Seething since 2000*
I "Morten, who was not so good to English, wore oversized glasses that made his face look crooked, as if he had been punched, on a train, by some thug from Århus. We corresponded only very briefly, when we were both in primary school, but yesterday I felt his presence in the capital, København, like a scab slowly peeling itself off my face. The things he liked to do, his hobbies and favourite sports, elude me, though football must be in there somewhere. I am left with a simple image: a boy carrying a backpack and wearing a black beanie, travelling alone on a train in the so-called happiest country in the world, watching as fields of grey metal glide by in complete silence. Maybe I should blame Peter Høeg for putting the image there. I mean, who else? I want to write him a letter, ask him if Morten drew a slash through his Os, the way that I used to cross my Ts, dot my Is." II "We'll imagine that for Morten, at his age anyway, the idea of a girlfriend was preposterous. School being the great equaliser, we'll creepily approve of the idea that he was bashed, daily. His parents, having also been victims of working class hate, were powerless to stop it, despite their letters to the schools department, the weekly protests. You can guess why Morten's on the train, then: he's running away to København, or else further, across the Øresund Bridge to Malmö. We'll allow him to get that far, perhaps further still, before the Polisen corner him in Lund, their windbreakers catching him in a patriarchal embrace, knocking his glasses from his face, spilling the contents of his backpack all over the icy platform for anyone to see. No papers, barcode - no true identity to speak of. It's a fair way from Århus to Lund but his father drives virtually non-stop through a horizontal blizzard, pausing once to pay a toll on the Øresund Bridge, and a second time to cry." III "I only ran away that one time, fleeing violence the way refugees flee internment camps, or else momentary ceasefires. They amount to the same thing: entering that gap in space between days, running fast like my old football coach taught me, head down, fists like pistons. I thought my black tracksuit would camouflage me against the night, the mean streets of Vesterbro. As it turned out, in København I couldn't even leave the station, surrounded by Tivoli's dregs and angel's wings. I rode black on a train bound for Malmö instead, got as far as Lund before the future caught up with me. I waited for my father in a juvenile cell crowded with boys who jeered, then broke my glasses. I managed to get one solid punch in before being king-hit from behind but it was worth it. Then on the long drive back to Jutland for some reason I recalled that Australian boy who pretended to be my penpal for a month or two, back in primary school. Hvad var hans navn?"