I woke up a bit hung over. It was a little past noon, 5 a.m. Seattle time- it was no wonder that I felt so strung out. I remembered what the guy on the shuttle bus had said about the swimming pools in Reykjavík; a brochure from the tourist agency which had been left in my apartment gave the locations. I had several hours to kill before my meeting with Billy; the walk and a soak would do me good. I emailed follow-ups to Molly and Mrs. Robinson. I was concerned about Molly's comment about "the guy sitting in the car", I told her to get a picture of him and the car if she could do it without being too obvious- one of the benefits of having a smart phone. Mrs. Robinson's email about the Russians was even more troubling. There was definitely something going on with Billy and the Russians and we didn't need this case developing into an international incident.
The wind had died down quite a bit from the night before, the walk was invigorating, almost every house or apartment I passed had some kind of art or arrangement in the window. The pool house was a low gray Euro-Modern building from the forties situated in a residential area about a mile from my apartment. I rented a suit and towel and the desk clerk pointed me towards a flight of stairs leading down to the men's changing area. It was a nice place, wood and tile, surprisingly bright for a locker room. A few other older men (evidently "regulars") were in the in the area adjacent to the shower, it was as much a community center as it was a swimming pool. My headache started to fade as soon as I was in the shower.
The lap lanes were open, I managed to do a few before staggering over to the hot pots. The first two pots were mild but the third was the just hot enough to make me forget my aches. In it were an older couple and an olive-skinned young man.
"Góðan daginn" the elder man said.
I replied "Good day to you, too."
"Ay, an American, yes, and what brings you to our little pool at the end of the world?"
"A little getaway, and to visit an old friend from school."
"Where are you from in America?" the young man spoke with a slight Spanish accent.
"From Seattle, recently, but I've lived in a couple of places in the States. You must have come from somewhere else as well, yes?"
"I am from Madrid, here on business."
"And you two, from Iceland no doubt?"
The woman smiled and nodded, the man spoke: "Yes, we've been here all our lives, except when I was fishing. I've been to Seattle too, but it was many years ago, before I had my trawler."
"I've just lived there a few months, really." I replied, trying not to say too much.
"I've been all around the world, I went to Japan to study their fishing methods. They had a way of casting their nets, I learned it and I would always catch more fish and use less fuel than any other Icelandic trawlers, until I taught them how to do it."
"Do you still get out on the ocean?"
"No, I'm retired, this is my water now. But the water has memory, you see, the water has memory."
"An admirable philosophy, my friend..." It was the man I had met on the flybus coming in a day ago, he was entering the hot pot wearing a Speedo and had a pair of swim goggles around his neck. "... you know, the only philosophy I believe in is about water, too."
"Welcome professor... Shallbetter, I believe it is? Join us in our international symposium. And what is your philosophy of water?"
"Simply put, water is good. I know it isn't much of a theory, you don't have to believe it, unless, of course, you are thirsty." We all laughed. "It isn't really my theory. I borrowed it from Halldór Laxness."
"I should know who that is, I think." I had a feeling that my college computer science classes were a little deficient in Scandinavian philosophers.
"The greatest Icelandic author of the twentieth century, Nobel laureate and an unrepentant Socialist. You could hardly find a better commentator on the human condition in any era."
Things were beginning to heat up in our little hot pot at the end of the world.