“Go on,” Gabin said, flicking his foot at the puppy. “Get away.”
The puppy let go of the blanket and shrank away from the bed, tail low, head low, eyes fixed on Gabin. Gabin blinked. He took a second look at the puppy – all black, but for two beige spots above its eyes. Even with its eyes closed the spots would give the impression that it was wide awake, alert, always watching.
“That’s a good trick.”
Gabin sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. The puppy scampered out of the house. Gabin rubbed his eyes and followed.
The sun continued to describe its slow arc across the polar sky, burning the western edge of the mountain curling around the island settlement of Illorsuit. Gabin turned towards it, pausing to wave at the puppy as it slunk beneath the deck of Iisaaq’s house – all four eyes watching. Gabin closed the door behind him and walked parallel to the beach, picking his way along the hard-packed path, nodding at two elderly Greenlandic men chatting on a nearby bench, then sidestepping out of the way of three children tumbling down the path towards him. Gabin followed the path of least resistance to the beach, slowing as he approached a middle-aged man working on his fibreglass dinghy.
“Kaasi,” the man said, as he greeted Gabin. Kaasi’s hand was dry with a firm grip. Together with the look Kaasi gave him, Gabin had the impression the greeting was genuine. “You’re him?” Kaasi said, frowning as he struggled with the unfamiliar English words.
“I’m a friend of Iisaaq’s.”
“Aap.” Kaasi let go of Gabin’s hand, then pointed at the peninsula across the fjord to the west. The sun lit the granite with a red glow. Kaasi said something in Greenlandic, followed by, “You’re him. Man from the south?”
Gabin tensed, as he wondered where this was going. He glanced at the knife tucked into Kaasi’s belt, the hammer resting on the upturned hull of his dinghy. NAME followed Gabin’s gaze then caught his eye and laughed.
“Everything is good. No problem.” He took Gabin’s hand and pumped it a second time, more enthusiastically than the first. “No problem. You’re him. A good man. You’re welcome.”
“Thank you,” Gabin said. His brow creased as he let go of Kaasi’s hand. “Do you need any help?”
“With your boat.” Gabin pointed, gestured at the hammer. “Can I help you?”
Kaasi rattled through a description of what he was working on, losing Gabin in a flurry of Greenlandic, pausing to smile, and nudging Gabin’s arm as he pointed and then tapped the hull. Gabin laughed at Kaasi’s enthusiasm, noting the man’s small frame, skin stretched tight over his bones, the subtle bulge of his biceps as the arms of his t-shirt slid up and over them as he worked. Kaasi crouched to lift the gunwale and together they turned the dinghy.
Gabin looked up as Iisaaq wandered down the path to join them on the beach. He shook hands with Kaasi, and then lit a cigarette, standing to one side as Kaasi inspected the patch he had applied to the hull.
“Can’t sleep?” Iisaaq said.
Gabin shrugged, and said, “I tried.” He dipped his head towards Kaasi before asking Iisaaq, “What have you told people about me?”
Iisaaq’s lips creased into a smile as he said, “I told them you were a hero.”
To be continued…
Copyright © Christoffer Petersen, 2021.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.