He was meek, homicidal, wore a long scarf tied once around his neck as must have been the style for trolls that year. I never saw him board the bus, but it may have been in Varmahlid, though I can’t be sure since I slept so much in Iceland.
I was there at summer’s end, meaning August. Most folks in their twenties had already scamped cross-country in July so I found myself with the elderly wanderers. On trails I passed couples catching breath and rubbing each other’s knees through waterproof pants. The Germans regarded me with tacky detachment, snubbing me while wearing bright red boots and brighter orange parkas. I tried not to feel hurt by their disdain, told myself it was like being expelled from clown college, but you can guess how much it really bothered me.
Also, I had the amazing misfortune of sitting behind French people on every plane and bus. Minutes into a ride a pair, woman and man, brazenly checked that yes there was, certifiably, undeniably, someone sitting behind them, then slid their chairs so far back I had a headrest against my gullet. This happened so much. Even when I asked, slapped, tapped, or pushed their seats they only gave that stare the French invented to paralyze the dumb.
Luckily the Icelanders liked me, even with being an American, because I was shy. Firm, polite, and quiet, a perfect personality for these reserved Northern Europeans. Many times I was told so. –Don’t take this the wrong way, one girl in a candy shop said to me, but I explained to my coworker that here, finally, is an American who isn’t boring. Being loud and asking so many boring questions!
Most Icelanders used English skillfully, but it was a quirk of speech that they said boring when they meant frustrating. Like,–This knot in my shoe is so boring! Or,–I can’t reach my girlfriend, this connection is boring!
I heard it like that many times.
So this was me: an American, not boring, black, and alone in Iceland.
Being both a troll and a smoker he had little lousy teeth. When his mouth opened it was hard to distinguish them from his lips. Everything fed into a gen- . . .