Johnny America


Warm and Fuzzy Thoughts


I know my wife is try­ing to kill me. We are thir­ty miles from the near­est sign of civ­i­liza­tion, trapped in a log cab­in with ten feet of snow in every di­rec­tion, and my wife is try­ing to kill me. I am al­ways on guard. It’s dif­fi­cult, stay­ing alive in such sit­u­a­tions-every­thing is burn­ing. But I will not let her win. She’s coming.

“Sweet­ie? Is that you?” She en­ters the bed­room, search­ing for me with wal­nut-col­ored eyes. In one hand she is hold­ing a… is that a knife?

“Pud­ding pie! Yes, I was just… think­ing aloud.” I try to stare her down, match­ing her gaze with a civ­i­lized smile. She does not move. “Are you… cook­ing, dearest?”

She glances at the knife in her hand for an in­stant, be­fore look­ing back at me. I am sit­ting on the side of the bed, mi­cro-cas­sette clutched tight­ly in the hand be­hind my back. Her nos­trils flare. A mo­ment lat­er, she sheathes the knife in its case.

“No, fuzzy-wub­bly. I thought I heard a rat.” She turns to leave, cow-hide boots creak­ing on wood­en floor­boards. I do not move un­til she has shut the door. It’s so hot.

It has been three days since the snow­storm, since the avalanche. Since my wife first tried to kill me. We were walk­ing to­geth­er out­side on the frozen plain, mar­veling at what ap­peared to be bear tracks. We were not far from the cab­in. When the avalanche start­ed, both of us knew im­me­di­ate­ly; she had grown up in storm ter­ri­to­ry back in Col­orado, and I hadn’t spent four years ma­jor­ing in “Ge­o­log­i­cal and At­mos­pher­ic Stud­ies” in Den­ver for noth­ing. The moun­tain be­gan to rum­ble, a deep and earthy moan that trav­eled through the snow and up each leg in­to the core of your be­ing, mak­ing you won­der why you’d ever thought a log cab­in va­ca­tion was a good idea in the first place.

“Fuck.” I re­mem­ber al­most laugh­ing; she nev­er cursed. I was not afraid for her, for my­self — I sim­ply stared at her, mar­veled at her lips pursed. Her beau­ti­ful pro­fan­i­ty. The ground be­low us was no longer ground; it was a white rock jel­ly that want­ed to suck you in, to pull you un­der and make you a part of it, rolling and tum­bling down the high side of the moun­tain, tak­ing every­thing with you to a cold and suf­fo­cat­ing death. But we did not wait for our demise — she took off to­ward the cab­in, dis­lo­cat­ing my arm in the process while drag­ging me be­hind her. “Run! Run! Move your bloody legs and run!” She didn’t stop scream­ing un­til we reached safe­ty; un­til we were past the down-flow and ly­ing breath­less against the maple storm door of the cab­in, feel­ing the shake and shud­der of the whole world bleed­ing white be­hind our backs.

She’d saved both of us through sheer will, with min­i­mal in­jury. Every­thing around us was white. Every­thing around us was dead. So I didn’t mind — I didn’t even feel my arm throb­bing un­til half an hour lat­er when the moun­tain fi­nal­ly set­tled and the snow piled past our win­dows in the cab­in — she’d saved my life. Per­haps she want­ed to be the one to do the job. Not the moun­tain spir­it, or what­ev­er re­al­ly caused this de­struc­tion. The next morn —

“Hon­ey?” She is at the oak­en door. The last time she knocked — yes­ter­day — she en­tered with an axe. For chop­ping wood, she said. I have a fine sense of hu­mor, but this is not a time for jokes. And there are plen­ty of chairs in the liv­ing room. At least two. To keep the fire go­ing — even though it’s al­ready so warm. Doesn’t she feel it?

I found a pis­tol un­der the bed last night. I don’t know where it came from, and I don’t re­al­ly care. I’ll use it if I have to. I won’t give her the plea­sure. But it’s hot. So hot.

“How’s your arm, sug­ar-pooh? Any better?”

“Much bet­ter, ap­ple-muf­fin. Al­most fine, ac­tu­al­ly. Found any rats?”

“Still look­ing, dear. Still looking.”

Filed under Fiction on November 9th, 2006

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