By: Rex Ray
It wasn’t the best job I ever had, but it paid the bills. There I was working as a cop in Smallville, Alaska, population 1,001. I guess it was too much trouble to change the sign to 1,002 when I arrived in town and decided to stick around, seeing as how they offered me a job. One traffic light, of the red blinking four-way stop variety, one hardware store, one gas station, one convenience store, one bait and tackle store, one gun shop, one drugstore, one clothing store, one bar and grill, and one IGA Supermarket. Glamorous? Exciting? Not so much. But as aforementioned, it paid the bills.
The job usually consisted of warning stoplight scofflaws and giving the occasional speeding ticket. Caught a few local kids spraypainting lewd messages on the water tower once. Handed out the occasional DUI on a Saturday night. One cell at the cop shop to keep the drunks in until they sobered up.
Then one Saturday night in July everything got weird. Real weird. Ben Kowalski, the IGA manager gave me a call. Said the alarm at the store was going off and wanted to know if I’d check it out. Said he’d go himself, but he just sat down to dinner with his wife and kids. Said to get back to him if it turned out to be anything important.
I pulled the cruiser off to the side of the road and made a quick u-turn. Headed back west down Caribou Avenue to the opposite end of town. Official business so I turned the flashing lights on to alert the citizenry that I was on the job and on official business. No siren, though. No need to get all showy about it. Marge Johnson stuck her head out the door to see what was going on. Gave her a wave and kept on down the street to the IGA parking lot.
Turned in the parking lot and nothing looked amiss in the front. Drove on around to the back where the deliveries come in. Pulled up and turned the cruiser off. The door to the loading entrance was down, so I got out and headed over to the back door by the dumpster. Sure enough it had been jimmied open and it was standing open just a crack.
Didn’t know what to expect so I drew my weapon and announced loudly, “Police! I’m coming in.” Then I eased in the door. The storeroom was dark. Thought to myself, “Shit!” Had no idea where the light switch was. Turned around and went back to the cruiser to get my flashlight. Breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing serious so far. Went back to the door. Turned on the flashlight. Big announcement again, “Police! Coming in!” Gun in one hand and flashlight in the other. Stuck my foot in the crack and pushed the door open. Eased through the door again. Shined light all around. Nothing appeared disturbed. No sign of anyone around, so I figured I’d best move more than three feet from the back door, look around.
Proceeded through the storeroom. Bumped the double swinging doors with my hip and pushed it open. Came out in the store itself, right where the meat coolers meet the produce department. Shined the light around. Nothing down one aisle but burger, steaks, chicken, and pork. Nothing the other way but lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, oranges, pears, and assorted vegetable matter. No choice but to proceed up and down the aisles, up to the courtesy desk, and check on the safe. A big sigh escaped. Then I heard a noise, like something being knocked over. It came from the back, in the storeroom somewhere.
Proceeded back the way I came, cautiously, shining the light from side to side. Back through the double doors. Shined the light all around the storeroom again. Then I heard it, “Well shit.” Came from around the corner. Nothing in the storeroom proper. Had to be from the walk-in cooler or the walk-in freezer. “Eeny meeny…..” Well you get it, big coin toss. Either or. Found myself wondering whether I was better off with the gun in my right hand and flashlight in the left or vice versa. Moot point. Had to pull the handle to open the cooler or freezer, so I had to put one or the other away for a moment. “Eeny, meeny…..” Right. I know, you get it. Decided to holster the gun. At least I could see.
The freezer was the first door on the right. First come, first served. Hit the light switch on the outside of the freezer. Pulled the handle and opened the door. Light wasn’t on. Toggled the switch a couple of times. Nothing. Nada. Dark as sin in there. A shiver ran down my spine. Thought it was an omen of things to come. Then realized it was because I was in a freezer. Colder than a polar bear’s tush in there. Shined the light around the room. Cases upon cases of frozen pizzas, frozen vegetables, ice cream, frozen dinners.
Then, in the dark of the far corner I saw the blue glow of an e cigarette. Heavy exhale, a puff of smoke. My heart beat a pitter patter that a jazz drummer would be proud of. Unholstered the gun. Shined the light in the corner. There, sitting on a stack of frozen pastries sat a man, leaned back, relaxing, puffing away on an e cigarette. I couldn’t help noticing that he looked awfully pale under that hoody and New York Yankees cap. I stood, staring at him while he calmly puffed away and stared back at me.
Finally got my amazement and nerves under control. “Who are you and what are you doing in here?”
He shrugged. “My friends call me F.D. I guess you could say I’m just chillin.” Then he laughed long and hard. “Just chillin. In the freezer. Get it?” Another long laugh.
Pointed my weapon directly at him. No effect. “F.D.? As in fire department?”
Another long guffaw. “Fired Department? Hardly. F.D. Initials dude. Short for my name.”
“And what would that name be? Will you be enlightening me anytime soon or will I have to apply some pressure?” Waved the weapon at him menacingly.
Yet another big laugh.
“Enough with the laughing boy act. What are you, a hyena for Chrissake?”
Laughed enormously at that. “Hyena? Oh that’s good. Hardly.” Paused and chuckled to himself. “Nope, I’m a snowman, F.D.” Stood up and bowed. “DeSnowman, Frosty. Maybe you’ve heard of me.”
This was getting crazier and crazier. “So you’re telling me that you’re Frosty the Snowman…, like in the song.”
He sat back down and shook his head. “Not The Snowman, DeSnowman. It’sFrench. I’m originally from Northern Quebec. People have never gotten that right. Essentially you’re right, though. Frosty in the song. Me. One and the same.” Then he threw back his hoody and showed me. He was, in fact, a fucking snowman. I nearly fell over. “By the way, you might as well put that gun away. I’m made of snow. Bullets just go right through. Not much effect.”
I looked at the gun, and back at the snowman, Frosty DeSnowman. Tried to soak it all up. Begrudgingly, I re-holstered the gun. “You mind if I sit down. I think I may need to.”
He hopped quickly to his left and gestured widely to his former seat on the cases of frozen pastries. “Yea sure. Sit down. If you don’t mind my saying so, you’re looking pretty pale there pal. I could almost be looking in the mirror.” Then he laughed again. “Could I get you something to drink? Water? Soda? Energy drink? Maybe make you feel better. Just sit here and I’ll get you something.”
I began to come out of my daze, got my wits about me somewhat. I sat on the pastries, nonetheless. “Don’t go anywhere. I’m not letting you out of my sight, Snowman or no snowman. This is a case of breaking and entering and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a cop. And one more thing, if you brought me something to drink that would be theft on top of it all. Now sit down here and tell me just what you’re doing in here.” Gave him a big eye roll. “And don’t tell me ‘Just chillin.’”
Big sigh from the snowman. He sat on a stack of frozen corn. “Well to tell you the truth, I am chilling. I’m a snowman. It’s July. Got to stay cool somewhere. The IGA is as good as anyplace. Beats napping in a freezer in somebody’s garage. Had an arrangement one place and even had a TV and DVR in the freezer. Then my friend got drunk and let it out that there was a snowman in the freezer at his store. Yokel came in, got one good look, and had a heart attack. I had to move on.” He shrugged again. “If you hadn’t noticed, it gets warm out there in the summer. Global warming and all, even in Alaska. It’s tough out there for a snowman.”
“So why aren’t you hanging out way up north where it’s snowy year round, or up above the snow line in the mountains? Then you wouldn’t need to break and enter and hang out in the freezer of the IGA.”
Snowman, DeSnowman, laughed again. Jesus he was annoyingly jolly and it was starting to get on my nerves. Then he shrugged. “Do I look like a hermit to you? I need human contact, TV, movies, not to mention internet access on occasion. Way up north? Way up high? Man that’s not life, that’s boring bullshit.” He laughed that big belly laugh again. “Boring bullshit. Man I love alliteration, almost as much as I like a good pun. Heard any good jokes lately? I could use an infusion of new humor. People get tired of the same old snowman schtick.” He shook his head and sighed. “You know whatI’m talking about man. Know the difference between snowmen and snowwomen? Snowballs. Get it? Snowballs.” He paused a moment. “See what I mean? I definitely need some new material.” He took a puff on his e-cigarette and exhaled loudly. A deafening silence followed.
Reality began to sink in and I thought about what I knew about Frosty the Snowman, or DeSnowman as he preferred. “So if you really are “THE FROSTY,” what’s with the Yankees cap? The song says you have an old silk tophat, like a magician would wear, magic in the hat and all that. Huh?”
“Dude what year is this? I got tired of that hat somewhere back in about 1959. As for the Yankees hat, there is a bit of magic in that. Don’t you think? What other team has won as consistently as they have over the past century? Got to be some magic there, don’t you think?”
“I always thought it had more to do with the magic of shitloads of money being spent for the best players. Real magic? Nah. And what’s with the hoodie? For real, that’s just not a magical snowman look.”
He laughed again. “Welcome to the twenty-first century policey guy. Want to blend in? Get a hoodie. Got me some earbuds and a smart phone too. Got to keep updated, you know.”
My mind was reeling. “What happened to the corncob pipe? E-cigarettes?Really?”
He nodded, knowingly. “Fact is the e-cigarettes are a lot better. Corncob pipe burns hot and that’s not so good for a snowman. Think about it. E-cigarettes aren’t hot, and they come in flavors too. Much better nicotine habit, for a snowman anyway. I like them.”
My head was swirling. I started to stammer. “But, but eyes made out of coal, button nose, and all of that. You have blue eyes. Your nose looks like it could have been sculpted by one of those Hollywood plastic surgeons, except for the fact that the nose is made of snow. And what the fuck? Are those eyes real?”
“I had some work done. Admittedly I’m a little vain, even for a snowman. I have friends. They do me favors. How would you like to run around with coal for eyes, or a friggin button for a nose? As for the eyes, they’re just as real as a snowman can get, meaning they came from a doll that didn’t need them anymore.” He could see the question in my face. “Yes doll’s eyes. Can I see with them? Sure, just as well as I could see with the ones made of coal. Shhhh. It’s magic. And you know, a while back I got really tired of being a big, fat snowman, so I had it taken care of.”
He lifted the hoodie and showed me the most sculpted six pack abs I’d ever seen, even if they were made of snow. He grinned largely. “Ice-o-suction. Think I could’ve achieved that with workouts? Not on your life. Ice-o-suction.” He laughed so loud, so hard, so long I thought the walls would come down, or at least the stacks of frozen vegetables. “OK I know a sculptor, a really good one. He did the nose too. You should’ve seen what he did for my girlfriend. Va va voom! Now that girl had some assets, some real big assets.” Then he made a lewd gesture.
“Now wait a minute. You have a girlfriend? A snowwoman?”
“Had dude. Had, as in past tense. She left me for a Yeti, an abominable snowman. Get it? A Yeti. An abominable snowman. Ba dum. Just pulling your leg man. I got the magic in me, but I’m one of a kind. Not another like old Frosty for sure.”
Despite the novelty of it all, I was beginning to tire of the whole thing and I remembered why I was in a walk-in freezer in the back of an IGA at dinnertime. “Well Frosty, that’s all good and well, but the owner of this place is a friend and I came here to see why his alarm went off. Breaking and entering is still against the law. You’re going to have to go with me. Maybe Ben won’t want to press charges. We can work something out. In the meantime, though, you can’t stay here. So let’s go, huh?”
I felt like shit. He looked absolutely disconsolate. “Got to go, huh?” Big sigh. “Well I guess if you say so. Wouldn’t want to make any waves.” He stood up and meandered toward the freezer door.
Followed and when he just stood at the door, I opened it. Gestured for him to go on out. He shuffled out. Made a right and headed to the back door that had been jimmied. I followed. Then when he was out the door he made a dash for it. I made it out the back door in time to see him stopping at the top of the hill behind the store. Damn that snowman could move fast when he wanted to. He turned and shouted, “Know what a snowman likes to drink? Ice wine.” He paused a moment to let it sink in. “I know. I know. Got to get some new material. See you round.” Then he turned and disappeared over the hill.
In the distance I could hear a faint, “Thumpety thump thump, thumpety thump thump.” And the snowman was gone, “Frosty DeSnowman.”
I called Ben and told him he’d been broken into, but nothing was missing. “Probably just kids Ben. You might want to get this door fixed so it locks again, though.”