Among ‘Bearded Villains’

Lucinda Palme

Among ‘Bearded Villains’


They sat, cheerfully: there is sunshine, and there is one for each other. They are unaware whether there is courtship or friendship but they cherished each other’s companionship.

The ‘Bearded Villains’ have started to come in ones, two, threes, fours, fives…

They sat, gladly: there is food on the table, and there is a drink in the glass. They know their lives are going to steal these elementary pleasures sooner.

The Bearded Villains’ have started to come in ones, twos, threes, fours, fives…

The visitors to the Gothenburg Art Museum are coming and going. Those who are entering and those who are leaving invariably noticed those bearded men who have come in ones, two, threes, fours, fives…

“Who are these,” asks Natalia.

“No idea,” answers Jemmal whose attention has caught the beards.

Natalia and Jemmal are seated on the staircase leading to Gothenburg Concert Hall.


Martha says, “What are they doing here?”

Nelson observes, “That is why it is here,” referring to Götaplatsen the public square.

Martha and Nelson are seated in the open-air restaurant of Gothenburg City Theatre.

Passers-by started to stop and take notice of the bearded men and some of their friends.

The drivers driving the buses, in and out of Götaplatsen, lifted their eyes briefly towards Poseidon.

The cyclists who cared to crane their heads craned at those assembling around the fountain of Poseidon.

Fathers on parental leave and on duty briefly paused noticing all those hirsute heads.

Mothers on parental leave and on duty fleetingly saw the unfolding action, and moved on.

Those who have started to come in ones, twos, threes, fours, fives…have swelled into a mass. They have settled one by one around the fountain. Their only competing person in drawing attention is Poseidon but Poseidon’s presence is diminished as the mass of three hundred people attracted all the attention en mass. They are men: Bearded. Their wives or girlfriends or friends or partners for the time have spread out to the sides of Poseidon: two called themselves ‘Queen Villains’, three told about themselves as ‘Diamonds and Beards: ALWAYS BY YOUR SIDE’, one wore a T-shirt that said ‘CUTE BUT PSYCHO’ and many stood aside watching and photographing.

The en mass is men. They are distinct from the rest but in bond with themselves shared in their attire and appearance.

Alike Mohicans. Akin to Vikings. Blowing beards of red hair. Long beard and curled moustache. Denim jacket with patches of a message and a beard. Hatted and ears-ringed but with a flowing beard. Shaven scalps but a beard that jerked to the hiss of air. Capped but pony-tail swaying out of the cap. Sunglasses with green frames to go with the colour of blond beard. Tattoo of eternity etched on an arm along with the beard. Tattoo of substance of life captured on nape and cheeks bursting with hair and the chest kissing that beard. Skirted men yet with beards and moustache. One made a ponytail in the front of the head and the back of the head. They all proclaimed allegiance to an emblem of crossed swords that looked like a pair of scissors stretched out or unlocked. 

The ‘Bearded villains’ stuck together as all those ones, twos, threes, fours, fives…have gathered en mass for that pre-decided time around Poseidon. No one stood out to say. No one spoke: a speech. No one uttered a word to the mass. They conversed with one another in murmurs of bonhomie.

One, two, three … they shouted in unison: we. We. We. We. We. … the mass looked down at the Avenyn flowing in front of them all the way down to the Göta River. Photographs are taken. The mass started to dissolve in to … sevens, sixs, fives, fours, threes, and twos, and ones.

Natalia says, “They look cool!”

“Threatening but … tender in their hearts,” Jemmal says. “You may tell don’t grow moustache and beard, ah?”

Natalia is lost what to say but she says to herself what impressions hirsute faces and hirsute heads create in the minds of people.

Fundamentalism. Intimidation. Masochism. Radicalism.

The mass started to disperse as quietly as it has formed in Götaplatsen.

Nelson says, “They said nothing. Just camaraderie.”

Martha mentions with a faint smile, “Without wildness. Something has bonded them.”

Nelson puts his hand on his chin and smooths his cheeks. He has not grown a beard since he was married to Martha.

Martha guesses, “Do you want to grow that beard?”

Nelson is pleased, finally, after all those years.

—Lucinda Palme


  1. So happy to read your story watching us meet up and share a lovely time in Gothenburg. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. We are bearded men with only love in our hearts. Don’t be afraid of us. We may look scary but we are teddy bears. ❤❤

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