The First Night


Bornholm, an island on the western edge of the Baltic belonging to the kingdom of Denmark, and Ronne its capital town, to all intents and purposes a quiet refuge from the madding world around.

Gordon had arrived on the little “puddle jumper” of an aircraft belonging to the Danish Air Transport fleet in the middle of the Wednesday afternoon. A flight so quiet that his hold luggage had beaten him the 200 yards to the terminal.

A short drive in the hire car had brought him to the centre of Ronne where the hotel he was booked into overlooked the town square. It had not taken him long to unpack and check out the gym that lay on the floor below his room, the thumps of the weights bars landing on the mats had already reverberated up through his room making him check to see what time it closed at night. 10 pm was a reasonable time and surely there would be little other noise to disturb his sleep in this metropolis of calm.

The town square had, what was for Gordon, an unexpected number of high street shops and several banks, one of which dominated the square, there was even a kebab shop which given the average age of most of the visitors to the square, probably didn’t get much day time trade. The cafes seemed to be doing better trade from the tourists who had been brought in by the ferries from the mainland, a mixture of Danish and Swedish drifting up from the tables.

Taking his time Gordon took a stroll to find out just how far the centre extended beyond the square, after barely 5 minutes he ran out of shops and found himself amongst the small streets of the fishing houses that made up the majority of the coastal side of Ronne. Looping back, he made the mistake of stopping for a beer in what was probably the only Irish bar on the island. A mistake as being a Scotsman he felt that 10 euros was just a bit too much for a beer, even a large one. Sitting outside he sipped the ale making every drop count, every so often there would be an exodus of tourists from the cafes around as they made their way to the bus stop to rendezvous with the coach that would take them on the ferry back to the mainland.

It did not take too long before most of the seats were empty and the only company he had on the street was the occasional local taking their dog for its evening walk. A few of the restaurants started taking their chairs and tables in closing up for the day, Gordon realised that if he wanted something to eat, he had better find somewhere that was still serving before they too decided that things had gotten quiet. Draining the last of his now warm beer he set off towards the one restaurant with its lights still on and a few customers still sat at the tables.

The waitress whom greeted him had a quick glance at her watch before confirming that he would still be able to have something to eat if he was quick to order. A quick scan of the menu led him to ordering a seafood salad and a “small” beer, best not to upset the chef too much by ordering a large main course.

His first evening on Bornholm was turning out to be a rather quiet affair which did not bode well for the rest of the week, while he was not there to “party” he had rather hoped that there would be a bit more life in the islands capital.

After what had turned out the a rather tasty Seafood Salad, Gordon made his way back to the hotel room, at least with an early night he would be able to have an early start and maybe get a morning run in before breakfast. He had already found a couple of runs recorded on the internet that he fancied having a go at and if the weather was against him, the gym facilities were more than adequate for a mornings workout. So with an intriguing spy novel he settled into bed ready for a fresh start in the morning.

That was until 11pm when a cacophony of sirens began their wailing. Not just one, but many, blending together as vehicles sped past the hotel. Surely the “boy racers” of Ronne did not warrant such a response? The window of his room was facing the wrong way to make out what was happening, but it seemed that every policeman on the island was making the most of whatever the ‘event’ was to justify having sirens on their vehicles. For the next half an hour sirens would sweep past the hotel before shortly vanishing into the night leaving the town silent.

Switching the light off he settled back under the duvet letting sleep take a hold of him and release the tension built from travelling all day. He came out of his slumber briefly when the town clock struck midnight, the one o’clock chime barely disturbed him. What did disturb him however was the chainsaw revving up and starting to whine as it bit into a piece of wood.

“What MAD Dane is cutting wood at 1am?” thought Gordon as he rolled over “must be an island thing to cut your wood in the middle of the night!” Ronne, was turning out the be a bit more lively at night than expected. The grind and whine of the chainsaw continued for the next hour as whomever was in control of the machine happily went about disturbing the sleep of the Ronne residents.

The next morning, with a large yawn, Gordon roused himself to get up and go for a run. Pulling on his running gear and trainers he made his way downstairs and into the carpark at the rear of the hotel. The weather was fine and promised a sunny day ahead as he started out with a gentle pace to warm up his legs, he rounded the corner onto the street and headed towards the square, intending to run through it and up towards the forest to the north of the town. As Gordon crossed the road into the square he noticed the police car and policeman stood in the middle of the square, surrounded by a group of men all wearing hard hats.

What were the mad Danes doing now he wondered?

The answer was soon apparent as his eyes followed the path of the ladders that led up the front of the bank that had dominated the town square. The sight of blackened and charred roof beams was joined by the smell of burnt wood as the reason for the nights chorus was revealed. The roof had obviously caught fire causing much excitement throughout the community of emergency services on the island and the need to ‘make the building safe’ before the first tourists arrived the next day, had necessitated the requirements of the chainsaw.

Putting the thoughts of mad Danes cutting wood or crazed mass murderers roaming the town to the back of his mind, Gordon carried on with his run, wondering if maybe Bornholm had more ‘action’ prepared for that night.