MERRELL STREET. Prologue: Stockholm Cycle - A Personal Syndrome.
Stockholm Cycle - A Personal Syndrome / Or The Romanticized Obsessions and Humliations of Edmund Strasse.
Edmund Strasse. That’s me. He would disagree. More accurately, I am me as Edmund Strasse writes me in his fiction classes while biding his time in 'the room' - he and Meryl have given it a name, but we'll cover that later. You know me as Jason and so does he. That's how he writes. And his highschool AP English teacher, Mary Louise Isaaksen, writes too. At the moment she is busy at a blog in which she calls Edmund 'H.M. Fish' (as in, Herman Melville Fish), and characterizes him as a lopsided goldfish who refuses to die.
It happens that in the non-fiction world, this same goldfish mysteriously appeared with one fin fused to the granite floor of the Kreditbanken at Normalmstorg, Stockholm one bright Fall day on September 18, 1971 right around 2:35 in the afternoon, long before Mary Louise Isaaksen typed a single word about it or before 'blogstalking' was a thing. At the time, a clerk of the bank stumbleded upon the flopping fish and nearly harpooned it with her heal. She stopped and looked directly at its bulging eye which stared glassily back at her - or more rather through her - as it writhed and gasped. The clerk (it happens she was a British intern and to her, 'clerk' is properly pronounced 'clark') then hurried out into a back room to gather co-workers to come see this bizarre and miraculous anomale. She had noted no water near the spot as if some child clutching a baggy with his new pet from the store, had dropped it and been hauled crying away from the scene leaving the fish to fend for itself. FISH was just there, fin frozen and drying to the spot. No explanation given. Now when the clerk returned, her magical fish had vanished. And so had the square of granite tile its fin was stuck to. In its place was a neatly cut, square indentation no more than a centimeter deep.
This trumped up 'föreställa' or 'imagining' as her co-workers would come to call it, did not seem to damage her prospects at the bank and it came to be that not two years later, this same healed woman - now a fully-fledged employee with the bank and full-time resident of Stockholm - would find herself traumatically bonded to robbers who would hold her, cheek to the floor, right here at this same, newly tiled, spot for several days in August.
FISH, who did not acquire the name H.M. Fish until forty years later, and who appeared and then vanished from the bank floor, has since that day in 1971 'evolved' into a tiger shark lovingly nicknamed 'Waffles,' and swims at this very moment in a steady, circular motion around the moat of Ed's room.
H.M. FISH: aka Waffles.
This will all be explained in due course. The line of FISH's story is not one that progresses in A to B fashion directly from the bank floor to The Room. Neither is the line of Ed's story. Nor mine. Nor Meryl's. Yet here we are.
But I’m going in circles.
The first time I, Jason Merrell, was there was during the most perfect August weather imaginable. IM-AGIN-ABLE! A steady seventy-something and balmy breeze, daylight twenty-four hours a day. When it did deign to get dark at around 3am, the sun immediately began to rise again. Darkness literally lasted for about two minutes and then was banished forevermore by the day’s light. Golden and gorgeous. A seemingly endless round.
Edmund writes me as if I am not real - a mere fancy of his own invention. And it is true this is often how I FEEL. A fiction. A fantasy. Stockholm feels that way to me, even now that I've just returned from there yet again. And I have proof - photographic evidence - that there I stood, feet to tiled floor at Arlanda Airport. From there I walked out into the light of day. At some point during my first stay in Stockholm, I would wander through the statue figures at Millesgården; photos featured here in this post. My evidence.
What happened after that?
I'll tell it as I remember it. And, of course, as Edmund Strasse writes it.