The snowman grinned malevolently as I hunkered down behind a fir tree in the park adjacent to city hall. The snowman was massive; a civic project that required a crane to erect it.
But it was one of the perfect fir trees beside it that we wanted. Me and Jimmy were drinking away the night at our apartment and, in the holiday spirit, came to the conclusion that yeah, this dump could use a real Christmas tree.
“A big one,” said Jimmy. “So people will be stunned, eh?” He stood up and walked over to the window, peering out. “And we’ll have a great party, the best Christmas ever, right?”
I looked around our spartan room. “Cool. I never did have a real big tree.”
Jimmy sat in his rusty half-ton drinking, waiting at the curb across the park for my signal. I scanned the dim street for headlights and ducked under the tree boughs, my Swede-saw ready for action. Back and forth and back and forth, the sharp saw cut into the thick trunk quietly, my shirt damp with sweat under my coat.
Finally, I stood and pushed the tree to one side, thinking I should shout “Tim-ber!” It leaned over slowly and came to rest against the giant snowman.
I checked the street again and flicked my flashlight. The truck headlights came on and moved forward, the wheels bumping over the curb; plowing through the snow toward me. I cursed and scooted across to him.
He rolled down his window. “Way to go, man!” he said hoisting a whiskey bottle.
“Turn off the lights, you dummy!”
I ran back to the tree, trying to haul it away from the Godzilla-sized snowman. Maybe it was too big for our apartment, but I’d deal with that later. I yanked on it harder and dug in my boots, only managing to get it to lay down flat. It was exhausting to move it a few inches as if the snowman gripped it.
“Okay, Jimmy, I need a hand here, eh? C’mon, back up.”
He maneuvered the truck around, lining it up and came out to lower the tailgate. He looked up. “Wow, that’s like the biggest and…it’s gi-normous! We should take it back, man. What’s with the nose?”
“A pipe, I think; a PVC pipe. C’mon, get in! Let’s get this home,” I said, glancing around nervously for insomniac joggers.
“Ready whenever you are, man. Just say when,” he said with a wide grin.
He rushed back to the cab and stepped on the running board, one foot slipping; his head hitting the door jamb in a dull clunk. I winced; that’s got to hurt.
“You alright, Jimmy?”
He moaned loudly and pulled himself behind the wheel. The gears ground a bit as he put the shifter in reverse.
“When,” I said.
“What?” he asked, his toque-covered head poking out the window, looking back at me.
“You said to say ‘when” and I said it.”
A cloud of white breath shot from him in a confused laugh. “Oh yeah right. S-o-o-o…” He paused for a moment. “Okay, just–”
“C’mon, nice and easy, back up.” He’d had more to drink than I thought. Or, hit his head harder than it sounded. “Watch my hand.”
The wheels spun in the deep snow, then finally caught.
The truck’s rear end lurched up and back.
I dove out of the way, doing a face-plant into the snow.
The tailgate rammed the snowman, burying deep into it.
Jimmy came out to help, but only got a few steps before he turned tail and fled.
I looked up to see the snowman moving, blocking out the sky as it fell forward.
When I opened my eyes I saw a miniature Christmas tree beside me on a beside table. It had only one decoration–a tiny jolly snowman.
“Merry Christmas! How do you like the tree?” said Jimmy, popping up behind it, wearing a goofy grin.
“The hospital staff gave it to me.”