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When the one you love is gone

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He didn't want to go through the glass door, but it opened automatically, releasing a sterile smell of what’s behind. Blixa took a step back. Not today, not now. The glass door closed again. The hot summer air was almost unbearable. Another cigarette, then he would go in. He would go in and face the fact. Time, it took time, but time is such a rare commodity. He stepped to the side, lit a cigarette and stared into the middle distance. His hands were shaking. If he waited long enough, then maybe this too surreal moment would transform into something better, a dream perhaps, because what happened could not possibly be real. He looked down, his shirt buttoned up the wrong way, the shoes unlaced. He got out of bed as fast as he could, rushed to this place as if he could stop what was happening, but now he arrived, he couldn't go on. Everything in him suddenly screamed: Stop. The Time though was running out.

He threw the cigarette away, glanced briefly into the sun and walked through the doors. Inside, it was cold. A man in the entryway pointed to the disinfectant. Blixa held his hands under the machine. A biting smell went up his nose and he had to sneeze. White, everything around him was white. How could this place be so white? All he felt was black, even the grey in between was extinguished. His shoes squealed quietly on the smooth floor as he walked to the elevators. He had always imagined the last moment to be different, somehow more significant, as in an old black and white film or a theatre play. He took a deep breath. Blixa pressed the button for the fifth floor. All alone in the in the elevator he felt more and more uneasy. Was he even allowed to be here? Susie had notified him, yes, but still he felt like he was stealing something. Time maybe or a heart, again? After all, she had always said that, if only in jest: His heart would actually belong to her and to another, to him. Blixa ran his hands through his hair. When there is little time left, who decides how much everyone can get of it? Is he a thief or was it a gift he should accept? The door of the elevator opened. A tunnel in front of him. Time to go and face the truth.
In the hallway, he stopped and hesitated. Silence and a strange taste in his mouth: No breakfast, too many cigarettes. He didn't want to see what was behind the door in front of him. Even less did he want the unmissable truth to punch him in the face. It would hurt, it hurt too much even at that moment. The cold trembling hands pushed down the door handle. Silence. Thick air. The darkened room seemed like a vacuum. Blixa was sucked in with force and it pulled on every part of his body. Pain in every nerve, but especially in the heart. Nick lay in bed, hooked up to countless flashing devices. Like an astronaut on his last trip, ready to marry the stars. The pain that spread in Blixa's throat was almost unbearable. He had to stay strong. As long as the moon was with the sun, nothing would happen.

An almost invisible figure leaned onto him, holding his hand. Blixa put his hand on her back. Susie woke up, looked at Blixa with red eyes and tried to smile, "Hi," she said. The voice was barely recognizable. "How is he doing?", Blixa asked, cautiously looking at the devices. She rubbed her face: "They still don't know if ... if he will make it…but at least they now say he has a chance," she burst into tears. Blixa had to hold his breath, forcibly swallowing everything down. "Then he will make it," he said. Susie leaned against Blixa. Her hands reached for his. "Go to the hotel and get some rest. You need sleep," said Blixa, stroking her dark hair. She glanced at Nick, then to Blixa. "Thank you for coming. He needs you," she said and again it was written all over her face: His heart was always yours too, we always shared it. She left like a ghost. Blixa wanted to disappear with her.
The room was like a glass pulled over the two and they were nothing but insects, trapped underneath. Blixa sat down on the chair next to the bed. Nick's white face shocked him. What should he do? They haven’t changed a word since years and now that he was with him, Nick didn't even notice. Perhaps he would never know that his long-lost friend was now sitting next to him, struggling with tears, in the sight of him. Blixa put his hand on Nick's. It was cold and motionless. Just one word, Blixa wanted him to wake up, look at him with his blue eyes beaming cheekily, saying: What are we doing today? Then he would put a cigarette into his beautiful mouth, sit down and press the keys of the piano with his elegant hands, and he would sing with his peerless voice. But his face remained motionless. His voice locked inside him, like a treasure. The music had fallen silent, all ideas transformed into black stars.

Blixa's fingers carefully stroke Nick's arm. Every little hair, every unevenness was noticed by him in such intensity that pictures shot through his head. Cautious movements that never found their way, words that were never said but heard nonetheless. In 1983, a young dark-haired guy ran toward the bar. Tall, slender, eyes that immediately made him nervous. While the young man stared at him, he did not pay attention, at least he pretended to, because in reality he had secretly observed him behind his large sunglasses. If he he would play guitar, he had asked him, but Blixa had pretended not to understand a word. Life was already complicated enough at the time and another complicated factor would have been too much. Blixa had never expected to still know Nick at his age or even to be alive in the new century. He leaned forward, put his head to Nick's waist and held his hand tightly. " Geh ich zeitig in die leere, Komm ich aus der Leere voll. Wenn ich mit dem Nichts verkehre weiß ich wieder, was ich soll," Blixa whispered quietly in German. "Did you ever like him?", he continued "Brecht. Too German for you?", Blixa smiled. "Was I too German for you? I'm often in a bad mood …," he raised his head and looked at Nick. "You make me melt every time." The man in front of him was the same one he had ignored in the bar and something about him still captivated him. "Old man," joked Blixa, gently kissing Nick's hand. His head sank beside Nick again.

Blixa felt a touch to his head. A hand drove into his hair, stroked his cheek and was placed under his chin. He opened his eyes. Berlin 1986. A cold room. The loft. Crouched together on the narrow mattress. Everything cold, except the body next to his. He, too, raised his hand, placed it on Nick’s face and let it wander playfully. Nick was still asleep. "Good morning," Blixa had said and a sea of blue thoughts were poured over his heart as Nick had opened his eyes. "Blue eyes, sky star, like to kiss every fool." that's what Blixa had jokingly sang the night before and then he'd just kissed him, thrown him off track: From Mercury to Pluto. A loud beep. Blixa woke up. He wasn't in Berlin and it wasn't 1986. It was 2018 and the man he once loved more than anything else was in a coma next to him and the bit of closeness that was left was not enough for the great yearning for his touch.

Blixa put his hand on Nick's chest. He breathed calmly and regularly, and somewhere deep inside was his heartbeat. He couldn't help but shove his hand into Nick's shirt and put it on his heart. It was beating, though slowly, but it was beating. Blixa recalled Nick's wet body on his after a gig. "That thing between us ...," Blixa began, this time in English, as if the sleeping man could hear him. "Whatever it was ... I ...," his other hand wiped away a tear "I ... I wish you could hear what I'm saying because ...," Blixa closed his eyes and wondered why he was continuing to talk to him, after all he was far far away. "You know ... I ...," His head sank down. Nick had always interrupted him when he almost dared to say it. "Bullshit," Nick had always said and laughed, would have pulled Blixa closer to him and kissed him. Blixa began to cry bitterly, raising his head and looking at Nick through the tear curtain. "I love you," it burst out of him. He couldn’t breathe when he said it.

Again, his head sank down. "Bullshit," said a quiet voice next to him. Blixa looked up. Nick had his head turned to the side and the appearance of a smile on his lips. "Nick?", Blixa asked shocked, putting his tear wet hand to Nick's cheek. Blue eyes devoured him. Supernova. The birth of a galaxy. With sparks, moons, sunbathe and stars emanate, the past extinguishes and catapults him into the here and now. Teary seas transforming into raindrops that slowly stop. Blixa couldn’t believe it: Nick had woken up. "It’s not bullshit," Blixa said, taking Nick's hand. A huge smile on his face. The moon had become the sun. "I know," Nick said weakly. His fingers stroking along Blixas arm. He closed his eyes again. With all the strength he was able to gather in that moment, Nick pulled Blixa closer. His arm fell down weakly. "I love you too, idiot." Said Nick and he smiled.
Blixa got up to notify a doctor, but Nick gently shook his head. "Let's ... let’s keep this moment," Nick whispered, closing his eyes again. Nick tried to straighten up, but he was visibly in pain. Blixa put his hand on Nick's chest, forcing him to lie down again with gentle pressure. "You just woke up, give yourself time," said Blixa and sat down on the edge of the bed. Nick turned to the side, rolled up and put an arm on Blixa's back. Blixa let his hand drive through Nick’s black hair. "What happened?", asked Blixa with earnest tone. Nick shook his head weakly. "Nick, what happened?", he repeated, but again the answer was a shake of the head. "A car accident?", he asked. Nick stretched out his arm, placed it on Blixa's knee and buried his face in the pillow. Blixa's heart stopped. That couldn't be the case. Had his wife been so distraught because of it? It seemed as if Susie had reached an impasse she didn’t know how to get out. Blixa took a closer look. There was a blue green puncture on the inside of his pale arm. He hadn't had an accident, he had an overdose.

Blixa rubbed his hand through his face. This stupid idiot, that stupid stupid boy. For years, Nick had been clean. Why did he do that? How many times had they argued over his addiction and how many times Blixa's fist had landed in Nick’s face because of it. Blood, disasters, breakdowns. But the anger had passed. Was it his age? Was it because he was a father now? Blixa gently placed his hand on Nick's cheek. The fist had become a gentle hand. "What's wrong?", he asked cautiously. Nick opened his eyes. They were filled with tears, then he pushed his face back into the pillow and began to cry. Blixa stroked over his back. "You don't have to say it," Blixa added, bent over and put his head to Nick's. He knew exactly what Nick had on his mind. It had always been the same. Nick was breathing heavily. Blixa helped him lie back on his back. He lay down next to him on the narrow bed, put an arm around him and made sure he was breathing. "I want to get out of here," Nick whispered. "Get me out of here." "Do you want to go home?", asked Blixa. Nick closed his eyes and shook his head. "I want all of this to disappear. I want nothing to exist anymore. I don't want to be anymore. I want to get away from here. I want to step out of my life," he said.

"It would be a shame to just throw this genius and beautiful mind away as if it were nothing ...," Blixa said. "No, no…it would be a relief," interrupted Nick. Blixa turned to him, put his hand on Nick's cheek and looked closely at him. "We won't have this discussion again," he said, and Nick nodded weakly as if he agreed. Blixa took Nick's arm, stroked across the blue spot and felt sick. Berlin 1985. Tears. Panic. Nick had had an overdose and had almost died in his arms. "I can get you out of here, but not out of your life," Blixa said. Nick looked at him like a helpless puppy. "You're old, that won't wash with me," joked Blixa. Nick nudged his head at Blixa's shoulder and looked at him with the same helpless eyes. Blixa took a deep breath. It hadn't lost its effect, never. "Ok." Blixa stood up. "And how? I've got to call Susie," he said and took his phone out of his pocket.
Blixa walked into the hall. What should he tell her? Should he say anything at all? He searched through his contacts. Should he tell a doctor? They probably wouldn't let Nick go, though. His finger tapped on the screen, the number was dialed. "Yes?", she said quietly at the other end. He had seemingly woken her up. "Nick, he's woken up," said Blixa quietly. He looked around. No one had heard him. Rustling in the background. She seemingly sat up. "How is he doing?", she said, suddenly speaking more clearly. "I don't know, to be honest." Silence at the other end. "He didn't have an accident," Blixa said. "I know," she said, "I know ... I don't get to him anymore. I can't do this anymore. I wish I could, but…," she said, her voice trembling. Blixa took a deep breath. Again, he has to be the tower of strength. Always. Always. "He wants to get out of here," he said, looking around again. "Go somewhere with him. Take him somewhere. I can't do it. I… I am too weak...," she could not continue to speak in tears. "Take him where?", asked Blixa. "I know that ... I know it Blixa," she said, and he could hear she was trying to smile. Blixa overcame a strange sense of numbness and dizziness. "I know you ... that you love each other," She said quietly. "Susie, I ..." "It's ok. It was always ok. It's always going to be ok. Please just bring him back to me, I need him." Another sea of tears at the other end of the phone. "And he needs you, Susie. He needs you," Blixa said not knowing how to react. "Nick, he has told me everything…" Susie said with a soft voice "…and it’s ok. It’s nothing I could do." The dizziness in Blixa’s head didn’t disappear, it even seemed like it was getting stronger. "He loves you," Blixa said, still nervously looking around. "I know, I know he does, but hearts never only love one or once, Blixa."

After Blixa hung up, he still felt strange. She knew. No one should know. As if pushed by an invisible hand, he walked back into the room. Nick had fallen asleep again. "Nick!", said Blixa in a loud and clear voice. Nick looked up. Blixa felt anger and fear inside his breast but tried to keep control. "We're leaving!", said Blixa, taking Nick's bag out of the closet and stuffing everything he could find inside. "Where ... where?", Nick asked dazed. "Can you walk?", asked Blixa. "No plan man." "Get up!" Nick sat down on the bed edge, held on to the table and tried to get up. Blixa nearly forgot his anger when he looked at Nick in in his slumber, making attempts to walk. He quickly turned away, so Nick didn't see his smile. He swallowed it down. "... I'm still wired ...," Nick stuttered, pointing to the devices. He sat down again. Blixa threw the bag on the bed and sat down next to Nick. He gently took Nick's hand and pulled out the needle. Nick shrugged. "All good," Blixa whispered and also removed all other devices. "Put on your coat, Nick. We'll get you out of here. Overdose, you don't need a hospital for that. We've always handled that issue ourselves," Blixa said in a sarcastic tone and helped Nick in his heavy black coat. He was shocked when he realized how weak Nick was.

Blixa stuck his head out the door and made sure no one would see them. "Come on," he said quietly to Nick. Half carrying him, Blixa made it to the elevators. "I'm dizzy," Nick said, wanting to sit down on the floor. Blixa held him: "No no no no, you stay." The elevator opened. "Where are we going?", asked Nick, wrapping his coat around him. "Are you cold?" Blixa asked, bewildered. It was summer, and the vampire was freezing, as always. "Wheeere?", Nick asked again. "You wanted to leave. See: We're leaving," Blixa said annoyed. "If you throw up in my car, I'll throw you out," he said while he started the car. Nick leaned his head against the window and closed his eyes. "Thank you, Blixa," he said, putting his hand on Blixas thigh. Blixa pushed Nick's hand away. "She knows. Why does she know?", asked Blixa. "What does she know?", asked Nick, rolling up in the passenger seat as best he could. "You know what I mean, Nick." "Then say it." "What?" "That." Blixa almost overlooked a red light and hit the brakes. Nick's head nearly fell on the dash. "It's nothing," said Blixa. "You just said it." "Well, you were in a coma and I thought you were dying", Blixa said annoyed. "Then she can know it as well, if it’s nothing," Nick said defiantly, leaning his head weakly against the window again. Blixa briefly looked beside himself. Nick was cuddled up in the coat and looked like a little kid. He loved him, he couldn't deny it.
When they arrived at the destination, he noticed that Nick had gone very quiet. "Nick?", he asked, nudging him. Nick, though, did not respond. "Shit," he whispered, got out and walked to the passenger door. It had been an unbelievingly stupid idea. The most stupid idea since trying to stand on a moving car with Nick, somewhere in Brazil. When he opened the car door, Nick tipped towards him. Blixa caught him and saw blood running down Nick’s hand. There was an open wound on his hand where the infusion needle was. Blixa bent down and grabbed Nick. "Schöne Scheiße," he said as he tried to get Nick out of the car and noticed the blood on the car seat. Blixa carried Nick up the stairs with difficulty. Why in Berlin. Why did he have to overdose here, of all places. After so many damn years. They went up the rehearsal room of the Neubauten, the only place where they would knowingly be alone. The smell reminded Blixa of work, countless hours of rehearsals and his band, but not Nick. Under no circumstances did he connect this place with Nick, the Bad Seeds or West Berlin. This was his Band, his work, and his creative space. Suddenly, though, everything was mixed. He carefully put Nick on a couch. "Nick? Hey, wake up," Blixa said, kneeling in front of him and putting a cloth around Nick's hand.

Blixa took Nick's pulse. It was regular, but weak. The pale face in front of him was too familiar to him. "Nick, wake up," he said quietly, putting his hand on Nick's head. He briefly opened his eyes and stared at him blankly. "Where are we?", asked Nick, puzzled. "In our rehearsal room. I'll get you some water," Blixa said, got up and walked into the kitchen. While the glass was filling with water, Blixa wondered why he was doing all of that, especially since this was the reason, he didn’t want any contact. He couldn't always be there and certainly he didn't have the time and strength to be in charge of Nick. But still, he stood there holding a glass of water for Nick. Why did everyone always expect him to be strong? Blixa went back. Nick had sat up and was still wrapped in his coat. He didn’t know how others imagined the great Nick Cave to be, but the person before his eyes was the pure essence of him. He gratefully accepted the glass. Blixa sat down next to Nick, hands folded in front of him. Distance, he wanted distance. Nick took a sip of water, put the glass on the ground and fell to the side. As his head rested on Blixa's shoulder, his heart began to beat faster. Though he barely dared to make a move, he nonetheless put his arm around Nick, pushed him tightly to himself and buried his face in Nick's hair. A smile on his face.

There it suddenly was: Long forgotten warmth, long summer days by the lake, the field behind the house, snow on Christmas and the rustling leaves in the forest in which he lay, staring into the stars with a telescope. They held so many secrets and kept all the answers to themselves. If he could only understand them once, he would finally understand himself. But who could tell how the universe had once been born? They were already dead anyway. The last flicker on the firmament. Star sea, sea of dead and he swam in the middle of it, looking for himself: Constantly and incessantly, the gaze rigidly straight ahead. But moments like this catapulted him off track, back to what he has always felt: Desire. "Our planetary system is designed in such a way that these huge significant spheres are constantly moving around the Sun, in circles, some seemingly for no reason. Still, they're there, these gigantic questionable things," said Blixa and put his hands on Nick's face. Nick looked at him. "They never touch each other. That would be a disaster," Blixa added. "And what if they've ever touched?", asked Nick, suddenly wide awake. "These had always been disasters, Nick." "I know." Both looked at each other in silence. "It doesn't have to be a disaster if ...," Nick could barely keep talking. Blixa's eyes fixed him, distracted him. He glanced down briefly "…when we finally accept it. After all the years. If we just accept ourselves and this, whatever this is." Nick looked up again. "Accept what?", asked Blixa and he knew the answer. "Accept that we love each other, in this very weird way. Accept his strange construct of planets that we are." Blixa put his hand under Nick’s chin. "I love you," he said. Nick put his head against Blixa’s: "And so do I."