Sunday, December 30, 2018
Suggested translation: passage from Vargas
Adamsberg was sitting on a rock on the harbour jetty[i] and watching the Grimsey fishermen as they came back in from their day’s fishing, moored their boats and raised the nets. Here, on this small Icelandic island,[ii] they called him ‘Berg’. The wind was blowing in from the sea; the temperature was eleven degrees; the sun was blurred and the place stank of fish innards. He had forgotten that he had once been a police superintendent in charge of twenty-seven detectives of the Paris crime squad in the 13th arrondissement. His telephone had fallen into some sheep dung and one of the animal’s hooves had thrust it in even more deeply, neatly but not agressively. This was an unheard-of way of losing one’s mobile, the full meaning of which had not been wasted on Adamsberg.
Gunnlaugur, the owner of the small inn, was on his way to the port, too, ready to take the best of the catch for the evening meal. Adamsberg smiled and waved at him. But he saw by the look on Gunnlaugur’s face that it was one of those bad days. Gunnlaugur came straight towards him. He gave the incipient fish auction no heed but frowned his blond eyebrows and handed Adamsberg a note.
“Fyrir big”, he said, pointing at him. (“For you”)
“Eg?” (“For me?”)
Adamsberg, who was normally incapable of memorising the most childishly basic elements of a foreign language, had inexplicably picked up a stock of about seventy words in that place, all that in seventeen days. People communicated with him as simply as they could, resorting to a great many hand signals.
From Paris, the message was from Paris. It had to be. They were calling him back. They had to be. He felt a sad rage and shook his head in refusal and turned his face to the sea. Gunnlaugur insisted, unfolded the paper and thrust it between his fingers.
Woman run-over. One husband, one lover? Tricky. Request your presence. Full details to follow.
Adamsberg bent his head down. His hand opened and let the paper fly away in the wind. Paris? What was that supposed to mean, Paris? Where was Paris anyway?