the big thaw
A cold front pushed a brief warm flow across the landscape, turning snow to water, combined with torrential rain, exposing November's lost children in the muck: skeleton keys to the whiskey closet, the dog's waterlogged tennis ball, Mrs. Nestleroad's automobile, and the sealed brown briefcase stuffed with double-spaced prose feared lost forever.
Mrs. Nestleroad misplaced her car many a time anyway without the benefit of a snow drift, so that was no big deal. Once, a search party and a pack of bloodhounds found it in a tree. But the missing briefcase - because its contents held the decade long writings of Mr. Nestleroad - brought tears and anguish. It was discovered out in the middle of the field behind the house, dog's teeth dental-marked into the plastic handle. The identical markings on the tennis ball.
Mr Nestleroad spotted a gathering of magpies through his binoculars from the back porch one squalid morning as the rains eased, adventuring out barefoot into the ankle-deep mud to investigate. They scattered when he got there, but the magpie mating call he whooped when he saw his beloved briefcase boomeranged two onto his shoulders and a chorus circling above as he sloshed back to the house, falling, picking himself up, again and again, magpies head-butting the case.
He was hoarse from the earthly encrusted joy. He opened the case on the kitchen table by the light of a solitary railroad lantern, next to a white bowl of plastic fruit. The manuscript was chilled but warm and dry to the touch. He read aloud in a broken whisper lines on page seventy-one just to confirm it was his manuscript, and that it was all truly happening:
'...in the darkness I saw a campfire. There were six boys, sleepy, and a dog showing its teeth at me. I asked the oldest for help, and at first he looked sidelong into the fire, silent. I told them all I'd pay them handsomely if they would just come and look at the car up in the tree...'
"Oh, Mr. Nestleroad". She wasn't this happy since the time a few years ago her daughter-in-law called her mom for the very first time as they sat close on the couch, touching hips, looking at old sepia photos in an over-sized burlap album. She wept quietly, and then she wept some more. Mr. Nestleroad bypassed the skeleton keys and used a hatchet to break into the whiskey closet, taking down in both hands a bottle of Willow Manor Rare, vintage 1924.
painting: Wind of History
by Jacek Yerka