Excerpts from Richard Londgren’s “Arc of Conflict”
Chapter 1: Rude Welcome
“I will not apologize to Olaf, no matter what you say, Mom!” shouted Jakob, as he threw his backpack and jacket toward the closet. “I’ve had it with him and his insults, so I gave him a dose of his own language!”
“Well, I just got a call from Olaf’s mother,” said Mrs. Onstad, “and she was plenty mad about how you cursed at him and threatened to beat up on him. They’re our friends, so why are you acting that way?”
“I thought he was too, but then suddenly he starts the Nazi-lover accusations again. And some of the other kids join in. But I didn’t curse him. Just called him a bunch of obscenities.”
“I can guess,” said Mrs. Onstad.
“You can think about it in your room, and we’ll talk about it later. First, I want you to meet Karl’s friend from the oil platform.”
From the living room, Karl shouted for Jakob to join them.
“Sounds like you had a bad day—again, Jakob,” grinned Karl. “Well, thanks for trying to defend our honor. I’ve been there too, so you’ll get used to it and get over it.
“Now say hello to Harold Shostrom, my fellow oil tycoon,” laughed Karl, with an echoing chuckle from Harold.
“Interesting to meet another member of your family,” Harold declared. “And I heard what you said, and I’ve been there too.”
“Sorry that I exploded like that,” said Jakob, “and I’m glad to meet you. American, aren’t you?”
“Even after I’ve been working with your brother, you don’t think I sound like I’m Norwegian. Guess my Swedish name gave me away,” laughed Harold, as Jakob and Karl joined in the ethnic humor.
“Well,” said Jakob, “I’d better head for my room…or get in even more trouble. I’m curious about the problem you mentioned. Maybe later we can talk over our troubles.”
“Helps to talk about it,” said Harold. “Some of that frustration I felt as a kid still upsets me, and I want to go back and kick some butt. And now I’m big and tough enough to do it,” he laughed.
As Jakob left, Mrs. Onstad joined Karl and Harold. “First,” she said, “my name is Olga…sometimes ogre…to my family,” she chuckled. “And you can stay for dinner, I hope. Maybe it’ll be a calm meal, though Jakob, Karl and their dad do become a bit agitated at times.
“But before I go—back to work in the kitchen, maybe you and I, Karl, should fill Harold in on what Jakob referred to—that Nazi insult.”
“It does haunt our family,” admitted Karl. “I’ll give you the short version now, and you may or may not want to learn more later.
“Our cousin Hanna, daughter of our dad’s sister Gerta, had a German officer as a father,” explained Karl. “Gerta insisted that he was an outstanding German, not a Nazi. Said he was an architect and engineer sent to direct the coastal gun emplacements here and all up and down the Atlantic coast. According to her, he was a kind and considerate companion to her in those dire times. Even taught design to some of her best students. And handsome as well. Not greatly surprising…that, unfortunately, led to romance.”
“And, also unfortunately, she became pregnant,” added Olga. “Maybe you know—Harold—that in Norway, fraternizing with Norwegians even from other towns is resented. So fraternizing with the enemy is strictly forbidden.”
Arc of Conflict is available via Amazon’s Kindle e-book and paperback from Amazon’s CreateSpace.
This article originally appeared in the July 24, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.