The Endless Summer - Excerpt
It begins with a boy, a young boy, who is perhaps a girl, but does not yet know it. The young boy, so fetching, so delicate, so tender, so shy, plays guitar in a band. They’re playing at a party for a crowd of young people they don’t know, and who don’t know them, and it’s their first gig, and it’s that very evening. (And later, first the girl comes, and then, but just in a glimmer, like a shadow, a dazzling shadow, a shadow of light, the mother, then the two little brothers, who climb up the walls, on the shelves and on the cupboards in the dark rooms in the basement under the farmhouse where she has withdrawn in order to escape the stepfather’s eyes, his sickly nasal voice, his gun and his inferiority and hatred of every woman, fear he disguises as disdain, and where she now lives, the girl, in the basement, the walls papered with posters of Paul Young, who is still young and beautiful and soft in the pictures and later, very soon, will be fat and alcoholic and, following a swift and efficient downward spiral, will die, and then, like an epiphany, a dazzling light, the mother, her aristocratic figure, the long gracious limbs and strong bones, the sleek ivory-colored hair flowing down her back, the stallion she rides in the mist rising off the early summer morning fields seen through one of the small grimy window panes in the basement where he has just stirred and propped himself up on one elbow under the duvet in the damp warmth of the girl’s languid body, the girl who is still asleep at his side, the dark round and soft girl with the delicate bones and big soft breasts, the eternally languid pleasure-lover and the aristocratic fair Nordic mother, her straight back and the steamy breath from the horse’s slimily-soft nostrils, and then, with no warning, the stepfather, one morning, alone in the big rustic kitchen, the slender young boy and the stepfather who sits down opposite him and starts talking about weapons, guns and pistols, and especially the bullets and particularly the dum-dum bullets, their magic effect, the almost invisible hole in the flesh, just here, right in the solar plexus where the bullet enters, almost without leaving a trace, and at the very moment it penetrates the darkness it explodes its way out and leaves the back, or what once was a back, one big ragged bleeding crater, the stepfather’s story about the bullets and the girl’s about the detectives paid by the stepfather to follow the mother everywhere as soon as she turns out of the avenue and is out of sight (and out of shooting range), and who clean him out so that he, who just a few years ago along with his older brother Buller inherited everything from their father and from one day to the next was a multimillionaire and bought an estate in Jutland, a magnificent manor house with sixteen toilets and bathrooms, can now hardly afford petrol for his second-hand car, the detectives, who he, the young boy, never sees at all, albeit their shadows fall around him in the empty rooms when he walks through the house on his own, not a word, even though everyone except the two little brothers knows about their existence, quite openly, like a religious taboo everyone simply accepts as a matter of course, the mother and her daughter and the stepfather who knows that they know but doesn’t let it affect him, doesn’t try to hide anything, as if the terror is even more deadly from being obvious and unmentionable, and as if the mother’s aristocracy, her untouchability, is even more supreme from her getting on with life, her daily round, as if nothing has happened, which just makes the stepfather’s hatred and desperation and inferiority and obsession even greater and more bombastic, it consumes him, with every day he grows paler and thinner and savagely embittered, and determined it will be over his dead body that he lets go of this woman, lets her go free, even if it will consume him, and it will, but not now, first he’ll just disappear, one day he’s suddenly gone, and the summer has started, an endless summer, in which nothing happens, in which he, the slender boy, falls out of the world, the world he came from, and into this other world, which is a world in itself, where time and light stand still and the dust rotates and no one does anything, nothing other than living as if they were in a different era and a completely different location, as if the white farmhouse is a governor’s residence on St. Croix in the final days of the empire when everything is too late and thus suddenly at last possible. The mother spends her days on the back of her stallion and doesn’t come in until darkness falls, and she sits in the kitchen with a glass of wine, surrounded by candles, and the girl and the young boy stay in bed until late in the afternoon and never get properly up, but wander around the house wearing one another’s clothes, the young boy dressed like a yet to be sexed toreador or a virgin, and sit in the kitchen and drink milky coffee and bake bread with the last of the flour and fill it with scraps of cheese and onion and herbs and eat steaming slices and hunks that fall apart while they laugh and sink onto her big iron bed, which has now been moved upstairs into the smaller of the two sitting rooms, and make love for hours on end without knowing who is who, if there is one gender or many, and for a brief moment forgets his fear of body and death, which is coming, it’s coming, don’t worry, it’ll come, death comes in every story like this one, in the final cadence or maybe abruptly like a dum-dum bullet forcing an entry in the midst of life and leaving it ripped apart, spread out across the earth.