Sunday, August 16, 2015

WINTER CARNIVAL

by Randy Russell

EVERYTHING HAD GONE WRONG. I couldn't find a job. And when I did, it was a bad job. My fishing pole broke. The creek filled with sand. My woman run away with another man.

It was a mild winter, though you wouldn't know it by my gas bill, and I didn't freeze to death. I was looking forward to taking the plastic off the windows. The only bad thing, besides everything, was that here it was April already,and there had been no snow. No snow all winter! Snow is what makes winter bearable, and even though this was Columbus, Ohio, and for all nintendo porpoises "The South," still, this was very unusual. And depressing. So when it started snowing that day I stopped what I was doing and jumped up and down at the window like the little kid I hope to be someday.

The next thing I knew I had my full winter gear on, even though it was too warm for it--in the mid-forties (too warm for snow I had thought,) and I was out in it, coming down harder and harder, looking like a damn blizzard even. Where would I go?

To the river, I decided, because water is the important thing, and if there's no ocean or lake, then the river is the thing. I stopped at Andy's Carryout on the way, even though it wasn't on the way, OK, I went out of my way to buy wine. A pint of MD 20/20, even though it was totally unnecessary because I already felt drunk and I already felt high, and what would wine do but make me tired and depressed? But it's habit, maybe, or ritual, better, and maybe important to keep me grounded, at least that person who was me, that year.

Being so warm, the snow was wet as rain, and I was soon soaked, but warm and even sweating, as I was so overdressed. And it was so heavy it stuck to everything and covered everything with ice and slush and actual thick white snow! Including me. I was trudging through snow by the time I got to the river and opened my wine and took a big swig. The wine tasted good even (it was the circumstances) and there was actually steam rising from the river, and it looked unreal, like the river to hell, or in a fairy tale. I started along the trail along the river, exploring, uncovering new territory, land never before seen by the drunken white man.

No one else was out--the world was empty. I would stop now and then and pull out my bottle and take a pull. It would warm me up. I was hot and sweating, and soaked from the snow. At one point I looked across the river, through the heavy mist, and I was lost. There was nothing, no one, no city, and I was rooted in no time period. I screamed across the river. It was silent. I screamed again, as loud as I could. Still no sound except for the snow hitting the trees and the silent power of the river flowing, which I knew.

I started running then, along the trail, going deeper and deeper into the wilderness-- treacherous, dangerous terrain. I slipped andfell--I slid down a snow hill--my foot went in the river. All of that.

Finally it was over. The trail came to an end. The wine ran out. I ran out of gas. The snow lessened, but was still coming down, gently and saner now. I worked my way back to a road. Then through unknown neighborhoods in the direction of home and a hot shower and dry clothes. Back to whatever it was that I was doing. back to where the evening had left off, and all my problems and hardships. But also the project on my desk. The project was the only thing that kept me from suddenly changing into another person day after day.

On my way back I walked past a house where someone was out amazed by the snow like me (and not merely complaining about its unseasonableness like hundreds of thousands more.) This guy had taken advantage of the incredible packing quality of the wet snow and had built an actual six foot high ice arch over the sidewalk leading to his house. I stopped and looked at the arch. It was something--something you walk under, walk through. I knew I could walk under the arch. I could walk through. I knew I could either walk through the arch or I could walk by--continue on and pass it by. I stopped and looked at the arch. I liked it. It made me happy. Then I turned and walked past, kept going in the direction I was going.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

is this a movie?

Lesbia Cronkite-Chumm said...

WINTER CARNIVAL a BBC weekly comedy, where Everyman has an adventure in a snowstorm each episode to a laugh track recorded in 1950.