Will took a drag from his e-cigarette. “I wanted to go to Oslo, because I haven’t seen enough White people in Europe,” he said to Lisa while exhaling. Europe had done a number on him. Three months in and five grand spent in the European Union, courtesy of Will’s parents back in Massachusetts, the long black stick had become the newest accessory from Europe and an appendage in his mouth. It glowed blue with his conversations in ParisPulaMadridLondonBarcelonaVeniceDublinIstanbulGlasgowLisbonPorto. Lisa smiled and waved the vapor away from her face.
“Yeah, but these are like the original White people,” she said across from him. She looked at the universal no smoking sign on the train and laughed.
“What are we, the new Whites?” Will asked.
“Just the ones whose ancestors had the balls to travel to the New World.”
The train sped along the black and snow. Oslo’s lights might as well have been a myth. The train rumbled enough to shatter the illusion that they rested in a frostbitten vacuum. The interior of the rain resembled a set from a Stanley Kubrick film: sterile, cold, red and empty.
The lanky groups of men walking through the train caught Lisa’s eye. Each looked like the same well sculpted face with a different colored sports jacket. She looked from the tips of their blonde hair down to their pants zipper to find a bulge, then down to their shoes. No one had the bulge like her boyfriend back in the states.
The red ticker on the top of the train read “22:45. -5 C.”
“You think they serve liquor on this train?” Will said while leaning out in the aisle looking for a bar cart.
“This ain’t Amtrak,” Lisa said.
“Why the hell would you ever take Amtrak?”
All of Will’s meals require beer. It’s one of the many traditions. When he got off of business class at a new city, he took a cab right to the hostel and reserved a single. He went to the nicest bars in the town to meet the true locals. When he couldn’t get Lisa, he got the most willing in the bar back to his hostel room. Now that his parents cut him off of anything but eating and drinking, he resorted to couch surfing.
The red ticker on the top of the train read “22:49. -9 C. Neste Stopp: Spyderberg.”
“Spyderberg, Spyderberg,” Will sang.
“I’m glad you’re feeling light right now,” Lisa said.
“What? I showed you the woman we’re staying with. Her fucking username is Norwegian Grandma.”
“What’s her name, even?”
“Vigdid. Or Inga. Or some Viking shit.”
“You don’t even know her fucking name.”
“Yeah but I read the reviews!” He took out a folded paper from his bulging purple backpack.
“They’re all great! I’ll read one. ‘Help. Help. Save me. Please. Locked in basement.’”
Lisa’s eyes widened until Will laughed.
“Why the fuck would someone write a shitty review before being tortured to death? Calm down.”
“What if she were an axe murderer?” Lisa asked.
“Well, you’d die first.”
“How the fuck would I die first?”
“You’re the…” he spun his hands around to phrase the words, “…least virgin among us.”
“That’s the nicest way someone has ever called me a whore.”
“Well, I can’t diss my own ho.” He waited for her to laugh. Lisa looked out the window and felt the goose bumps along her arm.
Will grabbed Lisa’s knees. “Look,” he said. “I’ve couchsurfed before, and nothing bad has ever happened. “Does Ryan know you’re in Norway with me?”
Lisa took a deep breath and turned back to Will. “He stopped asking.”
“How’s he gonna save you, then?” He said as he inhaled.
The train decelerated at the Spyderberg stop. The sign at the station read glossy and clear, the metal beams stood unrusted and orange. The platform smelled like old, wet pine.
“Here we go,” Will said as he put on his jacket. “Look for the old Aryan lady.”
The train left their sight and left a treeless, mountainous, snow capped silence. The breeze made the trees shiver. Vigdid’s red Toyota compact waited in the empty lot with its lights on. Vigdid smoked a seven-inch cigarette outside in a sweater with her hands behind her back.
As Will and Lisa walked towards the car, he took out the e-cig from his mouth. “Hallo!” he shouted.
“Nice Norwegian,” Vigdid replied. Her red glow responded in kind in Morse.
On the ride to Vigdid’s house, no one said a word. Will and Lisa sat in the backseat looking out the window and drawing hearts and phrases and penises while Vigdid smoked and exhaled through the crack of her window. Will rested his hand on Lisa’s to see what would happen next. Each time ended the way he expected with Lisa’s hand back on her own lap, but he had the irrational hope that the fourth, fifth, twentieth time would change the two into a parallel universe where hand holding showed a sign of disinterest or that she actually cared for him as more than a last resort fuck buddy or that he thought of her as more than a last resort fuck buddy with less options as any contemporary woman and she would lace her hand in his and Vigdid would stop blowing actual fucking smoke out into the cold air or her curly once blond Aryan hair would catch fire and keep them warm and cuddling. He’d settle for any universe with contact.
Lisa looked out the window and listed the dozens of hostels that she should have contacted as she ignored the artificial menacing blue light coming from her left as Will tried for the umpteenth time to grab her hand. She bobbed her head back and forth by the window looking for an aura borealis that Ryan said existed in this time of year in this type of place in this type of darkness in this time of boredom.
A turn in the dark led to a snow assaulted neighborhood with identical compact two story white homes. The trees had no particular order on the block but inclined to lean back to the earth under the wind, ice and snow accumulated over the winter. Ice daggers waited to fall. Vigdid took the nub of cigarette left from her mouth and threw it out the car window.
“Takk!” Will shouted.
“Yes. Yes. Well done. You’re welcome. I have some stew for you all that you must eat.”
“That sounds fantastic!” Will said.
As she opened the house door, Harvey and his mini paws scuttled to the door. The terrier smelled Vigdid and the guests and scooted back up the stairs. Nothing too eventful for him.
Lisa and Will took off their shoes and held their bags in front of Vigdid as if to say “Where the fuck do you want this shit?”
Vigdid nodded to the stairs. “There are two rooms. You can share if you want or boy sleeps in one and you sleep in the other,” she said.
The first room on the right had three walls of pink paint, a white desk waist high with a small round mirror in the middle, a twin sized bed, two identical doll mansions with stripped Barbie dolls that Will expected to stay with when he signed up for couchsurfing.
“That’s your room,” Lisa said.
“At least I’ll get to cum tonight,” he replied.
“Are you eating the stew or no?” Vigdid howled up the stairs.
“You’ve got to eat,” Vigdid said to Will, holding the ladle over his bowl. “You’ve got no meat in you. You,” she said to Lisa. “You’ve got enough,” nodding her head down to her breasts nudging the table. Lisa tied her hair back and leaned towards the bowl and sneezed on top of the stew.
“No, you eat it, stupid,” Vigdid barked at her. Lisa’s lips smiled on the left side of her face.
“I’ll get it right next time.”
“So, where are you from?” Will asked Vigdid.
“Here. I was born here, I will die here, as many others have.”
“Wait,” Lisa said. “So is this place haunted?”
“That’s a stupid question,” Vigdid said as she lit up another cigarette. Will took a puff from his e-cig only to get the three blinks of death and put it back in his pocket. Lisa smiled to the left of her face again.
“There is no god. So why would there be ghosts?” Vigdid said.
“I’m sorry you feel that way, Vigdid.” Will said.
“I feel sorry for you. I always feel free.”
“So who died here?” Lisa asked.
“A lot of people,” Vigdid said while taking a drag.
“That’s really none of your business, girl. You should eat your stew.”
Lisa looked at her sneeze-flavored stew and gave it a hell-fucking no. Will watched Vigdid from the corner of his eye for her to take the first spoonful. He looked back at Lisa and here wide eyes blinking, “What the fuck?”
“Why did so many people die here?” Will asked.
“It’s not your business.”
“Yes, yes it really is. We’re staying here. We’re thankful for it, but we don’t want to feel uncomfortable.”
Vigdid sat back from her table and took another drag. “Death doesn’t bother me. I’m old. It’s you being young is what makes you scared of death.”
“No,” Will said. “I don’t mind death. I mind when you say a lot of people died. That’s not normal.”
Vigdid looked to the left wall covered in black and white black framed photos of unsmiling people, all blond, sleeked back male hair and curly or long blond female hair with puffy costumed babies all staring at the camera. The tallest men wore straight uniforms and a thin, neat mustache.
“How far back would you like me to go?” Vigdid asked.
“As far as you can,” Will replied.
“Okay.” Vigdid leaned in and took a spoonful of stew and ate it. Lisa immediately followed with three quick spoonfuls in her mouth and snatched the bread.
“My father died when the Germans came over here. We were neutral, but the came here for our iron. So, there’s that. My brothers wanted to get back and threw bottles at the officers. No one else wanted trouble, so they turned my brothers in. My mother left me a note that told me to go to her sister’s house. Her sister found her hanging from the beam in the attic. When they cleared the body, my sister came back here with me and her husband. Her and her husband had a baby who was born early and died a week later. Two years later, I was fourteen, and they had twins. One had pneumonia and died. Then eventually the parents got old and died. I got married and my husband died. I’m sure there were more before and after, but I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Just know many people died. Okay?”
“Okay,” Will said. “Thank you.”
“Has someone you ever loved died?” Vigdid asked the table.
Lisa and Will sat at the table, staring at their stew and bread.
“There’s fish in here,” Will said.
“My boyfriend lost his best friend in Afghanistan,” Lisa said.
“I didn’t ask you who your boyfriend loved,” Vigdid snarled. “Did you ever lose anyone you loved? Or do you love at all?”
“I don’t think I love anyone,” Will said while giggling to himself.
“And no one loves you either. I’m sure.”
Both reached for the spoon to have some more stew.
“That is what I thought. Maybe you need some death to value and fear life like I do.” Vigdid put out the cigarette in the ashtray.
“Can I ask you why you accepted us on CouchSurfing.com?” Will asked.
“I like company. Would you like to watch some television with me?”
Vigdid patted her knee and Harvey joined her onto the pewter colored sofa.
“God jobb, Harvey!” she said to the terrier.
“Harvey don’t sound Norwegian,” Will said.
“I like the name Harvey.”
Will and Lisa sat on the faux leather chairs from the dinner table a cozy foot and a half apart. They stared at the screen and let their thoughts drown them as their eyes rested on a televised fireplace. “Slow TV” broadcasted a fireplace on Friday nights. The year before, they broke the record for the longest continual live broadcast stream when they showed a cruise ship from the Norwegian coast to the Arctic Circle for one hundred thirty four hours.
“Fire’s very important to Norwegians,” Vigdid reassured Will and Lisa while she petted Harvey. “No one would live here without fire.”
“So why don’t we start a fire in the house?” asked Lisa.
“Too much work. It’s so nice to watch this fire. It’s like the world gets warmer and cleaner and burns away the bad and cold. Right, Harvey?”
Lisa turned to Will and mouthed “What the fuck?”
For twenty minutes, Will and Lisa stared at the screen and waited for the fire to catch their interest. Will lost himself in his mind in sex positions he’s never done and catching the loop of the fire video if there is one or who’s boring ass house let them broadcast a fire for hours on end and zooming out watching the specks of snow land on the windows and roll away as water and freezing in the cracks between the window and the house.
“I think I’m gonna go to bed, if that’s okay.” Will said to the two women.
“I’m sure you had a long day. Godnatt. I can’t wait to talk more tomorrow.”
He walked up the steps as the rest stared away at the television set. When he got to his pink room, he closed the door and slid the desk in front of the door. He then unbuttoned his pants, took out his laptop, and sat on the bed.
On his two tabs he switched back and forth between pornhub and couchsurfing. After finding Norwegian Grandma, he gave her a four out of five star review. “Meh. Speaks great English but kind of odd. But hospitable. Smokes inside. Picked us up, gave us good food and made us watch some log burning shit.” When he sent the review, he turned off the lights, took off his shirt and rested under the covers naked. After scanning through photos and videos for fifteen minutes he decided on the highest rated Europorn of the month. He placed his cruddy gym shirt from highschool between his penis and the sheets. Every few strokes he listened for any noise from the two of them. Fap, fap, fap, fap, stop. Fap, fap, fap, fap, stop. He muted the moaning and settled on imagining the moan.
“Yeah, Will, right there, right fucking there,” he played in his head while blocking out that this procedure existed in his head, and that no one ever said to him to “cum inside me” or “fuck me harder” or “do it to me baby” or “right there daddy” or “I love you.” He noted in-between strokes that Lisa would sure as hell never say it to him.
“Oh, Will! Will! Will!” the voice sounded more and more like Lisa’s.
Right before climax, Lisa shrieked and slammed on Will’s door. The shriek scared his penis flaccid.
“Holy shit, Will!”
He rolled out of bed covering his penis and felt around for his boxers on the ground as Lisa pounded on the door.
“I’m not fucking with you! She’s got a knife.”
Lisa’s shriek, cackle and choke interrupted him. Will turned on the lights and stared at the desk blocking the door. Blood crawled in through the crack of the door and met Will’s sock. The warmth then coolness of the blood made him jump back and realize, “Holy fuck. I was right. She did die first.”
“Hey, Will, let us talk,” Vigdid said through the door.
“Fuck that,” Will responded. He ran to the window and stepped on a naked Barbie. He opened the window, kicked the screen and looked at the twenty-foot fall from the window.
“I’ll see you downstairs,” Vigdid said as she shuffled down the steps.
“Fuck. What the fuck is 911 in Norway?” Will said. He looked down the window again and looked at the layers and layers of snow below and for the first time, non-ironically thought, “Y.O.L.O.” He swung his legs on the ledge and led them off the fall. The fall hit him less than the crippling, breath taking -22 C in the middle of Spyderberg. He stumbled barefoot as his toes crushed and crystallized the snow and packed it into traces that Vigdid followed. As Will sprinted fell and rolled in the snow as Nature’s bitch, Vigdid walked out in a night robe and tall boots with an axe in hand.
Will ran across the street to a TV lit house. He slammed on the window and the mother, father and daughter kept their heads angled at the fireplace burning on the television. He slammed harder and cracked the glass. The father grabbed the remote on the coffee table and raised the volume. Will broke through the glass and slit his hand.
“Oh, you seriously can’t fucking hear me now?! It’s a fire, what are you hearing?!” The only functioning part of his body was his core and his heart beating to check on vitals and draw the blood back to keep Will alive.
Will ran to the next house and found another blond family watching the fireplace channel. He sprinted around to the backyard. In front of the tree, he saw a pile of snow and dived in headfirst. He jumped back out and wiped his footsteps to the tree with his unbloodied hand, then reburied himself in the snow. His fingers, his toes, his knees were crispy and rigid but slowly regaining blood and warmth with every pulse.
Harvey yapped and dove into the snow pile and found Will’s leg. He jumped out of the snow, grabbed the nipping terrier and smashed it on the tree. Harvey yelped and scuttled back to Vigdid.
“Harvey!” Vigdid yelled while crossing into the backyard.
The tree let drop a sharp icicle that sliced Will’s left shoulder to his chest and brought him back against the bark of the tree with all but his head below the snow. Vigdid stopped and lit another cigarette.
“You wanna try running around some more?” Vigdid asked.
“No reason to. Everyone’s watching that fucking log channel.”
“Don’t worry. It’s on for another hundred thirty hours.”