– All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, except The Dromedary, It’s very real. –
Dazed, but not so confused. All the sharpness, all the spice, has seeped out of you, melted away like butter in the sun, slithered its way down between the fingers and down the drain, into the dark soil.
While your friends over seas, and elsewhere, are giving thanks you sit and wonder what you are thankful for. The six legged family that you’re a part of, friends and family near and far and sleeping with the door open IN NOVEMBER comes to mind.
You also find yourself overly fond of islanders these days. The brits around you that break up the Scandinavian pattern and add spice to the otherwise dry social landscape and the natives who are to-the-point-people, the people of this island.
You have lost your sting, sleep almost as much as the kid and the familiarity has lulled you into a quiet daze.
It’s the island air, another thing to be thankful for. You haven’t slept like this since you were a teenager, or well… since you were here last time.
And the sound of the ocean is wonderful. The fact that it’s the wind playing in the palms is beside the point, you can pretend it’s the ocean – just as you used to pretend the traffic outside the apartment window, where you used to live, was the ocean. And this is a LOT easier, because the sea isn’t far off.
It almost doesn’t matter that your nose is running constantly, your eyes itch and you’re dizzy. It’s just your ears, just allergies – IN NOVEMBER.
You blame The Thing and it’s pollenettic friends.
It’s quiet too. Still waiting. Maybe the island has made it as soft as you have become.
The days turn into routine. The kid and the man bathe in the pools that are colder than the arctic ocean, but they seem to like it. Nobody, and nothing, comes between a swede and his or her pool, apparently. You know this, even though you will never understand it.
You go to the small, local tourist shops to buy necessities and to look at the kitsch. Tantalising chimes in wonderful colors. The shops are mind boggling in their own way. There are at least seven kind of sausages (and yet not a German in sight! Who is buying all these sausages? The Brits? The Danes?) and there are over thirty brands of wine, but finding anything to eat other than Pasta and Bolognese sauce is out of the question. Thankfully there are fruits and vegetables to spice things up with.
And The Thing is quiet. You almost start to think you were wrong in thinking there was something underneath the surface here, something lurking. But then you hear a conversation between a little British boy and his mum.
“You worry too much,” the mother says to the little child.
“I know,” the boy says sadly as they are walking down the staircase and past The Thing.
“It’s alright,” the mother says quietly, and grabs his hand to hold.
And you’re sure it is too, but the boy isn’t convinced.
Then after being dazed, (and periodically confused) for days it’s time for an excursion. You pack a bag, put the kid in the back of the car, the man in the passenger seat and you drive off. The car smells new and the roads are good, as long as you stay off the dirt roads, though these might lead you to interesting places.
You head towards the volcanic area, El Diablo. The lava is stark, dark and entirely without moss. You’ve only once seen this much lava without moss before, and that was right after an eruption in Iceland. The lava was still spewing out of the mountain.
You happen upon a small place where at least fifty Dromedaries sit and wait for the tourists. The islanders are no-bullshit people. “Three people? Sit there!”
The animal gets named quickly. The Fonz because of its rebellious nature, by the man and Karlsson by the kid, who seems to think that using the nickname they use on you is appropriate for this rebellious Dromedary. You take an instant liking to the animal that doesn’t like being last in line, and doesn’t like to have its face in another Dromedary arse. You sympathise and don’t mind sharing one of your nicknames with it. The road up the mountain isn’t long and not particularly steep, and the wobbling makes you laugh. The islander who leads the animals looks sternly at The Fonz from time to time and then you’re back on the ground, almost getting catapulted when the animal sits down again. You feel like a little kid after a tivoli ride. You want to go again and again. But you don’t.
Back in the car you haven’t driven more than a few kilometers when another islander jumps you while you’re stopping to take a photo. Eighteen euros and you get to do something. What? You’re not sure but you drive through the gate and into a lava landscape where you are greeted by other islanders. They are surrounded by busses and tourists and you soon realise that it’s a bus ride you’ve paid for. So you ride a bus through the lava landscape, up the mountains and down again. You get to see the craters and you get to learn about the islands volcanic history. You make a mental note about looking that Priest up, the one who wrote about the eruptions so long ago. And when the ride is over every member of the family is too tired to do anything else but head back to the hotel. Back to the comfort and the dazedness.
When it turns to dusk you walk the shoreline, buy a scarf (you always do on these vacations) and have dinner. The kid eats faster than she has ever done before, which either means the food is really, really good or she was starving to death and you doubt the latter is true.
The fact that your back has been killing you all day is perfectly beside the point.
The fact that the sharpness you had in the face of Death is gone annoys you a lot more. The British woman who was so sour a few days ago approaches you on the pathway to the hotel and she looks all sunshine and roses, perhaps she too has succumbed to the softness of this island.
“Do you have the time?” she asks and when I tell her she ruffles the kids hair lightly and compliments it. We smile as we part and the kid asks what she said.
“She liked your hair,” I tell her.
And the kid smiles softly and says: “They all do”.
You decide it’s time to read more Ligotti and sharpen your pencil intensively.
Or perhaps it’s alright to just lay back and be a little dazed for a while? The sharpness and the cold will come soon enough, but not for another week and that’s another thing to be thankful for.