Arctic air masses and the cold fronts associated with them are atmospheric tsunamis caused by the colliding of the troposphere and ionosphere. The Northern Lights energize a movement of atmospheric currents, sending a ripple of subzero temperatures hurling as far south as Miami. The wind rushes invisibly across expansive prairies of Canada, gains momentum upon the frozen surface of the Hudson Bay, and laps-up moisture from the unfrozen waters of the five great lakes.
This bitter north wind magically gathers in its wake the vapors of Superior, Erie and Ontario, and within the form of pinkish blue clouds, carries a most pure form of condensation across the Upper Midwest. These fast-moving clouds tend to break apart and exhaust all moisture soon after departing the source of fuel found in the warm, freshwater lakes. The snow squalls are like hurricanes making landfall in Pittsburg.
Just a few flakes of Northern Lights snow make it as far east as the little bus stop/ cross-roads town of Breezewood, PA, but there have been occasions when these powerful clipper storms have shed the magic of polarized sleet across this little town that is not really a town, but merely a bus stop along a seemingly never ending expanse of highways and turnpikes that make the Keystone state seem much smaller than it actually is.
Due to the slight tilt of the earth’s axis and the mountains that surround this secluded place of cheap motels and trucker food joints, polar snow rarely falls in these parts in early December. However, once on a blue moon in December there, a chance snow comes down—a storm, like the one in 1972 that originated at precisely true, magnetic North, howls through here. The storms can cover the vast expanses of brown, desolate farm land with at least an inch of snow in less than a minute.
Children of Breezewood including little Susan Bear were watching the cars of holiday shoppers pass through Breezewood that day. Susan dropped a sticky popcorn ball she was eating to savor the first flake of snow on her unusually wide tongue that day. The energy in the bluish flake she ate change her life and gave her a feeling of power in her groin.
She was excited as she tore a hand knitted scarf from around her fat neck as the snow piled into her big mouth with such little effort on her part. Such treats of the gods rarely occur here in early December. This is one of the few places on earth where true Christmas snow comes down—snow formed not with salty ocean water—but crystal clear, fresh, lake water snow – magnetic snow—flakes that sometimes cause the testosterone levels in little girls to develop at unusual levels. This snow out of Santa’s back yard sometimes creates a chemical reaction in little brains exposed digestively to such wonders. The crystals sometimes cause sexual identity to flip and move around just like true magnetic north on the map inside the developing bodies of exposed subjects, like little Susan Bear.
It’s no shock that she grew up to become the Central District Manager of a Walmart superstore in nearby Huntingdon—the job of playing Santa was in her blood nearly all her life. Susan developed facial hair when she was just sixteen—a true sign that one has been frozen by the grasp of that great north wind. Who better to play Santa than a woman who looks, at the age of fifty, just like Old Man winter? No one East of the steel mills of Pittsburg is tougher than her—the woman who makes possible nearly every present under every tree in these parts—the patron saint of shoppers—Susan Bear—the management of Walmart, the new Santa of this new ice age of Christmas we all seem so frozen to.
“A good-paying job at Walmart is better than a poke in the eye with a dirty-stick,” Susan Bear jokingly remarked to the man under her command at the super-store, years after a most fateful day, during a blizzard, when she, as a little girl, had been warned by God that she would never grow up to be a trucker, as was her only real wish in life, at the age of nine.
Billy Emerson, a man under her decades later, was partially retired, living on a generous pension from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, or ‘Penndot’, as it is known to people in places like Breezewood, and was not the ideal, seasoned worker for a place like the new Walmart store in Huntingdon. Susan Bear, head of maintenance and customer satisfaction, had no time to listen to some over-the-hill line-worker brag about his life-long medical benefits from the state and how enjoyable it was going to be to have not only another good woman, but a job that he planned to keep for five or six years, just for the extra spending money—
“I just got sick of looking at the road in winter. That’s why I quit driving a truck for a living and ended up here, working for you. I wrecked two snowplows during my fifteen years there. It was no fault of my own, but on both occasions, heads of Penndot tried to get rid of me. We had good unions though. I know we don’t have unions here at Walmart, but listen, them fuckers couldn’t do shit to me, but holy hell, I hated winter and working for Pendot that time of the year. It’s warm all the time on this job,” Billy remarked, trying to get on the good side of his new boss. She seemed to detest him already, like his old bosses at the state—but why? What did he ever do to her?
Susan turned red for an instant thinking of what Billy had just said—a touch of guilt ran through her as she remembered that fateful day in December back in ’72 when she was a little girl hoping on a dream in a snowstorm. She wished Billy Emerson would leave her office and go collect loose shopping carts rolling all over the sprawling parking lot outside, but instead, he stayed there and bragged—reminding her of the guilt she never truly felt for the man whose life she almost took when she was just nine.
Billy made it clearly known to his boss as he made small talk that the only reason he took the job at Walmart was to get out of the house and away from his wife a little.
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Billy assured Susan, so that she would have no problems understanding his outlook on life and career was whole hearted. He was not just a simple line-worker working for Walmart, not after all he had learned on the road for Penndot.
“Do you know how hard it is to get a cushy job with Pendot? And a driver of snow plows, none-the-less?” Susan asked. “I must warn you, Mr. Emerson—working here is going to be nothing like working for Pendot. When I was nine, all I wanted was a job with Penndot. Just look at yourself, Mister Man—how you just walked away from all that highway. You retired before 62? How dumb can ya be?” Susan asked, reaching for a cold cup of coffee on her desk.
Her simple mind was re-calling her childhood as Billy talked.
Susan remembered the wishes she had as a little girl—a simple break—a favor called in by an uncle or some other relative who already had secured a secure state government jobs—if only she could have landed such a dream job from the help of some Catholic relative, like Billy Emerson must have had. But how fate works in the scheme of things, she realized—perhaps this is my destiny or maybe irony—just look at the world, she thought—now they all come crawling to me here now, like I’m some kind of powerful, corporate dude willing to rescue their asses from this depression we’re in. I’m getting rid of Mr. Emerson, Susan Bear told herself as he just stood there. I have nothing in my heart for men, she remembered.
Susan slowly recalled what Billy had come into her office to complain about—the homeless man who was shoplifting soap and razors every morning—using the public bathrooms—leaving skid-marked toilet bowls behind that needed scrubbing—but with what shall I scrub them, he asked her.
Not even the high pressure water in Walmart’s semi-self-cleaning toilets could erase the stain away, Billy explained—but there it was, every morning—not coming off—not even with Comet—Out damn spot! Billy needed the salt from those Penndot trucks to get rid of the stains, he explained to Susan who on Billy’s first day of work, was already unbearably sick of him.
“Just get to work? Would ya?” Susan begged. Her thoughts turning again to the snowstorms off the Great Lakes of her childhood—the white roads that gave her the dream to drive trucks for a living—back when she was a little girl, in love with trucks and tractors.
“Hail Mary, Mother of God,” she whispered every time a snowflake landed directly at the base of her throat when she was a little girl. Most of the falling snow would somehow managing to by-pass little Susan Bear’s freckled nose, and three- inch wide tongue that stuck-out in the Applachain snow squalls like a sore thumb.
The girl child’s powdery white Irish skin turned beet red in the wind as flakes that were missing her wide-opened mouth sizzled and popped, turning to vapor over her cheeks and not melting as most snow does when it comes into contact with surfaces on the ground.
“I pray to you, mother of God, and ask your mercy that I not grow-up to be a nun, like mom wants for my life,” Susan prayed as the chilling imaginary communion flakes came from the sky and slid down her throat—“In the name of the Father, I ask to be a father too some day, somehow. And through the Holy Spirit, I plead that I get a Big Wheel this Christmas, Oh mother of God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
When Susan opened her eyes and lowered her head she took notice of a tractor-trailer pulling off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the distance. The driver was heading into one of the many truck-stop diners or motel rooms for which the tiny town of Breezewood was known for in these parts.
The lesbian child started running swiftly in the fresh-fallen snow despite a blue snowmobile suit with fourteen pockets, which she was wearing that day. The he-girl’s fat arms were in front of her, curled in an arc like those of a little boy—her mittens were chewed, sucked-on, and now frozen as they smoldered in the December air. Susan waved to capture the attention of the driver pulling into Breezewood.
Across a snow-covered, harvested corn field, the red-haired child trotted—making an odd hand gesture towards the truck as she continued to move in that general direction.
From behind squeaking wiper blades and a warm, comfortable cab, the driver noticed something out of the corner of his eye—an escaped hog from some Breezewood farmer’s pin, he imagined.
Again, little Susan made a signal in the air with her worn mitten—she was trying to communicate to the driver that he pull his horn and sound the silver trumpet atop the truck cab. The long vehicles were far more magical than Santa’s sleigh to her. All she ever wanted was a Big Wheel for Christmas and to one day drive a truck with a horn like that one—blaring trumpets on eighteen wheels. What magic the trucks were coming into Breezewood.
“God, give me a sign,” she begged. If he blows his horn, that means I’m getting a Big Wheel this Christmas and one day, I’ll grow up to drive one of those trucks!”
Dave Doolittle was dying for a fresh cup of coffee and some sleep. The coffee would counter-act the No-Doze anti-sleep medication he had taken when he left the town of Hershey. The treacherous turnpike roads had exhausted him. His eyes were so heavy.
Why is that pig running towards me,” Dave asked himself as his truck continued to slow. He turned his head to glance out the cab window towards the ball-like child waving at him—warning him of something ahead, perhaps? No, she was signaling for something—water? What? Was she simulating the pumping of a fountain?
The truck was still moving at thirty-five over the slick road surface. It was unsafe for the driver to stop and speak to the child. What could she possibly be trying to tell him? As Dave turned to glance through the front windshield again he dropped his Pal Mal cigarette. After reaching to reclaim the burning ember and return erect before the steering wheel, he noticed that the road ahead had been somehow pulled out from under him.
The truck, before rolling over three times, jack knifed, sending Dave Doolittle, not wearing a seatbelt, tumbling out an unlocked cab door.
Little Susan Bear—the little girl who sees light and God in everything—rushed not to help the unconscious Dave Doolittle, but to feast upon the new gift of communion the Lord had just scattered before her– a shipment of chocolate covered cherries, fresh out of Hershey– surely the lord had great things planned for her life, she realized as she sucked each cherry out of the chocolate before spitting the overly sweet chocolate shell onto the snow.
“All I wanted was for you to blow your horn, she said as she giggled, as the man lay nearly dead in a Northeast blizzard on the outskirts of Breezewood.