FROZEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog photo 178 snowmachine trailWHAT IT IS

It is not the thing one normally sees on a frozen lake, but there it was, a helicopter on fire, a large hole in the ice, some dazed individuals trying to stay warm and a column of black smoke rushing to the heavens, acting as a beacon for rescue crews to follow. CO Micheals was first on the scene, quickly followed by police and fire fighters. Word came from some local ice fishermen on the lake that a helicopter was flying erratically and within seconds of appearing over the lake had gone down at the far end.

Miles Hobbson, sporting minor cuts and bruises, was repeating his story for the third time to the lead investigator. Hobbson was a last minute fill in for a pilot friend who asked him to pick up a man and a dog, fly them to this small lake, pick up a Peter Lehman and a Melena Schulz, and fly all four to a lodge near Lake Temagami. A soon as Lehman and Schulz were aboard all hell broke loose with dog going for Lehman’s jugular and as they struggled the door flew open and they both fell crashing through the ice below, the dog still in a death grip around Lehman’s throat. As all this was unfolding Schulz went for a handgun but was shot by the dog’s companion with the bullet passing through her shoulder then hitting the helicopter’s console causing Hobbson to lose control .The helicopter spiraled out of control, slammed into the ice and burst into flames and as the fire spread Hobbson dragged the man out of the wreckage to safety but when he went back for Schulz, she had already gotten out and was snowshoeing across the lake.

Waiting to be rescued, the man confessed to Hobbson that he and the dog were retired police from the Boston Police Service and they had been on the hunt for Lehman for some months. Lehman had killed a prominent member of the Boston Canine Unit and his partner vowed retribution, and on this day the punishment was extracted, although the cost to the canine was high.

WHAT IT IS NOT

The fairy of Ellesmere Island granted Feather and Hammer ten days of enlightened passage where all their travelling obstacles would be reduced to a mere pittance as they made their way from the mid Atlantic state of Pennsylvania northward to the High Arctic. Approaching the 50th parallel with winter coming on, meant the two knights would have difficult days ahead but they remained hesitant to use the fairy’s gift because the days nearing the final destination would be most brutal.

Hammer was supposed to be the tough, brawny one but his numerous diversions during this week’s travel only served to set them back. On Monday morning they broke camp early near Devil’s Mountain only to find a snowy owl snared in some barbed wire and a couple hours of painstakingly cutting wire was required in order set the creature free. Later that same week Hammer spotted a red fox staggering around the forest with an ice cream pale stuck on its head and not far from there he stopped to help a women with a gunshot wound to her shoulder.

LACE

blog photo 177 plant blue backgroundWHAT IT IS

His three piece worsted suit was perfectly tailored to his delicate frame making his lanky appearance stand out in the room. The thin black mustache complimented his manicured chinstrap beard and his bronzed skin made him a most attractive figure, to which many of the women in the room would attest. As he surveyed the ever increasing crowd, he was unaware of a personal habit he had acquired years ago, that of sliding his left hand through his thick black hair, then patting the top and sides of his head in an effort to improve what he had just done. Perhaps what made this man especially striking was his aqua-blue eyes, a rarity on the subcontinent and a feature that seemed to draw people to him.

While scrutinizing the main entrance for a particular face, his phone, located in his breast pocket, gave off a quiet murmur. Retrieving the device, he left the room and went outside where the chilly April air reminded him just how far he was from home. The conversation was over in seconds, but before going back inside he watched what he thought was last year’s Queen Anne’s lace swaying in the wind. It would soon be time for renewal he thought as he entered the building.

Adnan’s determined walk, caused in part by the cool April air,  brought him to the microphone at center stage where the sea of moving colors of the audience never failed to surprise him. He tapped the microphone, cleared his throat and told the crowd Miles Hobbson would be a few minutes late.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Baines Wainscot bargained his way aboard a Mississippi shantyboat leaving Baton Rouge heading north to Vicksburg. The skipper had close to a half million canned spam lids that a new aged sculptor in Monroe was willing to pay good money for and Baines was hired to act as a lookout on the busy river, keep the boat clean and help unload the treasure once docked in Vicksburg.  Baines  had gotten word on the street back in New Orleans that Leo Barnard made his way to Winnsboro in the Franklin Parish every year to take in the catfish festival, and he was hoping to find Leo and get his story.

Approaching the Port of Vicksburg, Baines could see what he believed was the sculptor pacing up and down the wharf. He was an interesting looking fellow, as wide as he was tall and as Baines was soon to discover, covered in tattoos of Queen Anne’s lace. The unloading of the lids went off without a hitch and soon Baines and the skipper parted ways.

Baines could have driven the sixty or so miles from Vicksburg to Winnsboro, but he decided to walk and hitch-hike the distance so he could get a feel for the area.    Had he taken any other route he might not have seen Leo Barnard and his small horse wandering the grounds of the Twin Oaks Golf and Country Club just off Hwy. 17. Baines asked the driver to stop, thanked him for picking him up, then scrambled out of the car in the direction of Leo and the horse.

In a small alcove off the fourth hole Leo stood uncomfortably close to a tall well dressed man in an expensive three piece suit. It was the aqua-blue eyes surrounded by smooth bronzed skin that Baines first noticed.  But, as he approached the two men, they quickly jumped into a nearby golf cart and drove toward the club house. Baines spun around several time looking for the horse.  But it was no where to be seen.

CAT

blog photo 176 CATWHAT IT IS

They drifted into a basement bar off St. Anne St. one at a time to indulge their shameful afternoon pleasures; the men with felt fedoras slung over their eyes in an attempted disguise and the women with their bucket hats and matching scarves sitting in small groups of twos and threes waiting for the show to begin. The crowd of doctors, engineers, mechanics, dock workers, waitresses, lawyers and many others grew anxious as the clock inched its way toward 2 PM and the start of New Orleans Celebrity, a local cable show featuring interesting people from New Orleans.

The first time Jaden looked at her watch it was 11PM.  Some two hours later she looked again and it was still 11PM, so she pulled at the accordion-style watch band, slipped the watch off her wrist, lowered the car’s window and was just about to toss it when Rene Boudreaux’s truck came to life a few blocks away and slowly made its way down the street. Jaclyn waited a few minutes before starting the cruiser and soon both vehicles inched their way down Basin St.

The popcorn stopped popping and was ready, a half dozen cold beer cohabitated with a block of ice in a cooler beside the couch and Tiny LeBlanc, with remote in hand, was ready for the 2 AM cable repeat of New Orleans Celebrity. Tiny was careful not to let the other Chaps know of his utter fascination with the show and the local celebrities that somehow gave him hope that his pathetic little life might someday become more glamorous. Of course, Tiny was also delighted with the 2 AM repeat, allowing him to luxuriate in his program while his motorcycle buddies were asleep or otherwise occupied. Tonight, a local veterinarian was the featured celebrity whose claim to fame was a complete restoration of a feline. Captured by the SPCA, the cat, close to death and mangled beyond belief, was on kitty death row when the vet stepped in and performed his magic.

A volley of semi digested popcorn followed by a heavy gush of Budweiser flew across the living room when Tiny realized he was looking at Kitty-kitty. Tiny’s jaw was still wide open when Rene Boudreaux burst into the house ordering Tiny to help him move four heavy pales from his truck to the van inside the attached garage. Tiny was told to wait five minutes, then drive the van to the airport.

Jaclyn thought she lost Rene and was about to radio in when Rene’s truck, tail lights broken and tires screeching, drove past her at high speed. The chase didn’t last long, as Rene pulled over and stepped  out of the truck.

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

Nine-lives is missing, not seen along the rural roads or near the farm houses in over a month. Nine-lives first came to prominence some years ago when Seth Miller’s pit bull tackled the cat near the compost heap. A classic dog/cat fight ensued and Miller’s pit bull was never quite the same. Word of the cat spread throughout the community, and soon sightings of the animal became common, with many folks putting out food and milk for the feline. Nine-lives never felt the touch of a human hand, he was standoffish that way, but still the good people around Wanapitei looked out for the feisty feline and the residents grew concerned with each passing day of his disappearance.

Sapphire got a call early on Saturday morning from her neighbour Harriet, Nine-lives was running frantically along the log fence at the back of the house and she didn’t know what to do. When Sapphire arrived, Nine-lives stopped dead on one of the upright posts and let out a series of throaty, blood-curdling sounds that only a cat can produce. He jumped from the post and baited Sapphire to follow. No more than a hundred feet away, Slim’s blue eyed horse was found stranded in a sinkhole, muddied but otherwise unhurt. With a few tractors, some ropes and slings and  Slim leading the rescue, the horse was soon on dry land none the worse for wear.

CRANE

blog photo 175 sandhill craneWHAT IT IS

He embarked on a jagged trip back to Canada, leaving Texas, crossing the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, then north as far as Pennsylvania only to head southwest to see the fabled Plot 82 in Missouri. Buck-jimmy spent a month exploring the plot and demonstrating to the critters his phenomenal jumping skills, but as he grew restless for his Northern Ontario home, he decided to hit the road once again and make his way through beautiful Indiana and Illinois on his way to Michigan and finally Canada.

Leaving Illinois and entering Indiana, Buck-jimmy found a quiet pond to spend the night and just as he was settling in for the night a ravenous sandhill crane flew overhead catching Buck-jimmy in his watchful eye. The dance of death went well into the night with Buck-jimmy able to elude the clever bird until, on one of his extraordinarily long jumps, he hit an old piece of farm fence wire and tumbled helplessly to the ground. As the crane moved in, a wobbly jimmy saw an open treasure chest box close by, so he hopped inside and closed the lid.

Buck-jimmy sat perfectly still, listening to the crane outside scruffing around and only wondered slightly what the note on the bottom of the box meant…study hard…the rewards are endless! When all was quiet, Buck-jimmy opened the lid and took a look around and saw the crane was gone, so he hopped out of the box and headed for the pond. Reaching the water, he looked back and saw a translucent man pick up the box, climb up on a horse and disappear into the forest.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Mildred Duck’s Crane Hill Massacre tells the story of the indiscriminate elimination of most life forms during the years hard rock mine development in Northern Ontario. The whining of chainsaws, the rumbling of bulldozers and the incessant explosions of rock laid the environment a wasteland and those living there either dead or on the run. For authenticity purposes, it was now time to leave the tranquil shores of Lake Temagami and move the entire cast to the southwest where the barren landscape could be used in the next phase of rehearsals. Mildred sent out ten of her most loyal ducks to scout out suitable locations and after much debate, a heavy-metal laden pond surrounded by blackened rock and completely devoid of vegetation or life was chosen. The site was backdropped by an abandoned nickel smelter whose corroded  steel beams and rusted sheet metal would add the touch of reality Mildred was looking for.

It fell upon Mildred’s head of security, Mr. Crane, to quell dissent among the cast who had grown fond of Lake Temagami and had no interest in moving. Mr. Crane’s no-nonsense reputation preceeded him and within a few days the cast and gear was packed up and the entire production was in their new digs.

 

 

 

BLUE EYED HORSE

0B2A2564aAAWHAT IT IS

Cricket tapped at the compass with his index finger and rocked it gently in the palm of his hand before declaring its accuracy. With the police mugshot grasped tightly in her hand, Sapphire followed her brother through the forest in the general direction of Montgomery’s cabin. The aim of the pair was to avoid the road to the cabin, sneak up on the occupant and determine if this individual was the person responsible for Bill and Emma’s death. Cricket was more of a groomed-walking-trail guy and found the bushwhacking difficult, but Sapphire’s enthusiasm for the truth found herself constantly in front of her brother until he finally gave up leading the troupe and handed over the compass.

Slim’s oversized pick-up truck and horse trailer squealed to a painfully slow stop in front of Montgomery’s cabin.  The driver studied a map on his lap, looked intently at the cabin before turning his gaze back to the map. Slim waited for someone to exit the cabin, but when no one showed, he pushed open the driver’s door and abruptly walked up on the porch and slammed his fist against the half opened door.

Not only did Sapphire recognize the clearing behind the cabin, but she also recognized the two brawlers who were throwing themselves up against the cabin wall. It was clear Slim was gaining the upper hand when the other fella slipped from his grasp, jumped on Slim’s blue eyed horse and ran off down the road.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It was the kind of stare-off two kids might make to see which one can hold out the longest. Mrs. B. was determined and dug-in, while Jackson was comfortable laying on his stomach, using his front paws as a pillow and letting his little eyes stalk Mrs. B. until she acquiesced. Seconds grew into minutes, and as the minutes ticked away and Mrs. B. withdrew further from the house, Jackson decided he would be better off with her than without, so he hopped to his feet and happily followed.

Mrs. B. wanted to walk in a different direction on this day, a direction that would see the pair end up at Sullivan’s pond where a wonderous leaping frog had shown up a week earlier, thrilling the neighbours with his long jumps and diving displays. And let it be said, Buck-jimmy did not disappoint. On the return trip home, Jackson let out a blood-curdling yelp just as a sickly, translucent man carrying a small treasure chest type box stumbled out of the forest and on to the road a few feet in front of Mrs. B. With Jackson now in the wind, Mrs. B. studied the odd figure until interrupted by a smallish blue eyed horse who followed the man out of the forest. In a split second, the man shifted himself from the ground to the horse’s back and clutching the treasure chest the two crossed the road and returned to the forest. That was a first for Mrs. B.

WATER

blog photo 173 water labdscapeWHAT IT IS

While Smith put a few small pieces of oak in the fireplace to diminish the dampness in the cabin, Graham supervised the breakfast taking shape in the kitchen. Pleased with the aroma of fresh coffee and the sizzling sounds of slow frying bacon, Graham was just about to call out to Smith when the glass coffee pot exploded, the frying pan caught on fire and the toaster shorted out plunging the cabin into total electrical failure and the eerie silence that accompanies it. When the cursing and yelling subsided and the reparations began, Graham’s phone sprang to life with calls from the six other men who were supposed to join them at the cabin.

Johnson and Williams were waylaid outside Ellwood City in the motel parking lot after their car tires were punctured by a bearded dragon while they slept. Jones and Brown were delayed at a gas station on Hwy. 90 when Brown was pumping fuel into the car and a couple of humongous June bugs dropped from the station’s overhang and landed on his neck before slithering beneath his shirt. Stomping and hopping about, slapping himself silly, he dropped the hose causing gas to spill all over the ground. A passing motorist tossed a cigarette butt out his window sending the whole shooting match up in flames. They’d be at the cabin in a couple of days. Still in Canada, Miller and Davis were on the 400 when their car’s radio signal started flipping from FM to AM and the selection dial jumped randomly from station to station. After a few minutes of this, all the electronics went haywire, headlights flashing, wipers going back and forth, seat warmers malfunctioning to the point where their hot asses had to abandon the vehicle and they began walking down the highway. If they saw Leo the teddy bear scurrying across the highway, they did not mention it to one another. They’d be at the cabin in a couple of days.

Graham looked out over Lake Springfield; these delays would postpone but not extinguish INSECTS’s plans for Plot 82.

 

WHAT IT IS NOT

His favorite time to come was in the evening, after the work was done and the bustle of the late day meal was over. Once at the water’s edge, Adnan would sit on his haunches for hours looking out over the water, hoping to see him again. In the sixteen hard years he endured on this earth, this was the only white man that saw Adnan, although thousands of European tourists traipsed all over Goa and his village every year, none took an interest in the likes of him.

Adnan saw this man emerge from the water, guided by a small horse. They walked in circles around him and spoke in a language unfamiliar to him but a language Adnan instantly understood as if he had spoken it his entire life. The words found refuge in Adnan’s mind; their meaning gave him an unreliable hope although the concepts behind the words were foreign to his thinking. This burden walked beside Adnan throughout his life; he could share it with no one. In his daily pilgrimage to the water, he dreamt of again seeing this man but by the end of his sixteenth year he remained disappointed.

 

 

DRAGON

blog photo 172 dragonWHAT IT IS

He worked the roads around Beaver County for over twenty-five years and in that long span of productive time Ned Doucet never once took a proper vacation.  In fact, he has spent all his vacation days re-working old unsolved cases from around the county. Ned was particularly fascinated by the off beat cases; the witch from Ambridge who police shot seven times after she ran amok in a backhoe smashing into cars parked along the main street…the bullets did not stop her…she just ran away. Or the gym teacher outside Midland who robbed a bank and made a successful getaway on his son’s tricycle. This year Ned decided to poke around an abandoned rail yard and gravel pit near Beaver Falls where Cricket and Sapphire were found after being kidnapped by Wagner and Lehman. Ned always had doubts about this crime, a feeling that there was more to the story than a straight up kidnapping, so to satisfy this hunch he decided to revisit the area.

Ned lowered himself into the steel Costco shipping container via a rope ladder left there by the FBI after they wrapped up the investigation. Walking around the cavernous container listening to the sound of his footsteps bouncing off the walls, along with the shear emptiness of the steel structure, led Ned to believe he would be wasting his time going down this particular rabbit hole.

As he returned to the ladder, his flashlight quit and he was thrust into total darkness, save for a small square of daylight at the top of the ladder. Shuffling toward the daylight, he caught a glimpse of an eyeball in the dark recesses in front of him, then a dry, cold presence brushed up against his leg. Ned froze and the whatever vanished.

WHAT IT IS NOT

They scattered like specks of dust catapulted into a ferocious wind, their tiny tails raised straight up as they bolted toward the closest tree trunks. The chipmunk’s minute claws tore off bits of bark as they ascended the trees and their grey bellies were soon covered in pine sap. Once high in the trees, the branches became a munk’s highway and Stacks McDonald watched as his three liberated mates high-tailed it further into the forest.

Stacks knew the three chipmunks’ near fatal brush with INSECT would create a state of hyper vigilance among them, so he waited a few days before going after them. It is legend in the munk community that the pine cones along the Mattawa River are the best in the country, and after a week of searching, he found the three munks near a gorge not far from the river. It took a few days of clever convincing, but the munks agreed to accompany Stacks back to Beaver County where an entourage of dragons would provide the munks with twenty-four hour protection.