Snowman Tells No Lies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Ignore Frosty at your own risk. Part 1 of the Avenging Triad series.

Submitted: February 10, 2015

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Submitted: February 10, 2015

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There is no reason to believe Snowman actually did anything.  It was just an inanimate object.  We made it with the obligatory three balls of snow stacked on top of each other.  Attired it with a scarf and a hat.  That was all.  There wasn’t a corncob pipe, a button nose, or two eyes made out of coal.

It was the story that Stevie told.  That is what brought Snowman to life.  That is the nature of self-fulfilling prophecies.  At least, that is what I have been telling myself ever since.  No one wants to believe a pile of snow could cause that much trouble.

Why did we let Stevie talk us in to going back outside, after dark, and sit around Snowman while he told his awful poem?  Why did our parents let us go back out in the cold?  If we hadn’t gone back outside, after playing in the snow all day, there would be no story to tell.

Stevie was always trying to pull something off.  He always had a story or an angle.  Yet, when he recited Snowman’s poem, there was a strange tone in his voice I’d never heard.  Stevie is my little brother.  I’ve heard every tone of voice he’s ever made.  This was different.  Tense.  Stevie was never tense.  Between the two of us, I got most of the brains.  He got the looks, the charm, and the calm.  Always calm.

When he turned the Coleman lamp down low, and started talking, we listened.  Stevie can captivate you.  He can make you look.  You never know what he will say next.  He can be charming, profound, or stupid.  When we sat in front of Snowman, and Stevie began speaking, I was halfway expecting him to levitate.

How he came up with the poem, I am clueless.  Stevie is an excellent liar.  I’ve never known him to be able to rhyme.  He started by saying that Snowman was possessed by a spirit, and the spirit would tell us a poem, through Stevie, that would predict the future.  This is the poem:

SNOWMAN TELLS NO LIES

The Heavens opened and was rid of its load

The Devil lies broken next to him on the road

Darkness falls about and brings to us the cold

Later you will find the hidden place that has the gold

Believe this if you’re fair, believe this if you’re wise

As you will find out in time, Snowman tell no lies

But like the grass that only grows beneath the light of day

The Snowman’s riches always melt, when he does melt away

We all laughed when Stevie finished the poem, and made jokes about evil snowmen.  But I didn’t understand the weird feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Then, Brad tried his own version of a scary story, it was so goofy that the weird feeling went away.  Fourteen year olds have got no reason to feel weird for very long.  At least, they shouldn’t.

Brad was the third member of the Avenging Triad.  That was Stevie’s name for us, he was the one who came up with that sort of thing.  At first, I didn’t want my nerdy little brother hanging out with me and Brad.  Brad was my friend long before Stevie became the cocky dude he is.

Mom always found out when I beat him up, and Brad always stood up for Stevie when I trash talked him.  Eventually, I realized his fast, smooth talking attracted girls.  Those girls often had friends or sisters that were the same age as Stevie’s somewhat less smooth talking older brother.  The Avenging Triad was born.

The Avenging Triad has not actually done any avenging up to this point.  But we talk a good story.  One of us does, at any rate.  Mostly, it is one more theme in Stevie’s never ending variety show.  Brad and I are along for the ride.

A few minutes later, it started snowing again.  Brad went home, Stevie and I went inside.  The snow continued.  This was a much wetter, heavier snow than what was already on the ground.  After an hour, we began hearing the sound of tree branches snapping and falling to the ground.  Occasionally, there was a heavy thud as an entire tree fell over.  At 4 am, along with a thud and a loud pop, the electricity went off.

We got up when the house started getting cold.  Dad and I went to work on getting the generator going.  Mom and Stevie started pulling out the camping gear.  After a while, we had a tent set up in the living room, and a small heater keeping the tent nice and cozy.  A very bundled up Mom whipped up some hot chocolate on the camp stove on the back porch, then went right on to cooking breakfast.

Mom and Dad must have been Boy Scouts.  We were ready for anything.  With all of the commotion associated with the power outage, the Snowman poem was forgotten.  In fact, Snowman himself was barely noticeable.  He was still there in the front yard.  But the latest snow stuck like glue to him, and made him into more of The Blob than The Snowman.

We tried sledding down the street after the sun came up, but the new snow was too thick and too wet.  We spent that day inside, playing with Rock-Em Sock-Em robots, Hot Wheels, Legos and Twister.  We listened to whatever we could get on the battery powered AM radio.  Anything from Jimi Hendrix to Johnny Cash to the Partridge Family.  That was how the Avenging Triad rolled.

That was the last of the snow.  That afternoon, warmer weather began moving in.  The sun came out, and there was a good bit of melting.  But more than half of the snow remained at nightfall, and the temperature dipped back below freezing overnight.  The next morning, the sun was out, there was no wind, and the newly frozen surface was hard and smooth.  Time for some serious sled competition.

We decided to go in alphabetical order, that meant Brad first.  As it happened, Brad would be the only competitor in today’s event.  It was cancelled after Brad’s run.  And he was not the winner, he was disqualified.

If you mapquest Carson Street, you can’t see the downhill part that makes it so much fun to go down on a sled.  You will see the curve in the road.  Stevie and I live on the outside part of the curve.  Brad lives next door.  The Millsons live across the street from us, on the inside of the curve.

We don’t have curbs and gutters in our neighborhood.  You can drive a car off the road into someone’s yard pretty easily, and people cut across the Millson’s inside curve all the time.  After getting his mailbox knocked down for the third time, Mr. Millson built a mailbox post out of a big stack of bricks.  Then he put red and blue reflectors all over it.  And three of those round reflectors on poles, spaced a few feet apart on either side of the mailbox.

Mr. Millson seriously did not want anyone to run into his mailbox anymore.  He hadn’t counted on the Avenging Triad.

And The Avenging Triad had not counted on the fact that, once snow melts, then refreezes, it can be dangerously slick.  It was a bad time to be the alphabetically first member of the group.  As Brad came down Carson Street, and began to negotiate the curve, he overcompensated.  The street tilts a little to the inside, probably intentionally to get rainfall to drain into the ditch.

Brad steered his sled right over those three reflector poles on the upside of the mailbox.  Unfortunately, the next thing in line was much bigger and harder than Brad.

When you see your best friend going really fast down a hill, then watch him bounce off of a brick mailbox like a rag doll, it induces a state of shock.  Everything that happened after that was like one of those artsy movies where they use a filter to make everything look yellow or gray.  Everything is happening in slow motion.  There is deafening silence at first.  Then the music blasts on.

None of that actually happened.  What did happen, was that Stevie and I stood still for a second, then we both ran to Brad.  He was moaning, lying on the ground in an awkward looking pile.  For once, Stevie was the smart one.  He said, “I’m getting Mom.”  And took off running.  I had no idea what to do.  But Brad did.  He looked up at me, I’ll never forget what he said.  “Bubba, straighten out my arm.”

I hadn’t really noticed his arm in particular, up to that point.  It was hard to tell that any part of him was more messed up than another.  Once the adults got him all straightened out, his only serious problems were a complete fracture of his left arm, and a minor fracture of the right.  He had put both of his arms up to shield himself from the mailbox.  He had some bruises on his face, he did get a little taste of brick.

Brad’s left arm lay on the ground.  Up until them, all the left arms I had ever seen had a joint at the elbow, another at the wrist, and various fingers.  Prior to the sledding accident, that would have been a sufficient description of Brad’s left arm.

After the accident, his arm had one more joint.  Halfway between his elbow and his wrist.  Apparently, Brad wasn’t a big fan of the new joint.  And for some reason, he thought his pal Bubba could do something about it.  As a matter of fact, I did.  Although, to this day, I have no idea how.  Maybe I saw something on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

I got down on my knees, put one hand on Brad’s bicep, grabbed his wrist with the other, and pulled his arm straight.  Brad let out a piercing scream, but then just lay on the ground, chest heaving.  I could feel his heart pounding as each pulse of blood flowed through the arteries beneath my fingers.  I stayed as still as possible.  I was as frozen as Snowman.  After a moment, I heard a very feeble “Thanks” from Brad.

Then Mom showed up, Brad’s mom, and Mr. Millson, and then the ambulance.  Brad’s mom went in the ambulance with him.  Mom told Stevie and I to put Brad’s sled in their garage.  Everyone knew where everyone else hid their outdoor key, that was the kind of neighborhood we had back then.

The sled was in about the same shape as Brad.  One of the metal rails was bent, and the wood slat in the middle was broken.  We deposited the sled in the garage.

The next day, the electricity was back on, and Brad was back.  With a full arm cast on his left arm, and a cast below his elbow on the right.  Stevie and I would spend the next few months helping Brad negotiate life without even one fully functioning arm.  I guess the Avenging Triad had at least one mission.

But that first day, we focused on decorating Brad’s casts.  All three of us signed our names, including Brad.  It took him a while, he hadn’t mastered writing with a cast on each arm yet. Next, Stevie took one arm, and I took the other, and we began drawing.  I drew a scene of Brad steering his sled into a mailbox.  Stevie drew an ambulance driving to the hospital.

Stevie finished before I did, and was getting bored, he said he was going to head outside.  Enough of the second snowfall had melted off of Snowman that the hat and scarf were now visible again.  Stevie said he was going to work on Snowman and get him looking presentable again.

A few minutes later I finished up my part of the artwork on Brad’s cast.  I looked out the front window expecting to see Stevie around Snowman.  I’d seen him out of the corner of my eye while I was still drawing.  But he was gone now. 

Brad and I went out, and noticed the snow had been brushed away from in front of Snowman’s bottom snowball.  There were Stevie sized steps leading to the back yard.  We followed, around the house to the back yard, then up the ladder into the treehouse.

Where we found Stevie with the Playboys magazine.  I know what you are thinking.  There is no ‘s’ at the end of Playboy.  I don’t know what to tell you.  All I can say is, Stevie had found a Playboys magazine buried next to Snowman.  I don’t know if the ladies in this magazine were as pretty as the one in the more famous almost namesake.  They were definitely just as naked.  None of us were complaining.

But we quickly became confused.  When Stevie opened the centerfold, Brad said, “Wow, how did Playboys magazine know that I think Japanese chicks were hot?”  Stevie and I were perplexed.  Stevie said, “You need to get your eyes examined.  This chick is white, and she’s a redhead, just how I like them!”

I said, “You’re both nuts.  Can you not tell a black woman when you see one?”  As we turned from one photo spread to another, the impossible became obvious.  None of us ever saw the same woman.  Not only that, when we came back to a gallery we’d seen before, none of us saw the same woman we saw the previous time.  There were no repeats.

The one common thread was, the magazine knew exactly what kind of women we liked and didn’t like.  For example, Brad saw several Asian women, so did I.  Stevie says he isn’t attracted to Asians, he never saw one.  I had never thought I liked black women.  Other than a couple of middle aged maids, I had hardly seen any close up during my sheltered existence in lily white suburbia.  But there was no thinking required when Stevie opened that foldout.  I like what I like.

We quickly degraded into a three man Tower of Babel.  They say a tornado sounds like a freight train coming at you.  We probably sounded more like Huey, Dewey, and Louie begging Uncle Donald to let them stay up for another hour.  Brad and I alternated grilling Stevie about finding the magazine.  He swore, it was buried in the new snow that started falling right after the reading of the Snowman poem.  He waved around the plastic bag he says he found it in.

After an hour of debate and page turning, Mom was at the bottom of the treehouse ladder, yelling at Brad.  “Your dad just called and you have to be home in 15 minutes.”  We quickly agreed to stash the Playboys magazine in the treasure chest in the treehouse.  We came up with an ingenious plan to keep anyone from stealing the magazine.  Of course, the only people who would steal it would be one of us.  Which was why we needed a plan.

The treasure chest was perfect.  It was really a toy chest but Mom always came up with clever ways to make stuff sound cool.  It was heavy duty and built into the treehouse.  Dad was a good carpenter and tended to overbuild.  I think he wanted whatever he built to be like the tanks he used to repair back in WWII.  It had a large metal clasp that was big enough for three bicycle locks to fit on it.  There was no way any one of us was going to get our grubby mitts on that magazine without the other two being present.  Unless we used Dad’s circular saw or his bolt cutters.  We’d be able to tell if that happened.

A warm front moved in the next day.  There wasn’t much left of Snowman by then, just a blob.  Mom had already retrieved the hat and the scarf.  It was Monday, time to go back to school.  I’ll give you one guess where the Avenging Triad went first, after they got home.  The silence was deafening, when three Carson Street boys took their bicycle locks off of the treasure chest. 

There was no Playboys magazine inside.  Only a dog-eared copy of Golf Magazine, addressed to a Mr. Harold Watson at 714 Carson Street.  And no, I’m not the Bubba Watson that plays golf on TV.  Stop asking, I get tired of that.  I’m good, but I can’t work the ball left and right like the guy that stole my name.  I was Bubba Watson first.

Back to the deafening silence.  Naturally, both Brad and I came to the same obvious conclusion.  Stevie.  He was the one who “found” the magazine.  He was the one who was always coming up with the next crazy, potentially dangerous idea.  He was the one the rest of the Avenging Triad always blamed, whenever they couldn’t figure out what was going on.

We tore Stevie’s room up.  If he had been hiding guns or holding drugs, we would have known about it.  But there were no guns, drugs, or Playboys magazines in Stevie’s room.  We did find a few Lego pieces we’d been looking for.

At first, Stevie protested about us rooting around in his room.  But Stevie never let anyone else win.  As soon as he realized we wouldn’t stop, he joined right in.  He was throwing stuff around, and there was the usual kind of Stevie narrative, how he had outsmarted his buddies and figured out how to get the Playboys out of a triple locked chest.  He was fucking Harry Houdini.  And if he was smart enough to figure that out, he was also smart enough not to hide the magazine in the most obvious place, his bedroom.

That last tidbit actually made sense.  Stevie talked so much that the law of averages eventually caught up to him.  So we stopped looking.

But Brad did find something related to the story.  The Snowman poem Stevie had made up.  He had written it on the back of some old homework. Brad got quiet when he started reading the poem.  He sat backwards abruptly.  If Stevie’s bed hadn’t been behind him, he would have gone rump to floor.

He started saying, “It can’t be…It can’t be...”

This is what he was talking about:

SNOWMAN TELLS NO LIES

The Heavens opened and was rid of its load—the heavy snowstorm

The Devil lies broken next to him on the road--???

Darkness falls about and brings to us the cold—the power outage

Later you will find the hidden place that has the gold—the Playboys magazine

Believe this if you’re fair, believe this if you’re wise--???

As you will find out in time, Snowman tell no lies—see the last two lines

But like the grass that only grows beneath the light of day

The Snowman’s riches always melt, when he does melt away—the magazine disappeared when the snow melted, Snowman told the truth

 

Six of the eight lines of the poem eerily matched the events that unfolded starting the next morning.  Brad was stunned.  He was the one who had ended up paying the price.  Stevie was gloating like the Supreme Court had just ruled in his favor.  I was amused by the whole thing, also impressed with my little brother’s talent.  All those beatings I gave him may not have been wasted.

But 6 out of 8 is only 75%, not even enough to get a C plus in Mrs. McFerrin’s algebra class.  After some discussion, we decided this line was moot:

Believe this if you’re fair, believe this if you’re wise

Both fairness and wisdom are subjective evaluations, we are all free to believe we are fair and wise.  But we couldn’t make heads or tails of the remaining line:

The Devil lies broken next to him on the road

That is pretty concrete, and we were assuming it referenced Brad’s accident.  Brad couldn’t be the Devil.  If he had any superpowers, or a forked tongue, I would have noticed by now.  The only other things that were broken were the sled and the reflectors Brad mowed down.  We couldn’t come up with any connection between inanimate objects and the Antichrist.

We never came to any conclusion about the poem.  And of course, being boys, it was forgotten the next day.  Until…

EPILOGUE

The Avenging Triad managed to make it through high school without any more fractures or trips to the emergency room.  Brad and I went to college together and were roommates for my first three years.  But Brad got really stupid when we started college.  For some reason, he decided to take really big class loads, go straight through, and graduate in three years.  I didn’t mean stupid in a literal sense.  His mom framed every one of the letters he got for making Dean’s list and hung them in the den.

Brad was stupid because he missed out on about 90% of the fun I had in college.  Not only did I not graduate early, I went on the five year plan.  Dad had the cash, it was okay.

Brad even felt stupid later.  He was good at finance, and I was only average at engineering.  But I had picked a career with more demand and more opportunities than him.  By the time I was thirty, I was driving a better car than Brad.

And of course, Stevie was the smartest of us all.  He didn’t even go to college.  Even though it took him two more years to get out of high school, he immediately left for the West Coast, and Hollywood.  He was going to be big, huge, massive.  He never became a movie star.  But somehow he talked himself into a job as a camera crew assistant, and he never looked back. If you look at those credits scrolling by at the movie theater, you might see Steven Watson Productions in there somewhere.

THE WEEKEND AFTER BRAD GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE

All that was still in the future, when Brad and I were packing up his stuff.  His mom had framed his diploma, just like all the Dean’s List letters.  But she didn’t hang it on the wall in the den.  She put it in a box.  Because Brad had a job lined up in the Northeast with a Fortune 500 accounting firm.

We got his room packed up pretty quickly.  He mostly took clothes and some small stuff.  His mom reminded us to go through the garage, there was a lot of Brad’s sporting goods and other items he might want to take with him.

By now, awkward Bubba actually had a girlfriend back at college.  Not that it would last too long.  Bubba is one of those kind of guys, you know, the ones that are afraid of commitment.  I’m not even sure it’s that.  I’ve never got close enough to commitment to be able to tell if I’m afraid of it.

But when Annabelle Rousey turned her pretty smile on me, even Bubba couldn’t say no.  She didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t as religious as her.  I hadn’t been to church in years, never cared for it much.  But Annabelle was pretty, she liked Bubba, and she went to church every Sunday.  She told me she didn’t care what I believed, as long as I would sit next to her and be her guy.  I couldn’t turn that down.

The past Sunday, the pastor had given a rousing sermon about resisting temptation, and doing good with your life.  He closed with Revelation 12:9.

And the Great Dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

When we were going through the pile of Brad’s stuff in the corner of the garage, I pulled out the broken sled Stevie and I had deposited there years ago.  I’m not sure if any of us had ever paid much attention to the colorful decal that was now split in half on the middle slat.  I’d never even heard of the Great Dragon sled company.  And I’d never noticed the tiny horns on the dragon’s head, or the pitchfork in his hand, or the forked tongue coming out of his mouth…

AUTHOR’S NOTE

I’m pretty sure there was no point when you were reading this where you said, “I wonder how some middle-aged guy who’d never written much beyond computer code could all of a sudden start writing such brilliant satire?”  I doubt anyone thought that.  But that’s okay.  I’m going to tell you anyway. 

I always start with things that actually happened in my life.  It doesn’t matter if the events are unrelated.  The albino squirrel I put in a previous story set in my childhood was actually walking around my back yard a few years ago.  As far as I know, he never stole anything beyond acorns and walnuts.  He did leave shell fragments all over the place, just like the rest of them.

What is true in this story?  Brad was my best friend when I was about 7 years old.  He broke both of his arms, just like I wrote.  But not sledding.  It was at another boy’s birthday party, and he fell out of a swing.  It was different, but just as weird.

When I was thirty something, we had a heavy snowfall, perfect for sledding.  I threw my sleds in the back of the pickup, rounded up a friend, and we headed off to the base of the nearest mountain.  (We call it a mountain, Coloradans would call it a speed bump.)

The street we sledded on was just as I made the fictional Carson Street out to be.  The mailbox on the inside of the curve wasn’t made of brick.  It had one of those flimsy metal posts.  The guy who plowed into the post wasn’t my childhood buddy.  The real Brad and his family moved within a year of him getting the casts off and I never heard from him again.

That dude didn’t break anything when he slid into the post.  I’ll bet he had an ugly bruise on his leg, though.  But he was okay, and there was nothing wrong with his sled.  We tried standing the mailbox post back up, but it was pretty loose.  The real Mr. Millson should probably replace that thing with something made out of brick.

The sleds I had at the time were from my childhood.  Mine, and my brothers.  Both older than me.  Neither is anything like Stevie.  They were both better with girls than I was.  That hasn’t changed.  And I was a bit heavier that day than when I was Brad’s age.  On the third run I made down the hill, I heard a snap underneath me as I coasted to a stop.  The wood slats had dried with age, and the sled was never intended to be used by some guy who is 6’2’’.  When I got off of the sled, it looked pretty much like Brad’s did in the story.  But it wasn’t a Great Dragon.  I made that part up.

 


© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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