Thursday, September 06, 2012

Triage



a party… flashing lights can’t remember where i am… alone… looking down into a deep hole… i know if i get too close i’ll be pulled in by some perverse/reverse will power… something important is happening… i can sense it, but what… where did everyone go… and now i am a child again… throwing stones i hit a boy on the forehead… the blood flows right out and i feel sick so i run away and then my mother tells me not to do it… i have to go to the apartment house and tell the boy’s mother i’m sorry even though he started it… then there is the wail of a siren i think it is the police coming for me...

   Sean woke up, alone in his apartment in Reykjavík, the television was on.

   Something is happening.

   What is going on?

   Empty wine bottles on the table.

   Billy.

   The room started to come into focus.  He became aware that he was sick, really sick. He hadn’t felt like this since that night in the dorm in college—when Billy thought it would be amusing to drug his wine.

“That asshole did it again!” Sean thought, as he staggered to the bathroom and stuck his toothbrush down his throat—a trick he learned in the dorm. After a few minutes of purging, Sean was awake but fuzzy-headed. He went back into the living room. It looked as if it had been hit by a tornado.

   Billy had gone through all of Sean’s things: the laptop was gone, as was his jacket, wallet, passport, phone and his shoes.  

   “The dirtbag had even stolen my shoes!” thought Sean, “To keep me from following him.”

   Billy had even emptied out Sean’s suitcase, dumping out his underwear, socks, and papers, leaving nothing of obvious value. But in that pile was Sean’s most valuable possession: the note that Mrs. Robinson had given him in Seattle, a way out of this mess.

   Outside the window, reflections of flashing blue and red lights were bouncing off the buildings, coming in the direction of the harbor.

   “The siren in my dream! Something is happening.”

   Billy’s jacket was lying on the bed. When Sean picked it up he felt something hard in its lining. Looking through the pockets, he found, through a hole in one of them, a single key, embossed  with the number 11. In lieu of shoes, Sean put on the three pair of socks that Billy hadn’t taken. He went out and walked down the street, passing the now-dark Russian Embassy and headed to where the lights were brightest.

   When he got to the road that serviced the harbor he saw several emergency vehicles. Medical and police personnel had cordoned off an area around a man who was lying in the roadway. Next to the man was a smashed laptop computer.

   The computer was Sean’s—he could see the ADR inventory sticker on its bottom. The man was wearing Sean’s jacket. He was obviously dead. Sean knew that it was Billy.

   The police were talking to a taxi driver, it was Ole—Sean’s taxi driver. The front end of his cab was damaged. A small crowd had gathered on the sidewalk across the street from where Sean stood. Standing in it were the two goons that Sean had seen the night before at the nightclub. When one of them looked up and made eye contact, Sean turned and walked quickly away without looking back. After he was around the corner he started to run. Away from the horrible scene, away from Billy, away from the goons. Sean kept running. Going through the square by Hotel Borg, running past the pond, and then, with his lungs on fire, Sean ran up the hill behind the big corrugated metal church. The US Embassy was on the next block.

   As Sean turned the corner at the top of the hill, it began to rain. He made his way down the street, his clothes were completely soaked by the time he pressed the Embassy’s doorbell. He waited. After a minute, he pressed it again. A groggy voice emerged from the intercom.

   “How may we be of assistance?” The voice coming from the speaker spoke in a flat, almost weary tone. It had the inflection someone who had dealt with the major and minor traumas of tourists on a regular basis.

   “Gluggaveður. Gluggaveður,” Sean hoped that he wasn’t mangling the pronunciation of the strange word.

   “Please wait.”

   Sean waited. The narrow overhang above the door did little to stop the downpour. He had been wet when he arrived at the Embassy, but now he was now positively soggy. Sean began to shiver. After a few minutes, a smaller door next to the main entrance opened, and a uniformed guard motioned him inside.

   “Proceed down the hall,” said the guard, “At the end of the hall, turn to the right. There is a room with a shower and towels and a bathrobe. Change out of your wet things. Wait there.”

   Sean walked down the passageway and when he got to the end he turned and entered a large bathroom fitted with toilets, sinks, lockers and a shower. As the door closed behind him he heard the click of its lock. He tried the door but it wouldn’t open again. On one wall of the room were high windows. They were barred. Sean got the impression that this room was also used as a holding cell. He stripped and entered the shower. Even the warm water couldn’t stop his shaking. He dried off and put the bathrobe on. Gradually, he began to calm down. He was still a little foggy from the wine and whatever it was that Billy had put into it. He was starting to develop a massive headache. Sean tried to make sense of the events of the last two days: Who were those goons? Russians?  Icelandic boyfriends of Silu and Þora? Were they chasing Billy, was that the reason he ran in front of the taxi?

   “Tell me what’s going on, Sean.”

   It was Sally O’Donnell, who had entered the room with the guard.

   “You’re with the embassy?”

   “Let’s just say that it was no accident that I was on that flight, nor was it a coincidence that I rescued you yesterday. Think of me as your guardian angel, Sean. I know why you’re here; I know about Billy. Where is he?”

   “I think Billy is dead. He was hit by a taxi down by the harbor. I think he may have been running from some thugs, those same guys who were after me last night. They saw me at the accident scene. I didn’t want to end up like Billy. I think that Billy may have been running from them. I came here from there.”

   Sally’s look changed. It was the first time Sean had seen her frown.

   “You’re sure it was Billy?” she said, “You’re sure he’s dead?”

   “He’s dead. It was gruesome. He had taken my ID—my wallet, passport, laptop, everything.”

   “Did anyone else see you, anyone besides the thugs?”

   “I don’t think so.”

   Sean began to tell Sally of the day’s events: his meeting with Billy at Perlan, their walk to the graveyard, drinking in the apartment. Sean didn’t mention Billy’s belief that he and Sean were brothers. He also didn’t bring up Billy’s daughter, nor did he mention Billy’s theory about the deaths of their mothers. Sean now had no doubts that Sally was on the Senator’s payroll.

   “He left a key in his jacket pocket,” said Sean, as the guard began to gather up the wet clothes.

   “You’ll have to stay here for a while, I’ve got to make some calls. We’ll get those clothes dried for you. Hang on to that key, you might have need of it. Is there anything we can get you in the meantime?”

   “Could I get internet access?”

   “No.”

   “A cup of coffee would be nice.”

   “I’ll see what I can do,” said Sally.

   “How about an aspirin?”

   Sally smiled.

   “Sure, Sean, you can have two.”




Fiction

By Professor Batty