This is primarily a love story; sex will occur sporadically, not in every other paragraph.

Love will never abide by religion or by law. Love can be punished, but it cannot be cured. Love is the ultimate anarchist. The term "sin" is meaningless in love's language, as is the term "underage".

If you disagree with this statement, go find another story to read.

If some law says you should not be here at all, it's your own choice to stay or go away.

If you should happen to like my story, please tell me: winterboy@tutanota.com

And please remember:  http://donate.nifty.org/donate.html

 

 

 

 

THE SOUND OF HIS FOOTSTEPS

Magnus Winter

 

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

Oslo 1983

 

Janneke Sveen, Sander's mother, was never one to make a fuss. So when he stood at her door, suitcase in hand, she simply greeted him with the Dutch triple-kiss hello and let him in, no questions asked. She could probably tell by his morose face that something wasn't as it should be, but she never pried, so she left it to him to enlighten her when he felt time was right.

Sander followed her into the kitchen and watched as she made coffee. The window was open to the backyard, spring was already on it's way here in the south. The smell of wet earth and the sound of children's voices and muted traffic noise poured in from outside. The coffee maker started to hiss.

Sander figured he had to say something.

"Things are shit", he murmured. "Can I stay for a bit?"

His mother studied him, pensive, but attentive. Waiting for more, he gathered. But he wasn't ready to open up his Pandora's box just yet. His mother broke the silence:

"The guest room", she said. "Did you bring a lot of spulletjes?"

 

"Clothes, mostly. Some books and stuff. What I could get in the car. I have to go north to clear out the apartment before too long."

 

"Well then. You can stay here until you get settled."

There was no reluctance in her voice, not much enthusiasm either. Some vague traces of concern, or maybe it was pity? Sander felt like an intruder. Here she was, the woman with the womb he had been cut out of, the woman who had wiped his ass and sat with him through nights of fever, who had held him when he cried and cleaned his scratches and wounds, who never scolded, but explained. And here he was, about to sponge off her, didn't he owe her something in return? Openness? Trust? He felt rotten.

 

A couple of days passed. His thoughts, his memories, his inextinguishable need, his overwhelming want, nothing would die down, everything seemed to increase instead. Sander paced his mother's floors like a caged animal, like a prisoner awaiting verdict, like a block of ice stuck in a river where the powers of spring push and push until something's got to give.

He had to see the boy in the hallway again. Just once. Just for a second. He jumped into his car and drove to Hamar.

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Sander → → Diary 2018

I can't stand those dumb-ass evaluations of your personality from moronic questions like "Is the glass half full or half empty". And those smart-ass answers like " if you pour something into the glass, it's half full, pour out and it's half empty", or what I just heard: "Philosophically both are impossible. Full is full, empty is empty." What bullshit. Fridge magnet "wisdom". Makes me sick.

My glass is both. My personality is optimistic as well as pessimistic. You walk in and out through doors. There's a dualism in everything, there is ambivalence in every decision, there's a Hyde to every Jekyll.

But black must be black, and white must be white! Like when the first troglodyte put a funny looking stone on top of another and figured some great and wonderful power lay herein, and had to smash his neighbor's skull for thinking that two pieces of wood would be the right way to do it. Or like the first released captive in Plato's cave: "I see! Now everyone must see what I see!" So, who decided that shadow is less real than light? Nothing exists without its counterpart. Life is an oxymoron.

All those tired and exhausted phrases that my acquaintances throw about. Seriously, what is wrong with someone who looks at you and utters: "Your eyes are the windows to your soul."

I have known people whose assholes were the windows to their souls. And when I close my eyes on you, it's not to spare my soul, it's just that I fucking don't want to fucking see you.

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Hamar 1983

 

Filadelfia. The Pentecost church. An oppressive, grey concrete fašade. He read the notice board, youth meeting at 8 the next day. Preacher's name. Choir. He felt so small. Should he? Or should he just give up? No, not yet. Not until you have to.

A night and a day to kill: hotel room, sightseeing, movie? And then the meeting.

Late at night, on his restless wandering, he found himself on a spit of land out into the lake. He sat down on a rock, staring blindly out on the water. What if Thomas wasn't there tomorrow, what if he wasn't in the choir? Or even more complicated, what if he was there? Then what?

As he sat there brooding, he noticed activity around him. Cars parked, then left. People sneaked in and out of dark places. Men looking for men. He was suddenly filled with hostility, with loathing. He wanted the men to go away, he couldn't stand thinking they might find what he had lost. Or worse, that he'd soon also be stuck, like most of them probably were, in the eternal hunt for a moment of release, a second of bliss, and finding only substitutes for what he longed for. And then black emptiness. Vacuum. Death. He rose and ran away.

 

He found a seat way at the back of the gallery, as inconspicuous as possible, but with the best overview. Gradually the hall started to fill up, there was buzzing and humming from amplifiers and electric instruments, there was rustling and snapping as the choir started to find their positions.

And there he was, his own Thomas, front line. Sander focused all his energy to try and separate his voice from the rest, that voice that had sung it's way into his ears, into his soul, in his room, in his bed, only a few months back. His voice that now sang of sins and crosses and blood and grace and mercy, sang of all the things that had crushed them. Sang to the people who had crushed them.

He couldn't stand it. He rose abruptly, the tip-up seat shot up with a loud smack. Several people turned their heads. And from his position on the stage, he was sure Thomas could hear and see it was him leaving. His felt his face turn red. He got out fast.

He crossed the street, walked a few yards away from the main doors. Stood watching the doors, enveloped in exhaust fumes and the smell of wet tarmac. The noisy drone from engines rose and fell with cars passing. There should have been birds singing, there should have been the rich smells of earth and spring flowers, there should have been little puddles to splash your feet in, not these discarded and dirty candy wrappings and cigarette butts. He leaned against a tall fence and waited. Oh, would he soon come? Would he understand the importance of this? Would he want him again?

His limbs were beginning to go stiff when the doors finally opened, and people started to trickle out. Lively youths with happy and animated voices, finding each other in pairs and groups, a few older people who by and by removed themselves. Laughter blended in with the din from the city. These young people obviously belonged here, belonged together, and inside Sander something grew: Something that felt like pride. Pride not to be one of them, satisfaction that he was alone, outcast, banned and therefore free to despise them, to hate them.

And finally, in the company of a girl carrying a guitar case, his Thomas, his boy in the hallway, came out. And Sander's body shook as his heart pounded and his blood surged into his head. Look my way, Thomas! Oh, please!

A swift moment, a fraction of a second, Thomas' eyes swept over to where Sander stood. In a daze Sander saw him quickly turn his back to him, throw himself into conversation with the girl and a couple of guys, they seemed to be allied to each other. Sander felt nauseous from the tension and the agitation. What the fuck had he expected? Get out of here!

But just as he turned to leave, Thomas looked over his shoulder. His gaze met Sander's and held it. His mouth opened, his chest heaved, his shoulders rose. And then it was over. He disappeared with the others, and Sander was left standing like he was frozen to the ground.

He had to stop several times on the way back to Oslo, just to sit in the car and breathe, trying to make the pulse behind his temples stop. It was well past midnight when he unlocked himself into his mother's apartment. He snuck into the guestroom and pulled the curtains close, but light still seeped in. He got a woven blanket from the livingroom and hung it on top of the curtains, then went to bed with his T-shirt covering his face. And there he stayed.

 

Oslo 1983

 

 

His mother left him alone. He sometimes heard her footsteps outside the door; he held his breath, hoping she wouldn't come in, wishing she would leave him there, leave him to his wretched thoughts, leave him to his useless, repeating regrets. Leave him there to build a world in his head where sounds and colors were warm and friendly, where no one laughed and pointed at him, where nothing was hard and sharp and full of gravel. Where things made sense.

The fifth day the attack came, but not by his mother.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world for his brother to turn the lights on, remove the blanket and pull the curtains, break the silence with a friendly encouragement or a heavy criticism. But his brother entered quietly, stood still for a moment to let his eyes get used to the darkness, and then came over and crept under the duvet next to Sander, didn't even take his shoes off. Lay there for a while, then without a word slid his arm around Sander's shoulders.

"I'm sorry", he eventually said in a low voice. "I once promised myself I'd always look out for you, but I guess I haven't kept that promise."

No answer from Sander. He wanted to lie there without breaking the warm magic that so unexpectedly had crept into his room. Lie there and just be the little brother and rest in the mysterious remnants of his childhood safety: Jakob is here. Everything will be all right.

"You used to tell me the craziest stories. Tell me one now."

His brother sniggered.

"I made up such a lot of idiotic bullshit. Funny you should remember, you were so little. It was all before we got separate rooms."

 

"I remember. All your stories ended with someone eating a hotdog."

His brother's chest rumbled.

"Jesus, I so loved hotdogs!"

He withdrew his arm and sat up in bed, leaning against the headboard. Sander stayed where he was, feeling the warmth from his brother's thigh against his side.

"Sander, don't let it eat you, whatever it is that's wrong." Jakob's voice sounds almost foggy. "You've always let your feelings overpower you, your feelings always seem so ... so much bigger than ours. And it makes it so hard to know what to do. Because we care about you and we don't want you to hurt. But you know, sometimes you're almost scary."

 

"Don't fucking preach! Just let me be."

Sander turned his back on him, crept as close to the wall as he could come. Jakob sighed.

"Oh, come on! It's not going to get any better by hiding in here. Talk to us! Or at least talk to someone!"

Jakob took hold of his shoulders, tried to raise him up. Sander spun round and planted his fist in his brother's chest. Jakob gripped his wrist hard, Sander hit him with his other hand. Jakob forced him down on the bed and held him fast, always the stronger one. Sander struggled to free himself, kicked his knee in Jakob's stomach, but Jakob sat down on him with his full weight. Sander fought with all his might, but something snapped in his head, and all of a sudden he bawled uncontrollably, like a child. Jakob held him down and let him cry, held him in a viselike grip until Sander begged for mercy.

He lifted Sander up by his wrist and raised them both up on the floor.

"It will pass, Sander. It will be over soon."

"But I don't want it to! Then I have nothing!"

 

 

Hamar, August 1989

 

 

Sander and Jan Ola Braathen stroll along the streets in the slanting evening sun, dust rises from the passing cars and dances in the streaks of light. Braathen seems to keep Sander under constant observation, lips moving every now and then, as if weighing for and against speaking. Finally he decides:

"There is something you need to know. When Elisabeth moved here last year, she cracked up completely. Went absolutely bonkers. It may have begun before she moved from Troms°, I don't know. But she started to send crazy letters, and then she came to my house to shout at me for being corrupt and an adulterer and a drunk, you name it. And I'm not a drunk anymore, I've been dry for ten years now. Never mind."

He takes his ever-present packet of cigarettes out of his pocket, offers Sander one. He declines. Braathen lights up.

"When I wouldn't let her in, she remained outside, shouting damnation and quoting the Bible, accusing me of ruining her life, and ruining Thomas' life. She even sought me out at work and continued her harassment. She was doing the same thing to Thomas also. I reported her several times, and three weeks ago I got a restraining order against her. But last Sunday she was back again with her pestering and shouting. Thomas was with me at the time."

He closes his eyes and blows smoke out of his nose, like a small horse in the cold.

"I think we had the same idea, Thomas and I. Anyway, I went to see her on Monday morning, threatening to take her to court again to have her committed to the loony bin. I don't know if I got to her in any way, she just watched me through the narrow crack in her door, security chain in place and everything. From what we know now, I was there just a couple of hours before she was killed."

 

 

Oslo 1983

 

Sander did get out of bed eventually. Showered and shaved, began to eat again, helped his mother in the kitchen, sat with her and watched TV, answered everyday questions. But it was all such a strain, such an effort. Just brushing his teeth was an exertion. He seemed to have lost all initiative, all incentive. He knew at the back of his brain he'd have to start looking for a job, a place to live, a new life, be it ever so small and tedious, but he shoved everything off. Nothing mattered.

The days followed one another like shadows, Sander barely registered them. He was stuck in some space where the acoustics were dead, where the walls were faded and bare, where all smell was gone. Fred wrote him letters, he tried to answer them, but in the end discarded all his drafts. Finally he folded a blank sheet of paper into an envelope, addressed it to Fred, and sent it off.

One rainy morning in June another letter came, stamped with the official letterhead of the Troms° Police. His heart raced and his fingers trembled as he opened it. His mouth was dry as parchment when he started to read.

He had to read it twice.

His case was dismissed. All charges of sexual assault and misconduct were dropped due to lack of evidence. However, the case would be reconsidered if similar charges were brought against him in the future.

A dam broke in his brain. His mother found him a minute later, bent over the document, shoulders heaving with sobs, tears bathing the paper in front of him. She sat down next to him and held him. He howled, he wailed, he blubbered, he whimpered, and eventually collapsed in his mother's arms while she rescued the tearstained letter and read through it.

 

"Won't you tell me about him?"

It was much later; they sat together on the balcony, close to the wall and out of the rain. His mother had opened a bottle of Pastis, her summer liquor above all else. He sat twisting and turning his glass of opaque yellow liquid. The licorice smell overpowered the fragrance of grass and wet soil that rose up from the backyard.

And he told her. About the boy's unusual beauty. About his eyes, his lips. About his hands, his feet. About how loving he was, and how scared he was. How full of conflicting emotions he was. Told her about how the boy had sought Sander out, opened up to him, let him into his heart. Told her how it all had shattered and gone to pieces.

"Mom. I'm almost thirty. I've been in love before. I've had my heart broken before. But never like this."

 

"I can tell. I've seen it since the day you arrived. What do you intend to do about it?"

Sander inhaled, quivering, desperate. His eyes flowed over again.

"I don't know!" he wailed. "Everything is beyond repair. And I have no idea of how I'm going to make it without him!"

 

 

Hamar 1989

 

They cross the street, heading for a small shadowy park. Braathen leads the way to a bench that still catches the last rays of sun and sits down.

"Late that night Thomas came by, in hysterics, totally incoherent. Just told me he had found her and someone had seen him and he needed to get away. I didn't know who or what he was on about. I just told him he'd seen too many movies, but he gave me that panicky look and left."

Sander flinches from the memory: That haunting face, that frightened look he knew so well. What does he look like now, now that he's not fifteen anymore, now that he's a man?

Braathen continues.

"He's been back a couple of times, always at night, one time he handed me my lighter that he had picked up outside Elisabeth's apartment building. And I knew he thought I had done it, you know, and maybe that was the reason why he freaked out."

As if to underline the dramatics, a car backfires close by, causing Sander to start. Braathen grins.

"I think that's when I realized that both of us were suspects. So when the police came to question me, I admitted to having been there that day, hoping they would leave Thomas alone, that they'd think the one who was observed there was me. We can look a bit alike at a distance. Oh, you know that."

Time for another cigarette. And a scrutiny.

"But now it's you. Here. What am I to tell him if he pops up again? Which I'm pretty sure he will, sooner or later. I suppose I'll tell him you've been looking for him. Is there anything else you want me to say?"

The sun is almost gone, their seat is now in shadow. Sander knows he has to make some sort of move, some sort of decision. He takes out the small notebook he always carries, grabs his pen from his breast pocket, and writes on a page:

The boy in the hallway never left.

He tears the page out, folds it and gives it to Braathen.

"If you see him, please give him this. I'd rather you didn't read it, but I realize that may be too much to ask."

Braathen takes the note, unfolds it. "It sure is", he sniggers, then squints to read what it says in the poor lighting.

"Supposed to be a code or something? I can guess what it means, though. I'll see if I can get it to him. Give me your address."

He refolds the scrap of paper and puts it in his back pocket as Sander scribbles his address and phone number on another page, rips it out and hands it to Braathen.

"This has been interesting", Braathen says. "Believe it or not, but you have been silently present in our little family, although family may not be the adequate word. The small part of our lives that Thomas and I share now."

They sit quietly for a while, twilight descends upon them.

"So. I suspect that to him you are the dream that never really came true, everything he wanted that was taken from him. So much of what's passed in his life has been dyed in your color."

He looks searchingly into Sander's eyes.

"You are a very handsome man", he says. " You have such an open face. I keep wondering what your face looks like when you cum."

 

 

Oslo 1983

 

 

Sander had just ran into a pack of noisy and boisterous Dutch football fans at the local coffee shop. They had been very loud and very condescending about Norwegian food and were whining about the prices, and then had argued fiercely about where to go next. Sander had walked up to them and suggested several possibilities that might interest them and not tax their budget too much.

He was met with gaping mouths followed by cheers. Yay, someone who spoke their language! The showered him with compliments, embraced him into their fold, talked a hole in his head, and Sander was almost immediately transported back to those countless summer holidays: Bike rides along the dikes to swim in the backwater. Sitting in the backseat of grandma's 2CV on the way to a day on the beach, yellow sands as far as you could see. Fabulous huge pancakes in fairytale restaurants deep in the woods. Frietjes in paper bags from the hatch at the local Automatiek. His first taste of rum in his coke. Grandma's long face, her toothy smile. How carefree he had been, how innocent. And in his mind there was sunshine, sunshine every day. How those memories liked to dress up for a feast.

Before they left, one of the Dutch guys took off his orange cap and planted it on Sander's head, and felt like a coronation. He stood staring after them, his heart exploding with nostalgia and longing for the ocean of time and the unending openness to life that his childhood had been. And a clarity elbowed its way to the front of his thoughts: I want to go back. I need to be there again.

 

"Yes, I think that's a good idea", Janneke Sveen declared, looking at her son over her glasses. "It'll be good for you to get away."

Sander had just signed a contract with a Canadian publisher of romance novels as a translator. The contract guaranteed him a minimum of six books a year, with the option of more if he should find time for it. The money was nothing to write home about, but it was a job he could take with him, something that would tidy him over if he should decide to stay in the Netherlands and not find other work.

His mother called her sister and Sander called his cousin, and one evening in August, under a huge orange moon that hung in the horizon like an omen, or an incantation, he packed his car. Early next morning he was off.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Sander → → Diary 2018

The bullshit you have to listen to just because it's your birthday! "Age is just a number" and "You're only as old as you feel." No. Age is a very accurate and mathematical description of how long you've been in this godforsaken world. Feeling has nothing to do with it, it's purely a physiological phenomenon. "Oh, you're still young inside!" Again no. Inside I have no age, young or old is a totally irrelevant concept. Inside I'm me, I've been me since I can remember. I may have experienced something, I may even have learnt something, but the core, the Aleksander Sveen, is untouched by the notion of age. The me has never been young, never been old. That my treacherous and perishable body is subject to the unholy and unfair time factor, is neither something I asked for, nor something I make excuses for.

So shut up about it already.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Nijmegen 1985

 

 

An uncommonly cold afternoon in January Sander came walking, his bicycle in hand beside him, through the street where he rented a small three-story house down by the river. The cobblestones were glazed with ice, he dared not ride his bike, he was barely able to keep his shoes from slipping as he walked. The trees and the bushes had grown white beards, and the few men waiting on the pavement and gazing up at the windows of the city's two whorehouses hoisted up their shoulders and buried their hands deep in their pockets. He passed the houses almost every day on his way to and fro his part time job in his cousin's cafÚ in the market place. The girls in the windows did their best to look seductive, even glamorous, in their corsets and negligÚes and their careful lighting, but he met with some of them in full daylight, coming in to work, or slipping into the local grocery shop, and they didn't look glamorous at all: They looked ravaged, tired eyes, bad skin, coats that needed to go to the cleaner's.

Yet there was always a small coterie of men outside those windows, always keeping a distance between them, never speaking or recognizing each other, as if it was important to signify their independence, their lack of brotherhood. Every now and then he saw a man go in or come out, but the majority of them just stood there, observing.

As he neared his house, he saw his aunt and his two cousins waiting for him on the sidewalk. A flash of misgivings shot through him. Something must be up, and probably something not good. Their faces looked grave, his aunts eyes were puffed and red, and his heart sank in his chest.

They followed him in, watching his apprehensive face as they sat him down on the only chair in his small kitchen and closed in around him. His aunt had just had a phone call from Sander's mother. It was all about his brother Jakob. He had been up on the roof to remove a jackdaw's nest from the chimney, had lost his foothold and fallen down. Broke his neck. Dead.

 

 

G÷teborg 1986

 

Those that knew their geography knew the bar was called Flamingo, but no sign or other characteristics disclosed the name from the outside. A red lacquered door, a lamp and a doorbell was all.

The rooms were narrow and seemed to go on forever, past shelves along the walls, rows of stools, a bar, new shelves and stools, another bar. Men sat, hung or stood along the walls and the bars, others wandered slowly and deliberately back and forth. Papa don't preach resounded through the locale. The younger guys sat or stood in clusters and groups, laughing and bantering, teasing each other, and sending sudden and searching glances over their shoulders. The majority of the older men stood silently, glasses they didn't really drink from at their sides, almost immobile, faces straight forward, eyes going shiftily from side to side.

Thomas hung sideways on his elbow at the inner bar. A skinny boy in shiny red tights, kohl-lined eyes and pink lipgloss, dog collar around his neck with a leash hanging down, stopped in front of him, curtsied deeply, and asked politely to be bred. Thomas let his eyes rest on him for a moment, inquiring, almost caring. Then he withdrew his stare, smiled a lopsided smile and shrugged. The boy walked on and repeated his ritual with the next tolerably suitable prospect.

Thomas had by now learned what to look for: Older, not too fashionably dressed, steady but hungry eyes, not too self-assured smile. Someone who didn't put his body on display. Someone not infested with too much self-confidence, someone who would regard him as a prize, someone he could overwhelm with his most powerful weapon, the one between his legs, and make them want to keep him for more than a minute. Someone who would shelter him for a while.

He had also learned to hide his soul and deaden the feeling of debasement and treason against everything he deep down believed himself to be, he had learned to pretend, he had forced himself to forget all the things his heart really longed for. He would try to act convincingly like the seducer or the seducee, in accord with the counterpart at hand: Stare at a victim, slowly suck his index finger into his mouth, all the way in, slowly out again, never losing eye contact. Or shamelessly advertise himself by mumbling in an ear: "I've got lots and lots of stuff for you to play with."

And he tried to drown the feeling that his whole self was an open wound and every new bed was a sprinkle of salt. He repeated in his head, over and over: There is no God. I am not Thomas.

 

Nijmegen 1985

 

Sander had no clear memory of the minutes that followed this announcement. What stuck in his mind was the smell of the wet fiber bonded carpet in the hallway and a vast, empty bewilderment. It wasn't true, how could it be true? How could he be dead? Jakob? What kind of a world could there possibly be without Jakob in it? His brother, his smartest, his dearest, his only brother? Slowly and corrosively a cold, hard denial froze his heart as he sat numb and dry-eyed watching the tears that ran down the faces around him. It is not true! He is not dead!

 

Sander was still sitting by the kitchen table, in a daze, mouth open and eyes incredulously watching, but not really seeing, the boy Stijn from next door come in.

"Je deur staat open!" he accused, then seemed to take in the sight in front of him. He tip-toed closer. "Wat is er mis?"

Sander just looked at him, vacantly, distraught. Stijn tentatively put a hand on his shoulder, and the touch was enough to make Sander's whole congealed inside burst in a torrent of misery and rage. He collapsed across the table and howled and sobbed and shook like an earthquake.

The boy Stijn stood quietly for a moment, a little insecure, a little frightened, but being the only son of a single mother struggling with her heroin addiction, he had been in tight corners before. So he figured what Sander needed was a hug. He closed his arms around the prostrate body and rested his chest and his head against the trembling back.

Eventually Sander's sobs subsided. He sat up slowly, Stijn still hugging him from behind.

"It's my brother", he gasped. " He's ..." He couldn't make himself say the word.

Stijn understood. He tightened his embrace, listening to Sander's heaving breath. And in his young mind, where laws and conventions hadn't yet overruled his instincts, he thought he knew how to ease Sander's pain. Without more words, he tried to hoist Sander up from his chair, and Sander in his stunned state passively went along with it.

Stijn more or less dragged him up to the first floor bathroom. Stood him by the washbasin, wet a sponge and wiped his face. Sander sighed deeply, shook his head from side to side, wanting to blank out everything, wanting to disappear. Stijn kissed his cheek, and the smell of young boy suddenly stung in Sander's nose, he was about to lose it completely again. He's younger, his mind screamed, he's even younger that Thomas was!

He had to get away. No more memories, no more sorrow, no more despair! Find a hole to crawl into, find a hideaway, find sanctuary.

But Stijn took him up one more floor, up to his bedroom. Sander had no will left, no objections to anything. He let Stijn undress him down to his shorts and put him to bed. Then Stijn undressed himself and crept into bed and snuggled into Sander, took hold of Sander's arms and wrapped them around himself. And Sander clung to him with every fiber in his body.

 

G÷teborg 1986

 

Grey dropdown curtains covered two square windows, yellowish light seeped in along the edges. On the opposite wall a row of four low-cost closets, the outermost door loose from its lower hinge. Two dresses, sequined and shiny, and way too far south of decency, were displayed on hangers from the upper knobs. A wide vanity table covered one of the cross walls, overloaded with jars and boxes, a huge, blond wig sat on a Styrofoam head. Reflected in the giant mirror above the vanity table: Queen size bed with the Swedish flag thrown on it as a bedspread. A dreamcatcher and a naked angel adorned the wall above the bed. Discarded clothes cover most of the grey vinyl floor.

In the middle of the room, at the foot of the bed and on the flag, Thomas sat in his underpants, one hand shielding his crotch, the other behind him for support. His black hair hung in tufts down his neck to his slightly sunburnt shoulders. I front of him a man squatted, his fake silk kimono open, his testicles sweeping the floor. Both hands held Thomas' foot, clad in an unwashed white sock, close to his nose and his lips. He rubbed the socked foot against his face, then opened his mouth wide and stuffed as much of the foot as he could into it. His mouth looked grotesque, the way it was pushed out of shape.

The man let go of the foot.

"Panties?" The man's voice was thin and a bit sharp.

Thomas let out a weak sigh, raised his hips and pulled off his underwear. The man drew the briefs over his head, covered his face, sniffed and snuffled. Grabbed Thomas' foot again, and tilted Thomas back, signaling his wants. Thomas leaned back on both hands, put both his feet against the man's cotton-covered face. The man languidly started to masturbate.

Thomas tried to empty his brain. Feel nothing. Care about nothing. Then he tried to find shelter in the dreams inside him. But it happened anyway: The strange fear, the horrid nausea that started in his stomach and spread out, pricked his skin with twinges of discomfort and alienation.

I cant do this anymore, his brain screamed. There has got to be something other than this!

 

(to be continued)