Thursday, January 8, 2015

Below Zero

Below Zero

            “Pretty cold in there today I guess.  You bring a light?
            “Yep she’s been dead now two months.
            “That’s the way she kept it; all locked up.
            “I didn’t bother with her.  They come over afterwards and told me.
            “Left the whole damn farm to me they said.
            “Sit down we need to talk they said.
            “Jesus it’s the nip today ain’t it.
            “We’ll just go look around quick
            “Been ten years or more they said:  Her will.  She leave me all of it.
            “Christly cold just thinking about being in here ain’t it.
            “Say now they told me she has people who showed up.
            “Well what about it I say.

            “Well they want the whole damn farm they say.
            “Not so bad right in here now is it.  This room takes the sun good.
            “Them Christ say for me to better get me one of the lawyers too.
            “So I get Tuppy.
            “You fat man in a suit I say and he sits there brushing
“The crumbs of his donut off the front of his belly.
            “You doing your exercises I say.
            “I work with my mind he says.  So I pay the damn bill.
            “Linda:  I give her a good tip every time.  I see Tuppy look’en at that tip.
            “Go look in there she kept things in there; that room.
            “Don’t it start to get your feet yet?
            “You are dressed for it.  How long you know Tuppy?
            “Let’s go back to the room without the ice in it.
            “Well I know to not tie my boots tight today.
            “Only about five times a year I don’t haul on my laces you do that?
            “Course a lot of ‘em don’t know.
            “Fluffy foot.  That’s a good name for it.
            “This weather’s about getting blood to your feet.

            “Christ we’re gonna fog that window
            “Makes noises don’t it.  Bang and it’s only ice in the gutter. 
“Think was my shotgun.
            “Hands up I told them
“You ain’t going in no buildings till them lawyers says you can.
            “Hands up I got you here now.  Christ.  Coldest day of the year ain’t it
            “Can you still feel anything?
            “My fingernails do that too.  Cold pulls ‘em right out.
            “You got sun in your eyes but it ain’t sun.  Even the sun is.
            “I don’t know what it is when its cold like this.

            “Look at that.  You see that?  Sun’s right on it now.
            “Right on the hood.  It’ll start in a hour.  I leave up there any night
            “It’s this cold.  Somebody thinks I’m a fool
            “But it starts.

            “Better not tell anyone that.
            “Well tell Tuppy of course.
            “I see ‘em and point to their license plate.  You go right back to
            “Where that says New Jersey young man.
            “Drive up here did you.  When them lawyers says so.
            “When they says so and we’ll go from there.
            “Christ cold ain’t it.

            “That Tuppy told me don’t point a gun at ‘em.
            “Well why not.  They stood back when I did.
            “Otherwise they would have helped themselves in.
            “Course Millie locked it up.  All of it.
            “Mildred; Millie Stevens.  Now I wonder:
            “You think it’s this cold as far down as they buried her?
            “Guess we’ll all find out eventually.
            “She don’t notice the cold now I bet.
            “Tuppy says they left but will be coming back once they
            “Drown me out he said.
            “Drown me out?  How you gonna drown me in this ice.
            “Tuppy say he don’t think they’ll be back any time soon.
            “So we got you Mr. Man.
            “They want to get their own Mr. Man well alright too.

            “You come up today not too cold for you.
            “Not too cold for me.  Don’t know if I don’t like cold
            “After all these years.  See out now we can.  That sun
            “Took that frost off.
            “Hoar frost too.  On her lilacs.  Pretty white and two purple.
            “Every spring we’d go out there together to sniff ‘em.
            “Not this Sunday.  Damn it’s cold.
            “So now what do you do tell’em Tuppy what?
            “Isn’t that so.  She’d never know’d that .  Kept it all.  Locked too
            “Not all them sheds.  Good thing that snow’s short.
            “Walk right around can’t we.
            “Crunch, crunch.  So now how much you say.
            “That be what you’d pay for it you say?
            “Now you tell Tuppy that?
            “That you pay that.  Maybe Tuppy does work with his mind.
            “Course I got feed his belly.
            “Go down to my place and sit down for a minute.
            “I got the key for that one still in your truck.

            “If them mister New Jersey gonna do something Tuppy says
            “They have to do it quick.
            “Whatever they can get probably Tuppy says.
            “Settle he calls it.  We don’t have to he says.
            “Well they fold their arms.
            “I’d like to see ‘em stand here with their arms folded today.
            “Jesus.  Just to walk up to the door of the house it’s cold.”
            “When they reach their stand Tuppy said.  I call it stand.
            “Tubby calls it suit.  But he wears a suit.  Fat man in a suit I say.
            “Now see how warm I am in here?  Don’t ask my woodpile about it.
            “We could if I understand you right.  That price is buy it all.
            “You say that to Tuppy.
            “Then they have to say what?
            “Tuppy says that’s their problem.
            “You’re the one to give them a cure he says.  Bank that he says of you.
            “ Guess that won’t be this afternoon.

            “Next time your up here we’ll walk down and look at my bees.
            “Millie didn’t ever count up her money like they doing now. 
            “Boy I said look at your license plate and head on back there.
            “No.  Before next summer I say.  Seems we could do that in March.
            “See that?  I run that little stove in that room when it’s cold like this.
            “Don’t she throw.  Heat her right up.
            “Back to buying Tuppy his donuts I guess.
            “Them pink frosted ones with them
            “Rainbow sprinkles he calls ‘em
            “Little girls eat those I say you ever eat one?
            “NO.  No one does but Tuppy.  Fat man in a suit I say.

            “So fat he’d don’t even know it’s cold out.  Just wears his suit.
            “Fat man in a suit.  I’ll be buying him his donuts thanks to you.
            “You pay him you says.  Then he pays it to me?
            “How’s that work anyway?  Do I keep an eye on Tuppy too?
            “Better had you bet.  I see.
            “I bring him out here and lock him in the shed.  Chill him down.
            “Hang up his meat.  Probably break the rafter.
            “Hang him up.  Cool him off.  I want to write that number down.
            “That’s what you are telling him.  Just him you tell.
            “No I ain’t gonna want any of Millie’s things.  She don’t care anymore.
            “Didn’t care before either.
            “Jesus ain’t it cold today even them Chickadees want to come inside
            “Might just as well let ‘em. 

1 comment:

  1. Not only living things, I believe that objects "set" differently in the cold too.