Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Tracks

Some years back, in the early-morning hours of Christmas Day, I found myself uncharacteristically absorbed in thought. At the time, I was elbow deep in the annual assembly-of-the-gifts debacle.

Whether my meditations were spawned from sleepless delirium, or the half-empty bottle of Christmas Cheer, I can’t say. Either way, the scheme took shape, and I became obsessed with the idea of making Santa-tracks in the snow on the roof of our house.

My wife, ever confident in my abilities, asked if she should call 9-1-1 right away, or wait until we saw how significant the injuries were.

Our dog, Rusty, followed me as I walked the moonlit path to the barn, to gather the rope and ladder. I spotted the axe and brought it along - thinking the butt-end of the handle might make good reindeer tracks.

Rusty watched expectantly, and the nearby snowman smiled brightly, as I started up the ladder. I flipped the loop of rope over the chimney (after 30 or 40 tries), drew the slip-knot tight and glanced back nervously.

Rusty’s head was cocked to one side, as he watched in confusion. The snowman’s smile seemed to have changed to an evil grimace.

I stepped onto the roof and went to work - step, crunch through the snow, poke/poke with the axe handle, step, crunch, poke/poke – and so on, up the rope to the chimney.

From the chimney, I started tracking across the roof. The dog began to whine, and I swear I heard the snowman snicker.

I had reached the end of the rope, and started to backtrack to the chimney, when one of my feet slipped… just a little. I froze in place.

Trying to step into a secure position, I felt both feet slip… just a bit. Then it happened.

Like an Olympic skier charging out of the gates, I started my downhill run. Clutching at the rope, I tried running toward the chimney - my legwork resembling something between a windmill and a pogo stick.

I fell to the roof and swung on the rope, sweeping a wide arc to the roof’s edge where I stopped, having narrowly missed a tragic fall.

I lay there in silence, considering my options (none of them attractive) when I heard:

Thwink!... “What was that?”

Thwink!... “That is NOT the rope!”

Thwink!... I looked up and saw the cords of the rope fraying at one corner of the brick chimney then:


My life flashed before my eyes. So did a bit of my future when I realized,
“This is gonna hurt!"

Spilling over the edge of the roof, I bounced off the porch overhang before the snowman broke my fall, and maybe my back.

When I came-to, the dog was licking my nose. From my crumpled heap, I could see the axe handle protruding from a wide cleft in the now headless-snowman’s chest, his obliterated face lying on the ground next to me.

My wife came around the corner of the house and eyed the roof, “Looks like a monkey was riding in the Mad-Cow Rodeo… nice job!” She turned and walked away, the dog followed, I limped further behind.

Thankfully, the kids didn’t notice the mess on the roof, though they've had some difficulty getting past the crime scene the snowman presented that Christmas morning.

We think they're mostly okay now - the therapist assures us she should have them all fixed up, once we've made another 17 of her boat payments... give or take.

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