(Sinister Snowman created by Rothmir on DeviantArt)
Two days before Christmas, my dad woke me up to tell me I needed to put on some clothes and meet him outside. I shuffled through the pile of dirty laundry and put on a shirt, Adidas running pants and sneakers. I grabbed my coat and beanie off the rack, looked at the red-haloed numbers of the clock, which read 1:05 AM then hurried up the stairs and outside. My dad stood with an officer on the porch, and in the distance I could make out the flashing lights of two cruisers, a Cadillac Escalade parked in the middle of the road, and my Green Ford Exploder, the Sherman Tank, planted over the curb, blocking the sidewalk, hood through a city fence and the front wheels lodged in a small snowdrift. I regretted not putting on socks as I zipped up my non-insulated parka and pulled my cotton beanie over my ears.
I had parked the Exploder on December 18th, wheels turned into the curb, where it should have stayed the entire Christmas Break until I returned to school. The parking brake had gone out a week earlier, probably the pang I felt during my plant taxonomy test, or maybe it held and gave out later that night. All I know is that when I entered the empty stadium parking lot, illuminated in fours by parking lot lights, my car had rolled forward four feet and rested against the curb, lonely looking.
I knew it had been going out for some time. It seemed like everyday I had to push the brake further and further down for it to stick. This new affirmation, my car four feet beyond the few spaced out cars, looking like some idiot got high and felt tired of yellow lines or symmetry, or like the football team jocks played a joke on some cheerleader and lifted her car and moved it four feet forward to freak her out, luckily held in place by the high curb, more than bolstered suspicion; it cemented the facts as they stood, or poorly parked in this case.
The driver of the Escalade is a good citizen. He could have driven off and left the scene of my wrecked SUV. My Sherman Tank would have been a Christmas mystery for the neighborhood that way. People would have walked by or driven by real slow and pointed, maybe stopped and conversed amongst themselves until the shrewdest of the bunch pointed out some obscure tire track and deduced that it had been two drunk drivers—the getaway car hit the Green Explorer, the driver of the Explorer got out, surveyed the damage (the shrewdy might point to some size ten footprints at this point), ran around to the passenger side, got his twenty-four pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon then got in the other car, the car with the dented front fender, and the two drove off—his entire, poor, shrewd point to rouse an argument out of the rest of the bunch. A hit and run would have saved the good citizen from having to retell his poor excuse of an excuse.
“Go on, tell the young man what happened,” the police officer goaded the driver of the Escalade while my dad got all my necessary paperwork out of the tank, first by going to the driver side door, then by walking around to the passenger side door to get to the glove box, leaving size ten footprints as evidence until the next thaw. I could tell the three officers were enjoying themselves. Their moustaches kept covering their mouths when they would pinch down on their lips to keep from laughing. One officer walked away with my information and sat in the coziness of his heated cruiser. I stood there freezing my ass and ankles off waiting for the—you would expect the driver of the escalade to be a kid, but he was older than me, married, and had two kids of his own—guy to speak up. His friend, another adult, began to speak, but one of the officer’s gave him one of those, “Uh,uh,uh,” phrases and held him back by moving the arm that held the flashlight in his direction. “From the start. The way you told it to us,” the headcheese demanded. I could tell that if this guy didn’t repeat what had happened the way the officer heard it and thought it so funny, that the officer would cut in as a late-night host might, to get the wanted response. He began with some hesitancy in his voice.
“We turned the corner up by the stop sign and we were checking out the house across the street.”
“Casing the joint,” the second in charge said, adding the proper lingo to the retelling.
“As I said, we were…casing the joint, so I drove faster than I usually would on this street.” Head cheese cut in. I wondered if he would let the guy tell the damn story. “Why were you casing the joint? You can’t just say you were casing a joint without telling us why this house in particular.”
“So,” he paused again then I could see the strain on his face give way, cheeks relaxed, jawbone retracted, mouth opened a little. “A couple groups of friends decided to play a game called ‘Steal Frosty the Snowman.’ The rules of the game are that you have to place Frosty,” he pointed to the lighted up figure on my neighbor’s front porch, “where all the other married couples can see him.” (Is this what marriage does to men? They try to steal a snowman from other people’s yards.) “Everyone tries to steal the snowman without getting caught. If they catch you, you are out of the game, but whoever has Frosty the Snowman on Christmas-Eve night wins the game. All the other couples have to buy the winning couple a dinner.”
“And this guy,” the second in charge pointed to the accomplice. “He ain’t your wife. Was he along for the joyride?”
“He’s just a friend. He’s not in the game. I brought him along so he could look at the house while I drove by without stopping. That way they wouldn’t think something was up.”
“Fine set of eyes he turned out to be,” head cheese laughed.
“So how did you hit my Explorer?” I asked. The two officers chuckled behind the scene.
“Well, I was going kind of fast like I was saying, and it is pretty dark out here with no streetlights, and both of us spotted Frosty, and I guess I took my eyes off the road because the next thing I know, I plowed into the back of your car and knocked it pretty good.”
The officers couldn’t contain themselves any longer. By now all three stood behind the guy and laughed loud. The one officer handed me my insurance card back and gave me a card with the guy’s insurance information, and we exchanged numbers and figured the whole scene had ended for the night. I went back to bed. The red light glowed 2:05 AM.
The doorbell clamored, and once again I was putting on a shirt, Adidas running pants, balled up socks this time and sneakers. I looked at the clock. The red light read 7:05 AM. “Doesn’t anyone answer the damn door,” I mumbled. I ran up the steps, could hear my dad taking a bath, the water coughing loudly through the pipes in the wall and gushing into the tub. I opened the door and two new or different officers of the law, and a woman with CSI embroidered on her fleece jacket, greeted me. “We are here to investigate a wreck that we have reason to believe occurred this morning,” one of the officers said as he nosily inspected the inside of our entryway. The woman walked down the porch and began looking at the tire tread left in the snow and leading to the garage. Just beyond her, my wrecked Exploder seemed an obvious giveaway. I pointed to the car, the two officers following my finger, and told them that the accident happened last night, and had already been taken up with the local authorities. “Oh that,” said the same officer, and turned his head.
“We were wondering what happened. But that isn’t what we are here for. Is your brother in the house by chance?” I had no idea what they would want with my brother. True, the same two officers were here on about a weekly basis trying to arrest my brother for some crime or another. But he had taken his usual dose of ten Ambien last night, and I knew he would be asleep on the couch downstairs, the TV on with the volume rather high and a Copenhagen Longcut would be to the left side of his mouth with possible brown saliva running down his cheek on to his throat. My mom came out in her bathrobe, rubbing her eyes and seeming nonplussed by the sight of the two officers.
“He’s downstairs asleep,” I told them.
“Would you go get him? We would just like to ask him a few questions,” the other officer said.
“What did he do this time?” my mom asked without even noticing she already found her own flesh guilty.
“We have reason to believe he was involved in an accident about twenty minutes ago,” the officer said without giving specifics. I could hear my mom’s diatribe as I walked downstairs and woke Adam up. “It’s the police, get up.”
“What do they want? I was sleeping.” He got up slowly and put on his pants, tightened the belt on his pelvic bone then threw on the shirt he had taken off to go to bed.
“They think you were involved in some kind of accident,” I said.
“I’ve been sleeping. I don’t even own a car.”
I know,” I said, “but you better explain that to them.”
Myriad thoughts ran through my head. Adam does strange things when he takes Ambien. His favorite thing to do is to play CSI, the show, not the real thing like the woman did outside. Many a nights I would find him asleep outside in the summer, flashlight still on and beaming in odd fashion through the grass, casting jungle-like scenery for moths on the white-vinyl fence. “I knew it would happen sooner or later,” my mom confirmed her suspicion to the two officers. My dad stood next to her in his bathrobe, flesh still singed red on his neck from the too-hot water he always bathed in, asking what happened.
The officers didn’t say. They just asked Adam if he had been driving a black Chevy SUV recently. Adam looked at them with his angry red eyes that needed more sleep. “No. Why the hell would I be driving my mom’s car?” he asked.
“Well,” said the officer who seemed to be the spokesman, conferring with the CSI lady who had returned to the front door, “we can match the prints of your tires to an accident that happened up the road about one block.” No one questioned the fact that the officer’s choice of words were “yours (meaning Adam’s)” rather than “the car’s.”
“I’ve been sleeping, asshole. How would I have driven a car?” my brother responded. The officer took the sentences, processed them in his mind, probably drew a picture of prior near convictions, near arrests, and continued. “Were you driving the car or not?” the officer said in an insulting tone.
“No. I was sleeping,” my brother said with a little more vehemence than his first statement.
“What happened?” my mother demanded. The officer turned to his partner then to the CSI lady and then back to us. “Seems that someone saw a black SUV matching the description of your car drive over a curb, narrowly pass between two pine trees and through a wooden fence, back up after this was done, hit the curb twice on the next street and then headed towards your home.” My mom stood incredulous, and blaming. “Where are my keys, Adam?” she asked my criminal brother.
“I don’t have your damn keys. I tell you I was sleeping.” My mom took leave of us and went to the garage to check her car for damage on the outside and information on the inside. The can of Diet Dr. Pepper, still sweating cold beads of moist in the cup holder, told her all she needed to know.
My dad loves Diet Dr. Pepper. He drinks six of them a day. They are his only intake of water. My mom came back in but said nothing more than “Where are my keys?” I checked the counter where they usually lie. Not there. My dad came back to the entryway holding the keys like a used condom. “They were in my jeans,” he said, perplexed and trying to figure out how they got there. “Do you take Ambien, by chance,” the officer asked.
Does my dad take Ambien? He is retired now, but for the last twenty years has gone to bed at 8 PM and woken up at 2 or 3 AM to drive to Salt Lake City where he works. He avoided all traffic and was able to be home by 3 PM to accomplish his woodworking (my mother always had him making some sort of furniture) for a few hours then sit down and watch Jeopardy at 7:30 PM. Under “Creature of Habit,” in the dictionary is a picture of my dad. Also check, “Aroma of Pine Sawdust,” he is there as well. Last night’s accident broke him from a twenty year habit.
Turns out my dad couldn’t get back to sleep, returning to his bed after the accident. He swallowed a second Ambien for the first time in a twenty-year pattern of one. He woke up at 5:30 AM, needed a cold 12 oz. Diet Dr. Pepper in a can (the fridge was loaded with plastic 20 ounce bottles). He probably wanted to hear the vaunted sound of refreshment when a ring tab breaks the aluminum top open. He grabbed the keys from their usual spot and drove to Maverick and purchased one 12 oz. Diet Dr. Pepper. He must have opened it in the car, sipped from it then put it in the can holder where it would have remained a mystery had it not been the key piece of evidence. On the way home he must have been in a state of waking dream because he doesn’t remember that the roads were slick, that a block away from home he skidded sideways then made a bee-line over the curb, between two blue spruces and plowed through an oak board fence, reversed it like a road racer, split the trees again, hopped the curb, skidded straight, headed home hitting the sidewalls of the Suburban against the curb at 523 N 5400 S where two onlookers watched, turned the SUV into the driveway, entered the already open garage, closed it on his way inside, took off his pants and entered the realm of a twenty year routine by taking his morning bath.
All of this was embarrassingly reiterated to him when at church the two onlookers asked him if he enjoyed his joyride that morning. He said he didn’t remember and walked away. “I must have done it,” my dad exclaimed to the officer. “I’m guilty. Arrest me.” My dad has never knowingly broken a law. The officer told him to calm down. Assured him that he would ticket him, but that he could fight it in court and that my dad had better go talk to the owner of the fence and work out something. My dad took the pink citation from the officer’s hand.
When my dad went to court and his case was called, he stood before the judge and exclaimed again, “I’m guilty. I did it.” The judge told him to say no more and listen to his defender. The prosecutor told the judge that the case had been settled out of court, and that he would like to dismiss the case. My dad didn’t like the outcome albeit it affirmed to him he would not be getting a ticket. He somehow felt cheated because he had committed a crime and would have liked to pay the penalty.
The retelling of this story is simply (or not so simply) to show that all of this happened because my parking brake went out, which caused me to park the Exploder on the street with the wheels turned into the curb rather than on the steep driveway, the placement of the Exploder caused an over anxious young man who was casing the joint across the street from our house to hit it, which caused my dad to wake early, which in turn, caused my dad to take one more Ambien than usual, which awakened a desire in my dad to purchase a cold, 12 oz. can of Diet Dr. Pepper, which caused him to be dream-wakened driving on slick roads, which aided my dad in driving between two blue spruce trees and through an oak section of picket fence, and in turn receive a ticket for driving under the influence of Ambien.
Other notable consequences of the cause and effect sequence is that my brother Adam was once more accused by officer and mother of being guilty of a crime, my semester that had been paid for by taking out a loan against the Exploder’s whopping 5,000 dollar Blue Book value had no way to be repaid, I walked a mile and a half to school each cold, late winter and early spring morning, was dropped off at an Ogden exit with my laundry basket in hand and had to run to the adjacent road where my dad waited to pick me up, consequently my roommate who lived further down the road had to time the exit and entrance of the freeway perfectly so as to be stopped at the red light so I could jump out; otherwise, we had to turn right, pull over to drop me off, and he had to drive a hundred yards west and make an illegal U-turn to get back in the exit lane for the freeway. I lost five pounds from walking so much, had to purchase a two-hundred dollar North Face down jacket and a wool beanie for my ears, our neighbor purchased a vinyl fence and never talked to my dad again. More consequences could be noted, but this suffices.
One thing remains. And that is the guilt that Frosty the Snowman plays in all of this. He thought I would let him get away with this, but it needs mention that Frosty the Snowman, first appeared as a Gene Autry song, after the success of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Frosty, however could be found in the Middle Ages with a much darker side. These people used three rings or circles to create the snowman, and it is noted that a reference to the crucifixion of Christ by the Illuminati can be found in this image. Frosty is a product of the savior, which I mention, was again popularized by Gene Autry’s song, which made the snowman famous, which helped Frosty become a holiday tradition, which pagan or not has become the status quo of happy holiday goers for quite some years (along with lights, Christmas trees, presents, etc.), so had it not been for the birth of Jesus, the kindling of folklore and the commercialization of Christmas, Frosty would not have been in my neighbor’s yard, the young man would not have been casing the joint, my Exploder would not have been ran into, and my dad would have never had his twenty-year routine disrupted:
Frosty the Snowman owes me so much more than just tuition.