Gabriel's Island

Gabriel's Island

by Marin Giustinian


Nowadays in Toulouse, France and later in Norway, on the Isle of Stormolla in the Lofoten's

—————

After nine years of marriage, my parents still had no children. Like many of the English, having the means to do so, they left for the South of France. This happened in 1991. The air must have suited them because I was born a year after they arrived, in 1992. I'm Tristan Ramsay from Castelnaudary, France. It's between Carcassonne and Toulouse. I was raised speaking English at home but did all of my schooling in French. When I finished high school, I had only one thing in mind. Get a job and live on my own. My parents were returning to England because of the change in French politics and of the Brexit of course.

I'm proud of my English heritage, but I do not want to live in Britain. That was sure. In fact, I don't feel like I have what's called 'roots'. Am I French? Am I English? I'm both and neither. Home for me was in books and in music in whatever the place I was. I love my flute. During my school years, I did enjoy learning to play woodwind flutes at the township's music school. I was considered gifted, even.

So here I was, by myself, at the age of 18, working in an English pub in Toulouse. I lasted seven years before more or less losing my mind. My co-workers were really nice. The place had a good clientele, mostly expats working with Airbus Industries. The guys had money and manners. The girls were quite comely. It could have been worse, as they say. However, slinging pints until 2:00 AM, faking interest in the small talk, sleeping until noon — and that everyday is not very gratifying for the soul, to say the least.

I shared an apartment with two other guys, was virtually spending nothing for food, eating for free at the pub and my entertainment was basically cocooning by myself with my books and flute. Not really very exciting.

The advantage was that my savings had grown considerably. My folks left me a nice sum when they moved out. I had stashed it with my tax free tips and the money left over each month in an account I could empty whenever I wanted. In the end I was far from being poor.

So one day it happened. Near the end of the summer, out of the blue, I told myself, "I'm fed up!" so I told my boss that I quit and left. Even if it was a bit late in the season, I headed north. I don't know why, but the Lofoten Islands of Norway have always made me dream. Far above the Arctic circle, they were the opposite of what you could call an island paradise, but I was heeding an urge. It was like some kind of a distant calling. Yes, I do get mystical sometimes — not too much, just a bit to keep myself believing in something — as if there was something to believe in. To be honest, I was lost and looking for a meaning in my life, a meaning which neither the work I was doing, the girls I was fucking nor the partying with my buddies were giving me. It was in fact a soul-search trip I needed… So why not the Lofoten's?

I bought a Mercedes Vito camper and some really warm clothes, took my flute and my pad full to the gills of all the books I wanted to read and there I was, on the road. Three and a half days later and dead tired, I was in Bergen, Norway.

There I splurged! I must admit it. Twenty-eight hundred kilometres on the road, that's a long stretch. I had heard about the coastal express, the daily Hurtigruten ships ferrying vehicles and passengers all the way up and down the coast of the Norway. Sounded good! I looked for and found their booking office. The high season was over so I was lucky enough to immediately board with space for my van and an inside cabin for me. The trip took three days to get to Svolvaer, the capital of the Lofoten's.

The meals were sumptuous open buffets included in the ticket. I ate like an ogre and slept nearly 12 hours a day. While I was awake, I spent my time in the vast panoramic lounge on the upper deck staring at the fantastic landscapes as we glided through the channels between islands, sometimes up into a fjord or two. Time stood still. I was satiated by the early autumn light, the invigorating air on deck and the awesome beauty of this strange, yet somehow familiar new world I was floating through.

We arrived in Svolvaer, the capital of the Lofoten's. I was rested and fed and the calmest I've ever been in my head since I was a boy. I had thoroughly indulged! So what! It was worth every penny!

I felt funny when I went down to drive my van off. I felt at the same time a bit out of place and yet at home. Weird! I around town. The place was absolutely wonderful. The houses were cheery and the people were calm. I suddenly realised that it's rare to feel that you are where you were meant to be. I felt I was going on a positive mystical spree at last.

I checked in at the campground and was given a nice space not too far from the showers. I went into town and wandered around some more. I realised that I hadn't had a conversation since I left Toulouse. I didn't feel the need. I was happy with my own company. I realised also that I hadn't opened my e.book neither and I used my smartphone only for very practical answers to the questions that popped up about what I was seeing. I dropped Facebook and was opent to only a few mails with some friends and my parents. I was free!

Probably I looked like a moron, walking around, smiling all the time. Even some people I crossed in the streets nodded me a smile or two. That was a radical change from the neurotic hustle bustle of Toulouse, the permanent stress of Happy Hour in the pub and the deafening crowd of guys and gals desperately trying to flee the emptiness of their days and nights.

I was discovering something new going on in me. I was THINKING — not pondering nor brooding, worrying nor striving to figure things out. I was finding meaning. It was showing up all the time.

After a few days, I felt the need to go exploring the other islands some. I had all the documentation given to my by the tourist office. I studied it all very carefully and for my first excursion I chose to drive up to Tengelfjord and then down to Digermulen. Just a few hours, but I could idle along as I pleased. I bought food, filled the fuel tank and left.

This whole place is just a bunch of islands linked together by bridges. At every turn in the road, fantastic landscapes appear, like those you see in fairy tales books. I stopped and looked and that's all. No pictures, no map, no nothing but me and the mountains in the sea. I arrived around nightfall at the end of the road in Digermulen. I cooked myself a decent little dinner and enjoyed some excellent beer, Lofotpils. I contemplated the sky, hoping to see the famous Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, but no luck. However, it was a fabulous  treat to go to sleep in total silence, all cuddled up in my van cocoon.

The following morning, I decided to take the ferry over to Stormolla Island. The brochures I picked up in the tourist centre in Svolvær mentioned  the little village of Brettesnes and a hike from there up to the lakes. Sounded good for a day's excursion before satisfying my wanderlust a bit more.

The ferry crossing is only two kilometres long, but when I got there, I was again in another world. There's something special about small, mountainous islands. This one had less than a hundred inhabitants and not even a road that goes all the way around. I don't know how to describe the feeling, the feeling of being on THE island, the one your soul has always dreamt about. The heat was strange too. After a very chilly dawn when I woke up, I was surprised over the way the temperature had risen during the morning. I wasn't complaining.

After a few stops on the way, I pulled into the tiny fishing village of Brettesnes, another end of the road. I put on my hiking shoes and struck out looking for the path. A very cordial gentleman asked me, in excellent English, if he could be of any help.

"I'm looking for the path leading up to the lakes," I said.

"Follow me," he replied and he walked me to the departure of the path almost hidden behind a little building. He pointed out to me the marker I should follow and told me that I could come back down on the east side, making a kind of circuit.

When I climb a hill or even a little mountain, the simple act of going up makes me feel lighter somehow. I certainly was not in shape and the slope was steep but still it was exciting seeing the sea and the other islands spread further and further out on the horizon. When I arrived at the little lake, I was drenched with sweat. The air was still and some clouds were forming overhead. I sat down in the grass on the lakeside, took off my shoes and put my feet in the icy, crystal-clear water. I then stretched out and let myself doze a little.

What was supposed to be just a little doze turned out to be a full fledged nap. I was startled awake when several heavy raindrops splashed on my face. I sat up to see a dark sky. The wind had picked up and there was thunder growling in the distance. Of course I had no rain apparel and when I looked at my watch, I knew that I only had about an hour or so of decent daylight.

I hopped on my feet and headed around the lake, looking for the path. When I finally found it, the rain had picked up and lightening was striking the mountain tips. I hastened my pace. The going down was a lot steeper than the coming up. I started slipping on the gravel. The grass was slick. I wasn't feeling well at all. In fact I was downright scared. When I was nearing the shore, the footpath was wider. I nearly began to run and that was when I fell, sprawled face down in the muddy grass. When I tried to stand, I felt my ankle giving away under me. In fact, I had tripped on the edge of a shallow hole, leaving my foot behind, so to speak. I was barely able to walk. I pulled out my phone to see if I could call for help. I had smashed it in my fall, No phone. And the rain kept coming down and the thunder kept on rolling from cloud to cloud, coming closer in. I was hobbling along the best I could when I saw a lone house down by the water. Smoke was coming out of the chimney and some dim light seemed to glow in the windows.

I followed a vague path and nearing the house, I looked for the door. There had to be a door! On the other side, facing the water, was a half-deck and the door. Isolated like it was, I'm sure the person living there didn't have many visits. No car, no road — So what! I needed help! I stepped up to knock and hesitated. I heard harp music. Was I in a film? My ankle was throbbing. I was totally soaked to the bone and dirty and there was harp music out here in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Anyhow, I knocked on the door.

An angel opened. I must be dead I thought. This guy had the most beautiful face you could put on a person. He said something in Norwegian. I gave him a sheepish smile and murmured, "English?"

"Of course. Come on in out of the rain. Are you injured?" he inquired, taking my jacket. It was warm inside. I felt safe again.

I explained my plight, my sprained ankle, the smashed phone, the lack of preparation for my venture. I felt so sorry and ashamed.

"Come over here by the stove and take off your clothes. I'll go up and get you something dry to wear. Hang yours on the line over the stove."

He left me standing there. I did as he said. By the time he came down, I was sitting on a bench with just my boxers on.

"Your underwear too."

I complied…

"Here, put these on," he stated, handing me a long soft sweater, a pair of woolen socks and trousers. I did as he said and, I must admit, things felt a lot better.

He looked down at my ankle. It had swollen, but didn't look too bad… just bad. He filled a bucket with ice cold water saying, "Here, put your foot in this. The cold will help keep the swelling down. Then I'll strap it."

I did as I was told. His kindness humbled me.

"I hope you like fish. I was making my favourite stew with some cod I caught today. How does that sound?"

It sounded like heaven. As he cooked, I looked around. Unpainted wood everywhere, some things polished, others not. The effect was beautiful. The only light inside was coming from a few candles and a hanging lantern.

"You don't have electricity?"

"Don't need it. I live here alone. My water comes from the spring behind the house. This is an old fish house built over a little cove. My boat is docked underneath. With it, I can go back and forth to wherever I need," he replied as he sniffed the stewpot simmering on the wood stove.

"Do you have a phone?"

"No signal here, so no telephone," he said, walking over to the table, with a bottle and two glasses in his hand. "Let's drink to my unexpected company! Do you like aquavit?"

"I don't know, never tried," I replied, taking my foot out of the bucket.

"Stay seated. I'll strap your ankle after the sauna."

After the sauna? I'd never been in a sauna before! He then poured the liquor.

"Cheers!" he said as we toasted.

"Thank you — uh, my name's Tristan."

"I'm Gabriel."

"Like the angel? Was that a harp I heard before knocking on your door?"

"Yes. Gabriel with his harp! Makes the people laugh. I don't care."

"I'm a music lover too. I play the woodwind flute, but it's in my van in the village."

"I've got to go to Svolvaer tomorrow so we'll stop by when I take you with me. It's better that you see the doctor. You can fetch your flute with some of your stuff. Judging from your ankle, you're going to be my guest for a few more days now before you're able to drive out."

I thanked him over and over. The meal was great. The aquavit put me immediately at ease. Gabriel put me at ease too. The nightmarish situation I had been in was now as pleasant as a good dream.

"Stay off your foot as much as possible. I'm going to fire up the sauna, do the dishes and take you up to bed. I've still got some work to do."

"What's your work? I thought you were a fisherman."

"Not me. I carve replicas of our god of peace and prosperity, Freyr. They sell well. I live off of that. Since I don't need much and live by myself…"

"Is that a problem?" I asked interrupting him.

"What? Living alone? No, not at all. I've got my job, making my god. I have all I need : peace, food, music."

"You said you make your god… you mean the statue, don't you?"

"Not only. I believe in the power of belief and Freyr is who I believe in. It's a very gratifying to continue the tradition of his effigy."

I suddenly wondered if my angel wasn't totally mad. How can you be a heathen today? We all know that myths are just like fairy tales. I'm an atheist. All religions are just fairy tales. Now here is this guy saying that his heathen, mythological god takes care of him.

"Let's go for a while in the sauna and then shower down. It'll do you a lot of good. I think you should go to bed after that and sleep. Sleep is the best remedy for any affliction, be it of the body or the soul. I'll be in my workshop." He pointed at the door on the other end of the room, "I've got to finish up the piece I'm sending off tomorrow."

I limped with him to the sauna. He stripped completely naked, then looked at me quite naturally with a kind of 'what-are-you-waiting-for' look on his face. I stripped. Entering the little cabin, the sudden heat hit me hard. The steam and the scents of herbs inebriated me. As I was turning lobster red, Gabriel slipped up beside me, put his arm around my shoulder asking, "Do you feel faint?"

"A little — I have to cool off!"

No sooner said than done. We led me into the adjacent wet room and dumped a bucket of icy water on my head. I thought I would die on the spot. He then started rubbing me all over and towelling me down, "How's that?"

"Great." It felt wonderful. "Can you lend me some pyjamas?"

"I don't use them. What for? I'm putting you to bed." We went back into the main room. He walked over to the corner and took the lid off a bucket and started to pee in it.

"Come on, I know you need to," he said.

He was right. It was sort of fun peeing together like teens.

I'd read about that kind of bucket. It's called a 'slop jar' I think. Simple. Never clogs.

"Take it slowly. Climb up the ladder first. I'm behind you if you have a problem."

He was right. With my fall, the aquavit and now the sauna, I was still a little stunned. I climbed the ladder, rung by rung. As I emerged into the upper room, there was an atmosphere of mystery. All the wooden walls were stained a deep blue. The space smelled good, like the herbs in the sauna with a touch of smoke. A hanging oil lamp barely shed its dim glow on everything.

The bed was very large. We had room enough.

"Here, sit down on the edge. I'll strap your ankle."

I sat on the edge. He came back and did a professional job with the bandage.

"I feel better!"

As he was putting lighting the oil lamp over head, I climbed in. The bed smelled good too. I was completely overwhelmed by Gabriel. He seemed to read my mind, anticipate my needs, give me the self-faith I so dearly needed. I felt protected as if I had a big brother. Weird! Wonderful…

"I'll try not to awaken you when I come up. Sleep well. Everything is going to be all right! Thank you for coming. Freyr will protect you."

Freyr? I wondered if he was joking or not.

—————

The early morning light was a misty pastel pink. It flowed through the window, falling on the bed. I let my eyes wander. The room, the rafters, the few object here and there, the harp leaning against the wall — everything was simply the way it should be, beautiful. Gabriel yawned, stretched his arms over his head, turned and edged up beside me. He was beautiful too. I smiled. I'd never really noticed good looking guys before. He wasn't handsome. He was gorgeous. He irradiated something very calm and smooth. Reaching over, he laid his hand on my chest, then rubbed down to my pubes. It felt good. It felt friendly. I felt really myself, masculine.

"How did you sleep, Tristan? How do you feel?"

"I feel great. My ankle still aches a bit but it didn't keep me awake. I didn't even hear you come up."

He propped himself up on an elbow, touched my cheek ever so gently and then laughing, he grabbed my cock, which of course was standing at full attention. He playfully squeezed it one or two times, announcing, "Breakfast will be ready in about ten minutes. Take your time."

He slid out of bed and walked over to the window. His cock was naturally as hard as mine."It's a beautiful day! A storm really cleanses the air. Everything is so light, almost glowing!"

Yes, that's the way to put it, 'clean'… I felt clean, or should I say cleansed. That was the effect Gabriel had on me, a cleansing effect, whatever that is.

The smell of fried eggs, porridge and toasted rye bread greeted me as I backed down the ladder. I now knew how the toilet worked, so I used it.

"I'll take it down and empty it in a minute. If you have to sit on it, you can carry it in the wet room."

I needed to sit on it. I felt a lot better coming back in. I took my dry clothes off the line over the stove. I dusted the dried dirt off and slipped into them, being very careful to not fall again.

We ate without talking. The silence wasn't awkward at all. The coffee was tasty like all the rest. I felt even a bit excited about the day coming up.

When we went down to the boat, I'm sure I gasped. It was a perfect work of art.

"That's a fabulous boat you have there, Gabriel."

"Really nice, isn't she? We call them 'snekke'. They are directly derived from our Viking ships of old. Only this one has a good windscreen in case of spray and a very dependable Swedish motor. Take a seat."

A carved phallic shaped, primitive kind of statue with a head, a beard held in a hand and a massive penis in full erection laid on the floor of the cockpit.

"That's Freyr?"

"That's the way my ancestors portrayed him. We'll talk about all that later, when the time is ripe."

I had never thought about the 'ripeness' of time. A good way to put things. I could wait. As I was thinking about that, he cranked up the motor. It purred well. We eased out backwards into the channel, narrowed by the low tide and then turned into the open waters. In only a few minutes, cruising along the shore, we tied up at the wharf in Brettesnes. I limped up the ladder to go ashore with Gabriel and together, we went over to the van. Another man came up and spoke to Gabriel, saying something in Norwegian.

They both laughed, smiling at me. The fellow patted me on the shoulder, saying, "Gabriel, en god mann."

It sounded like English.

"Yes, a very good man!" I replied, then turning to Gabriel, I asked, "A friend of yours?"

"Yes. He was worried when nobody came back to the van after the bad storm. When I told him how you showed up, he laughed and said that we never know what can fall down on us from the mountain."

Indeed. I fell down on him from the mountain — in the thunder and lightening. When I think about it, I must have been a pitiful, dripping sight to behold, standing in his door.

I fetched everything I needed in the van and asked Gabriel if I could leave it parked where it was.

"No problem."

We pulled out of the harbour into the sunlit swell. In a very short time, we were in Svolvaer. By car, it would have taken me nearly three hours, not mentioning having to wait for the ferry.

Gabriel first walked with me to the medical centre, left me there saying he would be back for lunch. I was met by a very pleasant lady doctor who examined my ankle and prescribed me a kind of brace to strap on and some medication to reduce pain and inflammation. The service was free of charge.

I went to their pharmacy next door and then waited for Gabriel on a bench in front of the doctor's with my new brace. He showed up looking really happy. He had bought what he needed to wrap his statue, took it to the post office and there he picked up his mail.

"I have received orders for five more statues and one pole god to carve! That can keep me afloat until Easter at least."

"I'm glad for you. I'd like to see how you work."

He changed the subject.

"What did she say, the doctor?"

"I've got to keep this thing on for at least three days, maybe more. It's going to be awkward driving with it."

"Who says you're driving? You're my guest. You're staying with me until you're healed — that is, if you want to stay."

"I want to stay."

"Good. Let's go eat get something to eat. We'll go buy groceries afterwards."

"Great! The bill's on me! Hey, look, I can almost walk normally — but let's not go too fast!"

—————

Our spirits were light on the way back. We had enough food, locally brewed Lofotpils beer and liquor to keep us fed and high for a while. No meat. Gabriel said we get fish for free.

I loved the way he never hesitated. He seemed to always be concentrated but never withdrawn. His fantastic blue eyes had some kind of a falcon look in them, as if he saw everything and understood what he saw. I was so used to being with people who could never make up their minds. In the pub, I was constantly surrounded by questions and hardly any answers. The people were always wondering : What beer? What meal? What to do next? Who to fuck? Why am I alive, etc. Gabriel was simply refreshing. What a relief! What friend!

We unloaded the boat. Gabriel lit the fire.

"Where can I put my stuff?"

"Upstairs. There's a cupboard by the window. Just push the things in there aside. The space you make is yours."

I only had two changes of clothes and some personal items I took with me out of the van. Above all, I had my flute. That was enough. I did as he said and when I had finished, I took a better look at what appeared to be a simple whatnot table by the window with a picture over it.

On a low black table, there were two rather fat candles, a bronze figurine of a personage sitting crosslegged, pulling on his beard with a big smile, wide eyes and a massive hard-on. He had the same expression on his face as did the wood sculpture Gabriel had dispatched in Svolvaer. The figurine was placed in an earthen dish. A woollen throw rug was spread out on the floor in front. Hanging over the table was a wooden frame holding a photo of two male bodies, nude, embracing. All of this seemed to be more than decorative. But what did it mean? I then scolded myself uttering, "Tristan, this is none of your damn business!" and went back down.

"Were you able to find enough room for your things?" inquired Gabriel as he was getting ready to go out fishing.

"Sure! And thanks again."

"How do you like my waiting table?"

"Waiting table? To be honest, I really don't understand."

"No problem. Now I've got to go catch dinner! Make yourself at home — and feed the fire, please!" he laughed, going out the door.

I stoked the stove full, made myself a cup of coffee, thinking about the boat trip, the medical centre, the snack bar and the supermarket. Discovering the town with Gabriel, like a local, made me feel almost familiar being there. I sat by the window admiring the beauty of everything outside : a passing boat, the flight of two gulls, the clouds clinging to the hill tops, all was pure enchantment and the most beautiful enchantment was Gabriel silhouetted on the edge of the rock, casting his line.

—————

We took our time in the sauna while the fish stew simmered. I felt comfortable with Gabriel. We were naked, of course, nearly sweltering in the dim, close quarters of his sauna. Afterwards, the shock of the icy water made me cringe again, but we had fun rubbing and towelling each nice and hard. He was hairless except for his head, his pubes and pits, nothing elsewhere. His cock also was beautiful, well proportioned, full with hardly any foreskin. I mused to myself as I saw him chub a little, "I'm bringing to life a statue of some ancient pagan god."

At that very moment, he stated, "That feels so good, Tristan. That's something that can't be done alone! You make feel alive!"

My eyes widened as if he had read my mind. I took a deep breath, trying not to chuckle. Magic was in the air.

My fresh clothes felt good. After dining, we decided to have some more beer and make music together. I supposed the time wasn't 'ripe' yet for us to talk about personal things yet, about the waiting table, about us. I wasn't in a hurry.

The lingering twilight yielded to darkness. Candlelight filled the room with its mellow glow. Gabriel was more beautiful than ever. He asked me to give him the C note so he could tune his harp on the pitch of my flute.

"You start. Play me your favourite tune," he pled, beaming a very wide smile.

My favourite is an old Scottish ballad called 'Robin'. When the refrain came back, he blended in perfectly as if he knew the music already. At the end, we both broke out laughing, very proud of ourselves.

"Now it's your turn," I stated and he complied with a rather lively tune, easy to pick up. The evening went on like that until we were actually improvising together. The candles had dwindled and the night outside was like black velvet. I had never been so happy, bathing in the music we were creating.

Suddenly, Gabriel stopped and stood. "Come to the window! The Northern Lights are back!"

As I neared the window, I nearly swooned, gasping and staring at the dance of the greenish clouds of light soaring over us in the crystal clear oblivion. I spontaneously hugged Gabriel and blurted out, "Thank you again! I'm so glad to discover this with you! I'm… I'm overwhelmed!"

He returned my hug and then looked at me in the eyes — no, he rather looked not AT me, but THROUGH me, right into my soul and said, "Thank the gods. It's their gift to us. I so glad you saw your first Aurora Borealis here with me and that it's the first of the season. It's a gift that soothes the winter gloom."

We stood there for awhile, our shoulders touching, in silence. We were just wonderstruck by the gods gushing forth their glow, flowing around in their heathen heaven. Gabriel edged away and started pinching out the candles. He took the lantern, nodded to me and simply climbed the ladder. I followed.

Once in the loft, an uncanny, milky glow through the window streamed onto the waiting table. I took off my brace. We both stripped and slid together into the bed.

"How's your ankle, Tristan?" Gabriel whispered.

"It's getting better," I stuttered.

My breathing was shallow. I was laying there, nearly trembling, close to Gabriel. He smelled so good, like spice and amber. At the very same moment we both wiggled up to each other and hugged. My cock twitched as his slightly brushed mine. He gently kissed my cheek and whispered again, "Good night my friend — thank you for this happy day. I love the way our energies blend, making music, music and … more."

I kissed him back, like the French do. I whispered him a 'good night' too and sighed. There I was, wide awake, somewhat confused, not really upset, just not understanding myself and even less Gabriel. It felt so good just being there with him that way, but my cock was hard as a hatchet handle. We were almost cuddling, but not too close, just enough to feel each other. Turned, facing each other, the heat between our bodies was intense without being uncomfortable. As Gabriel said, I guess it was our energy melding. Whatever it was, it felt so good, almost too good.

I felt like a spark on the tip of my dick. Gabriel's slit was touching mine. Our cocks were kissing. Neither of us moved. The heat became more intense. I heard Gabriel gasp. I shuddered. We both ejaculated. Not an orgasm, just an intimate encounter. Nothing was said.

 The Northern Lights rolled on in the night sky. Gabriel was sound asleep. I breathed in rhythm along with him. Our breathing together sounded like the distant sea in the night. Gently,  I let myself drown in the rising tide of sleep.  

—————

The next morning as we made the bed, we both took a glimpse at the whitish stain on the sheet and smiled at each other.

Gabriel simply nodded. I blushed. At breakfast, Gabriel said he had to work. I asked if I could come see his workshop. He said yes.

"It really smells good in here!"

"It's the cedar and the birch. There's a bench over there."

He fixed a medium-sized section of a small log in the vise of his workbench. With very precise strokes of his adze, chips fell. He began again, turning the piece, rubbing it gently with his free hand. I was amazed at his skill. When he stopped to whet his adze on the grindstone, he spoke up, "Not too bored?"

"Not at all! I'm fascinated. How did you learn how to do that?"

"I guess it's in my blood. Norway is the land of wood workers. The viking boats, the sculptures, the houses, the churches… all wood. There is also the bronze casting, like the ancient statuette of Freyr you saw in the loft."

"Tell me more about the Norse, the Vikings. We were always told that they were bloodthirsty plunderers and rapists. Tell me … tell me about you, Gabriel. Please."

"Okay. I guess the time is ripe, don't you think?"

"Definitely!"

As he began roughly chiseling the face of the statue he was carving, he told me about the Vikings from a Viking's point of view. He told me about their religion, their beliefs and their skills. He was rather professorial, just giving me facts. It was interesting, but not very personal.

"And you, Gabriel? What's your story? How did you end up here all by yourself?"

"So you really want to know?"

"Yes. I need to know. I'm at a point in my life where I'm seeking answers, anybody's answers."

"Yes, Tristan, I felt that you were in need of that. So let's do like we did our music. I'll begin, but only if you tell me about yourself too."

"You've got a deal."

"First of all, there are two kinds of people : those who spend their lives looking for who they are. Then there are those who have understood that there's no use in looking for yourself. We don't find ourselves, we create ourselves."

As he spoke, he worked on the face of his statue.

"People should stop losing their time. We all should become who we want to be, deep down inside, without paying mind to what others say or think. We should do all we can so that the little boy we were, when we were ten years old, isn't sorry to have wanted to grow up."

He went on telling me that when he was fifteen, he moved in with his grandmother. They were living on the outskirts of Svolvaer at the time. His father was a fisherman. He and his partner were lost at sea during a bad winter's gale. His mother worked in a supermarket and after losing her husband, she left with the store manager for Oslo.

His grandmother knew a lot about the customs and wisdom of the Vikings. She taught him the ways of the ancestors, the sagas about Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland, the raids for survival south of Scandinavia. She told him all the legends of the gods and also how to cast the rune stones that reveal to humans the sacred intentions of the gods.

"She even taught me about the plants and the elixirs and how to distill their essence to perfume sweet almond oil. She said it was quite useful for wanking! And she was right!" He chuckled a little and went on, "When I turned eighteen, I got a job in the oil fields of Manitoba, over in Canada. After three years I came back, disgusted, but with a decent wad of cash in my pocket. Grandmother was in the hospital with Alzheimer's. She didn't even recognise me. I was alone. Alone, but at home. I found this place, fixed it up and here I am. Hope I'm not boring you."

"Not in the least! Please carry on, that is… if you've more to say."

"It does me good to tell you all this…"

He drew all of my attention. I was listening, learning, watching him work. The face was now visible on his statue. He hesitated, smiled at me and said, "Well, what's coming is more personal. Remember, you're next!"

He winked at me and started outlining the cock.

"Well, it's more about my grandmother's teaching. She passed on last year… Anyhow, she told me about the way some men are born with twin souls or twin flames burning in their heart. In Norwegian we say 'tvilling sjeler' or 'tvilling flammer'. At birth they are separated, she said."

He stopped carving and looked out the window.

"She said her boy, my father, was one. He had found his soul twin. They became partners and were never separated. They even died, drowning in a gale together. She said I have a soul twin somewhere out there too. She said I have to wait for him and not bother with women nor go out looking for him. 'Just wait,' she said. He'll find you. So I'm waiting. The table upstairs is where I pray Freyr to help me wait for my twin flame. When the time is ripe, I'm sure he'll come. Just as sure as I'm breathing here, standing by the Freyr I'm carving, talking to you, Tristan. Someday he and I shall meet. We both must recognise each other. Maybe it won't be at the same time, but when we do, we'll never be separated." He smiled, looked at me in the eyes again and said, "There! I've emptied my sack. Your turn!"

I told him my story. It sounded really flat next to his. I felt so superficial, flippant and vain. I told him about the pub, my playing around, fucking all the girls who craved my cock. I told him about how upset and empty I felt and how I had a kind of drive to come up to the Lofoten's. Little by little I was realising that there seemed to be a purpose behind that urge to come here. It scared me. Freyr scared me.

"Thank you, Tristan. That was very generous of you to bestow me your story. Let me say however that I think your real life is just beginning."

"Thank YOU, Gabriel, for telling me yours and listening to mine. It was funny talking to you as you were revealing Freyr's penis on the statue you're making. I felt a bit concerned, if you see what I mean!" He bursted out laughing and I did too.

"Yes, I see."

We both laughed, then he added, "Listen, let's go for a fun cruise after lunch. I'm tired of working and want to enjoy showing you around. We'll go fuel up in Digermulen and we'll visit some deserted islands that are rather spectacular."

"Wonderful!"

—————

We cruised up a channel, turned around a little island, came in sight of a chapel on another.

Seeing the church, I asked, "When did the Christians get here?"

"They've been here for a long time now."

"How do you feel about that?"

"The way I understand the Christian religion with their Holy Trinity is like this : God is the house, Jesus is the door, the Holy Ghost is the vast outdoors. I'm sure that our outdoor gods are a part of the Holy Ghost…"

Enough said. Great food for thought!

Little by little clouds came in from the west and a little drizzle set in. Gabriel fetched a pair of slickers in the cuddy and we put them on. I shrugged my shoulder frowning a bit saying, "It's raining."

Gabriel looked at me like I was a halfwit.

"Yes. it's raining…"

I felt stupid. When it rains, it rains and that's all.

"Listen Gabriel, in France, people always talk about the weather and they're usually just complaining. Too hot, too cold, too windy. They don’t live in the weather, they always endure it. That's how I was brought up."

He replied, "And life is like the weather. Either you decide to live and enjoy whatever is going on around you or you decide to only see how painful it is. Here, life and weather are extreme. The days never end in the summer and the nights in the winter do the same. I'm not a fatalist passively accepting what’s happening to me. I just recognise that what’s going on is going on for a purpose, even if I don't understand it, and that purpose is for planetary balance and our own well being. But greed is messing up the weather, spawning it with pollution and with it, our lives. Here we can live because of the gulf stream bringing us warmth. With the proven climate change, the gulf steam is threatened. You get the picture? There are many ways to be in peace and be prosperous and not ruin everything."

The rain trickled down my neck — and guess what! I didn't mind. More food for thought.

————

The next two days were spent working together and learning from each other and the evenings were moments of music followed by warm cuddling, falling to sleep together.

My ankle healed in record time and I was really fine, except that I was still a bit scared of Gabriel's god. I began thinking that I should leave, take my van as I had planned. I told him at breakfast, "I think the time has come for me to leave and continue my trip."

He didn't flinch. He just kept on looking down at his coffee bowl, making little balls of bread between his fingers. I felt a little sick. He then lifted his eyes and said, "If you feel it's what you have to do, then do it. Do you need any help?"

"No, I'll walk back to the van. I don't have that much to carry."

"As you like."

"I'm going up and fetch my stuff in the loft."

"Okay."

I profusely thanked him again for all that he had done for me. He said it was only normal… We hugged. I stepped out of the door and took the path back to the village. As I was walking, everything went berserk in my head, in my heart, in my guts. It was pure havoc. My emotions were chaotic. I was gasping, choking, weeping and laughing all at the same time. All of what we had said and done, as well as all of what we had NOT said and NOT done, ravaged my mind.

Gabriel had told me quite calmly just a few minutes beforehand, "If that's what you have to do, then do it."

What in the hell do I HAVE to do? Where was I going and what was I going to? Was I heading back into the labyrinth, just to face the Minotaur wearing my face? In fact, I was fleeing? Little by little it was dawning on me that I was fleeing the vertigo of having discovered my soul twin! I was terrified, awestruck, trembling and sick! That sudden awareness destroyed everything I had thought about myself up till then. I just couldn't take the questioning!

I made it to the van, unlocked it, climbed in and cranked up the motor. I put it in gear. I hesitated. I waited and hesitated some more. My hands were sweating, gripping the wheel. I put pushed the gear into reverse and stalled. Damnit! I wasn't fit to drive. My emotions were in shreds. I felt like I was going crazy, losing my mind. I wanted to faint and I couldn't. I collapsed on the wheel and uttered over and over, "Fuck you, Gabriel, Gabriel… fuck…fuck!"

As the tears streamed down my cheeks, I bolted up in my seat and screamed out loud, "Fuck yes! He told me to do what I have to do. Shit! what I have to do is to stay here! Here is where I have to be and, good grief! I'm already here! I started having a laughing fit. I'm at home. HOME! Gabriel is waiting for me at home!"

I slammed the door, punched the lock button and almost ran back. Out of breath, I banged on the door, over and over, panting. Finally it opened. Gabriel grabbed me in his arms.

"Tristan…"

"Gabriel, can you drive me back to the village in your boat. I'm going to empty the van and sell it. I've come home."

"Sure, no problem," was all he said. Then he kissed me like I've never been kissed before and said, "Just a second, I've got to find the keys to the boat."

He ran off. I looked over at the statue of Freyr he had taken out of the workshop and put on the table. I actually saw him laugh as I murmured, "Thanks! Oh yes, thank you, my wonderful old god! My Gabriel's god… for waking me up!"

Tumbling down the ladder, Gabriel shouted, "Come on, Tristan! What are you waiting for? Hurry up! We've got a lot to do!"

—————

Once the van was unloaded and my things put in the boat, we headed back home. Yes, I was going home. Gabriel was at the tiller and I was holding him tight by the waist. The energy thing was going on real strong!

Once in the boat house, we unloaded my stuff and left it on the dock side. We literally flew up the ladder and before falling on the bed, we stripped each other, kissing, fondling, grabbing, laughing until we fell stark naked on the bed.

We held each other, breathing in sync. Then, kissing me down my chest, Gabriel turned me on fire. I gasped as he licked my nipples, then he snuggled lower. Just then, I reached down and pulled him up to my mouth, rolled over on him and kissed him even deeper, exploring his mouth with my tongue. He laughed and squirmed, making a very lame attempt to resist. I moved down, teasing his navel on the way. In a flash, he spun around, diving in on my straining cock. There we were, mouth to cock, both dicks throbbing, drooling, yearning to be sucked ― and we sucked and sucked and got sucked deeper and better with every shiver. All of our built up lust broke loose like fireworks. Our male urgency spiralled as we bonded in the most thrilling connexion two males can embody. Our tongues danced, our cocks jerked, our breath shortened, we moaned and shuttered, filling our mouths and throats with our potent, sweet cum. We both swallowed and writhed, almost wrenching and drooling in the fabulously mind-blasting confusion of our two orgasms fusing into one.

Sprawled on our back, head to tail, we came back to our wits, holding each other's cock. I felt Gabriel move. I propped up on my elbow and met his smile. His eyes had never been so soft, inviting and warm.

"So there you are, at last."

"Yes, here I am… I guess I just sort of dropped in… from down the mountain, so to speak, right here into your bed. Now I know why I had to come to your island. You were waiting for me… and the time, as you say, was ripe!"

"Ripe as the fruit between your thighs!"

He dove back down on me, sucking my cock back to life again. I followed suite and completely forgetting lunch, we fed on our accepted love as it sought its own sweaty conclusion.

The chill creeped in. We finally were able to drag ourselves out of bed, dress some and come back down to reality, knowing that our lives had changed forever.

Gabriel tended the fire as I brought up my belongings.

"We'll find a solution for that later. Let's fire up the sauna!"

I lit the gas as Gabriel put something together for supper. It was the most natural thing in the world to be there, doing that. I never thought about my phone, my bank, my van, my life, my this and that. I was simply alive, in love and that was all I needed. That is all anybody needs, if you really think about it. But I'm not just anybody. I'm me, I'm Gabriel's twin soul and he is my twin soul too. That's being me and more than me, I guess.

"Let's go in. I think it's hot enough now," I said to Gabriel as I undressed.

He came up and kissed me in the neck. "Here I am!"

Our moans and laughs echoed throughout the house as we revelled in the most tumultuous sauna bath you can imagine!

After a meal and a few beers, Gabriel cast the rune stones. He read them and simply stated, "They say we must make an offering to Freyr day after tomorrow, at dawn."

"Whatever they say, I'm for it! Let's make some music!"

It was almost eerie. Music flowed and merged out of us just like our semen did the night our cocks kissed. Gabriel wept as his harp overflowed into my soaring flute. Now I know, after having blown Gabriel's cock why I blow the flute so well. Almost overtaken by the emotion, we silently agreed to retire upstairs.

Once in bed, Something sacred was happening. Our moist pits reeked the spicy scent of our uniting souls' delight. Sharing a long, luscious kiss our terribly impertinent cocks throbbed, deciding for us again. Gabriel's hand wandered down my spine, slipping below the coccyx, finding the warmth of intimacy in the cleft between the buttocks. I moaned. Kissing my neck, Gabriel whispered in my ear, "I need you in me. I need you now!"

Nature took over. Gabriel found his oil vial, slathered my cock and gently sat down on it, straddling me. I was just able to lift my head with his help and suckle on his glans like a babe on its mother's breast. Little by little he moved. I bucked up, imperiously urging my cock deeper. I grabbed his cock. He said, "No… You… Later… Ah! My god, Tristan, fill me! fulfill me!"

As if in a trance, he ground down on me. I nearly passed out spewing deep inside him, over and over again, deep inside my man. Gabriel rose on his knees. I swallowed his cock. He flipped me over. I felt the oil penetrate my arse. Then I surrendered as Gabriel slowly slid into me. The pain flashed and then dwindled as I yielded to total bliss. He didn't last long but he didn't have to last long for me to be his and his alone. Arching like a howling wolf, he came and I with him… again! Miracles do happen.

—————

When we awoke, the sun was already high. We were warm and content under the covers. Without speaking, we melded into the position of two doves in a nest and began enticing each other's cock to satisfy our unquenchable thirst, our imperious need of communion. No bobbing of heads, no jacking the shafts, just long luscious sucking, throaty humming, tonguing and with pelvises slightly undulating, little by little the gushing riptide of creamy semen changed the agony of yearning desire into the ecstasy of giving and receiving once more.

After breakfast, I went out to split some firewood while Gabriel went back on his job sanding Freyr. We finished the groceries for lunch, took the boat over to Digermulen, went to the garage to ask about putting the van on sale. He said he'd be happy to do it and would only take a very moderate percentage.

We shopped and stocked the pantry again. I went with Gabriel out to fish. He taught me how to do it. I caught nothing but it was fun. He landed supper in only a few minutes.

"Don't fret! You'll catch them too. You'll be able to fish as well as I do in a few days. Now let me show you how to scale and gut them."

That wasn't very appetising, but it had to be done. So I did it… without cutting myself.

Little did I know that dawn the next day would be an experience of cosmic revelation!

—————

The sun was on the verge of rising in a cloudless sky. Gabriel had stoked the stove with coal the evening before. The loft was warm. He gently rolled over and kissed me awake. I stretched and hugged him back.

"I'll be right back," he said as he went down the ladder. He brought up two small pails, one empty, the other with warm water and a hand towel in it.

"In case you need to relieve yourself," he whispered, placing the empty pail by the bed. I knelt and peed. He then took the wet, warm hand-towel out of the other pail and proceeded to gently bathe my cock and balls.

I reached out to take the towel. He knelt too as I did the same to him. Then he rose and brought over the dish with the statuette in it and the two candles. He placed the dish on the bed and a candle on each bedstand. He lit them both and then crawled back to where the dish and Freyr were waiting.

He asked me to sit with my back against the wall, my legs spread wide open. He then placed the dish and Freyr close to my sex and sat facing me. He put one leg over mine and the other under mine. Our balls were touching the edge of the dish, our cocks leaning one to the other. Reaching over, he took the vial of oil that was on the night stand and anointed my cock. He handed me the vial and I anointed his. With our left hands we began stroking each other. With our right hands we grasped each other by the back of our necks.

Our strokes were long and easy. Our fists were twisting, kneading the glans, pulling the foreskins back, stirring the very roots of our cocks. Never hasting, we clutched a bit stronger, milking the energy up and out of our sexes. Instinct had me humming as some kind of glow began to rise between us. Gabriel hummed too. His nostrils flared, his lips quivering. We opened our mouths, singing long deep notes, harmonising. Little by little my lips sought his. We sang into each others throats, a crossing flow of song filled our bodies and the stroking went on and on in a crescendo of tingling thrills, rippling up and down our spines.

An unavoidable eruption was boiling deep down inside. All of my awareness was concentrated in Gabriel's grip as he strongly twisted and squeezed me with infinite attentiveness. Our song became deeper, more throaty, a bit breathy as our lips softly collided and writhed in a fabulous kiss, our tongues dancing together. The stroking became more intense. Never my cock had been so hard, so yearning, agonising to gush. And then our orgasms exploded, over and over. Our semen erupted, anointing the statuette of Freyr, our god of peace and plentifulness. Our most intimate offerings became spiritual fertility as they mixed, blending into one sole substance, slowly covering the smiling god.

We licked each other's hand, then taking the dish and holding it together, we lifted it over our heads. Gabriel uttered, "Yes". I repeated, "Yes".

We then sat the dish and its sacred contents aside and held each other, breathing together. I began realising the meaning of our male communion. Semen itself is not sacred. It's simply biological. What’s sacred is the energy that shakes us when our semen flows and merges as an offering to something higher than ourselves, keeping in mind that this special energy is sacred because it’s a gift, a present presented to one another, a present to the presence of nature in us. For us, it's an offering to Freyr. It's the living manifestation, in our flesh, that divinity is present in and between us and that such energy can change worlds.

We poured the semen on the heather and bathed the statuette in the sea. The prayer table had lost its purpose to ease the ordeal of waiting. It was now there for the jubilation of offering! I still can't say I understand all of that. All I can say is that my life's purpose is clearer. There's space at last inside of me to welcome the light of life itself.

—————

Epilogue

The van sold well. I got all the paperwork made to put my money in the Postbanken where Gabriel does his banking. I went through all the formalities required by the authorities. I did everything you have to do nowadays to be out of trouble.

New Year's was fun. I haven't seen the sun for a month now. I don't mind. We make love and celebrate our offerings almost every night and since it's night all the time… Wow!

The sun will come back, overruling the night pretty soon.

During the Winter, I sculpt figurines of youthful male nudes in erection. I make them with wax. Then, outside, when the weather and light permit, I'll use them in lost wax casting, in a charcoal kiln, making bronze versions of them. I'm learning the Viking skills of metallurgy and creating my own line of contemporary Freyr effigies which I'm sure will sell well too. The traditional ones are Gabriel's job. Same god, different times ; same job, different guys!

I enjoyed telling you my tale. Please keep yourself free and safe. Who knows, if he hasn't found you yet, there just might be a soul twin out there for you too…