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The One They Caught
As right as rain.
It's cold in the night in Stockholm on the first of the year 2022, and it's even colder when you're 92 years old and forced to sleep on a park bench.
Aina worked in patient care all her life. She paid her taxes - and they were high - but she knew her retirement was secure. Cradle to grave security. The middle road. The social miracle. Aina's Sweden was famous across the globe.
Aina doesn't carry many possessions with her. It's too easy to be robbed. Or assaulted. By the newcomers to town. In the daytime she visits her friends at 'At Your Side' right outside the inner city limits, a soup kitchen and a bit more. Soup kitchens in Sweden of all places, Aina frowns to herself.
Aina knows who to blame.
Things started well enough. Generations before her witnessed the upheaval in Europe, and agreed they too would like change and reform, but without the bloodshed. The modern state of Sweden was born.
Some of those early politicians were ideologues, but most simply wanted a system that was fair and worked for all.
And fair it was. Sweden worked - in all senses of the word. The people of Sweden worked - they worked hard. And the system worked too - people got what they expected.
Then new generations of politicians came along, replacing the pioneers. These new generations didn't care much about the hardships Aina and her parents had suffered. These new generations were brought up in a relative state of privilege, and they saw politics as an easy way to make maximum money for minimal effort.
Corruption crept in. As it always does. Architects of new societies always try to guard against it, but it still somehow gets in.
Suddenly the money's not there, to go around to everyone. So you start covering it up. The first group you screw over are the elderly, the pensioners. Like Aina. They're too old and feeble to make a stink. Perhaps the media will ignore them and those in charge can sweep the elections again.
It's hard to sleep outdoors in subzero temperatures. Aina knows this. Normally she'd take a night bus and sit and sleep a bit in its warmth, but there are so many gangs of late who take the bus too. They frighten Aina.
Aina's prime minister - the 'father' of Sweden - lives not a stone's throw away, in splendour. In a former palace in the Old Town. He's been promising to take care of matters for years. He does nothing.
A light snow starts falling over Stockholm.
The One They Caught
Mr & Mrs Svensson sit and drink their afternoon coffee, looking out the window of their fashionable flat in the most exclusive area of Stockholm, with a view of the building across the street. And one of them finds the piece on Farshid Sistani and tells the other.
FARSHID SISTANI SENTENCED TO PRISON
Farshid Sistani sold PCR tests and issued travel documents.
The samples were never analysed.
He used the pandemic for his own gain, the court stated.
Sistani is now sentenced to prison for fraud, false testimony, and forgery.
'At least we caught him', says the other. 'Do they have a photo of him?'
And life in the Duckpond goes on. All is peaceful and secure. As right as rain.
But wait. What's this?
The notorious fraudster Farshid Sistani has been given the go-ahead by a court to travel abroad on a pilgrimage - despite being sentenced to prison for selling fake PCR results and an investigation into new irregularities is ongoing.
Sistani has previously had his passport revoked, been banned from traveling, and had a duty to report to the police. But an appeal to carry out the pilgrimage - which he says has 'great religious significance' - has nevertheless been formally approved.
Prosecutor James von Reis had no idea about the convict's travel plans.
'I'll have to contact the court!' says von Reis.
Even after he was formally charged, Sistani got a new job - using a fake name - as assistant doctor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, one of the most prestigious in the country.
'Well yeah', says Mathias Alvidius of Sahlgrenska.
'When you recruit doctors, you're anxious to recruit doctors, because there's a shortage of doctors!'