UKArchive ID: 9886thegeeza
Originally published on December 13, 2004 in Fiction
An online writing group I belong to recently developed an obsession with snow.
I wrote this a while back, so I dug it out, dusted it down, redrafted (using comments from the group) and ... here it is.
I wanted to try and capture my favourite type of place. One of the characters is semi tongue-in-cheek ... I'm sure you'll spot him.
Frank closed the door of his car and headed towards the cabin. His expensive boots with fur trim left perfectly sculpted imprints in the deep snow. He thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his leather coat. His eyes were almost closed to the biting cold, just below the level of his red woollen hat.
The sharpness of the air and the sound of the snow crunching underfoot could not stop him feeling warm from the inside out. The imposing pine trees had grown together around the cabin, forcing the wind and powdery snow horizontally through small gaps. The four by four clicked as its temperature dropped to match the surroundings.
When he reached the cabin, he moved along the walls, brushing the wispy snow from the windows, peering inside. At the door, he turned. All was still, the road empty and quiet. The sky was on the dark side of grey, lighter splashes making a perfect picture postcard. He wondered whether he deserved to be there.
He clapped his gloves together and opened the door. The air was stale and no warmer than outside. He moved into the cabin and stopped, looking around smiling. He clunked across the wooden floor and took an axe from the cupboard. He turned it in his hands. The handle was worn but the shiny surface of the head suggested a careful owner. It was sharp, clean and sparkled in the dull light. He smiled again.
The chopped wood tumbled into the grate. He struck a match and lit some old newspaper underneath the logs. It smouldered a while before the flames took hold. The warmth from the fire quickly spread around the room. He opened the only internal door and looked inside. The bed stood under the window, covered with a patterned blanket. He did not know whether he would use the room, but he left the door open to encourage the heat to banish the damp. He turned and crossed the room to the old wooden chair by the fire, looking through the window at the familiar landscape. An occasional pop from the fire broke the silence. He took a worn photograph from his jacket pocket, and traced the tresses of golden hair around the face of a woman with his rough finger.
The air was becoming heavy as the heat teased the dampness out from the timber. It lay on his lungs and made him cough. When he stopped, he heard the growing sound of an approaching vehicle. He did not move, but his eyes fell on the axe by the fire. He listened to the car struggle with the icy road. It broke free and he heard the sweeping sound of the wheels crushing the beautifully clean snow as it drew up to the cabin. A car door slammed, followed by the boot opening and closing. Footsteps approached rapidly. Frank turned to meet the sound. The handle twisted. An icy blast preceded a shower of powdery snow . A dark figure stood in the doorway.
‘Why you breeng me here? Eh? Eh?’ said the figure.
‘Come in, close the door and sit,’ said Frank.
The figure closed the door, looked down and mumbled to himself as he unbuttoned his coat. ‘You bloody crazy!’ he said, looking at Frank. The man slumped into the armchair on the other side of the fire, legs apart, arms hanging over the sides. ‘Crazy guy.’
‘Cut the bull.’
The man pulled off his woollen hat and held it tightly, smiling at Frank, then it changed to a deadly serious expression for a few moments, then he smiled again. His white teeth sparkled. ‘Frank! Good to see you, my friend!’
‘Freddy,’ said Frank.
‘So,’ said Freddy, ‘wos dis wi de stoopid hut, here in middle of nowhere? Eh? Eh? Wos dis? Gonna knock me off, Frank? Eh? Eh? Your old friend Frederico?’
Frank glanced at the axe. Freddy followed his eyes and he swallowed hard.
‘Anyway … like I say … nice to see you … now, let’s cut the bull, as you say … got de money?’
Frank looked at the man: swarthy features, five o’clock shadow, smart clothes, nice boots. One of the boots started to tap.
Freddy gestured with his hand. ‘I got de stuff, man … you got de money?’
‘I got the money.’
‘Less go den. Sure your customers are waitin. My man is waitin for his money. It took me a long time to skid up dis goddam hill, out here in nowhere land. Was de big idea, Frank? Wanna knock me off? Eh? Eh?’
‘I can’t be bothered to … knock you off. I like it here. Peaceful.’
Freddy looked, cocking his head to one side. ‘You losing it man … losing it … crazy guy. Let’s trade and let me get the hell away from dis place. Eh? Eh? Trade, man. Let’s do it.’
‘Deal’s off.’ Frank reached inside his coat and put the photograph in a pocket.
Freddy’s face drained of colour. He watched the hand come out of the jacket very carefully. ‘Off?’ he said. ‘What … off?’
‘Pulleen a fas one, eh? Eh? Negotiate, eh? Is it? Negotiation? I have not de time for dis. I’m late. They weel keel me, man. Let’s swap. Now. Swap. Eh? Eh?’
‘No. Deal’s off.’
Freddy sat forward; he was almost in front of the chair, balancing in mid-air. ‘Fifty off den. No more. De boss say no more dan fifty. Fifty off. Now … trade.’
‘No deal. No negotiation. Off. No deal.’
‘No money? Is it? Eh? Eh?’
‘I have the money. No deal.’
‘Look … stop mess about. Les swap.’
‘I changed my mind. No deal.’
Freddy slapped his hands onto his head, cursing in his mother tongue. ‘Joke is it? Eh? Eh?’
‘No joke. No deal.’
‘But … your boss. You can’t change –’
‘I will tell my boss you didn’t show. He trusts me. No deal.’
‘You … you can’t do dat! I’m here! He will tell my boss … dey will keel me!’
Frank shrugged. ‘No deal.’
Freddy dropped to his knees. ‘Please … les swap. Dey will keel me. Comprende? I have kids. My wife. Please! Please!’
Frank looked at him for a moment. ‘Fifty off.’
‘Fifty off! Fifty off! I can do no more! Les swap!’
Frank nodded. ‘The car.’
Freddy nodded, stood up and wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. ‘You are a tough guy, Frank. Tough guy.’
They went outside. A set of ugly tyre tracks led to Frederico’s car. A set of footprints made a wavy path to the cabin door, joining with Frank’s. The boot of the car held a briefcase. Inside were bags of white powder. Frank closed the briefcase and removed it. Freddy froze, then relaxed, moving as if he was made of rubber.
‘It’s okay. Okay, man … I trust you. You’re cool.’
Frank took a briefcase full of money from his car and offered it to Freddy. Freddy’s fingers slowly moved across the leather surface and he seized it away. He backed off slowly, towards his car.
‘It’s done. Goodbye, Frank.’
Just before Freddy turned: ‘Fifty off,’ said Frank. ‘I took it already.’
Freddy looked down at the suitcase, surprised. ‘Yeah … fifty off. Like we said.’
Freddy got into his car, started the engine and backed almost silently towards the road. Frank watched the whites of Freddy’s eyes until he quickly turned to check no cars were around, revved the engine, moved into the road and drove away.
The disturbed snow looked dirty. The ridges caused by the tyres seemed like scars carved into the white ground. A fresh fall would cover it, but the evidence would remain until springtime started over. On this day it seemed like permanent damage. He looked down at the briefcase: it was almost, if not exactly like the one he had given Freddy. He looked at the troughs his own car had cut into the snow.
Frank walked around the cabin, found the snow shovel and headed into the trees.
He stopped at a small clearing of completely virgin snow. He walked to the middle and dug through the snow until he uncovered brown earth. He took each white bag from the suitcase and tipped the contents into the hole. He took the photograph from his pocket and placed it carefully on top of the white powder. When this was done, he meticulously spread the pile of snow across the hole, patting it down with the shovel.
He retreated to the edge of the clearing and looked back. The disturbance was minimal and would be invisible with the smallest flurry. He took another deep breath and returned to the roaring fire.
Archived comments for White
flash on 2004-12-13 18:37:12
Intriguing, but i have to confess on first read i don't really know whats going on.I take it Frank has lost his wife through some drug related incident and is bailing out on the drug business?
I think it's a bit slow to begin with over descriptive at the start? But the dialogue takes into another gear and this where the strongest part of the story lies. Although if Freddy is Mexican this line jarred a bit as not quite right.
‘Pulleen a fas one, eh?'
Is he a cockney/Mex?
Interesting it held my attention, surprised i'm first to comment. i will re-read laterand maybe update on my first impressions
tai on 2004-12-13 19:04:50
Hi Thegeeza, I think this is intrigueing but does not give enough clues. And would anyone really throw away that much cash....even in memory of a dear departed. It does not quite add up. If you can enlighten great. If not I enjoyed it anyway.
TheGeeza on 2004-12-14 03:57:24
A cockney Mexican ... lol ...
I like to be subtle with storylines - and this was always half vignette/half story. (You are correct, btw). I wanted the description to be strong, to highlight the beauty of snow-bound surroundings such as this. (I'd love to live in a log cabin like that!). I could probably make a better "story" by removing some of it ... true.
Thanks for reading/commenting, mate.
TheGeeza on 2004-12-14 06:53:20
Thanks, Tai ... I like to make you think without too much "tell"!
Thanks for reading/commenting.
Claire on 2004-12-15 14:29:11
I don't understand why he did that with the drugs, at a guess I would say he was in love with the woman in the photo and she died due to drugs. Maybe this bit should be made more clearly.
I quite enjoyed this. Thought the descriptions at the beginning were great. You have the snow perfect and the scenery sounds so perfect.
The speech flowed very well.
An interesting read.
TheGeeza on 2004-12-16 04:48:12
Thanks, Claire. Like to make people wonder why he did it, rather than tell you directly!
Glad you liked it. I love snow scenes!
len on 2004-12-17 01:12:14
Your descriptions make great mind pictures..That's always the danger of descriptions:when is too much?..Very well written, if mysterious storyline.So many things, as to motives, left unsaid..I like your writing style..Kept my interest, all the way...len
TheGeeza on 2004-12-17 05:49:24
Glad you enjoyed it, Len.
Thanks for reading and commenting.
Mala on 2004-12-20 06:50:04
I like the mystrial concept to you story line, leaving it to the readers to figure out the outcome. Noce touch
TheGeeza on 2004-12-20 07:12:35