The Missing Link
“Nobody’s from here except the Ice Man,” the man behind me said. I was on the 16D in Minneapolis and I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to get off. The man behind me was from Senegal, and he was talking to a younger guy from Taiwan. I was from Queens, New York, and I hated the Midwest.
I never meant to move there. I was only there for my husband’s career, and I was starting to resent it. And I was nearly positive I missed my stop. I got confirmation a few minutes later when the driver pulled over and turned off the engine. It was then I realized I was the only passenger still on the bus. “How far is it to 27th?” I asked. I figured I would walk back in the direction we came from. “Far,” she answered. “Just stay on the bus and we’ll go around again.”
She left the bus for a smoke break, and trying to forget my embarrassment, I returned to the Ice Man. Was that a Minnesotan myth or just a figure of speech? I asked the internet.
First it told me that Bobby Drake was a mutant in the X-Men, known for encasing his enemies in a block of ice, which I knew. His powers were so out of his control that he needed a belt to quell them, and it was hard not to imagine it as a chastity belt. He was born in Port Washington, Long Island, near the college I attended my freshman year, where I studied linguistics. Or was that Port Jeff? Either way, this was not the Ice Man they were talking about.
Richard Kuklinski was a hitman for the mafia. He was convicted of five murders but probably responsible for dozens more. He killed for other reasons, too: to get back at a bully, for instance, and to get exercise. He disposed of the bodies in many ways, such as feeding them to gigantic cave rats, and freezing them to prevent anyone from determining the time of death. Kuklinski was from Dumont, New Jersey. Not our man, but I was a little happy to stumble across another East Coaster, however horrid.
Oetzi, also called the Man from Hauslabjoch, was born in 3300 BCE, near the Alps. Ice had both crushed and preserved his body. He had 61 tattoos in all. I had, at this time, eight. I would probably never catch up. He wore a leather loincloth and his intestines were full of chamois, deer, and bread. I had been a vegetarian for nine years, and none of this was relevant.
It seemed my search had to get more specific. “Minnesota Ice Man.” There he was: no picture, but an explanation. A Neanderthal, a “missing link,” or, most likely, a hoax. A State Fair sideshow exhibit of a man frozen in a block of ice. Not as satisfying as I’d hoped, but then again, neither was the State Fair. I had gorged myself, the prior summer, on fried Oreos and pizza-on-a-stick and had gone home sick. The fair was one of those things Minneapolitans were most proud of, and it was utterly regrettable. Me and the city just never clicked.
The bus was re-peopled, and we started moving again, and I had to be more vigilant this time. I knew what he had meant anyway, the man behind me, when he said, as I got lost in my resentment and the streets of the cold, disconnected city, “Nobody’s from here except the Ice Man. And if we stay here long enough, we’ll all become Ice People too.”
About the Author: Danielle Zaccagnino is a student at Texas State University and the poetry editor of Us for President. She was the winner of the Sonora Review's 2016 Essay Prize, and her writing appears or is forthcoming in journals such as Day One, Word Riot, The Pinch, and The Butter. Danielle is from Queens, New York. Find out more about her here.