Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Dirty Snowman

The Dirty Snowman
(by R.P.Edwards)

The dirty snowman
Tells a tale
Of season
And of place
But most of all
It speaks of joy
The child’s

Frank, the night janitor peered over his nose-specs at the photo on the Pending Board (as in, not solved yet) and, after taking a sip from the Hot-Drink machine’s fifty-cent decaf, he muttered to himself (well, not really, he knew the squad was listening), “Middle America, around latitude 38, maybe St Louis or thereabouts.”  Another sip, a nod, and then he began to shuffle towards the janitorial cubby.

“W-w-wait a minute, Frank.” It was Harv, the new junior detective assigned to this “person of interest” case.  “How can you tell all that from this snowman picture?”

The stoop-shouldered custodian slowly turned, sipped and, as the half-dozen in this brain-bank listened intently and knowingly (after all, one of “these” had placed the photo in the “see me” place) he stopped just short and, using a black Bic as a pointer, he began his mini-lecture.  “It’s a dirty snowman, obviously.  So… since, in the northern climes there is a packing of the white stuff; most “snow-persons” are white, without blemish, except for the additions of the essential modifiers of carrots and coal.  Unless, of course, it’s early in the season.  However, if you look just here (pointing to the barely edge of the figure) you’ll see the slightest colored reflection, meaning…(a pause for an answer.  None offered) meaning…Christmas lights.  No doubt a close neighbor had lights and, since only the most enthusiastic Christmas lover would decorate pre-Thanksgiving, this means a mid-America clime because--as I said before--the snowman is…dirty.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll buy that,” said Harv, coming closer to see “the reflection.” “But how do you come up with the St Louis area?”

“Look here.” the pen-point nearly touches a couple of the “dirt” spots.  “These are leaves.  One is obviously Quercus microcarpa, and the other…Acer saccharinum L.”  The puzzled look on the detective’s face begged for a little more light.  “The Bur Oak and the Silver Maple.” And, pointing to the eyes, which were “not” made of coal, he added, “Liquidambar styraciflua L., or Sweet Gum,” a colorful tree in the fall, but a downside is that it produces these nasty little balls.  A southern resident, it doesn’t tend very far north, but I happen to know it spikes…near St Louis.  If I were you, detective (a turning and sipping) I’d inform the mid-west bureau that your man…is very, very near.”

The east coast is slammed with a lot of snow, but here, in the Midwest (at least my lo-cal) only a few friendly inches.  Enough to make (you guessed it) a dirty snow-man.  The weather folk say all our white stuff will disappear in a day or so.  That’s the way I like it.  Just enough to look pretty (see last entry), build a snowman (dirty or no), throw a snowball, and then…go.


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