The “Army and Navy Surplus Store” sign hung above the door of the large tall warehouse located in the once prosperous industrial part of the city.
Long rows of leather coats, racks of camouflage suits, helmets and weatherproofed clothes stained with oil stretched out before me. I could just make out what I was doing due to a ray of light streaming in from a high window catching the particles of dust.
I needed a new coat because my old one was totally threadbare. I had always rejected the idea of buying a new one but the frayed edges of my old coat were starting to attract more and more undesirable attention from passersby, so now I was forced to do something about it.
While I was browsing through the endless racks of used clothes my nose was filled with the scent of oil and leather. It was as though I was walking through a museum of mankind.
Suddenly my eyes lighted on a 3/4 length black leather coat and my attention was attracted by a row of shiny gold colored buttons. Further inspection revealed that they were decorated with a ships anchor complete with a rope.
The coat was so dry that it crackled softly when I pulled it on as though waking up from a deep hibernation: the time for a new life had arrived.
The coat had a thick lining in order to withstand the bitter cold on a ship. Sewn in the lining was a faded label and I could just barely decipher the name “Torgny Soderholm”.
“Torgny Soderholm” I repeated softly. It conjured up images of rough grey seas with high peaks of spattering foam and windswept abandoned quays of a faraway northerly port, even the smell of tarred wooden decks.
The coat cost me almost nothing and fitted me perfectly. When I was standing outside again, even though daylight was fading, the copper buttons shone like bright stars.
When I arrived home the coat really seemed to come to life. It became the center piece of my room. The unrelenting rain that had been falling from the moment I left the warehouse had washed it clean of the warehouse dust. Even the faint white traces of salt that had covered the coat like veins on marble were gone.
The coat was so stiff it could stand upright all by itself without any help.
All during dinner I couldn’t take my eyes of the coat and it brought forth an endless stream of thoughts and feelings. Eventually I made the decision to travel to Y harbor.
In the empty streets of Y harbor the rain was still pouring down and big puddles forced me to tread carefully. Wet cobblestones gleamed in the light shining from the lanterns but my coat gave me good protection from these terrible weather conditions.
In the narrow streets and alleys of the old port the loud hollow sound of my footsteps accentuated the loneliness. A call from a lone seagull held a promise. The promise of an unknown future.
I followed the seagull until he was swallowed by the encroaching darkness. The deep tones of a distant ships’ horn only strengthened indefinable feelings in me.
Ships with their grotesquely dark silhouettes, played against the almost pitch black sky, dark ghostly shapes that sooner or later would leave for their destinations overseas.
Behind the windows of the harbor pub, made misty by the drops of condensation that rolled down like tears, people were having fun. This was a gaiety that I clearly wasn’t a part of. I stroked my long wet hair with my hand.
The piers and quays slowly disappeared. The last quay wall dropped steeply away to suddenly make way for a broad sandy beach. The wild sea that I had heard bashing on the basalt blocks between the quay walls was transformed into calm waves that spread out into the sand.
The sand on the beach slowed my step even though I was trying to go faster. The elements could enforce their will on me here more so than in the harbor.
Above me a mysterious moon appeared out of the dark wisps of cloud.
The wind and the rain that had continually attacked me since arriving at Y suddenly diminished.
Where was I going to? Where were my feelings taking me?
The clouds had now disappeared and I looked at the enormous expanse above me and could see the Milky Way lying on its side with it’s center like a giant chandelier.
I felt an overwhelming urge to just lie in the sand and look at this spectacle above me but my eyes were drawn to the sea where a light had suddenly appeared. It was quite a ways off but I could see that this was no ordinary light.
The moonlight had formed a silvery path on the calm sea, the light dancing gaily back and forth. The waves breaking onto the beach caused the shells to gently roll and tumble with a soft crunchy sound.
An inexplicable peace came upon the landscape.
I looked once more to the lights on the sea and saw to my amazement that they had come closer in the meantime. I quickly discerned the shape of a 17th century three master ship in full sail.
I held my breath while I studied this ghostly ship sailing on the moonlit sea right in front of me.
Suddenly I heard human voices sound over the water and oars slicing rhythmically through the sea. Not long after a sloop appeared out of the dusk on either side were oarsmen.
A figure stood holding a lantern out in front of him in the front of the boat. He barked a command as the boat moved closer and the oarsmen immediately stopped rowing and held their oars upright.
I could clearly see their 17th century white linen clothes.
The boot glided silently towards the beach through the slivery moonlight.
The man at the front looked at me.
“Who are you?” he shouted, while he shone his lantern on me.
“Who are you?” his words rang out again, questioningly.
I felt a maelstrom of feelings and thoughts run through me again.
“Torgny Soderholm” I said loudly.
The rowboat had nearly reached the beach.
A murmur of agreement arose from the boat.
I quickly buttoned up my coat and waited for the right moment to jump in.
I readied myself to take over the command.