Rune turned his smartphone over in his hand so that the screen looked at Charlie, sitting across the green Formica table.
“Gjenganger.” Charlie could not make out the words on the screen, but assumed Rune was talking about what he had found on his smartphone. “It’s an undead creature, from Scandinavian folklore. Mike was really into the Nordic stuff — we did this D&D campaign where we were fighting all these undead, and out of the blue Mike asked me if I’d heard of gjengangers. When I said I didn’t, he showed me this.”
Charlie pointed to smartphone. “Can I see?” Rune handed the device across the table, and Charlie scanned the words while Rune took a few quick bites of pizza.
A moment later, Charlie looked up. “Says here these things were like vampires.”
Rune shrugged. “In early traditions, yeah. But later, they’re more like this ‘Ginger Man,’ more of an avenging poltergeist than a monster.” Rune tapped his left index finger on the notebook that Charlie had brought.
“How you pronounce that again?”
Rune jutted his chin forward. “Gin — gan — ger.”
“Huh.” Charlie scratched his bearded chin. “Does sound a little like ‘ginger.'”
Rune pointed his right index finger at Charlie, the left pointing down at the notebook again. “Exactly! Knowing what I knew about Mike, I think he was creating his own version of this legend.”
“Huh.” Charlie handed the smartphone back to Rune. “Really appreciate this. This helps me, a lot.”
Rune smiled. “No problem. So — ” the sudden sharpness of Rune’s tone caught Charlie’s complete attention — “you mind helping me out a little?” Rune took another bite of pizza.
Charlie shrugged. “Sure.”
Rune nodded, swallowed, took a quick gulp of soda, his red tumbler splashing down on the puddle of condensation that had formed on the table. “Mind telling me what’s got you so interested in this Ginger Man?”