Ilulissat is a dead village. That’s what people say here and they make sure to remind you of it every time they encounter you. It exists in the west part of Greenland and it is covered by snow in its entirety, to a degree that if you were to look at it from afar you would mostly be able to depict a white blur that the houses stick out like little rocks in an area that is vast enough to swamp them with its presence. Snow is covering the houses, the roads, the cars, it climbs the trees and the mountains and darts in the air like parts of the clouds that somehow fell from the sky.
The settlement is sarounded with tall giant mountains that expand one after the other as if God decided to make hills with his hands and right next to them stand their iced brothers, the icebergs that raise in a similar height and they make for a constant reminder for the nature of the place with the insumerable amount of ice that lie insinde of it. In the night if you happen to go outside and raise your head up you may encouter the invisible disco ball that swirls above you and lights the night with its multicolor hues. Many times it feels like a burning fire that dances constantly in the sky and you only get to see its reflection as it expands into the unknown universe.
There are certain things you get to learn when you live in a place like this and life tends to evolve in its own rythm that is highly different that the way it flows anywhere else. Time doesn’t exist in Ilulissat. It is frozen within the ice-cap like everyhing else that has been crystallized and paused in the main mass of Greenland. An irrelevant concept for a place that seems to cut its own tempo in the world and do things in its own particular way. Living in Greenland you learn to respect its whims and patterns. You learn to listen to the nature and the things around you because you are pretty much stuck with them. Most of the time you have no option to move or transport, roads are nonexistant and passages may close from one moment to the next with one sudden sweep of the wind.
Isolation is the first thing you have to deal with when living here. Many times you will find yourself restrained in one place for long periods of time, without the ability to transport till the whether calms down and you have to be prepared for anything every time you decide to take your chances outside. You can’t trust predictions or machines and you can’t rely on your neighboors to get you out of a bad slamp. That’s why there is only one thing you can rely on, which is far superior to anything else, and everybody who wants to have a chance of surviving this place needs to make sure to accomodate their lives with. Greenland dogs.
These fury masterpieces with their thick skin that can withstand the coldest of whethers and the proud bearing that always stand ready to go through the worst of conditions with you, are the only constant companion that will go by your side and will never fail to support you. I have 12 of them, all with their particular personalities and indiosycracies that they have inherited from their parents as they were supporting my ancestors when they first got here. Yes, these dogs run a long history with us and they’ve been a faithful companion all these years as they lived on our side through the generations and they will continue to do so as I was happy to find out that Shiva one of the most beutiful and warm-hearted females in the whole Greenland, is pregant and expecting any time now.
I live in a house with a wooden, ligh-blue body, that is withered with white marks as if the wind smothered it a little bit too harshly at times and it stands tall and proud, right before a small circular bay a few miles away from the main settlement. It has a high pitch roof like all houses in Greenland do and and a side stud where all the dogs lie throughout the day. Every morning that I wake up they’ll greet me with the same energetic attitude they always carry with themselves and I’ll gasp at the vast infinite that lays around me, rapturing the cofounding silence. The deep stagnation that comes from a place that is covered in the most part with ice and has not much motion other than the whistle of the wind and the cracking of the ice when it breaks.
I share this place with my wide Kathryn who is living with me for the last 5 years. She always makes sure to have something nice and warm waiting for me when I come back and she does her best every day to keep the house in the best condition possible. She is an incredible cook and a good housewife and I knew she would be the right one from the moment I lay eyes on her. Her brown curly hair falling gently down her cheecks, the shy, reserved attitude of a cultivated woman with all the compasionate and thoughtful mannerisms..I was blessed to find her and her presence feels me with joy every time I get back at her at the end of a long, hard day.
Things haven’t always be so smooth between us of course. Lately I had noticed that she was spending a huge amount of time on her own, prefering to stay alone in cases she didn’t have to and seeming kind of distant. Greenland can be a very particular place. Sometimes it can be the heaven you were looking for your whole life and sometimes it can be a prison where you have no option but to continue shufling in the same place you always were. And knowing Kathryn I can understand how she may grew tired of the same routine and going through the same things day by day.
So I suprised her. One Sunday I woke up early and made sure to settle up everything for her and take her over a sled tour with the dogs in some of the most magnificent landscapes of the area. We spent the whole day together enjoying the best of Greenland and some special food in some distant areas that we know to have something good to offer. It was a great day and quite rejuvenating as these little escapes spark the otherwise mundane life that can overwhelm with routine and get quite cumbersome at times.
Across from us in a distance of about two miles there is the Cabin of the Durans, two twin brothers that are notoriously good in finding some of the most obscure equipment in fishing and hunting here in Greenland. I have been working with them for many years now and they have always been providing me with all the necessary fishing parts that I may require at times. Trawls, nets, pots, sorting grids, there is simply nothing they don’t possess or they can’t find for you. Last time I visited them a couple of weeks ago I even managed to get my hands in one of their manually built sledges, created with the finest wood and refined carefully for a stable ride.
«This is not for sale,» replied one of them once I laid my eyes on it but I just couldn’t get rid of the thought so easily. I knew they take extreme pride in the things they create themselves and they would never allow me to have it no matter how much money I would offer to them unless I would show the right amount of appreciation for the piece.
«This is such a fine piece of wood» I uttered in awe. «Flexible to glide smoothly over the snow and resilient enough at the same time to be able to hold any mishaps. Get the wrong material and it could leave you with a broken sled in the middle of nowhere.»
«This is one of the best pieces I could get my hands on» replied the second brother with a satisfying smile on his face. «You can have it but there is only one thing that I want in exhange, and that is the only way I would give it away»
«What is that?» I asked puzzled.
«I want one of Shiva’s puppies when her time comes.»
My face flattened from this strange request but I knew fairly well how important it is for the dogs to be mix-breeded intermmingle for their prosperity so I gave a little nod as we shook hands on the deal. Even though every new coming dog is mostly welcomed and valuable for your quadruped fleet, exhanges of this kind are quite regular. And we always make sure to keep the balance and pay our debts with something equally valuable as is in this case this lovely piece of nice sled.
Sometimes I lust over the vast alleys of nothingness. There is no other place in the world where everything seems to expand and fuse with each other in a humble tone for the sacred potency of the place. Everything in pure cohesion with it, everythin bows in owe in what lies all around. There is nothing that can stand on its own or be seperate here yet everything seems to be so lonely and melancholic at the same time.
My father used to be a hard-working man. He tought me everything from how to fish and hunt to how to make a living in this place by embracing the place first.
«Always listen to what the environment is saying» he used to say. «Never go against its will or the ice will crash you like a little fly,»
I still remember the hardships he had to go through trying to keep us happy and content even in the hardest occasions. He took me by his side from a younge age and I would help him fish in the little white boat he had managed to acquire. It was of an old material, dirty in the most part as if abused by the tough conditions it had to make its way. All around its borader line it had a tense red coating that made it resemble female lips and an orange ring-buoy hanged in the side of the main tower which I like to hang my clothes on sometimes.
He was a man of a very few words. He would never show too much emotion. His laugh was always measured, mild most of the times reaching a faint bulk in the side of his mouth when everyone around him would burst into tears and he would always keep a reserved aproach on things as if always keeping something back. But when it came to work and duty he was the most discipline and diligent man I have ever seen in my life.
I remember one time I was about to tie all the dogs for the night around their designated stakes for them to pass on the night. Ejnar, one of our strongest and most experienced males in the whole pack was coiled already in the back end of the stunt hidden somewhat in the pile of old shelter pales and I somehow missed him in my hassle to go back inside. The next day we woke up, he was lost. We followed his trails, looking for him for three days before giving up and I will never forget the look in my father’s eyes as he gave up all hope.
I would prefer it if he had hit me for it, punish me even in the way kids are supposed to be punished when they do something so stupid. But he never mentioned anything more about the subject even through I knew fairly well how much it meant to him and how badly hurt he was to lose him. I was always doing my best to please him to the best of my abilities and follow his rules as strictly as I could but there was nothing worse than failing in such a task with no way of redemption.
Yesteraday that I got back to the house I brought him back to my mind again as I usually do from time to time. I got myself a glass of white wine and sat right across the rustly old image of him and me, standing side by side with a big fishing rod and a big fat fish as I was holding it proudly wearing my fury hat. He was standing sternly on my side with his usual austere attitude but I knew he was proud of me that day as we got away with a good pile of them that he managed to sell for a good price in the following days.
When Kathryn saw me later on she got worried. She came in with her white prone and an alarming look in her face, and asked me what I was doing exactly there alone. Apparently drinking alone in a table with no much stimulus other than a single photo on it, seened somewhat peculiar to her.
«Just having a little drink» I said indifferently as she swept her hand in the knot of her skirt which was the sign of her cooking over in the kitchen and when she tried to get back at it I pleaded her to stop, frozing her right below the door threshold.
«Is there something wrong?» she asked modestly.
Of course there was nothing more to it than just spending some time together and so I told her guiding her to sit right next to me, in the chair on my left. She seemed quizzical by my strange request but did so anyway with her usual solemn manner, following my request in a clear attempt to please me. She was still holding quite well as the first day I met her and kept her particular allure in her feminine ways. Her cheeckbones were accenuated in her skinny face, creating angles and shadows in that little amount of space that always made it interesting to look at her.
«I haven’t been able to reach you for the last few days» I inquired. «Are you still living in the same house with me?»
She grinned a challenging smile.
«Well, you know I have been quite busy lately, I told you already». «We are doing this feltmaking stuff with the girls lately and I am spending most of my afternoons in town, plus Sophy is having some trouble with her mother and needs to be at the hospital all the time which means I need to help her out a bit. You know how it goes..»
«Well, I understand the second part but feltmaking?»
She looked at me scoldingly.
«Look,» I continued, «tommorow they have this food festival in downtown, wanna pay a visit?»
«Sorry, I can’t I have promised already to the girls..»
I slouched my head down as she pleaded to rectify things in a few days pledging to spend some time with me as if it is some sort of favor or abligation that she has to do to keep me happy.
«Well, I just feel like we don’t spend any time together anymore,» I muttered as I passed the outer part of my fingers down her cheecks.
«Not now, Johan» she cut me off as she took my hand down. «Unless you want to eat coal for dinner..» she uttered as she raised up and made her way out of the room.
The next day I visited Einar, a 50-plus years old man with a long mustache and mixed eyebrows that he is the main fish-distributor in the whole area. We have been working together for the last 10 years where every fishing batch I bring, he delegates it appropriately to interanl and external sellers. He accepts everything from cod, shrimp, halibut or shellfish which are all exist in abundant in these sort of waters and people are interested to get all around the world.
He was scanning through a fresh pile of cod that was just brought to him and he was wearing a blue fishing suit and sheepskin, shearling hat that was his usual work uniform. Yet when I spoke to him he was more distant than usual.
«Sorry mate, no more batches for a while. We are full.» he uttered in an unapologetic fasion shoving me with his big smug smile on his face.
«What do you mean you are full? You are never full»
«The large vessels have already covered this pack of orders fully. They expanded their fleet to bring more boats on board. Sorry mate,»
«What do you mean they exapnded their fleet? I thought we had a colaboration together,»
I talked hurriedly as he continued his job as if I was not even there. 10 years of work and this was how he repaid me?
«Mate, come on, why don’t you take one more batch from me just for this time alone till I figure out what I’ll do»
He glanced at me with his head fully leaned back as he exhaled sharply.
«I wish I could help you but my hands are tied. Why don’t you give it a try with Minik. They might haven’t reach out on him just yet»
He continued his worked unbothered as if it was all business as usual and I had to check with mysel to verify I was not just a ghost there. Minik was the second distributor we had and although we never had done any business together I knew him fairly well as he was the husband in one of Kathryn’s friends.
I rushed out of the store -swearing to myself never to set foot in that place again- and went out to the other part of the settlement where I knew Minik had his store. He was much friendlier that I would expect of him given I had never worked with him and very keen in making me comfortable by offering some hot coffee. The place was lean and clean, with one big round table in the middle and his office that was occupying the back corner. We catch up for a while connecting through the latest habits of our wifes and he seemed to be a nice man that I felt bad to never have intiated any talk with him in the past. I delayed telling him about the real reason of my visit for fear of how he would take it but eventually grabbed the opportunity after a while and indiffrently and with the air of talking about something mundane I managed to bring it up in as much of a causal manner as it was humanly possible.
«People say the fish business will go up in the following period,» I mentioned in a chatting vibe, «How do things going for you so far, I might actually have time to bring a batch or two if you have any space available»
«Business is going better than ever. We are exporting all over many countries at the moment and we are looking to expand even to europe and south America.»
«Awsome!» I replied with a shildish exvitment.
«Alas I’m afraid the contract forbids us from accepting any other sellers than the ones we have already. It was a deal we made which I didn’t particularly liked but I had no other way but to accept it eventually.»
You little pricks! How come you get to make these deals and leave your own people back to starve! I thought. But I compressed all my overflowing feelings and gave a little smile as I asserted my knowledge of the situation.
«Yes, yes I know all about it. The large vessels and stuff- you see that’s what they do,»
We made some plans to arrange a dinner together with some speacially chosen fish of his that he would bring specifically for the occasion and I departed seemingly in a good mood but interally burning for this change of affairs that happened to comes so unexpectadly. It felt that nothing is stable in this world, not even here where the same patterns have been established such a long time ago.
For the next few days I was bombarded by a series of the worst imagenery a man could ever craft with his mind. I was pondering and ruminating and examining every little possibility given the new circumstances and suffice is to say, that I could barely sleep at night where I would only lie down temporarily, pretending I was the tired, sleepy man I ought to be only to raise up just a little bit later, just when Katthryn got sensless enough to never realize anything and I would spend the whole night in my little feeble desk trying to figure things out. For I never mentioned anything to her of course and I would prefer to loose both my feets and hands and eyes, than lay such a burden to someone as inoccent as her but even more so because I was quite reassured of myself that somehow I would figure something out before anyone realized anything even though I couldn’t put my finger on it just yet.
It was a strange optimism for sure, empty as the air inside a buoy that tangles in the sea like a drunken antipode when everything around it remains perfectly still. I maybe didn’t know how, but I was through enough difficulties in my life to know that somehow there is always something that opens up to you when a setback hits you so hard. Like a little law that requires a new door to open when another one closes. And though I may lacked the standard supplies to say words like that I was quite sure for one thing alone. I would never in my life lay eyes again on this traitor who decided to abandon his usual squad just with the first opportunity that made its way for him for profit. And if it ever passed my hand for it or I got out of the situation and stood back to my feet again, I would certainly made sure to make him pay for all that he did with such a disdaingful taste. For that, I had no doubt about at all.
And as it happened I had already a goodd plan to move forward starting from the next day. Even though I hadn’t got my hands on it for quite a while there was an old rusty rifle in the storage room stored from the times my father used to have his ways on hunting. I never actually put my hands on it or thought about taking it seriously and I only used the sled so far mostly for transportation rather than anything else but given the circumstances it was time to put that old piece of metal to the test and see how well it could still work even after so many years. I spent most of the night cleaning out the old patches of rust and dust and it was surprising how much of it one little piece of machinery can entail. No amount of rubbing and stroking seemed to be enough to take it out and I had already seperated most of the equipment in little subparts that I leaned carefully on a big white towel one after the other as I tackled each one of them individually before it was in position to be usable. By the morning I took out with a couple of beer cans that I nailed on top of a wooden counter a couple of yards away from the house and I took my position before them as I watched the silver aluminim distort and burst in pieces as the bullet passed right through them.
Never lost touch with it as it seems and neither did this little piece of prolonged cane and so I got back home and gathered the dogs for out little trip out. It was about time that we had an adventure and all the dogs could feel the andreanline rising as they yapped relentlesly into the dawn’s chil cold.
A Greenland muskOx weights around 320 kilos. It’s size is massive and its two horns curve nicely around its big devilish head as they prolong outwards like poignant hooks. It’s an impresive beast that could easily hurt you if it got the chance and it accounts to be the bull of the ice that draws many people from around the world who aspire to hunt them and kill them for another trophy in their media wall. Their numbers has grown significantly low the last few years but their meet is still worth quite a lot where one piece alone can grant you a good heft of money if you manage to get your hands on it.
We moved along the vast valleys that seemed to have no end and rode for a few miles before reaching the first milestove in the side of a mountain were a vast area of anomalous road and rocks extended beyond us, nude of trees and vegetation for the most part but signaling the begginning of a more remote area, one that accomodates most of the wild animals of the area. The dogs had to struggle many times in the steep slopes and anomalous ground where their feet slipped and slithered continusly trying to find the right step to move forward and we always managed to pass all of them till at some point Nav, a dog at the forefront of the pack slided backwards throwing itself upon the rest of the dogs which then fell right onto the sled as we all descended the little mountaint cliff hitting the ground as a pack of rocks that fell from the top accelerating as they went on their way down.
I found myself below a mass amount of furry bodies and loud yelps. On my rise I witnessed what no man should ever witness assuming he is one that has the responsibility of other members in his hands. All my beloved dogs skirting on the ground, half injured, suffering in pain for trusting me enough to follow this desperate man in a journey that had no real plan or knowledge on how to achieve. I was harshly hurt physically and my body ache but nothing could reach the dissapointment that my desicion brought upon these good-hearted animals. I checked each one of them individually, helping them stand back on their feet and peeked the least amount possible of them to hang around in the sled while the rest of us walked slowly all the way to the back. Two of them had at least a fraction in their lingaments and heavier injuries that would take much longer to heal not to mention that it would take for the rest of them to get back to their full strength. Even though I had put much of my hope onto this path nothing could turn out more disasterous. And finally I had to admit to myself that I had to figure out a different way to make my way out of this hole.
But it so happened that a couple of days later we visited the town animal doctor, Mr Tupe Heilmann, a distinct member for his great services, being the only who can accept and cure thess kinds of injuries and always doing his best to be on our side for these troublesome moments that dogs get hurt. A special case of a man that changed his career of being a real doctor taking human patients and shifting completely towards animal care some good few years ago although nobody could really pinpoint what exactly was the reason for it. Some people say it was his love for the animals, some the incredible fuss of dealing with real patients.
I sat on the side of the medical bed as he tilted Layla’s feet. Her tongue was fully out, slanted over the side as her breathing fomented in an vivid pace as Tupe was leaned on top of her listening over her pounded heart. He wired a bandage arounnd her broken feet and echoed his epigram like a resounding machine.
“She is a strong dog. Let her recover for the next month. No lifting or sleding for a while.”.
A man of strict words as always. I was ready to take my little Layla out and get to my way when I noticed a little pamphlet thrown on the little coffee table with the main image of a big fishing vessel rolling its big nets over the piles of fishes it gathered from the sea, the amount of which a normal fisherman could only dream of.
“Can you believe these people” I uttered with disdain, “they are taking the jobs out of everyone and now we can’t even push our batches unless you have enough capacity to withdraw 10 tones of fish in one go,”
The doctor stared at me serious as I went about my blabber as if I was a madman that is maundering pointlessly so much so that I felt immediate embarassment and I mimicked his deadpan face with a little bow. I went to turn again towards the door when his response caught me by surprise.
“You mean the big freighters?” he asked quizucally.
“Yeah, these bastards have stiked deals with all the distributors in the area. They seem to have the monopoly on the fish now.”
He stood for a while with his dull expression that made me wonder if he understood anything of what I just said but then he found the way to surprise me again.
“Well there are still independent suppliers for sure. Like Nielsen, for example. Last I heard he was still in business and he was doing a good job on his own.”
“Nielsen?” I exclaimed ardently. “This guy fled out of Greenland last time I heard because he had trouble with the law. He is still haging around?”
“I wouldn’t know about that” he replied with a calming smile.
“Well, I wouldn’t take such a risk with people like him you know. It doesn’t worth the trouble and they might get you down the hole with them.”
We started moving towards the door again as I stood by the doorstep.
“Never play games with the devil or you might lose what you have already.” I said and he nodded as I departed back to my way.
How could this guy even suggest Nielsen? Doesn’t he know anything about him? I was pondering my head all the way back and I still couldn’t get my mind off it for much later on. Nielsen is actually the pariah of our little village? An outcast that had many times trouble with police and people even say he was involved into drug trafficing and illegal activities. Outrageous. I would never want to have any affairs with someone of his kind even if it was for me to starve to death. Everybody thinks the worst of him and I can’t even imagine what would happen if people lay eyes on me making deals with him.
I shattered the thought out of my mind and continued my way home with little layla limbing on her one feet that was wrapped with a white bandage and continued her sore walk patiently and undauntedly even though I could see in how much pain she was. She had a gradual color from white as it started from her fat feet and the underbelly area and was darkening evely all the way to the top which was pure black. A beatiful dog with an amzing energy and devosion to everything she was tangled even if it was somehting so bad and ugly as this occasion right here.
We arrived to the house a few minutes later and I was doumbdfounded once again when I noticed a big grey SUV, parked right beside the stunt with the lights inside lightened as their shine kindled over the closed curtains. Not a car I knew in any way and I didn’t expect any visitors really for novbody would ever decide to come to such a place unanounced and even in the occasion of a strange coincidence that someone had to somehow make a sudden bypass and pay a visit I would expect Kathryn to make a phonecall which I’m pretty sure I hadn’t got so far.
I tied Layla quickly outside and opened the door to find myself before a tense laughter coming out of Kathryn that was apparently having the time of her life with someone in the living room. I could only see their shadows as they were falling sideways to the ground, drawing their reflection in prolong shapes as it came from the main lamp above their heads. I could hear the mans voice as it directed and resonated with a rugged tone as the bass voice that accompanied the high pich sound of the soprano. I harried accross to the room stumbling both of them abrubtly as I stood before them right in the doorstep.
“Kathryn, what is going…”,
I staggered immediately the moment I layed eyes on the man that was sitting right beside her in the head of the table and I recognized him after the intial tiny interval that takes for the brain to draw the image it perceives right in front of it and combine it with all the past memories that are flooding in right after the spark is thrown and the snapshots of the past events make their appearance one after the other. And in that case these memories had a full stack going for them, because this man was something like a brother to me long time ago if only by means of the common approach we would take to embark into the world right when we were making our first steps in adulthood.
“Ian?” I uttered surprised not being able to believe my eyes. To my confusion he took a serious expression with his cheeck droping redened by the wine he was having for what it seemed quite a long time and stood up and with a single burst as I and Kathryn observed him approaching me with ambiguous motives.
“Johan Mikaelsen,” he exclaimed as he scrutinized me head to toe. “You don’t seem much different than the last time I saw you.”
“It’s the cold nothing changes really in ice,”
My joke passed right through him as he kept his serious attitude.
“Have you learned anything all these years or are you just this bumpy akward kid you always were that was causing more trouble than anything else,”
“But the kid of course,” I continued in the same tone with a defiance gaity.
“Good, good,” he said as he leaned towards me. “So am I” he said with a wink as we both burst into a loud laough.
Ian, a man that always remained a kid in heart no matter what came to him. We grew up in the same neighboorhood trying to make our pocket money by taking any job we could find. I can’t even remember how many tough moments we found ourselves into, fishing sprees or doing scullery work just to earn that little extra freedom we could bought with whatever money crumbs they would give us. I haven’t seen him for more than 10 years now but although I can see the troubles of the troublesome past drawn in his limp and fatigued face, and I can detect some hushing of the sparkle in his eyes he used to have, his attitude remains equally energetic and vivid as it once was and his joyfull, defiant attude same as when he was just a young man dreaming to make a dim in the world.
We sat down and we had a quick catch-up about the last few years. I had heard quite a few things about him that people would spread in the usual day-to-day rumors that a small viallage ussually excersizes and I was always interested to learn a thing or two about his doings which seemed to create such a mysterious awe in everyone as if trying to guess and connect a full image in your head just from the few pieces of the puzzle that you have available.
I had heard that he had moved to some lucious place in America, drove all his way up to the world by making a tone of money that some people would attribute to his luck or his hard work and some in the suspicious interpolation with the underworld and illegal activities. People would say all sort of things and it was never quite easy to know what to make of it. He was tangled in a financial fraud scheme where they would sell air to people just to get off their live’s savings, he was delicately seizing money from normal citizens with various advanced tricks he would play, some even say that he was part of the mafia per se, where he would participate in drug trafficking and smuggling. People would constantly find something new to circulate about how he made his fortune which would change day by day and I was always detested when it happened to hear any of them for I couldn’t believe anything to be true really but it felt rather like the desperate attempt of insecure people that were left behind in the same place they had been all their lives where they tried to ammend the sitatuaion by throwing mud anyway they could.
“Last I heard you were in America,” I retorted trying my best to sound as indifferent as possible. “Is it true?”
His face took a surprised expression which he would always hold from what I remember, when he was about to tell something rather serious.
“Well, damn me. Nothing evades this place even if it happens in the other side of the world.”
“Is it true then?” intervened Kathryn excited.
“Well..my dear Kathryn, I’m afraid it is. Things turned out in such a way that a little temporary visit that was meant to last just a few days became kind of permanent eventually. I hadn’t planned any of it by any means but it so happened that it made more sense for me to stay there than take the return boat and come back.”
“But how did you decided to stay there,” continued Kathryn, “from what I remember you were just fine over here in Greenland,”
Ian seemed to take the question into consideration. He nodded once, twice, gave an subliminal shrug with a minor little compulcion of his body and reaplied like this.
“It’s a long story really. And I would hate to bore you with all the details, but I guess the gist of it is that it happened to have a far distant cousin there that once I arrived we had arranged to meet. He took me into his house immediately and allowed me to stay there for as long as I liked which was quite convenient given the fact that it was my first time to that place. He was a stock broker, an experienced man that had spent years working for some sort of bank. One day he decided to show me around where he works, I sat with him in a desk right beside him for the whole day and I even got to speak to a potential customer just for shit and giggles. I don’t know how it came but the next day the customer signed a deal and Mark, that was my cousing’s name, asked me to join him in the firm. It was good money and I really thought about it. So one day I told him. Mark, look, I’m not sure if I’m made for this kind of work but I would be willing to give it a try for a few months and see how it goes. He was ok with it and so that’s how it all started.”
“What a fascinating story, Ian. If it made you happy then it surely was the right choice.”
Kathryn was leaning her head over her two hands as they were binded together and twisted like a long pretzel supporting her cheeck and I could detect a subtle little repitive movement, the one that people have when they are fully devoted to something or a romantic movie has taken them away to its dreamy land.
“I must tell you that you of all people is the last person I would ever expect to become a stockbroker,” I remarked. “But I’m happy that you did it anyway and that it worked out for you so famously”.
We continued the discussion for the rest of the night and flactuated through a series of anecdotes about the past and all the strange incidents we had over the years. Ian was always a good friend of mine although I had a particular inhibation as to what he had become over his time outside of here. He seemed to me that his microbehaviors had remained the same yet something had changed in him as if his essence twisted a bit and was influenced in an unknon manner that nobody could really put his finger on what that was anyhow. Like some of the internal parts of a rubic’s cube had changed position while the outer tiles had remained exactly the same.
When the question came about his accomodation and what was his plan for the next days, Kathryn was relentless about him staying with us for the whole period of his trip.
“You can’t wait for us to accept you living in a hotel like you are a complete stranger now do you?” she would utter. “No, no, no, we cannot accept this by any means. You can stay here with us for as long you like and you can cancel your reservation to the hotel. Right Johan?”
The question caught me by surprise but I rushed immediately to cover the angst in my face.
“Of course Ian you have to stay here with us. No question about it.”
“I don’t know, my trip might last for quite a few days. I wouldn’t want to cause trouble to you in any way.”
“No trouble at all” I uttered pompously. “There is no question about it you can cancel your reservation and setup your stuff in the attar.”
For the next part of the night we remained in the table before the hypnotizing effect of the fireplace and the company of the nice red wine that sweetened our pallets. Kathryn continued with her never ending questions on his time over the foreign land and his doings while he would always reply with the elaborate story telling of his great adventures and the risks he had taken. Meanwhile my mind wandered over the fact that I was out of a job for the time being and I had to make sure nobody else learns anything about it. It was rather mandatory that I kept this a secret and I would find a way around it before anyone started suspecting anything about this new state of affairs that had gribbed me from the back of my neck and had forced me into the dreary position of hiding from everyone I knew.
We spent the rest of the night making sure Ian gets settled in the room that lied right in the top floor and we would always keep for cases like these. It was short and pointy in the center above as it was literally lieing right beneath the rooftop. It had a beutiful view over the two eye-windows that stood in its center and a view over the ice-cap and its dark-nour sense that could give someone a great place to have some peace of mind.
Right after everything quieted down and all had gone to sleep I sat down by myself and thought about the situation. For the time being there was no other fish-provider in the neighbourhood and no means to get any money without Kathryn learning about it and all the while an unexpected guest had come on the house that would require my constant attention which we had to make sure to enternain for the next few days.
I knew fairly well that I had to think and act fast for all the excuses would come at some point to an end and I would have to deal with things much worse than what I had now on my plate.
And so it came to me that I would actually seek out this opportunity first thing in the morning where I would march out to find Nielsen and see if there was any chance to make business with him. Not the scenario that I would have anticipated muyself by any means or a case I would be fond of but given the circumstances I had to take on anything I could find. I knew Nielsen was a scumbag that everyone in the settlement thought the worst of but I could still try to find him and strike a minimal deal that would be beneficiary for both parties and I had a good idea about how I would approch him. As a matter of fact, he was still working his little fish-shop in the west side of Illusat which I had planned to visit with the first ray of sun coming out right when everyone else was still asleep.
And it so happened that when I started my way there and after I had made sure to not wake anyone else, Kathryn caught me by surprise as I was making my way out of the house. She stood there with her tangled dark hair and her white gown and bewildered asked me:
“What are you doing so early? Thought you didn’t have any work till later,” she said that while squizzing her eyes and rubbing her head as if coming from deep sleep.
“Ah nothing to worry about. The boat nets need some fixing and I thought I shall do it fitst thing while I have the time,” came my reply.
I acted aloof and casual as she stared at me with a piercing eye but she eventaully shrugged which was the mark that my little lie had poassed the test and so I began towards the road with my truck which always felt unsuitable for a place so closely related to ice.
I parked right outside the place called “Greenland’s seafood” and made my way in as I observed the well placed baskets of fresh fish arranged all aroound the walls. It was rather large for a normal modest fishery in Greenland, and the lounge would extend for the size of two or three average size shops of the kind. Right next to it there was the accompanied restaurant, which also belonged to Nielsen and would work with the same resources of the fishery chained to it throug a glass door that people would be able to transpose if they liked to do so.
In the back end of the store there was the long counter where a woman was standing on with a balnt stare as if she was withdrawn withing her own mind. She was faintly blonde and I doubt wheather she even noticed me being there at all. On the top floor there were loud skrills coming from a raw angry voice which I was pretty sure it was Nielsen himself. I couldn’t see his face but I could imagine the redness in his head from the uproar of the blood as he was pulling his lungs out to whoever was standing in front of him.
“That wasn’t even part of your task you idiot!” he would yell. “You were supposed to just sell it to him to the price we wanted it to. Not to accept whatever bargain he forced upon you! You imbecile, shameless simpleton!”
He continued his creative assault for a while as I stood there waiting akwardly for the fair to finish, observing the incredibly well-preserved shop that seemed to be arranged in exceptional detail. Sea maudlin murals, hanging on the walls, fish decoration placed in shelves made out of full scale sizes and all kinds of fish, well presented and organized in a way I would least expect from someone like Nielsen. He surely had found the right people for the job and he had some strict rules which if I guessed from his current yelling was his usual tactic of intimidation.
At some point the blonde woman got curious of my presence and approached me with a strong desire to figure out what a man like me wanted there so early in the morning. I remained put as I obvserved her coming towards me and allowed her to take her time to form the question the way she would prefer to.
“Anything I could do to help you sir?”
“I’m looking for Mr. Nielsen.” I replied blatantly. “It’s a work matter I would like to speak to him about,”
“Sure. Has he expecting you?” she asked inquisitively.
“I’m afraid not, but I assure you it’s only for a few minutes”
The woman seemed thoughtful and persisted that he is busy and I should rather come some other time to which I immediately ejected and asserted my willigness to wait for as long as necessary and I wouldn’t go away unless I was to meet him. She looked at me with an angry expression and eventually gave up on it as she agreed to go and talk to him. Meanwhile the person that was already upstairs passsed right beside us with a gloomy expression that resembled a kid that was chastised by his teacher and run with the tail between his legs.
The woman went upstairs and within a few minutes she came down this this time together with Nielsen himself who seemed rather suprised to see me. He intrduced himeself with a big smile and kept his polite mannerisms that were completely opposite to the pperson that was yelling just previously.
“This is such a pleasure to meet you sir. Oh Mari, already told me you are here for business. Why don’t you come upstairs and we can have a discussion over some nice coffee. Mari! bring some coffee to this gentleman and please make sure to include some of these magnifgicent cookies you have.”
He had a big mustache, and big extricated eyes that would stick out of his face like an obscure kind of fish that had developed to this form to defend from predators. We walked upstairs and entered his office taking our seats in the center coffe-table around the smooth greyish sofas that resembled the inner belly of a whale.
He opened a wooden box of long Cuban cigars and took one out as he extended the rest for me to join.
“One of the finest cigars in existance. I find their smell to be just splendid,”
I refused his offer but he continued to lighten his own with a ritualistic process of slowly igniting its fat trunk dispersing its sense in the whole room.
“You see we should always make sure to enjoy the good things in life. If not for that then what’s the point in working so hard all day long, don’t you think?”
He made sure to pronounce all his words with the most pleasant way possible which I was sure was his strategy any time there was the potential for a deal at hand. In reality he was a very cunning man that would always play tricks to get what he wanted and win the game of impressions and I knew I had to proceed with extra care.
“So I hear that you wanted to discuss about business? Mr..”
“Mikaelsen, Johan Mikaelsen” I added. “That is corect I believe that I could be of great service to you if it so came for us to work togther and since I know that you are one of the best supplier we have in town and since it happened for me to be available for this sort of work I believe this would be highly beneficial for both of us. For the time being I have the capacity to bring you new batches of fishes two or three time per week even and assuming you want to proceed in it you can be my sole distributor for all the supplies I get my hand to. Do keep in mind that I have been working as a fisherman for almost 35 years now since I was only a kid and I can be a party that you can rely heavily on, in terms of quality.”
He paused as he contemplated what I had just said.
“So this is just about fish supplies?” he asked.
“Sure any piece you desire. I can get you anything you need.”
He thought about it for a few seconds again and then turned back to me again with his desicion.
“Well here is the deal,” he said. “For the time being we are quite heavy in supplies already but I could use some cod and halibut if you are apt to find any.”
“Cod and halibut, of course I can get you as much as you please.”
“I can pay you standard price and you have to bring me at least 10 kilos each, per time. Do that, and we can have a partenship,”
“10 kilos each,” I repeated. “Sure that’s just about what I had in mind as well,”
Gee, as much as I wanted to play cool 10 kilos was not an easy task for one man at all. I would probably had to kill myself to bring those quantities to the table but for the time being I just let it slip and postponed the thought of it for when the right time would come.
“Excellent then. I think my dear Johan you and me are gonna have a long-held work together that is gonna last a long time. If things go well, we might even expand our cooperation to new areas as well. We are always keen to get skillful people into the team that we know and we can trust, so believe me.. do your part of the deal well and you are going to be rewarded accordingly. That’s the philosophy of our little store.”
A well-crafted speach that was meant to ease everyone into the deeper parts of the team. There were many notorious stories about their secretive work here and I knew fairly well that I couldn’t offer the services he would expect me to. He was well known to all people in town and the police was already all over him which meant that and any sort of entagnglment with him could put a good noose around my neck that would follow my for a long time after. I had to remain as distant as possible while still maintining this little last resort of money that I had left.
We went to take the way out as we walked together downstairs when I was presented with a new surprise that hit me like a lighting out of blue sky. Ethan Mikaelsen, a younger cousin of mine and close member of the family was approaching towards us as he was talking with the blonde woman. They were clearly familiar to each other and their ways of interacting revealed a strong flirtious bond even, as the woman was giggling like a little girl while accompanying him with her hand on top of his.
Ethan hadn’t seen me by this time and I was wondering about what his reaction would be once he would lay eyes on me. Clearly none of us should be here by any means and I was pretty sure that he would have crafted a good deal of lies for him to keep this secret hidden while enjoying his second life as such. Ethan was never the most obedient member of the family but still nobody would expect him to be in this sort of business and most of all his mother Clara who was a magnificent person and went through hell per se to raise him on her own.
“Johan?” he asked timidely once his awareness came to me. He seemed bemused for a little bit and couldn’t exactly figure out how he sould response to my presence there.
“If my eyes don’t lie to me. Hello Ethan.” I exclaimed making Nielsen’s eyes get outwards a little further as he got by surprise.
“You guys know each other?”
“Not quite know. We are actually family,” I replied. “Second cousings as a matter of fact.”
“Well this is brilliant then. Family members means stronger bonds which is always good for the business.”
Ethan seemed lost by the remark. He glanced back and forth between me and Nielsen trying to get a clue of what it all meant.
“It’s just a new deal we made.” I jumbed in casually. “I’m going to provide the store with fisheries for the near future at least,”
“That is just great, Johan. In that case I can even help you out in the process myself. Why don’t you let me know when you are planning to get down with it and we can arrange it.”
I agreed to give him a call once I had the plan down and made my way out holding a heavy head on how I should deal with this new turn of events. A close member like him knowing about this gave much less room to move and meant that sooner or later the matter would be known to a wider circle. But that was the least of my problems for the time being as I had to make sure that I had the 20 kilos of batches he requested in the first place. Something which would be quite challenging in its own accord.
I marched back home with feelings of angst and excitment that all new endevours can create. It was hardly the job I would ever expect me to get not to mention being happy about striking a deal with someone like Nielsen but given the sittuation and the deadlock I found myself in, I was happy to get it anyway and I was hoping I could manage to get away with it without any serious consequence.
We spend the rest of the day with Ian and Kathryn as she made sure to delight us with some of her splendid cooking and confectionery. I had always noticed the faint difference in her food when there was another guest in house or a special occasion. It was as if the quality of it would jump up a couple of points just by the fact of it even though there was no noticable difference on the outcome. But no matter how obscure I could always feel the difference as well in the gentler tone of her voice and the subtle attempt to please everyone around her. A characteristic always present when she was content with the way of things and her suplicating attitude would slip out from the little mannterisms.
Me and Ian were sitting in the living room with a plate of freshly cooked cookies in front of us twisted and interwined in various shapes and forms as they decorated the table with their naked presence. Ian seemed particular joyfull that day, passing throught various subjects with that elusive gaiety that one only posseses when he is somewhat detached from everything. I never quite understood what was it that made him so damn happy all the time. As a matter of fact I remember many times that I would strike a discord with him just to get this concealed smugness of his, vanish from his face, back in the day. It always bothered me for some reason I couldn’t quite grasp and it was to my bitter dissapointment that I could still detect it on him even after so many years.
“You have a good home going here” he added at some point in an uncalled comment. “You have a nice place in the best possible location of the village. A good job. A wife that..most of the people would be jealous of..”. “You have nothing to worry mate. You have done well”.
Yeah you tell me about it I thought but kept my mouth shut for not to allow any of it to reveal to him.
“It’s one way of life I guess.” I replied. “But sometimes I think how things would be if I had taken out a different route”
“Who knows, maybe I should have tried my luck in America or some other place.”
“Nahh, you wouldn’t like it,” he replied with a imposing confidence that made me wonder. “It can be exciting for a while but I doubt it would be able to keep you happy for long. It’s a strange place. And it won’t show it’s colors until it’s too late and it has you hooked right from the neck like a little cod.”
I had no idea how he rationalized these generalities but I went with it for the converstation’s sake.
“But you managed to escape eventually,”
“I..am a different story. And parts of it will hunt me for life let me tell you. But I managed to find my ways eventaully, and now I’m back here in Greenland the only place that it’s cruelty is like the caress of a fairy.”
Although he kept his words abstract enough to not reaveal any real detail I could see maybe for the first time in the last two days some sign of vulnerability. As if there where occurancies that he hadn’t fully accepted himself and he was too scared to go into too much detail.
I smiled at his comment and moved the subject to something ligter.
“Anyone who has grown up in Greenland will always strive to come back eventaully. We love it deep down no matter what we say about it.” I replied. “So what’s in for you now? Are you coming back for good?”
My question seemed to get him by surprise as he lowered his eyes before responding.
“You can never be sure about these things,” he uttered. “I’m going to settle to Nuuk for the time being and see how things go. You should actually come and visit me when you can. In a few weeks they have these food festicals they do where you can make quite a lot of money if you get lucky.”
“Food festivals?” I asked bewildered. “What’s the deal with that?”
“As a matter of fact they gather people from all sort of places and I even managed to get a good spot on the market already to have my canteen. Location is actually the most important part in these matters.”
The prompt left me frozen for a moment as it filled me with wonder when suddenly Kathryn came from the kitchen holding a huge plate in filled with meat morsels that were glistening oily and heaving with steam that was still departing out of the hot plate.
“This is just something to keep you going” she exclaimed with a dutiful excitment and she stayed with us just to make sure we have everything we need diverting our subject away from the topic. Ian started commenting about how delicious the morsels were while I was still trying to get my head around the food festival and its logistics. I had actually heard in the past about how profitable these things can be and I was straining my mind to understand how come I never thought of the idea before. It would take only a couple of weeks of work and it would bring a good chunk of money in return without getting into too much hassle or obligation for it in any way. I made up my mind that I would deal with Nielsen to take a week off our bargain and would accompany Ian in the festival given there was enough space for both of us.
“If only all woman had you skill in cooking my beloved Kathryn. That would certainly be a blessing for all men that could dine happy in the bliss of it,”
Kathryn giggled playfully and continued to explain her secret in making them so soft and delicious and how easy it is for everyone to do them like this if they were to put their mind on it to which Ian immediately ejected that if it was that simple it would be commonplace by now and it was quite clear that this wasn’t the case. Kathryn was pleased with the compliment but tried her best to hide it with a straighten face. It reminded me of the times when we had first met where there was still this unknow future lying ahead in us that would sparkle things like a mist that would accompany our every action. There was hardly any time that she wouldn’t suprise me with her energy, her adventurus spirit and the smiling lines that would carve deep around her mouth as if her face would revive and animate any time we would get together. And I would would look at this face and snap a picture in my head to accompany me throughout my whole day as I would spend it waiting only for that moment that we were to meet again.
The three of us had actually been friends way back in the day before Ian’s departure from Greenland. We would spend most of oour time with each other and at some point it wasn’t evident at all tha me and Kathryn are going to end up together. She was always so open with us that it would never occure that she might be interested in anyone really but then the time came that Ian’s descion to leave brought us closer and it so happened that we found something in it that we never observed before. I alawys wonder if there is anything left alive from those three young people today or wheather everything was vanished thought the whims of time somewhere in the infinite spacetime.
Kathryn left us suddenly, waking me up from my daydreaming haze and I continued my chat with Ian as I tried to find the oppotunity to bring the subject of the festival back to the table without seeming too eager about it.
At some point I exclaimed,
“So this festival of yours. When is it exactly? I might consider joining if I manage to find the time.”
Ian’s face sparkled immediately.
“Oh definitely pal,” he grinned. “Do join and I will have a place available for you right next to me in the counter. The canteen is big enough to fit us both and you can stay in my house for the whole duration of course.”
I promised him that I will coniser it and we departed after a while to our rooms with our heads buzzing with the wine and our stomachs filled with Kathryn’s delicacies. But for me I had already my mind full cause the next I was to embark towards a cod and halibut hunt starting early in the morning using that old rucksuck boat I had and I was to take Ethan with me as well. Even though I was glad to have some company for it I had the strange feeling that there were more to why he wanted to join me in this and I couldn’t get my mind away from the fact that there was particular cause he was after that was quite well hidden.
The next morning it was time to start the fishing part for Nielsen and I had already arranged with Ethan to find me over the Illusat port which followed the road straing our of my house and in which I had my boat anchored. There were myriad of boats arranged in it in various shapes and colors, that someone would wonder how such a small viallage can contain so many of them at once, but fishing was always a main part of our living and wheather someone would do it for work or a hobby pretty much every house would contain at least one of them to meet some of their fishing needs.
It was a clean day where there was no sign of cloud above us and we began to manuvre our way out of the port along the anchored boats that had cramped the whole space. Ethan was particularly active and energetic wearing his full antianemic uniform and we both made sure to spend some time to prepare all the necesary stocks and equipment for the fiishing that was laying ahead.
We navigated a couple nautical miles outward where the whole of illusat was lost under the presence of the big glorious hills and we stabilized the movement at a lower speed as we got some time to relax.
He seemed particularly interested about the ship and it’s indomitable stamina over the years and it wasn’t long that I realized that he was iching to spoeak about something that he was particularly uncomfortable of speaking directly. He seemed to be dressed with the childish personality that we always knew him with in the family and we would always treat him with extra care for his younger age. Yet it was quite evident that there was another side to him where he took the intiatives and marched onto his own road which depicted a desicivness I had never witnessed of him before but I could imagine existing like the sun that makes its toll in the other side of the hemispere where you only get to witnsess its dark reflection or the life of the parents that always hide away from their kids but you can always sense that they must have the life and worries of their own that they always make sure to hide under the carpet for their kids.
“So how long have you been working for Nielsen?” I asked. “I never knew you were part of his business.”
He seemed to welcome my question with a sign of relief and he came to elaborate on how it happened to meet him through a friend of his.
“The guy was really helpful with us. He accepted to take us in for work when he didn’t have to by any means and offered us a post where we could make a living on our own. Now that maybe doesn’t seem like a big deal but for a young 18-year-old kid that wants to earn his freedom it is quite huge.”
“Yeah I know the feeling quite well.” I replied with a smile of condencesation.
“Nielsen is a really good guy. Nothing of the sort of what people say about him. He always pays in time and he rewards hard work anytime he gets the chance to do it.”
I agreed with his saying although there was still the elephant in the room of everything that Nielsen was related to and we both knew very well about but we didn’t explictely alnowledged.
“That’s why there is something I would like you to ask you Johan, if you are ok with this,”
“Sure please go ahead” I reassured him and I waited to see how he would approach the whole subject of his secret life and wheather he would become honest with me at last.
“My mother would never approve me working for a stranger like Nielsen and so I had to procced without her knowing anything about it. Of course this is mostly a temporary sitatuion for me till I get enough money to open my own shop but for the time being I would like to keep it this way so I would appreaciate if you didn’t mention anything of it to her.”
“You mean Clara doesn’t know anything about it?” I acted doumbfounded to the best of my abilities.
“Unfortunately not but I promise you. This is only temporary and sooner or later it is going to end anyways.”
“Ok Ok,” I agreed. “I see where you are coming from and I have no reason to say anything about it at all.”
He smiled in relief as if showing his real self for the first time this day and then I continued.
“As long as you promise me that you won’t mention anything about me working with him to anyone you know either,”
“What? You are keeping this a secret as well?”
“Kinda yes I do. I have no inclination to allow people start discussing behind my back about my doings with Nielsen and I definitely don’t want to start any business with the police which from what I hear they have Nielsen in scrutiny at the moment.”
“Oh I wouldn’t worry about that really.” he replied with a devilish smile. “The guy is a real genious. He managed to get his ties up with some key officers from quite early on and there is now a clear directive for everyone to never touch him. He is actualy safer than the officers themselves.”
As I imagined Nielsen was paying his way out of jail to the department and he surely must have been paying a lot for him to be able to get away with he is doing.
“Plus,” Ethan continued, “he is actually paying a hefty amount for anyone who is willing to transfer some of his merchandise across the country. One trip could equal a full year’s worth of work in some cases,”
“Gee, Ethan I hope you are not so dumn yourseld to actually do such things yourself”. I geniounly errupted in anger the moment I saw the expression of pride in his eyes. I was sure that the kid must have been going the wrong way a long time now and it was only a matter of time till he get deeper down to it and get caught. For a young kid like him it would be very easy to let himself loose like that, especially if he was confronted with the amount of money Nielsen mush have prociding for him.
“No Johan of course not.” he replied apologetically. “I have no intention to go down this road. But I’m just saying it can get quite profitable and I know quite a few people who have earned their homes doing it,” he continued with the expression of admiration that I loathed so heavily.
“If they made it I hope they enjoyed.” I cut him off. “But unfortunately these deeds are never meant to last for too long and are bound to fail one way or the other.”
His self-content smile gave place to a grounching frown.
“No such thing as a free lunch boy and never trust anyone who says he is offering you one. There is always a price hidden somewhere in between.” I ended the converstation and continued our road without ever speaking about Nielsen or his business again throughout the whole trip.
A couple of days passed and it so happened that I came home to find Kathryn preparing dinner in the kitchen as Ian was out of the house for his work arrangements. It was his last day with us and he was going to return back to Nuuk where his wife Naja was waiting for him and we wanted to make sure we would give him a nice last meal before his departure.
Kathryn seemed absorbed in her preparation as if she wanted to make everything perfect or her reputation was in the line and it always surprised me the level of dedication she showed towards these details like baking the perfect bread or gettting the sause just right which she would show extreme scrutiny throughout the whole process.
“If only we would get him to stay with us for a bit longer,” I said softly as I approached her from behind leaning my hand abvove her left shoulder-blade. “Nothing better than to have guests in your house like Ian to keep you company.”
She darted her back leaning away from my touch and her face contorted in confusion as she replied back to me in a harsh tone.
“People have their own matters they need to attend to. They can’t always pause their lives just to please us.”
“I know they can’t” I said and somehow it felt like I had to argue against things that are self-explnenatory which was always a sign that Kathryn was angry with something. “Is there something wrong? What runs into your mind.”
She exhaled annoyed with my continued questions and her eyes showed my that I was asking from something she didn’t really want to delve into. If someone had told me that me and Kathryn would grow to become one of the graphic couples we meet some times were both parties hate the guts of each other and they only stayed together out of habit I would never believe it a few years ago. We actually spent most our years together in total bliss. We shared a happiness only few people achieved and even though we never had the abundance of money or goods going for us we were always content with our living and never got anything missing that could keep us misearble. Sometimes I wish I could just get into her mind and trying to understand what was the actual reason of her demeanor but I doubt there was any way you could extract this information from her especially if she didn’t want to share it with you.
“Nothing runs into my mind. I’m just trying to finish the meal for Ian and you are standing right in my way.”
“Kathryn, for God’s shake. What is the matter with you? Why are you acting so angry the whole damn time?”
My frustration had grown considerably after her last comment and it was only now that she seemed to soften her spirit and take the whole thing seriously.
“Johan, I’m sorry I just got streesed about the dinner,”
“I’m not talking only about today” I jumbed in immediately. “This whole last period you seem so disengaged with everything. We don’t spend time together anymore we don’t speak we don’t have time for us”
She caressed my cheek as if to sooth my emerging feelings and huggged me as she pleaded for my forgivess.
“I promise to make it up to you once we get the chance” she said repeatingly and I left her after a while get back to her work as Ian was probably on his way back and the time for our last dinner was getting closer.
It wasn’t before Ian made it back and we all sat back to the main talble under the warm yellow light and the sweetness of the red wine. Kathryn had found her jovial self once again and she seemed in an overly good mood beside the previous incident and so was Ian who was about to fly quite early in the morning for his way back to Nuuk.
“Ah Ian I wish you had stayed with us for a bit longer,” exclaimed Kathryn with a nostalgic tone of voice. “Why don’t you cancel your morning flight and you can stay for a few days more here. We could even get into a trip with the boat into the fjord or sled with the dogs for a day.”
Ian skimmed with gratified as he reciprocated with an equally warm comment.
“Ah my dear Kathryn, I only wish I could stay for any longer than I already have. But unfortuantely the work is running and so I have to make my way back to Nuuk straight away if I am not to lose the thread.”
Even though he had to decline it was rather obvious by the fact that his departure was empliciting such an uproar and he relished in the feeling that he was gonna be missed.
“But you know what,” he uttered just a few moments later. “I think it would be a great idea if you and Johan visit me at some point. Naja would be deligted to have you both in our house and as long as you can find the time to make it, I don’t see the reason why not.”
Kathryn glanced quickly at me in a subtle inquiry on how I had percieved the sugestion and then returned back to Ian.
“I’m sure you can make some time away for a few days and you Johan you can arrange it with Einar to have his batched posponed for a while. I’m sure this old piece of shack will complain for a while but will accept it eventaully as he always does.”
He laughed at the thought of it and then continued.
“By the way how is Einar doing? Are you still in business with him?”
His question came naturaly but surpirsed me enough to make me freeze in my chair as I tried to remain still the same way a poker player would do if he didn’t want to reaveal the cards he just saw dealt to him.
“Yes of course,” I replied. “I still have to see his bulgy face every week unfortuantely. But I’m sure he will be OK with it, you know how he is”
My reply seemed to pass the test of reasoning as none of them seemed bewildered by any means and the subject drifted towards his life in Nuuk which seemed to excite him like no other place he had lived on before.
“No matter how much I love Illusat,” he would say, “and surely this is the place I spent the best years of my life, in Nuuk I have found something that was missing from all the other places. Funny story, when I brought the issue to go there to Naja, she was initially dead contrary to it. She wouldn’t even discuss about the subject no matter what I would do. And so I said to her, look, give me a few months of time to make a start and then you can judge for yourself. If you don’t like it we leave and get back to Illusat. And so she said yes after some back and forth and we went there and she found this place where she can do yoga and stuff and from then on she never brought the subject of going back ever again.”
And so the night went on where Ian kept the conversation going with the intruiging way he had to tell stories like this and the night passed without realizing any of it and by the time we went to bed I couldn’t help but feel that somehting was missed out throughout the whole day something I had forgotten to put my mind in even though I knew fairly well I should have taken care off.
The first patch of fishes we got out with Ethan was 3 and half kilos of shrimp and approximately 2 of shellfish. The second time it was even worse and we even spent the whole day starting from dawn, just to realize that we had no chance to get the amount Nielsen was asking for. Ethan was really eager and dilligent to help as much as he could and he offered to get up the next day earlier just to give it one more try.
“It didn’t go well today but maybe we still have a chance tommorow. You never know how it can go.”
He exclaimed like a cartoon character that never loses his good spirit no matter what unfortune gets to him. I only wish I had some of his unbased optimism that these youngster have at times like this but I knew fairly well that unless a miracle happened and all the shrimps of Greenland decided to move upon Illusat for the day the chances of us getting anywhere near our target was as minimal as finding gold under the ice-cap.
“I don’t think we have enough time for this,” I replied to him. “Nielsen was clear about his request and there is no way we reach that number.”
“So what are you planning to do?” he asked.
“Well, I’ll do the only thing that is left of me to do. I’m going to catch Nielsen and talk to him face to face. Either way I don’t see the reason for him to have this 10 kilos limit. If he can push 10 kilos of them away he can just as easily push half of it.”
I kept my head straight denoting that I had made up my mind and there was no question about how I would proceed but instead of taking the clue and accepting my decision I got the sense of laughter coming our of his side as if he was was spectating comdedy of some sort. When I asked him what it was he found so amusing he just shook his head and like the master-mind at the end of a mystery movie that has just figured out the reasoning behind everything he replied,
“You just don’t get it do you.”
“What? What is it that I don’t get?” I intoned trying to keep my nerves in place.
“This was his plan all along, can’t you see? It was never meant to get the 10 kilos of fish as he once told you. As a matter of fact he only gave you this number just for this reason. Because it is impossible to get it.”
“Damn you boy what are you trying to say here,” I uttered, “speak clearly.”
“This is what Nielsen wants from you. To fail so that he gets the upper hand on you.”
The thought striked me like lighting from clear sky but I diverted it as I was quite determined about how I would proceed about the whole thing.
“I don’t care what Nielsen’s plan is or what he thinks he is gonna get out of it.” I replied calmly trying to show that I’m still in control. “All I know is that I’ll find him tommorow and I’ll explain to him the situation clear as it is. We need a few more days to get what he asked and if he doesn’t give it then there is nothing else to do than to move on to someone else. Whatever he might have in mind I doubt he is going to find it here.”
He received my comment with a little shrug as if one man’s will had little role to play in the bigger sceme of things. As if there was a bigger power that had decided things beforehand and my reasoning was nothing more than the blabber of an old man that didn’t know what was coming for him. I ignored him for the rest of the trip and tried to focus on how I should best handle my forthcoming meeting with Nielsen, but no matter what I did I had the feeling that he was looking down upon me like he knew something that I didn’t.
I waited till the next day in which I went over Nielsen’s store first thing in the morning and was quite anxious to see how he would react to this turn of events. I knew that Ethan’s theory had a good base and could come to be true eventually but I was equally determined to stand my ground from my part as well and never allow things to slip in some path I couldn’t control. I entered his office and observed him as he remained ducked above his paperwork that seemed to fill his whole desk even at this early stage in the morning. He didn’t bother to aknowledge my presence other than a little grunt noise he made when I enetered the room and I went on to exaplain the situation to him unbothered by his lack of response.
“Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get the full 10 kilos each as we agreed, but I got a good 5 and a half shrimps and around 4 of shellfish. I know it’s not the quantity you expected but it’s a respectable size and within time I’m sure I’m going to improve on my methods to get even more.”
A pause. He conitnued looking at the paper in front of him and he picked up his pen and started scumble on top of it as if he didn’t even registered what I said and only a few seconds later he bothered to raise his eyelids on me as if I was the last subject he ever wanted to deal with.
“But that’s nowhere near the amount we aggreed upon” he remarked as if he was adding some new information to what I had just already said. “I’m sorry but this is not enough to make a profitable deal for me. If you can’t take the burden of it then that’s fine but I can’t just have numbers change like this all the time based on random conditions we may encounter from time to time. A business needs stability to run above all.”
God knows what stopped me from jumbing back to him and diffuse his bullshit excuses on his face like he deserved to but I kept my cool and tried to be reasonable instead. At least he had forwarn me about this matter right from the start and it was a term we both agreed on in equal terms so I saw nothing contemptible as far as this was concerned.
“That’s no problem at all. I only need a couple more days and I will have the full amount ready” I asserted pompously and he unexpectadly accepted my request with no second thought. His attitude was dismissive but at least we had a new deal in front of us and I had managed to turn the time-sands upside down once again giving me another two days till next day’s evening to mount the full amout. I got back home as quickly as I could and gave a call to Ethan to expalin the situation and we began preparationd for the next two days to get our goal. It wouldn’t be easy but at least we had a chance and as long as luck was in our side, we could even manage to make it.
And so we did gather an hour later at the port and we took the boat and tried our best to make at least some sort of progress to help us catch on but after 8 full hours of navigating in-between the ice and numerous attempts of throwing the nets back and forth we didn’t even manage to get 1 kilo of each. And when the next day we saw that our luck wasn’t bound to improvce in any way and the we were to have the exact same results as the day before I got into such a despairing mode that I wished to smash the boat into a thousand pieces and let it roat down in the depths of the ocean.
Ethan was stunned by my reaction for he never expected that I would be in such a need to be so wretched. He watched me becoming more and more jittery with the time passing and he didn’t miss the chance to confront me about it later on once we had taken the road back to the port.
“Why is this so important to you anyways?” he asked. “There are so many other distributros in the village already. Someone owed to get these patches eventaully even if Nielsen doesn’t accept them.”
“You think I haven’t tried already boy.” I growled not being able to hold myself. I exaplined to him how all of them had switched their gears to the bigger suppliers and they had arrangemnts to never make deals apart from them.
“That is just terrible,” he replied and got into deep thought as if trying to figure out the problem for himself. After a while he came up with his conclusion as if he was the expert that got presented with a new set of problem from a student that didn’t know how to solve it.
“Nielsen is never gonna accept anything less that what you agreed with each other. It would give the wrong example to the rest in the village. But what Nielsen can offer to you is the chance to remedy yourself through different means,”
I paused myself trying to see where he was going with it. Although I had a good idea that I wouldn’t like what I was about to hear one way or the other.
“You need to go back to him and come clean about the situation. Find him and tell him that you are currently in need of money and ask him wheather there is any good job you can take temporarily. Nielsen always has something back to his sleeve. And getting open like that is something he can appreciate and help you with,”
At this moment I was so set aback that I couldn’t even hold myself from errupting like a volcano of anger that couldn’t hold itself. What he suggested was the exact thing that a man should never do. Opening your cards like that to someone you don’t know and especially if that someone is a man like Nielsen then you only set yourself into the corner for him to be able to shoot you as he pleases. Even if he had positions available for people to work I doubt he would chose to give them to me by any means not to mention the fact that he was to do it without any profit on his part whatsoever.
The day was gettin near its end by that time and the whole port before Illusat seemed like inmovable and souless as we got closer to it like it had given up itself on the cold and had let the ice take over whatever life form was still active.
“I would still give it a try” he said indifferently at the end as if he never paid any attention to my arguments. “You have nothing to lose either way.”
And he was right that if there was any chance to move things forward with Nielsen then I had no choice but to take his recommendation and plead to him to give me whatever crumbs of work he had left. Only that there was nothing tellling me that I could trust Nielsen in that and neither could I be sure that he wouldn’t take advantage of the situation and try to pass on to me his dirty doings. No matter what there was a tough desicion laying ahead of me and I had to make sure I would handle it the best way possible.
This time that I got into his office Nielsen seemed to be quite unlike the way he was the last time and resembled the face he had diplayed on me when I first met him a couple of weeks ago. With a big joyful smile he welcomed me and made sure that I would get another one of his cookies that he seemed so proud to be in possesion of. He delayed getting into the matter of the work by asking me questions about my family situation and Kathryn. He seemed quite intruiged when I told him that she loved fishing herself from time to time and he promised me to make us dinner at some point just to get to know each other better.
When the question came about the batches he seemed rather dismissive and showed signs that he was expecting it and couldn’t wait to get passed it.
“If it didn’t amount to it then that’s fine. We can skip it for now and try again in a couple of weeks that I’m sending them off once again.”
“It’s not just the matter of the batch” I said somewhat enigmatically.
“Is it not?”
“Unfortunetely in the current state of afairs I’ve run into a situation that requires some sort of stable work from my part for at least the near future. It is only temporary of course, but it so happened that we are having quite a lot of expenses lately and any sort of opportunity could be a savior at this point in time.”
“You mean to say you are having financial trouble?” he asked as if my speach made no sense to him whatsoever.
“I’m afraid so my good sir, I’m afraid so. Of course there is no urgency in it but if it so happened that you had some kind of job that I could use and would be of good end for both of us I don’t see why we can’t get into it to be honest.”
To this he ejected from his seat with a full enthusiasm and he bumbed his fists on the table with a desicive blow that shattered me even at the good distance that I was standing from it.
“Say no more. If friends are supposed to be good for something that is to help one another in times of need. And since I see that you are in a difficult situation and you are a fine man that always strive for the best, I can’t help but make sure you get out of it and hopefully this is going to be a start of a long-term path that we’ll maintain for the time to come. Even long after this crisis of yours comes to an end.”
He had a strange way of over-emphasizing his words and this little speach of his resembled more of the empty words of a politician that blurs everything out after a long time of him preparing each utterance in front of a mirror. But at that moment in time the burden of need and fear that was accosting me in every passing day weighed in on me and I neglected to give the attention to the signs that were there and were quite apparent in hindsight. An overflown optimism that had no base in real life whatsover. Big blasterous words that were meant to impress and throw dust in people’s eyes and a general attitude that smelled lies and deception.
Alas it’s only easy to speak in hindsight and what existed into that little man’s mind was nothing but the ticket out of his contemporary hell that he could see no other way than getting any kind of job he could get. And so I did and accepted to take on a new sort of ordeal that I had never got before but seemed quite intruiging to me back then.
Taking a set of parcels packed with phraceutical drugs like Vicodin and Norco, that although were illegal to have without a prescription from a ligitimate doctor were not quite in the same class as the regular drugs. These opiods were supposed to move from Illusat to Quqortoq -which was a good few hours to get there by ship- and I had to deliver them to a particular destination that was going to be revealed to me only at a later stage in the journey. He even had some of his exaplanations ready for me in case the worst was to happen, declaring that I bought them for few friends that were trying to detox from hard drugs and that I was only trying to help. He assured that in such a case he would deny any mix in the case and I would be totatlly on my own from that point forward but given the fact that I would come forward and it wasn’t a case of hard drugs I would probably be dismissed eventually or get away with mere warning.
I was suprised to see how well prepared he was about everything and it was quite obvious that this was something he had repeated many times in the past. Thinking of the particular situation that I was in I decided to accept the risk and I was going to make the trip right next week and hopefully this little risk that was coming upon me was going to last only for the one day that of the trip and wouldn’t cause any bigger problems beyond that. Or so I hoped anyway and thus I returned home with the air of someone that knows that his current experince might be one of his last in the cuurent way of things and that the next few days were going to be as critical for one’s future as deciding his course of life.
For the follwoing few days I can barely remember the events appropriately because I was in such a state of mind that I can only recollect my hazy state of mind and the constant rumination of things that could go wrong. Maybe the risk of such an action was too high and the possibility of getting caught didn’t worth the goals I was striving for. Maybe the whole thing was a setup and Nielsen wanted to shift the focus away from him and make the point that he wasn’t the only one people should be worried about and he was secretely plotting my own arrest.
A million things crossed my mind and I can still remember how Kathryn was awed by my strange behavior that only the woman’s sensory tennets can receive so easily as if by natural talent.
“Is there something wrong with you? You just seem a bit..off” she mentioned at some point and I was ashamed by the fact that my whole coverage could be pierced so easily as if it was a translucent glass that everything was visible from the outside.
After three or four days I decided to sled out with the dogs once again, provoking my luck for a second time and findin some time out of my head through the one thing that is sure to take you away with it. I had always found that sledding is the one activity that can really move you away from anything earthly and can raise you up in the divine streams of the strange occuance that takes place in the isolated infinite that spans beyond you.
We took on early in the morning and I had made sure to have my rifle cleaned and oiled hoping to get my revenge for last time’s failure. We rode for a good couple of hours before stopping in a little basin area where we sat to get some rest. It must had been quite a few minutes that I closed my eyes and I was somewhat lost in a lethargic doze as I sat against the pointy surface of a rock and closed my eyes absorbing this moment of escape that seemed to be so far away from everything that was going on in Illusat.
And then a burst came from the side, and the dogs started screameing like hell had fallen all upon themand they were rashing rowards a great danger. I bumped up curtly and by the time I managed to get a clear view of the incident I saw a hige white bear fighting against the dogs with the strains of blood all over it like a blus of crayon in a white shirt.
Bears rarely reached this South at Illusat. They were mostly to be found to the upper part of Greenland far away from most human sivilizations and if it ever happened for one of them to be seen there was a general alarm and warnings for people to keep an eye on them. This one must have slept away somehow through some obscure luck and it was now here fighting with teeth and blood against my own dogs.
I grabbed my riffle and made sure to get a clean shot. Missing out on a bear would be as deadly as slapping a lion in the middle of a jungle and expecting it to show mercy. I waited a few seconds keeping the point of the gun linbed up with the bears head and I shot bringing it to a startle as it turned to me with a growl. It started heading over me and I continued to blast it with shots one after the other and it only fell into the ground at the very end just before it reached me and turned me into sliced meat.
I could smell the sense of raw blood in the air and the burned metal of the bullets that came out of the gun. The dogs were still howling like crazy and I examined each one of them to see how injured they were. Some of them were bleeding and had signs of fight with the bears all over them but it was only Rode that worried me the most. While all the rest of them were still standing no matter how injured they were, Rode was lying down with a limp body that palpating in a fast pace. It had a big part of its skin completely cut off and its feet seemed smashed and derailed of any power in it.
I carried Rode in the sled and marched quickly back home which took almost double the time it took for us to reach there and by the time we got back I realized that the worst had already taken place and Rode was already lying dead giving up its last breath to defend the herd. Somehting I failed to do myself and I was sure this incident was to hunt me for a long time to come.
The tragedy stayed with me for the following days like a weight right into my chest. We barried Rodan right in the side lane of the house, under a tree he liked to take a seat usually and I added a big metal cross on top of it together with its picture that laid within a golden mosaic frame that sparkled shiny in the light. Beside having the tremendous guilt and sorrow for the malignancy I caused, I also had to deal with the negating attitude of Kathryn that never failed to point out on me how careless and irresponsible I was.
“The news of a bear being losse in the wider area were all over the media for the last few days.” she said letting the poignancy of my mistake dangle in the air for a while. Apparently there was already a red alert about the bear but because of the angst of the last period and the general haze I neglected to pay attention to it and take the usual precautions I would have otherwise.
For the rest of the week, the days passed like in a blur and there only a few interesting points in between, worth mentioning.
Thursday: Kathryn and one of her close friends Sophy occupied the living room and hanged on in there for the whole evening. Sophy who is a short, lid eyes, super vigorous, never-stop-talking kind of woman began goshiping about the various people in the settlement to which Kathryn listened with an intense interest. She only paused her continued blabber at one point to ask me about the incident with the bear which had taken huge dimensions apparently in the settlement and people got quite alarmed by it. Other than that, she then continued with her usual business and never laid eyes on me again and as some point I got so full of it that I made up an excuse and made my way to the nearest cafe where I spent a couple of hours in peace.
Friday: I met with Ethan again and he was quite eager to learn about my deal with Nielsen and what was the arrangement but I made sure to reveal nothing to him about the upoming trip or the job I had taken. He seemed suspicious of me and I was sure that he must had learn something for he always made sure to bring back the subject to it and he would show some sort of dissapointment with my answers that never seemed to deliver that sparkle he was looking for.
“So nothing came out after all with Nielsen? That’s strange, it seemed like he would give you something to compensate one way or the other.”
To which I would respond,
“Nope nothing came out of it at all. Maybe he has taken a step back with the business?” – and a little shrug that made the absurdityof the whole thing resmble more of a parody.
Saturday: We had a dinner with the dog doctor. He and his magnificently charming but dull wife decided to come to us for dinner and I had no other way but accept it beside all that was going on and was bound to take place in two days. The brought us a pack of gifts including a big fat sweater for me and some sweets and they made sure to be supremely nice to their manners of speaking to us as if we were struck by a series of misfortunes and we were supposed to be devasstated. Nia his wife was very condesending in particular sos much so that when we happened to mention the incident with the dogs she ducked her head down in a sign of reverance and avoided to ask any questions in fear of making us uncomfortable.
The doctor was still having his usual sluggish, serious manner he always carried with him and he never in one moment saw him laugh or smile even apart from the moment I mentioned my adventure of looking for fish and how difficult it was to actually be a fisherman.
The next day was the last before the trip for in Monday I had to depart for this trip and I had find an excuse to justify my departure to Kathryn as I had inadvertently neglected to bring the sissue to her and I had to find a way to exaplain how the need came for me to go there in such a short notice that would require of me to do something like this. In the end I concluided with a simple reason and I told her with a somwhat dismissive attitude.
“You remember that old friend of mine Saka that I used to hanf out together? It so happened that tommorow he is having his shop refurnished and he asked to give him a hand for the day. It won’t take long of course but probably I will be out for the whole day.”
Which she took quite indifferently and rather shiftly she asked me.
“Will you be back for dinner though?”
If I knew how indolent she was about these things I would never give it so much thought in the first place.
Later in the morning I drove over to Nielsen to make the last arrangements before the trip and get my hands on the package. He introduced me to Jorse, a robust, bulky individual that always walked with his hands a little bit too far apart from his body and kept an austere exppression of physical dominance as if he was about to take on anything with his fists if the need for it was to come.
“We need to get back” he said with a slow, presumptuous manner. “Follow me,”
We moved into the main storage area that was located in the back-end of the whole place that was filled with boxes and parcels that were stowed in a disaarry everywhere. He grabbed a big one from one pile and he passed it on to me leaving me wondering wheather all the rest of them were of the same substance and how many more people like me the had hired.
“You’ll need to be in the center square of Quqortoq by 12 o’clock. Make sure you start early to have enough time to get there. Once reach the distination you call me from this phone, and this phone alone.”
He passed me a black, brick mobile of the oldest generation on the top of the box that I was now holding and he continued.
“Then I will give you the rest of the directions and guide you to the final part of the journey. Is that understood?”
I nodded. “Payment comes at the end once you fulfill the final task. Got it?”
I nodded again twice trying to finsih the interaction as fast as possible and we moved outside again where I packed the whole box in the back of the car. It was at that moment in time that I realized for the first time the danger of this whole endevour. So much so that I just wanted to throw everything out and leave for some other place where I would be a foreigner inbetween everyone and I could breath the clean air without the burden of what I was experiencing at that moment.
Kathryn would use the car later in the day so I would have to find a way to a safe place without anyone noticing anything strange. I couldn’t get them in the house for sure, or use the storage for that would be a bit too visible. I thought hard about it and ended up in the only possible location that noone would ever think of looking ever and I was the only person that still had exvlusive access to it. The boat in and of itself. I would hide the box in there and get the package back early in the morning when nonone would even bother to bat an eye to a famous fisherman like myself.
I got into the car and hastened towards the port where I still confronted the usual haze of the place that was overcrowded with fisherman and numerous boats. But then again that was exactly the camouglage I needed to pass out unbothered on to what I was doing. I steped into the pier carrying the box and moved into my boat but as I got myself into the little glistening steping panel that swang me into the air droping supinely in the border wood that felt as if it was about to break my waste. Never in my life had I misstepped in this boar like this and if this was to happen in that day I felt like it was a sign of God. The moment I raised up I saw that the box had gone missing from all around and it was only at the very end that I realized that I had accidentally dropped it right down the port waters.
Little go to describe the agony of all those minutes that seemed to pass slowly and painfuully each stiking second dialated like it was the infinity hidden within each of them. I growled, and writhed and screamed and I’m sure some of my neightbour boats must had gone mad with my behavior. But here I was having no clue on how to deal with the situation that aggravated in the worst way possible and not only I didn’t manage to get somehting out of the whole situation but I made things worse for myself for now I would have to deal with Nielsen and trying to make it up for all the damage that I had caused.
I picked up the phone while still remaining in the boat and I called Ethan who was still in his usual hazy attitudem, urging him to come to me as fast as he could. Who would have thought that I would end up to ask Ethan to help me but given the situation there was nonone else I could trust and plus he was the only one who knew enough to be of service while still being somewhat on my side. At least on the cards.
He found me after a while and listen carefuly as I explained to him everything that had taken place in the last few days together with my aggreement with Nielsen and the task to take the package to Quqortoq and everything else I knew about it. He remained motionless through the whole time of me speaking and he averted giving me any feedback or sign to know what he thinks about it which made all the quite more worried than I already was. At the end when I asked for his opionion directly he looked straight at me as if he had just received the worst news one could fathom and in a serious mannger he declared, “You should leave”.
What? Leave? Me who has spent his whole life in this dam place get my stuff up and run away for a guy that happened to make a deal and have an honest accident like that? I didn’t think so and I told him that I wasn’t thinking to do so for the time being at least.
“There is no other way,” he continued. “Now Nielsen is going to have you in his hand till you pay him back the full amount and I doubt this is gonna be any short amount by any means.”
“I was just a little box of drugs for christ’s sake.” I protested. “Maybe we could even dive in into the waters and get it back. Probably it would still be as good as new.”
“That would be true with pretty much any other drug” he replied calmly as if he had thought of everything, “but in your case you are unlucky I’m afraid. None of it can wistand such cold temperatures as they have deep down there and even if we had managed to get find them they would be useless.”
Who would have through that this little prick would know so much about these things when he hasn’t even learned how to tie his own show laces. He was sitting calm with his fat leather jacket while I had to take notes from him like a school boy.
“I will just find Nielsen and explain him the situation face to face” I said confidently. “It was an accident and if he is willing to level with me I’m sure we can compromise to a solution that satisdfies us both.”
“Yeah right,” he chuckled. “You don’t know Nielsen at all. Most probably he wouldn’t even believe your story of the accident in the first place. He would think you stole his stuff and trying to make your earnings without paying him his share. He would never trust you enough to get your story down at all.”
“But it’s the truth,” I responded as if that should make things clear somehow.
“And plus, even if you do manage to convince him of your innocence he would get your life out of you to gain back everything he lost. That’s why I’m telling you. The best way forward is for you to gather up your stuff and leave as soon as possible.”
“Are you serious?” I utterd in total disbelief. “Don’t you know that I have a wife? A house? Family members that live here with me in Illusat? You expect me to gather up everything and just leave like that as if I have nothing holding me here?”
His face remained smoothingly calm in a way that I wished nothing else but to grab him violently and punch him as hard as I could.
“I know it’s not easy Johan. But if I were you, I would seriously consider it.” he said as he tapped on my shoulder and got out of the boat leaving me with my problem all alone. And for a moment the issue at hand seemed so evergrowing that I wished the boat to sink with me in it and let me find my fate together with that distorted box that was lying deep underneath me. But I knew there was still a chance and I had a good idea on how to go about this. In the next morning I had made up my mind and there was nothing to shake me out of it to for I was to go and find Nielsen myself. And if that was to make things any worse than they already are, then so be it.
When I entered inside Nielsen’s shop the next morning it must have seemed like they had all been witnessed a ghost and stood there staring at me as if they couldn’t believe in their eyes. I can only imagine their surprise when the man that was supposed to be delivering their package long miles away, was standing right in front of them with nothing to show for it but his subservient, frowened face that was about to dispose something they did not want to hear.
Jorse who was the most alarmed of everyone approached right from the get go and seemed to be well aware that something was screwed up in the process. He nodded me to follow him to the back and so did Nielsen who was still smoking some of his fat cigars that smelled like burning leaves after they are soaked in the rain. Together with his slik suit and golden necklace he resmebled a person from a distant era that was supremely misplaced for being here today.
“What are you doing here?” challenged me Jorse at once. “Why are you not driving already?”
I could see he was anticipating some sort of excuse that he wouldn’t believe in any way but so I tried to exaplain what happened in the best way that I could. Nielsen and Jorse listened to my story while checking back and forth with each other as if trying to defer what each other was thinking just by their expression and I had the feeling they would shoot right then and there and throw my body back in the port to keep company to the box.
“I’m willing to pay you back the full amount of that box of course,” I added at the end “if you give me some time. You can be sure that I will do everything in my power to cover for it back to its fullest.”
Jorse glanced dissaprovingly back to Nielsen and dismmissed everything I had pleaded for with one sentence.
“I think this guy is playing with us. He hide the box somewhere and he expects us to believe that it was merely an accident.”
I attempted to correct him at once but Nielsen intervened immediately and compounded on the already bad situation.
“Have you realize what you’ve done? How could you miss the package just within a day?”
The humiliation continued for at least half an hour which mixed with fear and dismay to create the perfect nightmare. I could feel myself getting in such a drown that I was desensitize by the whole situatuation as if surrendering in the increasing pressure without idenitifying so much with the sufferer as I was just playing a role. Like in a dream that I couldn’t recognize myself really and somehow a helping hand would come out of somewhere to rescue me in the last moment and revert my situation to what I knew so long.
“The whole box was costing more that 50.000 bucks on its own you damnhead. You think you can pay this amount just like that?”
“50.000 bucks? Just for a set of drugs?”
“I say,” continued Jorse with his usual relentlessness, ” we give him a full week to bring back the money or his done. Otherwise we run the rish of him leaving for good.”
“A week?” I interevened try to hold it all together. “I can’t get that amount of money that fast, but..in a couple of weeks I’m gonna participate in a food market that is bound to bring me at least 20 or 25 grand if everything goes on plan. If I get you these then the rest would come easyly within the next period and we can all go back to our business as usual”. I glanced back and forth at them as if a person that pleads mercy from the most ruthless human beings he could face and finally I saw a little stiring in Nielsen’s face that made me think that all hope was not lost after all.
“If we give you this time you are saying, how do we knoe that you are not going to run away?” he asked me in a serious manner that for the first time in the interaction revived my spirit.
“But I will have all my stuff here of course. Everything I possess, I could never just leave it and just go away.”
They both looked at each other as if processing the facts as hand through the same invisible medium that only they could grasp.
“We are going to take your dogs” Nielsen replied at the end with a compassionate look. “Only for precaution. You can have them back once we get the money”…
The flight to Nuuk was as monotonous and strenouous as a flight can be. Right next to me there was seating a pair of old glued together like a pack of plasteline, sweet couple that didn’t mind to bother me with meaningless chit chat. No matter how tight my lips where and how unresponsive I was, the woman would continue her blabber about the beutiful markets in Nuuk and her two children that were studing abroad in Europe as if that was the only thing that mattered to the whole world. Nothing else had any signiicance to this old lady and no importance was to be found to the unsemrable struggles of the everyday people but her perfect little bubble she was living in. Her big blue eyes were always filled with a continues smile as if she was the most fulfilled person in the world beside her neon white hair and the deep furrows in her face, and I was pretty sure that I could still detect some sort of affection between the two that somehow added even more to my overall annoyance of them.
The frowsty air was filled the packed vessel in the air with a suffcating substance that aggregated as we rose into the sky and I couldn’t get my mind off the upcoming task was the only way for to somehow remedy the sitation for me.
When I talked to Ian about actually joining him in the market he seemed quite pleased with it. Relieved that he wouldn’t have to go through it alone and for a moment I wasn’t sure who was doing a favor to whom. With his usual enthusiastic voice he reassured me of the the great opportunity at hand and he promised me that in the end I would be happy that I made the choice for it. Little did he know that this was actually the only plan for me rather than an issue of choice.
The scedule would be quite heavy he said. In the dawn we would go fishing for a few hours trying to grasp in our delicate green nets as many fished as we could and we would head right after to the market to sell them all within our two-in-one, everextended canteen that was certain to draw the atention of the customers in. I would be staying in his house together with him and his wife Naja, for the whole two weeks duration and it was meant to be an exhaustngly pleasurable experience that was also gonna make us a good heft of money.
Would it suffice for thw money I had promised to Nielsen to bring back at the end of it? Absolutely not. But even the course of making a start and reducing the debt by a respectable amount was a good start anyway that would make the point that I was going to keep my word in the end.
Kathryn of course never expected me to leave for such a lengthy amount of time and in such a short notice and she blastered me with the standard attack of how inconsiderate I was that seemed to be the routine accusation on me in all our last conflicts. With her back rurned against me the whole time while doing her usual kitchen work she would utter that men are not supposed to leave their houses for two weeks like that or that this trip is rather uneccerray and we could suffice with what we had already. If only I could open my mouth and explain to her the deadend I was in, that would make the point once and for all but I had promised to myself not to drag Kathryn in all this as she was as innocent as a butterfly and she deserved none of it.
I saw Ian right when I entered the main hall that followed our landing through the main exit gate in which he was waiting patiently under a thick woolen jacket that resembled the sking of a sheep. Little is to say to the overall hassle in the airport from which I felt I needed to escape as fast as possible with the constant flux of police-officers and visitors that flooded the whole place in a constant turmoil.
We walked towards the car and Ian who was as pleasant and affable as always took charge of the talk throughout the whole trip expaling to me the procedurals of the whole endevour. He seemed quite enthussiastic about it and for a little bit he reminded me the old Ian that was always passionate about some sort of idea that everyone else would be highly skeptical about. He never at once questioned how I had come to agree to this and what I had to earn from all this but it was safe to assume that he probably considered it an attempt from my part to bring some elsement from the past back to my life and that I wanted to cover some sort of nostalgia I mgiht had felt.
His house was covered in a tense red dress and the whole neighbourhood had such string colors in the buildings that they resmbled giant playmobiles stuck in the snow. Nuuk was much bigger than Illusat of course and over-populated in a sense for our standards of living. And so was his house that was compacted with stuff everywhere and was decorated from top to bottom with pictures and various adrnments.
We had dinner as he continued his guidance over the next two weeks plan which I listened to with a rather tedium apathy and it was only towards the end of the day, right before we both were to head back to our beds to prepare for next day’s calvary, that things got somewhat intersting. Naja, his much younger wife and what seemed to be of quite exotic nature made her apperacbce cougghting us by surprise. She had a dark smooth skin and a thick accent that revealed that she had spent most of her life outside Greenland and she lacked most of the intristic characteristic that were to be foung in native females. Large circular eyes, dark hair, dynamic character and composition and an independent vibe that made it crtstal clear that she was someone to be mishandled in any way. When I got up to greet her I even had the impression that she had heard all about me for she had no indication of inquiry in her eyes and her confident mannger made it seems that she knew all about me that there was for someone to know.
We only got the time to exhange just a few words for Ian intervened and considered it his duty to protect me from any extra obligation to stay up and continue our char after such a long jhourney that was ought to have taken the better of me already but she made such a strong impression to my that I couldn’t get my mind out of her for the rest of the night.
The next day started promptly with some early morning fishing after which we headed straight to the market to set out our harvest in our little exposition. He was very diligent in helping me out with everything and he made sure that I would have my side of canteen setup and ready for the day. We put togeter the crates of fished, sorted out per kind for which we made sure we had the most popular ones in the front. We fixated the white tent above our heads with long spikes gribbed into the ground to keep the structure steady and we made sure to set out the cash machine and all the necessary equipment for us to start the day. By the time the first few customers made their way in we had everything arranged to the outmost detail and it was only a while later that queues of people arrived filled with appetite for fish. I was doubmfounded to see that our whole merchandise which was enough to feed a small viallge on its own was all vanished within a few hours and we actually run our of merchandise to sell.
For the rest of the day we headed back to the house where we dinnered with Naja and we got to spend some time relaxing. Bot Ian and Naja were exceptionally warm and I realized that Ian at some point even suggested that I should move to Nuuk together with Kathryn as well. I actually bypassed the proposition at the time by I later understood that this wouldn’t be such a bad scenario as I first throught. For one thing I could surely sell the house in Illusat and make my way slowly into Nuuk, making a new start far away from all the trouble I had come to find with Nielsen and all the local distributors. Maybe that could be the right move after all as long as I would manage to convince Kathryn of course who would most certainly object to the idea right from the get go.
It was all a lovely night where we had a nice evening by the fireplace that had this incredible quality to draw your eyes on and magnitize you as if you are a souless zombie with no will of its own. The suee red armchairs by its side and the dimmes low candle light of the room was all in place to soothe you to the point that you just wanted to spend the whole night there and never leave again.
But as Ian left us for a while to make some phone calls Naja approached me with dazzling eyes and a playfull attitude for a query that made a huge impression to me. She told me that Ian was feeling quite lonely lately and as if he had lost touch with the whole place. She confessed to me that he wasn’t being himself and that work had taken the best our of him implying how important it was for me to be there. Of course that was something that I fully understood myself and I actually could commiserated in the suffering as well and I told her so but then she kind of ejected as if this was something I shouldn’t have said.
“But you are such a strong man,” she said with a light touch on my arm, “one can easily sense how well you can deal with things firmly and cofidently. But Ian on the other hand, can be so…sensitive at times,”
All the flattery of hers seemed excessive of course and I had no doubt that if anyone was the strong one in the group it was surely wasn’t me but then Ian came back in and seemed quite unbothered by Naja’s hand on my arm which she reluctntly withdrew with a beguiling smile on her face while Ian dropped his phone and took his usual seat back with us.
The rest of the two weeks passed as away in a constant hassle that time seemed expanded by the constant flow of things that never stopped. We would wake up early every morning, stay to the market till late afternoon and then head back or stroll outside in some restauarant. We had managed to sell pretty much our whole merchandise which was more than 15 grand each and I was quite happy with the progress but it was just a couple of days before my departure that the craiziest thing happened and just before I lay out the facts and I get condemed about my actions let me just say this.
Throught my whole stay in Nuul, Naja had been overly close to me. That’s a terrble thing for someone to say for himself but it’s a fact as she would always seek out my company one way or the other and she would look for opportunities to spend time together. At one occasion that we stayed up quite late and got somewhat drunk she even got so close to me that we almost kissed while Ian was sitting right next to us. Overall though Ian seemed quite uninhibited in the way Naja was behaving and was unomoved be everything she did as if this was some natural, expected behavior, but I nevered occured to me that they had some trouble in their relationship or there was some sort of chasm.
Her attachment grew stronger and stronger over the following days and was culminating while Ian was standing right next to us. At some point that we were alone I even confronted her about it and asked her not act like that but instead of being sensitized and justfy her behavior she simply shook her head and replied with a stunning remark.
“You don’t know Ian. He is not who you think he is,”
As if spending your whole life be the side of someone and growing up together is not enought time to teach you a thing or two about him.
So when the days passed and I was two days before returning back to Illusat Ian had to visit some friend for an accidental occasion and we spend the time together in the living room. As we continued our char she came close to me and kissed me and I was astounded by it. But she perdured with her indescretion exaplining that she and Ian had stopped getting together for a long time now and I had nothing to worry. Beside my initial hesitation her persistance overcame my inhibations and we ended up having sex right there in the living room. I couldn’t get passed the fact that I have done that and I regretted right after it happened but the next morning I realized that Ian knew about it and wasn’t bothered by it at all even leaving a subtle innuendo like,
“I hope you didn’t got overboard with Naja yesterday, did you? She has her way of getting carried away sometimes,”.
Which wasn’t a direct confrontation but something in the way he said made me think that he knew about it and nothing had changed between us.
We continued that last two days following the same routine and they were actually our most profitable days of all getting people from the vast area around Nuuk visiting the famous market that was about to end. And the time came that I had to go back and confront Nielsen who would be proding and waiting for my arrival there and was to continue being on my back till a long time to come. And right as greeted Ian who had accompanied me to the airport he once again prompt me to think about it seriously and consider the possibility to move to Nukk forver. And something had shifted in my that made me think that this was the best scenario I could possibly have.
Just when I was about to enter the house and gaze Kathryn once again, my feet felt weightier than usual in each step I was to take, and I averted every moment of this encounter like it was the worst kind of punishment to go through. I could never fathom myself in the position of betraying my marriege in such a way especially towards someone like Kathryn who was doing her part as impeccably as she did. I opened the door and expected to face a wreckage, or someone that had lost all hope after missing the one particular thing that was supporting it since all along, but instead what I witnessed was a person I had never met before.
Kathryn in full splurging mode, reviatlized, and revived with new curly hairut that was carefully arranged in a fuzzy standing, modern fresh clothes that were highlighted her body siluette and a beatiful joyous smile to top everything else up as if she had the best time of her life. I looked at her up and down several times trying to understand what this metamorphosis was all about and when I asked her what had happened she started enumerating on all her actions in the past two weeks as if she was the one who had gone away and now she was back a wholy new person.
Apparently during this time her friends had convince her to refresh herself like this and they had all embarked into a journey of frenzy where they would relive their student years by getting out every day and enjoying their time together. She was so excited about this whole two weeks that I had to actually pretend that I was so tired from the journey that I had to get my little slumber before being in position to function again and only when I made my way to my room she remembered to ask about my journey.
I stayed in my bed for a while numb and desensitized from everything for my upcoming meeting with Nielsen. I had managed to gather just a bit over 16 grand and even though that was a succesful sum for the particular occasion I was only a small portion of the whole amount I had to bring back to him.
I met him later on in his store and he seemed quite relieved to see me as if soothing the fear I was to fly away from him forever and losing all his money. He was rather dissapointed with my meagre pack of money and he proded me about how I was planning to get him the rest and it was only when I lied that I had another one of these events coming in a couple of months and that I was also expecting some money from some stand-alone jobs where he seemed to back off from my back for the first time. Jorse was standing by my side the whole time and it would only take a small expression from Nielsen for him to take my head off and in one slit moment.
Of course there was no such plan coming ahead for me neither I had any clue of how I would produce the rest of the money but I knew that if there was any chance of getting my life back I had to try to convince Kathryn of moving out of Illusat and maybe starting anew to some other place like Nuul where we would have fresh opportunities at hand and plenty of job for me to take.
For the following period I berated Kathryn on how nice Nuuk was and how much better people get their time there. It has more job opportunities for me and a bunch of more stuff for you to do there to pass your time if you wish, I said to which she replied dully like,
“But all my friends are here. You wouldn’t expect me to give up on everything I have just to try out something like that would you?”
I did let it go then but for the following period I always made sure to bring up subtle nuances that I had taken notice in Nuuk that I knew she would appreciate and that Illusat could never compare with. Such as the amazing food in the restaurants, big cinemas and recreation halls, multiple gym studion and opportunities to have hobbies and everything else I could thik off. She never was pshycked about it but I could see that I had planted one very sneaky bug into her that it might actually be better there for both of us that would grow stronger over time.
Meanhile I had reinitated some coorperation with the second distributor who finally accepted to buy from me a few batches of fish given that I was to bring only my latest crop which I of course took on with great pleasure. From every penny that I was making, no matter how scarce and rare it was the biggest percentage of it had to be saved for Nielsen who was impatiently grabbing most of it every week that he would come to find me. He was still expecting me to repay him within due time which of course I had no idea how to do and I had to find a way to convince Kathryn to get out of there. So one night I sat her down and had a serious conversation with her about it and promised her to give me a short opportunity to show her how much better it would be. We would stay with Ian and Naja initially and we could always return back if she decided she didn’t like it which she eventaully came to accept.
We agreed to makle the move a month later which was still quite hard for me to manage with Nielsen always on my feet but I managed to hold him for a little while longer making fake promised to which he would alwayts forwarn me of how heavily I would be punished if I wassn’t going to keep my word.
One week before making the move to Nuuk I decided to handle the situation differently. I send a private note to the police station describing in excrutiating detail that path to Nielsen’s storage room and everything I had seen in there. I made the note as detailed as possible and send it over through a intermidiate international point that would hide the details of the sender.
Meanwhile the time for us to leave Illusat came and it was with great yearning and anticipation that I saw the plane take off from the ground.
When we moved in Nuuk for the first month both me and Kathryn occupied the spare bedroom that was located in the west side of Ian’s house. It was crafted with light gleamy wood and had a old fashion sense all over it. From what I heard back in Illusat things progrssed quite far with Nielsen where he and the whole of his team was captured by the police and jailed after having found hugge amounts of illegal drugs in the storage room. Neither I listened anything from him again nor from his crew members that were all accused of participating in his business and the field was open for us to even sell the house in Illusat and find something new there in Nuuk where Kathryn seemed to have the time of her life.
Meanwhile all four of us living together under the same roof offered for a lot of interesting interactions where me and Naja where secretely seeeing each other at obscure times when everyone else was not looking and the danger of beeing discovered not only didn’t stop is but seemed to fuel Naja’s passion even further knowing that our better halfs were located right in the same house while we were together.
Katryn continued her independent style and was all the more distant from me from the time that we got there and something was telling that she had lost all interest in our relationship. When I confronted her openly about it she shrugged it off with the reasoning that we were living in a foreign man’s house but I couldn’t get my mind off that she was hiding something. It only took me a few months after we had found a new house in Nuuk and we had moved there permanently that I happened to see with my own eyes a reality I would never anticipate.
Naja called me one night invinting me to go to her house where Ian was supposedly missing. I didn’t think much of it but right after I got there she led me to the basement of the house where we stood by the upper part of it the was looming above a see of candles. An insumerable amount of them dimming the ground with warm yellow light that made everything seem so ritualistic and mythical. I didn’t realize what was going on till a few men came in wearing wholesome brown tunicles covering their face as they slowly and sluggishly walked around a pedestal. I couldn’t detect who they were or what was the point of it since were stadning quite afar and Naja immediately proimpt me to suss my self.
They were five of them and standing around holding a candle and at some point one of them was guided towards the pedistal on which the hood was removed to reveal Kathryn who was heavily blushed with maked up and a nohelic attitude that I had never seen on her before.
She was lied on top of the pedistal nude as the two man filled the air with smole coming out of their thuribles and it wasn’t long till another man approached her and took his suit off and started making love to her in front of everyone. I couldn’t see Ian anywhere but I knew he was watching the whole thing and no matter how much I wanted to stop I caught myself getting absorbed by it and watching them as they made love with each other in this hypniotising sacrament. And as if some stronger force was guiding us we all participated in the ceremony by joining the amalmagation of naked bodies and drunken lust as we gave ourselves to each fully and unrestrained. And from that day on something changed in me as if my old self was casted down broken and a new one took his place that I couldn’t recognize. And the word took a shade in it that I had never seen before.0