J Krissman in the Park
By Laura Del-Rivo.
His outfit was absurd on an old man in midwinter: knitted ski cap, secondhand coat of good quality and bright white trainers. Privately, to conserve warmth, he was bandaged in a winding sheet of thermal underwear and tubular medical crepe. The frail knees were anointed with menthol.
J Krissman, the name with which he signed his unpublishable writings, experienced his body as an immediate area of seepage and discomfort. His organs however persisted with their functions, such as the filtering of his urine; the skin shed its comet dust of dead cells. Also the skeleton, the specific diagram in bone laced with dainty capillaries, advanced him through the black, green and copper-tinted urban park.
The winter light made the trees distinct. Pollarded branches ended in bristling knuckles. High in the tallest tree, a slovenly heap of dead vegetation was unmoved by the wind. Krissman considered whether it was possible to quantify in terms of physics the stillness of the squirrels’ dray which seemed in a different dimension from the tonnage of surging air. He remembered that the purpose of his walk was to purify a letter.
His mouth contained the protein odour of the digestion of dead plants and animals, and words.
‘I read your article in the New Scientist on Multiverse Theory describing two hypothetical Universes, one predicated on a cold Big Bang and the other lacking the Weak Nuclear Force. I need to ask, is there a law which states that if the Universe can exist, it must exist?’
As he spoke, he experienced agitation and wonder, as if winged archangels had sprung up at his shoulders.
‘That is, is the hypothetically possible the same as the necessary?’
Due to the opaque property of matter to the handicapped human eye, the remaining body of Krissman showed no immodesty of skull or bone, no unseemly lolling of lights and liver. He leaked only mild warmth, which activated the volatile film of menthol. However, he was in a rage and pain because in old age his mind as well as his body was becoming uninhabitable. The cause of such turmoil was that he hated humanity, its mass and mediocrity. The hatred had set up camp in his mind and its angry and unpleasant manoeuvres without cessation gave him no rest. He chose the park for his daily walk to avoid as much as possible the pinkish mass of foolish faces.
Among J Krissman’s rejected writings, THE ANIMAL NOT SOLIPSIST BUT CREATIVE proposed that meaningful existence depended on its being verified and recorded by a life form conscious of being conscious. The author argued that knowledge is secondary creation; thus the dinosaurs were retrospectively brought into full existence. Their terrifying reptilian roar would have been silent without ears. However, by this argument, his own unpublished work did not exist.
It seemed clear to him that for serious purpose, humanity was overproduced. Its billions were unnecessary; it was devalued by quantity. He wished it no harm but refused the imperative to love the massed pinkness, which was unloveable. In crowds, the unlovable became the hated.
Sometimes he felt as if wolves were eating his mind, but he did not know whether the wolves were other people or generated by himself.
For these reasons, it was necessary for his safety to bandage also his mind, which was more obscene than the stained and discoloured rags of flesh.
Me Oh Lord You have made to hate. I am even vain of my hatred, believing I am Your chosen hater. By anomaly I am an atheist and supporter of most liberal causes.
The pollarded branches clubbed the sky. The squirrels’ dray was undisturbed.
The most dangerous was that the hatred was spreading from his mind to his soul and narrowing his ability to experience wonder.
A family group occupied a bench. Surrounding them like a gilded bubble was the superpower of the commonplace. Of the two young women, one held a pram containing a baby while a boy of about four clung to the pram handle. A youth, possibly the women’s brother, who accompanied them, shared their sacramental Tesco biscuits.
This family represented the social class, which Krissman most feared and hated, that proliferated in Council estates.
The cold made him nauseous. His hands were plagued by black tokens; he pressed one subcutaneously bleeding hand over his liver which seemed swollen in its caul. The containment of such hatred was feverishly painful to Krissman. Being rational by type, he tried to analyse his hatred; that is, he tried to hold down and analyse the thing that was painful while the pain was most severe. It was revealed to him that he suffered from frustration of the will: that he willed these people not to exist but they did exist.
He was persecuted by their existence.
The wind dragged shapes through the grass around their bench; their wrappings of biscuits and crisps were also blown.
He dared not speak his thoughts aloud: ‘You are unnecessary and therefore vile. Your love is complacent.’
The virtue of the young women was that they were ordinary and loving. The power of the ordinary overwhelmed that of the wretched Krissman. The quite pretty sisters hardly noticed him; then fluently dissed him:
‘Ohmygod, how spazz was that?’
Nothing had happened except that an old man had passed a family in a park. The space between buildings was not even a park; only a public gardens with trees, squirrels and benches. At the gate, Krissman turned his mind to the article which had described the other two visible universes. There would be few or no visible stars. He was too uneducated in physics and maths to expand his mind but the effort of trying to do so for several seconds expanded his soul.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Del-Rivo was an associate of Bill Hopkins and Colin Wilson, who described her The Furnished Room as “one of the significant novels of the 1960s.” Unsurprisingly, she was convent educated but the call of Soho parties was stronger. After many jobs, including working as a bookseller, a Lyons’ counter hand and an art-school model she started running a market stall in Portobello Road, where she can still be found. Her other books include Daffodil on the Pavement and, more recently, Speedy and Queen Kong.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, September 6th, 2012.