Wednesday, February 10, 2010

THE FIXER – Snow Fiction

by Alan Orloff 


Sometimes I hate my job.

I trudged through the deep snow toward the front door. Two and a half feet of the white stuff on the ground, another 10 – 12 inches on the way. Bah, humbug.

I patted my pocket, felt the hard metal of my pistol. Hopefully, it wouldn’t come to that. Hopefully, James Finley Wilkens would listen to reason. The white madness had to stop. Now.

At the door, I double-checked the address and poked the doorbell button with a finger. Two million residents of D.C. and the surrounding suburbs were depending on me. They didn’t care whether I liked my job or not.

A moment later, the door swung open and a boy stared at me through the lower panel of the storm door. “Hello,” he said, loud enough for me to hear clearly through the barrier.

“Hello there, sport.” I bent over to get eye-to-eye. “My name is Mr. Smith. May I come in? It’s cold out here.”

The boy’s eyes flickered. He was about eight. Maybe a mature seven. “My mommy says I’m not supposed to let strangers in.”

“It’s okay. I’m not a stranger. I’m from the federal government.” I pasted the biggest smile I could on my face. “I’m here to help.”

He tilted his head. “Really?”

“Yes. I’m with the Census.”

“Do you know President Obama?”

“Sure. Had breakfast with him just this morning. Pancakes. Blueberry.”

The boy beamed. “Come on in.” He reached up and unlocked the door. Pushed it open a bit.

I took a step in, and he took a small step back. I tapped my clipboard with a pen I pulled from my pocket. “Got a few questions for you. First, where’s your mommy?”

“She’s upstairs working on her taxes.”

“And your daddy?”

“He’s cleaning the basement.”

“Okay then. You must be James Finley Wilkens.” I nodded and consulted my clipboard, although I’d memorized his name when the home office had called with my assignment.

“Most people call my Jimmy. Except my grandma.”

“Okay, then. Jimmy it is.” Target acquired.

“How come you’re not writing anything down?” he asked.

“Huh? Oh.” I scribbled a few doodles on the paper.

“Isn’t it great?” Jimmy asked, voice full of excitement.

“What is?”

“All the snow. Isn’t it great? I love the snow. I’ve been praying for it every day for the past two weeks. I’ve been praying real, real hard.”

I know, kid. I know. That’s been the problem. “Well, uh, that’s exactly why I’m here.”

“It is?”

“Yes. In fact, it’s because of your prayers that we have so much snow. That the entire region is paralyzed.”

Jimmy canted his head again, like a dog trying to figure out a radio. “You mean this is all because of me and my prayers?”

“’Fraid so, kiddo.”

“WAA-HOOO. I did it. It worked. I knew it was all because of me. I just knew it.” Jimmy danced around the foyer, whooping and hollering. Then he stopped abruptly, closed his eyes, and raised his head upward. Little lips moved in silence.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

His eyes sprang open. “Praying. For more snow. I really hate school and I really love snow!”

“Come on, cut it out.” The pistol grew heavy in my pocket. So many people were relying on me. “You’ve got to stop. You can’t pray for snow ever again.”

Jimmy stared at me for a beat, then laughed. “Mister, I’m going to pray for snow every day for the rest of my life!” Dark brown eyes, mop of curly hair, the cutest spray of freckles across his cheeks. Was the home office serious? I mean, we had way too much snow, but was this the solution? I pictured traffic jams and grounded flights and people shoveling driveways. Utter chaos.

Jimmy tugged on the bottom of my coat. “Hey mister, do you want to celebrate?”

“Celebrate?” I don’t think so. I have a dirty job to do here, kid.

“How about some hot chocolate? You look cold.”

I was kinda cold.

“We have marshmallows.”

I was fond of marshmallows. Very fond.

I followed Jimmy into the kitchen, already feeling the hot chocolate warming my throat.

Sometimes I really love my job.



JournoMich said...

I love the ending best. And you SHOULD love the ending best.

Want to write some more? Writing Prompt Wednesdays today on my blog!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Okay, love the story, esp. the praying for snow (heh, heh, heh) but I'm REALLY concerned about a little kid letting in a stranger, even one that had blueberry pancakes with the President. This can't end well.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

If you got the little guy to help you shovel I bet he'd stop praying for it. :)

I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Hot chocolate does sound good right about now...

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

What a great story!! The ending is terrific - I can smell that hot chocolate now!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Alan, You've been nominated for a Creative Write Blog Award. See Details on my blog:

Ingrid King said...

Love it! Living in the same snowbound suburban tundra as you are, I wasn't so sure about a happy ending. I can see how people go crazy in this kind of weather! I held my breath all the way to the end.

Dorte H said...

Well, as I said on Margot´s blog éarlier today: "we don´t kill children we have got to know" :D

Alan Orloff said...

Michele - Well, I AM fond of marshmallows.

Sue Ann - Stranger? Come on, he's a Federal employee. What harm could come of it?

Elizabeth - Yes. Shovel a driveway in my boots. That would surely show him.

Margot - I'm procrastinating. I need to go shovel, yet...maybe some pre-emptive hot chocolate would do the trick.

Sue Ann - Thanks for the award! My wife tells me I'm a terrible liar. I think she's lying, though.

Ingrid - Oh, I had some alternative endings in mind, that's for sure!

Dorte - Two ironclad rules of fiction (at least fiction you would like to sell): Don't kill animals and don't kill children. Especially not animals.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the story from beginning to end, but you had me worried for a minute - I didn't want anything to happen to that cute kid with the freckles!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

So, when does the kid get "offed," before, or after the hot chocolate?

Mr. Smith's employers expect kid cooperation or...

I don't see no stinkin' cooperation.

Best Wishes Galen.
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Lorel Clayton said...

Terrific! I was really worried about the kid for a second, but he must have prayed for someone to come and have cocoa with him.

Alan Orloff said...

Jane - Rest assured, no children were harmed during the writing of this story.

Galen - It's a happy ending, complete with marshmallows and hot chocolate. No one got offed (this time).

Lorel - The protagonist of the next story is going to be a grumpy, middle-aged man who prays for all the snow to disappear and the kids to go back to school so he can have some peace and quiet in order to actually get something done. Just sayin'

Mason Canyon said...

Love the story. I still think there's more to come. Not that the child is going to be killed, but I do think there's "something" going to happen to him so he understand to never, ever, no matter what, pray for snow again. :)