Erica? Something fucked up is going down. Girl, you're in trouble."

Trudee's doppelganger handed Renny the chocolate shakes with a nervous smile. She said something in Finnish and Renny replied with a wink and walked off.

"What, you don't have to pay for anything in Finland?"

"No. Ok, back in Planet Hollywood -- man that place rocks, I hang out there every night -- I saw Flikka but did not recognise me. Now that set alarm bells ringing because, you know, we were blood brothers."

He showed Erica a small scar on the outside of his left wrist. It was a strong looking wrist.

"We did that together on an elk hunting trip in '92. That is what I was trying to show him in the car park, but he dissed me," Renny continued.

"I know. And he was eating cheeseburgers and milkshakes," she said. "So, what's the deal? Why did those guys take him? Who is Anttilanien? Have you heard of the Eye of the Tigress diamond? What was Samuel L. Jackson like to work with?"

It was good to have someone to talk to. However, while Renny may have had some snappy dialogue, he didn't have many answers. He suggested they go to the Laaksonens' for clues because, he reasoned, when you went to snoop around someone's house the bad guys always came out of the shadows. Well, it was a plan.

Outside, Erica got on the back of Renny's motorbike, put her arms around him and pulled her scarf close around her face. By shouting in his ear and pointing she directed him to the Laaksonens, while his blond hair flicked in her face. Christ it was cold! But it was nice hair.

They pulled up a block away and walked around the back of the house. No one appeared to be home. Inside, Erica went straight for the photo albums. Bingo. There were photos of Mrs Laaksonen holding two baby boys: Flikka and Lauri. There were photos of Flikka and Lauri playing together as children, photos of Flikka and Lauri starting school and one of them at around 10 with Mikka and Timo wearing viking helmets and Groucho Marx moustaches. But then it got strange. Lauri disappeared. The photos seemed to stop for two to three years, and when the next photos appeared, the Laaksonen family had decreased by one.

As Erica was rethinking her previously-held disbelief of evil twin scenarios, she heard the front door open.

"Let's go!," she hissed, grabbing Renny's. It was a warm -- actually, it was a pretty sticky hand.

Together they ran into the garden. Hiding behind the sauna, the scene of seduction only hours earlier, she could see steam billowing out the vents. Someone was in there. Summoning all her courage, she opened the door -- and was almost knocked over by the heat. Inside was Flikka/Lauri, dressed in a Santa suit, tied to the bench, gagged, beet red and dead.

"Ohmigod! He's been sauna-ed to death!"

Renny then rushed in and grabbed the corpse's left hand and turned it over. There was a scar that closely matched his.

"It is Flikka."