Disintegration in Frost

Ken Nielsen





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In just a second a life is changed and a world disappears. One second.  That is all it takes. A dead grandmother, a bench covered in snow, and a world that constantly turns. And yet nobody is able to feel the turning. The seconds turn like snowflakes caught in a draft. Everything turns, but nobody turns with it. A second. A kiss. A shot.

Over by the wall something moved. I take the time to consider that it is probably insignificant before I finally break into panic. Panic is nothing but a relieving feeling that nothing can be done. It is the feeling of a little boy’s tongue on a frozen metal pole where he cannot do anything, but wait for the ice to thaw. The more he works and fights to become free the more he bleeds. One must conform to ice prisons.

My panic sends waves throughout the room. I am running towards whatever it is that moves by the wall, when I suddenly realize, that it is just my own shadow.  This present from the cave man arrives for me in the dusk of an apartment painted grey. I am hunted by my shadow. Raw laughter is heard coming from my throat. In this moment I see that I have never been among the fastest. But so what?  The last shall be the first and the meek will inherit the keys to heaven, so what does it really matter if I am a little late?

Suddenly I fear myself.

Jacob stands by the window.  He is looking out. His body is drawn in a dark silhouette against the light that is pouring past him through the window. It is a hard and white winter afternoon light. Like reflections of snow. Snow creates a reflected light stronger than light itself. The cold mirrors the heat and makes it stronger, more intense. This is the way I love Jacob. He is as beautiful as a dream, but his beauty is of the hard kind. It is as sharp as a new razor blade and when I slit my wrists on it, it is painful. Still, I want to reach out and touch him as he stands there naked in the harsh light. I actually do not see him. He is just a shadow against the light. I do not need to see him to know what he looks like. My hand has memorized every curve on his body and my eyeballs have licked every millimeter of the skin that prevents his intestines from falling out.

Strangely enough I want to kill him.


Instead I walk over and let my hand glide lightly over one of his buttocks. It is hard as a muscle. I let my other hand caress his cock.  Jacob’s cock is thick and round, even now, when it is relaxed and small as if it, too, is afraid of the light. It is heavy like the silence in the room. We do not say anything.  It has been a while since words were necessary. Or so we think.

I have often said that I do not want him to stand naked in the window, but he doesn’t care. He says that he has nothing to hide. That is true. I happen to believe though, that that does not mean he cannot choose to do so. Then again, I too mostly do everything I already know is wrong. Humans are actually so much alike.

I hold his balls. I cup my hand and they snuggle into it. It is comforting to think that I hold millions of lives in my hands and slowly I sense that they relax and share the heat of my hand. It is a physical reaction, I know this, but I make myself believe that I communicate with the lives that will never be realized from my beloved’s testicles. The words that I cannot share with him I have to share with the unrealized potential for life in his divine body. There is nothing to do. He owns me, and my love cannot be extinguished. It can only be poured out. Like sperm running slowly into the clear waters of the clean toilet bowl.

We had known each other for a long time.  Jacob was the first man in my life. He was not the first in that first kind of way, but the first to share my life. We lived together from the first day in that first apartment. I walked past the place the other day and saw that it is no more. For some reason they have torn it down.  It was up in Harlem. It was a cold and shitty little apartment that wasn’t better worth than tearing down. Still, this doesn’t mean that they had to do it. They probably didn’t care. I guess they didn’t know that Jacob and I shared our first everything in those rooms. We moved in together back when we both were poor. Who knows the happiness that does not crumble?

I started to cry as I walked by. I stood in the middle of my old sidewalk and cried for a long time and it felt wonderful.  My cheeks tasted like salt.  Nobody knows as nobody kissed them that afternoon, when I realized that my life had started to crumble. When they start tearing down your old homes you start to feel old. Take my word for it. I suddenly felt old and the absurdity of the feeling paralyzed me. I felt skinned like an orange peeled of its rind. The house where I had lived with my love was gone and only in my memory of it could I seek refuge. But one cannot prove a memory.  Who can say if I lived there? Who knows if Jacob remembers it? He doesn’t. Not anymore at least.

While we stand next to each other by the window we see a bird stuck in the ice on the Hudson River. Jacob doesn’t see it. He has stopped seeing the river, or so he says, because we have lived here so long now.  The apartment is his, even though we moved in at the same time, and I have never really lived in it.  We moved out of the shitty old apartment together but into this one separately. He owns. I am just here. Really. I have been here a lot, but only because I am dependent on him.  I am hooked on him.

We kiss each other and his tongue is like a blessing. Like the first touch of rain on a summer day when the birds won’t sing.

Later in the day, after we are both dressed again, we decide to go for a walk.  It is a shared decision and nobody can say who made it.  Jacob wants to go to the cemetery.  It is a passion we have developed.  We know so many people who have died and it is peaceful to visit them. What is even better is that there are more people here we do not know.  It gives us hope that we can hide from death.  That whatever decides who is going to die will miss us and let us live together.  Together – a ridiculous little word tasting like Sundays with coffee and cake in a stale living room. I long for Sunday. But today it is Monday.

Jacob interrupts my thoughts. He speaks to me, but I cannot hear what he says. His breath is like fog in frost and he looks like a dragon with smoke out its nostrils.  Is he just smoking again? Does it taste like fire inside his mouth? I will never find out.

We have found his grandmother.  She is sitting on a bench.  She is dead.  It is really both a strange and wonderful sense of timing to die in a cemetery. As if she wanted to save her loved ones the trouble of the business of death, wakes, funerals, and undertakers. She was always such an order-must-be kind of person. This was probably one of the main reasons that she didn’t like me. I, Jacob’s friend, was violently disliked by this mean old woman.  I was a disorderly part of his life.  I was like a pile of old papers on the floor.  Something one had to jump over to get into the apartment. Sufficient to say, that old people do not jump well. I refuse to help him get her off the bench.  Slowly I have to back out of the situation because my roaring laughter is threatening to take control of me. Jacob sends me a glare so full of hatred that I fear becoming a pile of salt as I leave him sitting on the snow covered bench with the frozen granny.

Don’t cry my love. Your tears will freeze to ice on your beautiful cheeks and nothing will be able to repair this damage.  I have let you down, yes, and that is worth your tears.  But do not cry.  Do not glaze those cheeks with a glaze of frozen water. Salt water does not freeze easily. Perhaps that is why tears are salty.  God might be more practical than I am willing to give him credit for.

Our life has been glazed with ice. It runs in my blood and I am freezing.  I cannot get warm. I wish I could get angry over something, but everybody is so eternally insignificant. I, who used to be so angry over so many things.

Jacob does not want to see me anymore.  After his grandmother has been buried he refuses to see me. He cannot forgive that I just turned around and left, he says.  He does not understand that there was nothing else I could do. It would be even worse to stand there laughing, while my lover picks up some dead old bitch from a cemetery bench.

The evil happiness turns around for a moment and laughs into my bleeding face.

Actually it is a tragic incident.  You must remember this.  Laughter would not be appropriate and that is why I had to leave.  I am also pretty sure that she would not have helped me. She would have thought that I got what I deserved. She would consider it God’s just punishment for the sodomites. She refused to get into her head that I was not single-handedly responsible for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra or the death of Rock Hudson. One thing is sure.  Jacob was of course never guilty of anything. Everything was my fault.  I don’t think she really ever knew him very well. Once upon a time I could say that I knew him well without it hurting me. Now it hurts and I think I know him even better.

Over by the window something moves. They say that New York would collapse if the rats did not eat the shit in the sewers. Imagine building a civilization on rodents.

In the evening I tried to reach Jacob. Nothing would function any longer.  Everything had been destroyed by the death of this insignificant woman. He would not see me and it did not help that I suggested that he close his eyes. I would gladly blind him if he would just come back. I needed to do laundry. Small white pillows grew in the fridge. When it was dark in the kitchen it looked almost beautiful when the white pillows growing in the fridge looked like a landscape of snow. They combined the bowls filled with reds and greens. Fantastic what things can become if you let them grow long enough. Time ended on a cold white afternoon on a bench.

Jacob was the only person who could make time turn again.

He no longer lived in his apartment. I had never lived there. I was just there all the time. Now more than ever.

For the one who cannot catch happiness he must destroy it. At night I dream of the grandmother.

In summer grandmothers make lemonade on wooden porches while they whisper secretively about the mysteries of life. White sheets are drying in the sunshine. There is a smell of innocent summer throughout the neighborhood.  Suddenly salty tears from a grandmother drip into the lemonade.  No child wants salty lemonade. A red sun unfolds itself on a white sheet while other grandmothers keep whispering about life in other places. Nobody heard the shot. Nobody saw who fired. And unfortunately nobody remembers the grandmother with the salty tears who due to her frozen death cannot be present on the late summer afternoon when Jacob is shot in a backyard in Harlem. I know who fired. But I can keep a secret.

Winter gets harder. By the window in his apartment I see the river freeze over as the year before, just even harder. Beneath the ice the water still flows. When the river freezes over the fish seek deeper waters and at the bottom it gets crowded. Jacob does not come to me anymore.  He did for a while through the fall after the summer.  Now there is only silence. Before he died he asked for the keys for his apartment. I gave them to him (I was always obedient by nature) and now I cannot leave. I am caught here.  Were I to leave, the door would lock itself behind me. It would be a pathetic exit from this glorious love.

Jacob and his spiteful grandmother, wherever they are, have agreed that I too will soon be gone.  They are waiting with devilish patience for the rats to eat me.  By the wall something moves.












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