There was a café across the street from #11. Þora went into the restroom while Sean picked up a couple of coffees and sat down at a table by the window. His body felt on the verge of breaking down but he knew had to stay awake—there were some things which needed to be addressed.
First: His all too easy betrayal of Molly. Was he becoming just like Billy? Reverting to his own college days? Meaningless couplings that were always followed by feelings of self-loathing. The situation had been different with Molly. Somehow, everything just ‘worked’ between them. But now Sean had broken that bond—a bond which they had nurtured for months—in a moment.
Second: It now was obvious that there had been more going on between Þora and Billy than just flirtation. How would the “new” Billy measure up? Could Sean keep up the deception until he left Iceland or would Þora see through his charade? Their lovemaking had been good, perhaps too good, but it would have certainly been different than what had gone on before between her and Billy. As Sean stared into his coffee his reflection seemed to be that of a different person—not Billy, not Sean—it was someone else. Someone Sean didn’t like the looks of.
In the restaurant four older men, obviously regulars, sat amidst newspapers and coffee cups at a couple of tables that had been pushed together. They were talking in deep guttural tones, the conversation punctuated by the occasional “Já, Já, Já,” followed by a minute of silence before the murmur would begin again. It may have been the speed, but from time to time Sean would catch them looking in his direction. When Þora came and sat down, the men were definitely staring. Smiles crossed their faces. It was then that Sean realized how he had placed Þora in a situation beyond her understanding or control. “Her heart is going to be broken,” thought Sean, “but it isn’t my fault.” He knew that what he was thinking was wrong: it was a liar’s morality.
Þora sat down and looked at Sean for a long time before speaking.
“Who the fokking fokk are you?” she hissed.
What would Billy have done in this situation? Sean ran through a few scenarios in the silence that followed Þora’s outburst. Stonewall her? Laugh it off? Act dumb? Billy had gone through this scene, in one form or another, numerous times. What were the tricks that Billy used to use? Sean knew that no matter how bad the scene, Billy would never get mad and would never cause a scene. Then Sean began to remember the “advice” Billy had given him for handling a bad scene with a woman:
“Let her talk her way through it. There is no point in starting a fight about love and sex. She’ll cover all sides of the situation—if you keep your mouth shut. Let her flow on and on like a river. She’ll eventually reach a point where the wild rapids will empty into a calm lake.”“Lately, I don’t know,” Sean said. He looked deeply into Þora’s eyes—as if he could find the answer there, “Help me,” he said. Sean was feeling even more disgusted with himself—were such a thing possible.
“Help you?” said Þora, “How can I help such a man? You treat me like a stykki af skít, you don’t call, then tell me you were out all night ‘thinking’ and then you show up at the hangover shack with new clothes and fokking wingtip shoes? Wingtip shoes! What kind of fool do you take me for? What’s her name? Someone I know? Don’t tell me it was some fokking ferðamaður stelpu!”
The men at the other table were quiet. They weren’t looking at Sean and Þora, but Sean knew they were taking in every word. He swallowed hard. This scene wasn’t going to get any better unless Billy’s theory was right. Þora resumed her tirade:
“Pretty smooth lovemaking Billy,” Þora said under her breath, “Did you really think I couldn’t tell that something is wrong? Never were you so quiet before.”
They sat in silence.
The quiet of the restaurant was broken by the sounds of the ‘breakfast club’ getting up. The last man to leave looked at Sean before giving him a sly smile followed by a wink. Þora glared back. The counter person came over and picked up the cups left by the men.
“Billy,” said Þora.
“You are trying to live in two worlds. It can’t be done. You must choose. An you must choose now.”
“I must go back. My father, for good or ill, is at the climax of his career. When this election is over I’ll be free to return. If I don’t support him now, it will tear our family apart. Give me a few months. I’m not proud of what I’m going to do. But I will come back. I’ll come back and then you will have my undivided attention.”
Þora was quiet again.
“Okay, Billy,” said Þora, “Six months. Come back and we can start over.”
“She bought it,” thought Sean.