Flash Fiction #187

Stopped Cold

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

STOPPED COLD

Lenny and Squiggy weren’t their real names, but everyone called them that. Something about a 1970s TV program.

After their respective parents had finally booted them out, they couch-surfed together for a while. Someone suggested that they get a job…. Job??! Yeah, we could pull a job.

Lenny knew where the local gang had a betting parlor. It was simple. Wear ski-masks. Run in the front. Wave some toy guns. Grab all the cash they could carry, and run out the back. Everything went flawlessly – but why won’t the back door open?

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Click above to see their Brain Trust namesakes.

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

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SLEEPING WITH SOMEONE STRANGE

Snowbank

For four years, between 1976 and 1980, I worked in the next small city over, just down the Superhighway. It was 13.2 miles to work, after looping around three big clover-leafs, but only 12.2 miles home because – merge lane, merge lane, merge lane.

One winter night, it began to snow just as I was going to bed. I exited the house a little early the next morning.  There was almost a foot of snow on the car and driveway, but a 4 to 5 foot pile at the end of my driveway.  I lived on a bus route, and bus routes get plowed first.

Snowplow

I thought about shovelling, especially carving a hole through the snowbank, but decided to wait till I got home. I always backed in, so I just barged my way out through it.  The bus route led to a Regional Road, which led to the Expressway, which led to the highway out of town, which led to the Interstate, all well plowed, and heavily travelled.  I got to work quickly and easily, while the guy who lived four blocks from the plant couldn’t even walk in.

All day, the snow continued, getting even deeper. By mid-afternoon, the radio was telling listeners not to go out, and that every street and road in the Region, including the big highway, was closed.  Most employees could get home, even if they had to walk, but what was I to do?  Where was I to spend the night, sleeping in the break-room?

Storm-stayed 2

One of the young lads in the plant said, “I have an apartment, and live alone. You could stay with me.”  By the time we left at 5 PM, the sky was clear blue and sunny, though the streets were deep with snow.  As we crossed over, I got a look at the highway – cars everywhere – cars sideways, cars backwards, cars stuck on the shoulder, cars abandoned in the middle, cars banged into each other.  I could have driven home, if not for that blockade.

Storm-stayed 3

On reaching his one-bedroom apartment, the unmarried male operated a can opener to serve me a gourmet meal – Heinz Alphagetti and dry bread. We watched some TV, and told some lies.  As the 11 o’clock news came on, he turned off the TV, and turned on the radio, tuned to a loud rock station, and disappeared into the bathroom.

When he came out, he headed for his bedroom. I said, “I’ll turn the radio and lights off when I’m done.”  Oh, no,” he replied, “I always leave the lights on, in case I have to get up in the night, and I need some music to lull me to sleep.”  So I’m left on a lumpy couch with no blankets, all the lights on, and the radio blaring in my ear, while he’s comfortable behind a closed door.

There are medicines that will cure sociable diseases, but you can pick up something even worse when you sleep with someone strange.  I think I found out why he was still single.   🙄

Digging in – Digging Out

Snowplow

 

 

 

 

The recent ‘lake effect’ snowstorm which buried poor Buffalo, yet again, has served to remind me of a similar piece from my past.  Lake effect snow is caused by (relatively) warm winds blowing across still-unfrozen water, and then over much colder landmass, which causes the moisture to condense and freeze.  Once the Great Lakes freeze over completely, snowfall is greatly reduced.

In November and December of 1957, Lake Huron, warmer than usual from a hot summer had not yet frozen over.  Storm after storm came rolling across the lake from Michigan, so that we could blame the Americans, as they often do Canada, for the terrible weather.  A 150 mile swath of lakeshore and inland towns were buried under feet of snow.

Now being bused to a high school five miles away, I experienced my first ‘snow day’ on a Wednesday, when the bus couldn’t get through.  Before our days of television, I was at home with my mother, when we heard on the radio that the roof of an arena in a town 50 miles southeast had collapsed, killing several children and a skating coach, and injuring several others.

On Friday afternoon, as we dismounted the now-running school bus, the town’s Police Chief informed several of the members of the Boys’ Club, that there was a BYOS party being organized.  At 10 AM Saturday morning we were to bring (Y)our own shovels, and assemble at the town’s (natural ice) arena to shovel snow off the roof to prevent a similar disaster happening in our town.

Before the advent of aluminum scoops and shovels, snow was moved with heavy, awkward, steel garden spades, or square-mouthed coal shovels.  The next morning, about 25 of us showed up with an ill-assorted mix of tools.

I hadn’t thought about our task, or the reason given for it, until I arrived at the arena.  The collapsed one down the road had a low-domed roof, which allowed the accumulation of a significant snow load.  Our arena had a 90° roof, with a 45°slope on each side.  Snow just didn’t accumulate.

After it had been built, a two ice-sheet curling rink had been added to one side.  It was this annex, with its 7° roof, that we were assigned to save.  Not many school-kids at risk here, but many of the privileged members were also the well-off citizens and business owners who donated to, and supported our club.  That was as good a reason as any.

Snowbank

 

 

 

 

The snow on the roof was 3 to 5 feet deep.  It needed to be cleared off.  A ladder was leaned against the side of the building.  If it had been up to me, I’d have sent one guy up to reduce the weight, and clear a space for another shoveler, and so on, and so on.  It wasn’t….so the Police chief went up, kicked his way into the snow and called the rest of us up to join him.  Soon we had 25 teenage boys, and two adult men on the roof.  If it was going to collapse, this is when it would have happened.

My fisher-boy schoolmate attacked the piles of snow like a Tasmanian Devil, his sharp steel shovel and snow flying in all directions – except actually off the roof.  He was a safety hazard, not to be got too close to.  Within five minutes, he rapidly tired, and really accomplished very little, but he was the one who impressed the Game Warden enough that he was the only one mentioned when the tale was told, for years.

The rest of us soon organised a much more efficient system.  Starting at the roof edge we cut 2 foot square blocks, like for an igloo, and slid them off the smooth roof. Then others would move up and cut more blocks, and slide them down, to be pushed over the edge.  Soon we had several crews cutting, pushing and dumping.  The roof was cleared and our civic duty done by noon.

The side of the building that we dumped snow from was a town works-yard, with piles of sand and fine gravel that crews used to cast concrete water culverts, as well as dozens of finished units.  By the time we were finished, these were all covered, and there was a 20-foot high, 50-foot wide pile of snow about the same slope as the now-clear roof.  I don’t know if they did any water work before June.

Do those of you who live in snow country have white horror stories?  Will those of you who don’t, stop snickering!