"Did you hear that Bengt Andersen died the other day?"
"I heard he drank himself to death."
"Hardly a surprise, is it? The man always raved around drunk."
"You think David will be back for the funeral?"
"He must come back for his old man's funeral, surely. He is his son."
"I wouldn't be so sure about it, considering the way he left town."
Harald maneuvered his shopping cart past the two middle-aged women talking by the fruit section. Everywhere he walked today people were whispering about the very same subject--Bengt Andersen and his son David.
Harald rarely listened to town-gossip, he had better things to do than pay attention to rumors, but this had piqued his interest. "Bengt Andersen has a son?" he finally asked his friend, Sune Eriksen, in a low voice.
"He sure has," Sune replied, picking up a bag of chips and dropping it into his own cart. "You haven't heard about David Andersen?" Sune shook his head, seeming to realize who he was talking to. "Of course you haven't. You don't listen to gossip."
"But I am Bengt Andersen's closest neighbor," Harald pointed out, "and I've only ever seen his sister and her family around."
"David left town twelve years ago," Sune told him. "As far as I know, he hasn't been back since."
Harald mulled on that. Being Bengt Andersen's neighbor he was bound to meet the man more often than most and he knew he was no kind or sympathetic man. He came off as harsh and bitter, not to mention constantly drunk and smelling like it.
"People aren't remotely sorry about Bengt Andersens's death." Sune's voice broke into his thoughts. "They're all just waiting like vultures to see if David comes back. People in this town talk to much." Sune shook his head in exasperation.
Harald didn't say anything. He liked this town, but then he had not grown up in it. He did not have the history that the natives had. Harald had come here from Oslo, and it had been quite a change, but to him it had been a nice one. Sure, people talked, but as long as he didn't feed into it or listen to it, all was well.
Harald and Sune emerged out on the sidewalk after they'd paid for their groceries, only to find the three people standing together in a group a few feet away, everyone's attention across the street. Harald couldn't help but follow their looks and he spotted Eva Grahn from the beauty salon standing on the sidewalk opposite them talking with a younger man.
"So David did come back," Sune spoke up at Harald's side. "I don't think I would've, if it had been me."