By Edele Winnie
Are you paranoid? I’m paranoid. I was freaking born that way- so it’s not my fault. “For example– I noticed the pickup truck right away. It was one of those ones with a cab on the back. Brown, with crappy fake wood panelling. No one on my street has a pickup truck like that. There was some dude sitting in it too. Great, I thought, a new stalker after my sweet little ass. I peeked between the blinds several times. Men have this problem with me- mostly they want to have pets I think, and I’m not a tameable. To the eyes I’m a cute skinny brunette. Also, I’m kind of like a hyena. I‘ll chew your leg off and laugh about it- nothing personal, it’s just the way I am. Don’t cross hyenas, man.
I wouldn’t say the pickup truck wasin good shape. I know bushcrap about cars so that’s allI really noticed. And that it was still there the next morning. We’d had a light snow in the night, and everything had been covered with a pretty layer of white frosting. Good way to hide crap.
I tried to relax and shrug it off. Maybe one of my neighbours was having an annoying guest or something. Maybe the truck was abandoned. Maybe junkies and terrorists were living out of it.
Over the next couple days we had even more snow and everyone had been out throwing it around – shovelling. Nothing makes me think more of ants than watching my neighbours shovel their little walks and porches. I don’t personally shovel. I’m not civic minded. Old people should take cabs if they can’t handle a little white stuff.
There’s this fat guy who lives next door to me- one of my crazy neighbours. He’s always trying to talk to me but I know he’s just hitting on me. You can tell by men’s eyes. There’s a little extra light in them when they just want it, and not you. Sometimes he shovels the walk at the house I rent. It’s supposed to be the landlord’s responsibility, but if fatty wants to do it, he can do it. The way I’m seeing it, I’m doing him a favour, and he’ll live extra long ‘cause of the exercise- but that’s all he’s ever going to get from me.
Eventually I decided that the pickup truck was a dumper- you know, someone swiped it, joy rode and walked away. Wouldn’t be the first time. There are more shopping carts in my neighbourhood then there are at the grocery store.
It was a really wicked winter. We got really dumped on– snow, wind, drifting, blowing. The ants were out digging out their little walks and their cars. The pickup truck never got cleared off. There were no footsteps to it or from it. The snowplough had snuffled snow all around it. It began to look more like a little white mountain on my street, which was kinda cool.
I have my manic days and I make no apologies- I’m me, and you’re not so deal with it. Anyway I decided one night when I was capable of anything that I was going to go out and climb the pickup truck mountain. I didn’t have any definite plans after that. Don’t call me impulsive!
I suited up in my winter woollies and dove off the front porch into the snow piles. I made a couple snow angels and then of course circled around and gave them horns. I like to think that angels would be hot- it’s the devils that are cold as, well, hell.
For some reason I decided to try the passenger door before I climbed the mountain. I pawed through the snow like a badger till I reached the dented door. Likely any valuables had already been cleaned out by the local boy scout troop, but it never hurts to check- anyway that’s what a doctor said to me once right before I punched him.
I gave the door a terrific yank- it was pretty iced up- but it opened and holy catfish the dude was still sitting inside. Dead. Frozen. He’d never moved from that first night I’d seen him.
You can call me lots of things- I won’t listen so you’re wasting your time- but I’m no chickencat. I got in and closed the door.
He was middle aged, had on a winter coat. He was frowning. His eyes were open. And he was frozen solid popsicle dead.
I don’t know what I expected but the first thing that hit me sitting in the snow covered pickup truck in the middle of the night with a dead guy was the quiet. No one was outside. The snow insulated against all sound. And buddy didn’t have a thing to say.
“How ya doin?” I asked him.
You know how I told you how his eyes were wide open? They looked- well there was no light in them, that’s for sure. For the first time in a long time I felt totally comfortable with a strange man.
‘”How did you end up here?” I asked, but he didn’t tell me.
I touched his face and it was really weird- I guess it felt like frozen dead skin, I can’t really compare it to anything else. He was concrete hard too, so I couldn’t get my hands into his pockets- I was thinking identification, you dirty-minded creepos.
“I’ll call you Jack.” He didn’t’ seem to mind. “Popsicle Jack.”
I got comfy. Leaned against him, put my feet up on the dash. There was nothing to fear here. A frozen man and a girl trying desperately not to do the same in the ice pond of life. Yea, I talked to him a little bit. He wasn’t very judgemental and I like that. I thought weird things- like did he have a family, or no one? I hugged him. Kissed his icy cheek. Saw for the first time that the ignition keys were down between his feet.
Wangarango I could drive this thing if I could get it to start. An idea began to form, icicle like, getting longer and scarier drip by drip. I liked old Jack. It cranked me that he was just gonna be found dead on my street. What this guy needed was a decent burial. A cremation sensation!
I have this thing for fire. It gets me all hot. If I could get this truck to start, I’d drive Jack somewhere and light the truck and him up! I would be an angel of warmth for his frozen soul.
Okay really quickly I discovered I wasn’t going to get him out of the driver’s seat. He seemed to weigh a granite ton and he was solid stiffy. I climbed into his lap, giggling. I wished my fat snow-shovelling neighbour could see me now. I could do this okay. I inserted the keys and cranked the engine. Miracle- it hesitated, but then it started up. I turned the defrosters on full blast and found an ice chipper thing and got out and started working on the windows. Nobody saw. Nobody looked out their windows. Nobody cares in this world. I care about some things and that’s what makes me different.
It took a year of my life but the windows were clean enough. I put some tunes on the radio, squirmed into Jack’s lap again and got ready to go. Couldn’t get the seat belt over us both though. Oh, well, you have to live dangerously once in a while, right?
The truck didn’t handle too well and it was hard to drive sitting on Jack and the roads were slippery on top of that. I had an idea where I was taking him to torch him when I saw the red and blue flashing lights behind me. Crap. The police are already too interested in me- not because I’m bad – I recognize that extra light in their hunting eyes. They see fresh meat.
I pulled the pickup over and squirmed into the passenger seat, checked the rear view. One cop on his own and he seemed to be struggling with something. I eased the passenger door open and slipped out, a yeti babe into the snowy night.
Probationary constable Malcolm Wendall was on the first shift of his life. He’d ridden in the back a couple of times, but this was it, the real thing. The pickup had been swerving- classic driving under the influence. He was scrambling to get all his stuff together- trying to relax- important to look cool, calm, collected. Got out, closed the door and approached the vehicle. The guy in the pickup hadn’t rolled down the window or anything. Probationary Constable Wendall knocked on the window, waited for a response, and then knocked again. He said loudly “I am opening the door!”
It was pretty frozen but it came open.
“Step out of the vehicle.” He said in his best do-what-I say cop voice.
It took him a minute to figure it all out. The guy was dead. Frozen solid. But he’d been driving. Swerving. It was impossible. Probationary Constable Malcolm Wendall sighed. No one was ever going to believe this.