Cold Fiction

I went to Reno to see my friends The Novelists play a show for New Year’s Eve (AND IT ROCKED!! πŸ˜€ ). After the show, a bunch of us went out for a bite to eat at the…unfortunately but memorably named Lucky Beaver. The hamburgers and fries were yummeh in the extreme, and since the place is so close to the airport, Joel (founder of The Novelists) and Julia (the Wonder-Wife πŸ˜‰ ) offered to drop me off to catch my…6:00 AM flight headed home.

Yes, I did a turnaround trip to see a show. It isn’t the first time. πŸ™‚

Anyway, also along to be dropped off not-at-the-airport was Justin, drummer extraordinaire for the band. And in the course of conversation, mostly about how the heater didn’t seem to be doing much heating, I said something about the witch, the well-digger and the brass monkey having a confab. Justin looked at me and said, in effect, “Wha?”

So I told him three “It’s colder than…” comparatives that I’ve heard for ages. And since the rest of the story won’t make sense if you don’t know them also, they are:

It’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra. (Yes, we can talk about the derivation later, and no, this is in no way intended to cast (heh) aspersions on Wiccans.)

Colder than a well-digger’s ass in the Klondike.

Colder than the balls on a brass monkey.

And that they would be having a confab was intended to convey that it was below freezing in Reno at that moment and DAMN WHY WON’T THE HEATER HEAT???

And while Justin was trying to wrap his brain around the idea of a brass bra (and shivering even harder at the thought), it reminded me of a short story I’d written one day during massage therapy school, so I gave them the bones of the thing and everyone seemed to like it. Which of course meant that after I got home and fed the cats (priorities, people), I had to dig through my files until I found it. Luckily, I’d copied it into a doc from a post I’d made on the Space of My back when it was the big dog on the Internet, keeping-friends-connected-wise, and it included a bit of the set-up, too. So, because it was in my head, I give you…Vision in a Burger King, mit the background about the original writing of it and why I posted it to the Space of My πŸ˜‰ in…April of 2005? Holy crap…

Oh, and for the record, despite the references in this bit of fic, I stand with the approximately 97 percent of scientists who agree that anthropogenic climate change is a fact. If you’re a denier, don’t bother telling me because I won’t even try to debate you, I’ll just block your comment.

* * * * *

I was waiting for class to start on an unseasonably cold afternoon. I don’t know which class, probably Body Reading or Postural Massage. And it was only a few months after Steve died, so I was very likely in the throes of depression as well. But it did seem to me, then, that the world would never be warm again.

Chatting with [a friend] today about how weird the weather seems these days, in both her neck of the woods and mine, I remembered this story and dug it out. […] I changed a few words in the course of typing it, but not many; mostly, it’s exactly what I “dashed off” in my notebook.

Vision in a Burger King

I stare at my faintly blue nails as the clerk mock-threatens a coworker in the kitchen. I, who claim never to feel the cold, feel it now, borne out by the translucent blue of the nail beds of both hands. For it is cold, finally and endlessly, and who knows if warmth will ever come again?

Global warming is a joke, a cheat, the world isn’t warming — the albedo effect will get us long before the CO2 in the atmosphere. Oh, I know that atmospheric damage has been done, I know all about the holes in the ozone over the poles, and they play their part as well — why else would an iceberg half the size of Manhattan have calved off the Antarctic ice sheet last year? But the killer will be the icicle, not the sun or the water loosed by the sun.

It’s the climatic changes, you see, that will do the trick. All it’ll take is a drop of a few degrees in the planet’s mean annual temperature, and it already feels like we’ve got a degree or two in that direction to contend with. As hot as some of the summer was, as hot as it was early last week — eighties in mid-February — the duration of warm, really warm, weather is growing shorter, and the cold is getting colder in most places, and staying longer.

Quieter now…no more attempted mayhem behind the counter as I sit and write this. A girl at the pay phone outside is being accosted by one of the local characters. I thought he was smoking but it was only his breath. It left a thin layer of frost on the window in the girl’s silhouette.

The girl has been replaced by a couple, both huddled into down jackets. The man tries to punch numbers wearing mittens, but he can’t, so he rips one off and punches again, fast, before his digits freeze and crumble to the pavement.

Successful, he talks, then shouts, breath condensing on the receiver and the hood that is all we have left of phone booths. He concludes the conversation and hangs up, hard, and the receiver cracks into pieces, weakened by his icy contribution to its structure. They sneak away after catching my eye, afraid I’ll turn them in for vandalism. But why would I? It isn’t their fault it’s too cold for plastic.

It’s almost time now, evening, and there’s a bitter wind in the trees that will find each seam in my clothes, the infinite gaps that are the spaces between the warp and weft of everything I’m wearing, and scour the flesh from my bones.

I have to warm my fingers before I can write more.

I watch the aquarium tank that serves in lieu of a television in this place. Soon there will be no fish, only fish-sicles bobbing in slush. Not much entertainment there.

Postponing the inevitable will do no good. I bundle up, for me, a long sweater with pockets my only concession to the predatory chill, for I must keep up appearances; only I know the truth, the fate awaiting us, and since no one can change it, why alarm anyone else? I open the door and the frigid beast attacks, biting my ears and nose. Tears freeze to my cheeks as I race to class to meet my friends.

They stand there, innocent of my knowledge, and I envy them.

“Shit!” one says. “It’s colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra!”

“Nah,” says another, “it’s colder than a welldigger’s ass in the Klondike!”

Laughing as much to stay warm as anything else, a third offers, “Really, it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!” They look at me, waiting for me to join the game, and I oblige.

“It’s so cold, the witch, the welldigger and the brass monkey are having a party, and you’re ALL invited!”

They laugh and go in.

I pay my respects to the witch, the welldigger and the brass monkey, huddled across the street over a miserable excuse for a fire, and follow.

–written on 2/19/01 at the Burger King at Victory and Coldwater



Filed under writing

3 responses to “Cold Fiction

  1. J9

    Haha! I grew up hearing about that brass bra, but when I was very little the grown-ups cleaned it up by saying it was colder than a witch’s nose in a brass nose holder. Glad you are doing well. ❀

  2. Kim

    Uh huh… The three badasses of Brrr… Thank you for sharing cuz ya know I love your stuff πŸ™‚

  3. Ev :)

    I loved it. Every word was positively brilliant. Thank you for posting and please please please submit your pieces to publishers.

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