here's just the beginning
Check out my new story posted at Gival Press
here's the beginning--
I. One day
He was waiting by the dock.
Several thoughts competed for his attention. The heavy clouds and thick shadows passing over the water. The ferry slogging through the choppy waves. The fact that spring was late and Easter was early this year. He felt impatient waiting. It was on its way, out there on the gray horizon.
Arne-Dag smiled. Always the pastor, always thinking in metaphors. It was hard to escape.
The hull of the ferry yawned before him as the ramp lowered and car engines started up. A stream of cars exited. Slowly the queue he was in moved forward toward the ship’s cavity. Again it felt like death or another biblical allusion: Jonah in the belly of the whale. He was trying to alight on just the right illustration for next week’s Palm Sunday sermon. Christ triumphant entering the city. He lined up his automobile and parked. A cold wind blew so he stayed inside while other drivers got out to smoke. Palm branches waving. Many in his small parish were somewhere warm this week. They were drenched in short sleeve-sunshine and triumph. The ferry pulled away from the dock.
He scrubbed his face with his hands in an attempt to wake up. It had been a long day and he was in a hurry to get back to the church before his confirmation class showed up in the basement where a pool table and foosball table had been installed. They used to keep colas in the fridge but some of the parents complained (rightly) when their kids began putting on pounds. So, gone were the sugar drinks. Not so good for anyone. He was constantly weighing what was good and not good for his flock.
The ferry’s whistle blew to announce their approach on the other side of the fjord. Darting swiftly, headlights zigzagged on the steep roadway down to the dock. He had a fleeting thought: That’s how accidents happen. He waited with the other drivers in a smog of cigarette smoke and diesel fumes, in a kind of dull twilight for the door to drop.
He followed taillights until they turned off. The leaden clouds were about to release rain and people were scattering. But Arne-Dag kept going. Late afternoon and he could almost hear the lightweight foosball dropping into the socket and the kids jamming on the rods animating the players. The one kid, Magnus, always the loudest. SCORE!!! Arne-Dag, it seemed, was constantly asking him to sit down, to think before speaking. Here he smiled again to himself. To think before screaming—
Arne-Dag screeched to a sudden stop. His breath came out in ragged bursts as he pulled up the parking brake. “Christ!”
Around the bend a man lay in the middle of the road. A woman bent over him sobbing.
Arne-Dag scrambled as best he could for a big man, sliding his belly against the steering wheel, leaving the door open to reach the couple.
“What’s going on here?”
The woman was Asian but answered him in Norwegian. “I don’t know.”
A motorcycle had obviously skidded and was piled up by a snow drift at the side of the roadway. Arne-Dag was fighting to find a connection between all the pieces and people before him. “What is his name?”
“I don’t know.”
He wondered for a second if she was all there. Her black hair billowed in the wind and stuck to her lips and lashes.
“I just got here,” she said.
Arne-Dag looked around. From where? He assumed she’d been with him on the bike, but of course, not; she was wearing only a wool coat with no hat nor gloves. “Where did you come from?” he asked.
“I was out walking, clearing my head. I was walking here beside the road smoking a cigarette.”
Arne-Dag nodded. It was easy enough to see how the accident happened. The cyclist must have rounded the corner and come upon her and swerved to miss her. He tried to think—had he been on the ferry? He quickly dialed for emergency medical services. He supposed the man was unconscious; his cracked helmet was still strapped to his chin.
“Yes. Yes,” he answered into his cell. “Yes. I’ll check.”
Arne-Dag bent down. He now noticed blood seeping out from beneath the rider’s head. He touched his throat and that’s when he realized the driver was dead. There was no pulse.
The woman stared up into his face as he relayed the information. With the words, she lost all control. Arne-Dag threw down the phone to catch her before she walked over the side of the road and tumbled down the ravine. He held her for a long time. He was going to be very late for the confirmation class.
|Stein Arild (@stein_bgg) | Instagram|