True Winter Tales: Today's pick
IS THIS SHOWING UP
C Word by Doug Koop
It seems I'm not the only one who doesn't want to be outside this morning judging by the reticent pink smudge on the Manitoba horizon. The CBC radio goofballs are yammering on about wind chill and what not. They sound so happy, so warm. Slugging back the rest of my paper cup coffee I ease the truck door open. A swirl of coffee/sweat vapor curls up into the freeze dried air. I cram my wool lined hardhat on.
The snow squeals under my heavy rubber boot heals packed hard as concrete from a hundred tradesman's trucks. I light a cigarette and the crystalline air petrifies my lungs. In sixty seconds my beard is white with frost. I unload the tools and drag the ladders off of the roof rack. Metal screeches against metal making my shoulders quiver like a hoochy mama.
The drywall crane is idling only a few feet away a leaking outrigger pissing thick black fluid into the snow. The wind ruffles my sleeves looking for a friend. I go to plug in my power cord, compressor in one hand, air hose over my shoulder. The drywall loaders are passing a joint around inside the garage. I recognize one of them and he offers me a hit. It's important to be polite. Soon the sweat will be steaming off of their backs like buffalo as they trudge through the house hauling two hundred pound armloads of wallboard. If it wasn't for the heavy metal you could almost hear their shoulders tearing apart little by little.
My compressor groans like an old man and starts to run tentative -pissed off. I get up on my scaffold avoiding the little pools of ice on the planks and start hanging metal on the eaves. Icicles rattle against my hardhat bouncing into space. I have to make a fine cut with my snips so I drop a glove to improve my accuracy. The wind returns, vengeful now it burns my face. I grab the metal in my bare hand. It sticks. I try to ease my fingers away gently but a hunk of skin rips off. There's a little blood but it doesn't hurt. It won't until I thaw out. The skin clings to the metal facia like a booger meanwhile the corner I just finished joining looks perfect. I smile through the ice in my beard feeling like a pirate, a stupid frozen pirate.
Kids, seriously, stay in school.
Doug Koop is from Kleefeld, MB