FISHING was impossible. The river had been running big and brown for a couple of days and as the rain continued to lash down, hope was in short supply. In the lodge, some of the fishermen were getting stir crazy.
You might think that a dozen or more keen salmon anglers could sit in the lounge all night and remain enlivened by stories of ones that got away and some that didn’t, even when the tales got largely repetitive or took on a shaggy dog appearance. The older ones maybe, but not the likes of young Hans who hailed from Germany or Holland or somewhere over that way.
Hans was of a different breed of angler—restless, hungry for action, always on the move and oblivious to fine sunsets. “There’s not even a decent pub around here,” he lamented, and continued in that manner for quite some time.
“Well,” I said, eventually tiring of it, “you could always try the Silver Slipper at Selfoss. It’s a 45-minute drive but today’s Saturday so it should be buzzing.” Hans perked up immediately and demanded more information. “Gosh,” I said, “it’s a year or two since I was there but it was always full of women.
The club was, I recalled, kind of retro disco in outlook and design, Saturday Night Fever all over again, stomping the boards to the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, even the Village People for God’s sake—the whole place awash with liquor and laughter and, as the night wore on, not a little licentiousness—all of it happening just behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken joint on the main drag.
The Bee Gees were the only folk Hans had heard of but farmers’ daughters seemed to strike a chord. I regaled him with ancient memories of wild nights, of gorgeous girls and adventures too far out for description in the pages of a decent family newspaper or even The Reykjavík Grapevine.
Anyway, he was as well hooked as any salmon I’ve ever reeled in. A look of great earnestness came over him and he was quietly gone, clutching a rough map I’d drawn of the location.
The next morning the sun was breaking through and there was that fresh, crisp smell in the air that often follows rain. The river was in much better shape and over breakfast we faced the day with anticipation.
Hans arrived, disheveled. He looked completely worn out. “I’ve just got back,” he said hoarsely, draining a large glass of water in one go. Guilt hit me like a punch on the jaw. The poor guy must have got lost and slept in his car all night. I felt terrible.
You will, I imagine, have gathered by now that the Silver Slipper at Selfoss is entirely a product of my imagination. It does not exist, but there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken if that’s any consolation. Over the years I have directed many people to the doors of this illustrious nightspot although Hans is, to my knowledge, the first to have attempted to find it.
“So what happened?” I asked cautiously. He leaned over the table conspiratorially. “It was,” he said, “unbelievable, absolutely fantastic, everything you said it would be and more.” I waited for the explosion, but his face was a picture of awe and innocence.
He told a long and elaborate story, full of detail that need not be repeated here and at the end of it he sighed: “What a night.” No fishing for him this morning, he said. What he needed was sleep.
I was heading back to Reykjavík that afternoon and didn’t see Hans again. When I passed through Selfoss I slowed for a moment, for a very brief moment, at the KFC outlet and shook my head. Impossible.
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