Vignettes II entices the reader along on a magical journey. With an eye for accuracy, Armann Reynisson delights the imagination and provides flashes of insights into human nature that are sometimes sensitive and at other times candid and daring. It is a journey that takes us to Iceland and beyond, but one that constantly opens new vistas into the unfamiliar. The stories lead the reader on from one event to another with a sense of unity in variation until they find echoes in our own experience. Sometimes fewer words can create the clearest image. The shortest story can make the boldest point. These vignettes are both easily visualised portraits, or like short plays that beg to be read out loud.
The tulip party
When the big day came, it was raining as usual. Their fellow countrymen arrived at the afternoon celebration, drank Black Death liquor and ate shark. Then, when evening fell, the select in their gowns and dinner suits stayed for dinner. All of the tables were artistically adorned with tulips of many colours. The ambassador’s wife, in national costume, held a lively speech that raised everyone’s spirits to the clouds. Among other things, she talked about the nutritious value of the tulips, a national dish that played a major role in her native country’s quality of life. Then she lifted her glass, toasted her native land, and invited the guests to eat the flowers in front of them, and they began on the mouth-watering feast.
The sound is at its bluest, the wind has taken pause, the sun plays in the cloudless sky and the mountains are outlined sharply in the clear air. It is into this arena that a majestic pleasure cruiser sails, making its annual trip to Reykjavik. It is the time of the cold war, when all imports to the country were under either ban or restriction. Iceland is a remote place. Then, only a handful of tourists ventured this far north to a place that was hardly known and a long way yet from being fashionable. But this welcome summer visit became a major event where little else was happening. For a time, the harbour assumed the look of an international port.
Love and soccer
When they reached the changing rooms, the footballers covered in sweat began to shower and all were suddenly very pleased to have drawn the game. Men in the opposing teams hugged and kissed one another passionately while the water splashed all over them. Their bodies were electrified and in the heat of the moment their nails scored zebra stripes into each other’s soft backs.
The great black terrifying cliff towered over the crew who had gathered in a huddle at the bridge. They tied themselves to the mast and the hope of being rescued kept them alive for a long time. They waited and waited for hours on end as their ship slowly shattered. The waves lashed over the men relentlessly, and they gradually lost hold, and one after another they were hurled to a watery grave. One man, though, held fast, keeping himself alive almost entirely by his stubborn will. His thoughts were warmed by a vision of his wife and children waiting at home for him.
Love and the microphone
The concert begins, the music grows louder and louder. The singer gives it all he’s got and the audience screams and shrieks. As the drum beat thunders and the electric guitar whines out a riff, the singer grasps the microphone stand and writhes in time to the music. Gradually, the pitch grows more fevered, his face contorts in exaltation, his hair fills with static, his nostrils dilate and his eyes dart flames. In the middle of the song, he pulls the mike from the stand against wet distended lips and staggers forward in a stupor, his T-shirt sheer against his skin, his tight pants barely concealing his most prized possession.
Christmas in the fishing grounds
They made for the fishing grounds just before the Christmas holidays began to bring in another haul for their countrymen. The crew was made up of hardened fishermen with serious expressions, their faces lined with decades of battling against the sea. And with them was one young lad on his first trip out. The sky was thick and a brisk northerly was blowing. The sea was heavy going and the air so murky that there was hardly any daylight at all. Life on board went on as usual-nothing altered in their familiar routine.
The top squad goes on diet
Around Christmas and New Year, a lot of people lose control. They stuff themselves with all kinds of food, sweets, cakes and biscuits and wash it down with soft drinks or hard. And the result is that no can be bothered to move. People lie about lethargically, gaining extra pounds. It even affects the way they walk. And then they make a New Year’s resolution-to get themselves back in shape.
The birthday party
At the peak of her career, she held a birthday party for a famous pop singer who was a close friend of hers. Madam Ambassador donned a tight sequined dress and in both her movements and appearance looked the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. She was loudly applauded for an excellent speech. She drew the admiration of all for her style and her exquisite perfume, and only her legs were thought to detract from her being an image of perfection.
Love and the hearth
The day wears on and their faces begin to bronze. Their eyes shine with happiness and their minds are aroused. Gradually, they feel a deep need to draw closer to one another and eventually return to their chalet warmed through by an old-fashioned fire. They step out of their skiing gear naked, then wind around each other and lie down on fur rugs.
Now, I am Bjork and walk the city streets in the likeness of a swan, laying eggs along my way. Passers-by stare at me in admiration and newspaper photographers follow me wherever I go. I am centre stage, half-blinded by the constant flashing of cameras around me. My records sell in their millions all over the world and I am nourished by being a world-famous pop star. I disseminate nature’s message of peace through my music to gladden the world because its misfortunes oppress me and because it needs love.
Run on the bank
Times changed. Almost exhausted pension funds and next to nothing in the public coffers led people to demand security against inflation and higher rates of interest on personal savings. It was more than the old system could take and the bank soon broke under the pressure. To save the day, millions upon millions were taken out of the state reserves to pay the bank’s creditors. So, tax payers aside, no one lost on the bankruptcy.
Death and the paper shredder
Then, the Inland Revenue sent notice that it was coming to the man’s central offices to audit his books and make sure that all was in order. A major whitewash campaign was set in motion, and the owner brought in his accountants and they struggled until they were sweaty and tired to go through all the folders and invoices and receipts, determining what might be seen and what had to be destroyed before the tax people arrived.
The passengers were happy enough as they stepped aboard the jet and settled in their soft seats with the help of the flight attendants. The usual demonstration of exits and safety was carried out precisely. And all was clear for take off. They all took deep breaths as the plane sped along the runway and then lifted slowly but surely into the clear blue sky. There was a good view of Zurich to be had from the windows, followed by stillwater lakes and pink acres of land. Finally, the blue-white peaks of the Alps.
Enjoying the dolce vita at the ” Window of the World”, higher than the clouds, the cares of the day dissipate as delicacies are brought to the table. Looking out, they see the chessboard of New York city, whose queen is the Statue of Liberty and whose king is the Empire State and whose pawns are the surrounding buildings constructed from iron, steel and concrete. However, not all the pieces in this giant game of chess are equally adept and the chess clock ticks without respite. Deep inside we dream of a better world, a future for generations to come.