Now he tended to cry. He did not cry much as a child. From an early age, he was taught to suck it up. Boys don’t do that, his grandmother told him. So he swallowed the hot knots of emotion when he skinned his knee, when both index fingers were cut by the metal spool of streamers whilst decorating for the anniversary party, when his grade school crush did not give him a creased cardstock valentine.
He cried in his late twenties, but not in his tweens or teens. In his tweens or teens he felt the emotion, a fracas of rage and despair, eat away at his throat. He laid in bed for hours in the dark. He asked for death.
He cried he cried he cried. In adulthood, or at least when he felt that he had reached adulthood, when his responsible decisions outnumbered the irresponsible, he began to cry. He cried when he received the new wallet, he cried when he did not get accepted into the grad school of his choice, he cried when he thought of his wife.
He cried when he thought of his childhood, his grandmother, his father; he cried when he couldn’t explain why he resented his mother, teachers, friends; he cried when he felt alone, miserable, empty; he cried.
It’s so beautiful, he said one afternoon, watching a groundhog run its awkward back-heavy run through the empty lot across the street from the porch, tear tracks across his high cheeks.
Rhoads’ microfictions “The Pills” and “The Splatterpunks” were featured on the backside of the latest, 37th edition of the T2H broadsheet. He lives and writes in Clarksville, Tenn.
“You killed her,” the snowman said, clutching the pile of already melting snow to his breast, slush running through his icy hands. “Murderer.” Snowflakes drifted from his eyes.
Wintry mix fell from the sky soaking into my pea coat. I looked down at the bumper of my car, now halfway into the front yard of this house. The snowman was unlike the ones I’d seen as a child. Instead of a bunch of stacked snow with a carrot, he looked more like your average man. Just made out of snow. His jawline was reminiscent of a deodorant model. I tried to understand the magnitude of my actions and felt a little weak.
“It was an accident. Honest,” I said. I reached into my wallet and pulled out $35. “Take this.” I assumed the snowman I crushed was his wife.
The snowman batted the money away. “This won’t bring her back,” he said. “She’s dead.”
I beat the sides of my shoes against the front tire of the car and wondered if the snow I was standing in was body parts or regular snow. It all looks the same, I thought.
“I’ll have you locked away,” said the snowman. “You’ll pay for this.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone and began to dial.
“Who are you calling,” I demanded.
“You’ll see,” the snowman said. “Yes, police? There’s been a murder on the front lawn of 5232 Old Hickory Rd. Yes. He’s standing right here. Please, hurry.” Then the snowman pushed the phone back into his pocket. “The police will be here any moment,” said the snowman, “and then you’ll be sorry.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “You’re just a snowman. I didn’t commit a crime.”
“Tell that to my daughter,” the snowman said.
The road was dead silent. Someone would have to be crazy to drive in weather like this. I asked myself why I was driving in weather like this.
I had to apologize to her in person, I thought. My girlfriend and I had been arguing on the phone this morning over getting engaged. She wants to. I don’t until I have more money. When she hung up on me I thought the best way to apologize was to drive in the blizzard to bring her flowers.”
Now I was stuck with a snowman who wanted me tried for murder.
“The police will be here any minute now,” the snowman said.
The weather was getting worse. Small ice pellets began to pelt my shoulders. My fingers shook inside my gloves.
“Too cold for you?” the snowman asked. He was bent over the snowy remains of his child. “Don’t worry. It will be pretty warm where you’re going.” Then the snowman spit a wad of black sludge in my face — the kind of slushy ice that accumulates in the wheel wells of cars and in the gutters of busy streets.I wiped the sludge from my eyes and opened my car door.
“Don’t you dare try to flee the scene,” yelled the snowman.
I sat down in the driver’s seat and closed the door. Looking for heat, I cranked the car. But it wouldn’t turn. I turned the ignition again and stomped on the pedals but the car sputtered and stalled. Fuck, I thought.
The snowman was beating on the glass of the door so hard that he was breaking off great chunks of his hands as he pounded. A stream of curse words spewed from his icy lips.
I opened the door and climbed back out of the car. As if a switch had been flipped, the snowman went back to quietly glaring at me.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I know that’s not enough, but I’m sorry.”
The snowman stared into the street in the burgeoning white-out.
I pulled out my phone and tried to dial my girlfriend again. I paused as the phone rang and rang. I hung up.
Why was I waiting around for the police to show up? No jury in the world would convict me for running over a snowman. I looked around. The road was still empty of traffic. I looked up the yard toward the house. “Maybe I can call a cab,” I said to myself. I walked a few feet toward the house and the next thing I knew, I was swept from my feet.
The snowman had tackled me and was pounding me with his frozen limbs. He piled his glacial body on top of me, pinning me to rock-hard mud below. I tried to push him off, but his weight was too great. Buried alive in the snowman’s body, I wished I’d never fought with my girlfriend. I sensed my death would be a result of foolish pride as my nostrils clogged with snow and I felt water drip down the back of my throat.
And then there were sirens and a police car pulled next to mine.
“I tried to stop him from fleeing,” the snowman called out, collecting himself from me.
I thanked God that the police officer was here. I was sure once things were settled he would let me go. Maybe he would give me a ride to my girlfriend’s place. I could borrow my mother’s engagement ring until we could afford our own. We could all work things out.
I picked myself up from the mud to see a pair of black boots attached to crystalline legs made of purest white step out of the police cruiser.