I was now transfixed on the snow pack up on the roof of that big red barn. Out of the blue.
Something told me it was gonna fall. It was all gonna come down. All eleven tons of it. All at the same time. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind.
“How do you know?” Boner asked.
“I dunno,” I said, “I just know. I can feel it.”
“Come on,” Boner said.
“No man, it’s gonna happen. It’s all gonna come sliding off. In one fell swoop. I’m tellin’ ya. You’ll see.”
“You’re fuckin’ high, Milo.”
“I may be high,” I said, “but somethin’ told me when we got out of the Carlo,
that all that snow is gonna come sliding off that roof.”
“How can you tell? Did you see it move?”
“No, not exactly. It’s more of a premonition. Sorta like a déjà vu that hasn’t materialized yet.”
“Milo, that same pack of snow has been up there for months. Like four or five months. What makes you think it’s gonna come down right now, while we’re watching?”
“Like I said, I don’t know exactly how I know, but I know. Sometimes you just know stuff. Just keep watching that roof Boner and we are going to see it come down.”
“Well, I doubt it’s gonna come down right now but if it does come down, those cows milling around underneath are gonna get sacked.”
“You’re right. Good point. Maybe we should try to scare them off or lead them into the barn or alert the farmer or…”
“How do we even know it’s gonna happen right now? Or in the next twenty minutes? Or in the middle of the night? Or three days from now? We don’t. That’s the point, Milo, we don’t know. Shit, man.”
“It is gonna happen. Just hang tight.”
“Ah man, we could be watchin’ Hogan’s Heroes right now. It’s after 3:30.”
“You don’t believe me? You think I’m jivin’ you?”
“I don’t know, man. You get freaky sometimes when you get stoned. And you make all these big cosmic proclamations. And you expect me to go along with them. And you know for the most part, it’s just the hooch talkin’.” It’s just the hooch talkin’. It’s just the hooch talkin’.
I remained glued to the roof of the massive barn, my lids at half-mast, knowing the descent of that snow was inevitable.
“Sometimes Boner, the hooch knows what it’s talkin’ about. The hooch helps us to see dimensions of things we wouldn’t ordinarily see, you know, a hyper-sensitivity. A super-reality. There’s like, a central receptacle within all of us that holds everything. Knows everything.”
“I think that’s what they call the Scrotum, bro.” Boner slapped his leg.
“OK. You can goof all you want Boner, but I’m actually pretty serious right now. I’m talking about the Omniscient Wisdom Container.”
“The om-fucking what kind of container?”
“The Omniscient Wisdom Container. The…the…the…the eternal bloom holder. A…a…a crystal saline water vase that holds eleven oceans. The like, sordid history within our cellular patterns. The cumulative knowledge in the fat of our earlobes. The trillions of souls in the calves of our legs.”
“OK Mr. Spaceman. If you’re talking about the DNA strip, I can almost dig that. And the human instinct thing too. And if you’re figuring that it’s March and it’s Spring and like, the sun has been out for the past two days, melting and loosening that base of ice up there, I can go with that. But this bloom holder of eternity stuff, you know, I don’t know, man. I mean, that snow could be up there for another week or two. I mean, fuck…”
“Yeah but the thing is, I know and I don’t know how I know, but I just know. C’mon Boner, you gotta be with me on this. It’s ready to go. It’s gonna drop. All of it. All that snow. All like, eleven tons of it. Soon. You’ll see, man.”
“OK Mister Chicken Little-the sky-is-falling saying it again and again. You’re fuckin’ looped, dude.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
I could feel Boner surveying me, wrinkling that Pizon schnoz of his and pushing his glasses up, blinking like an owl, wondering if I was just fucking with him, which I was prone to do. He was looking for conviction. Knowing that this very second was crucial, I didn’t flinch, laser beaming the crest of that snow-covered roof with all of my supernatural resolve. He was either gonna leave me standing there in the driveway like a foolish dope or he was going to hang out and commit to the mystical trip.
“Do you wanna smoke, man?”
“Yes,” I said. “I would like a cigarette.”
I had Nicole up just the way she liked it. Squeezed and kneaded her flanks like wet clay, making her move it. I held it good and still, helping every fifth or sixth time. The Tahoe National Forest was positively incandescent natural heaven on this late vernal morning and I was wrapped up and drawn out the window into the bright greens of the Jack pines against the super-white shining of the diamonds in the snow.
My endorphin machine synthesized the natural elements into a sacred sweaty swirl where the aereolic clouds pillowed the loins and cotton was the rooster and everything turned into either hill or valley or river or bush and at the exact moment I put it all over her back, a bird flew into the glass of the window with a sickening little pt-ink-fup, leading with its beak. Our bodies jumped, jerked out of our insular plane. It might as well have been a gunshot.
“What was that?” she asked breathing.
“A bird I think. I think a bird just ran into the window. I’m gonna go see.”
“Stay,” she purred. “It’s just a dead bird.”
“It might not be dead,” I said. “ I’m gonna go check.”
I gathered over to the window and there, bounced three feet back from the house on the hardened snow, lay a Mountain Chickadee,
twitching in the confusing throes of a rude collision.
“It’s still alive. I’m gonna go check it out.”
“C’mon Milo. What’s the big deal? You gonna go out like that? In just your wife-beater?”
I threw my robe on and left my boots untied. The snow by the side of the house had a springtime crust from the run-off and I found myself breaking through six inches down with each step, squinting against the sun. What the hell was I really doing out here anyway?
Coming up on the bird, it appeared now to be silent. Upon closer inspection, it was palpitating slightly, its neck turned unnaturally, its beak partially opened, its eye film half-drawn and a tiny sparkle of light visible in the onyx eye.
“Is it dead?” she asked from the window.
“Nope,” I said. “But she’s in shock all right.”
“Probably more in shock from what she saw through the bedroom window,” she quipped.
“Yeah, damn,” I said, sort of smiling. “That must be it.”
I cupped my hand over her shoulder trying to take her and she sprung, alarmed by my touch. It was most likely the first time she had been touched by anything other than feather, wood, weather or sky.
“Well at least she’s conscious,” I said.
There was no response. I looked up to the window. Nicole had moved on to do something else. I got that weird foolish feeling that you get when you’re talking to someone whom you thought was your captive audience, listening behind you, and they leave the room without saying a word and you jabber on about something important before you find that you’re alone, talking to yourself. Oi.
The bird had leapt toward the house, just under the eaves trough. When I came to her, she lay in a sunspot, huffing. I moved my hands toward her again when a large clear droplet of snow water fell into the ruffles of her neck and she flew off in a start, awkward and wobbly, landing under a juniper bush twenty yards back into the woods. She had summoned enough concentrated strength to fly away into the bushes to either convalesce or to die in peace without the hovering presence of an alien. My grandfather once told me that birds who flew into windows suffered concussions, slipping into temporary comas and as long as their necks weren’t broken and they weren’t attacked by cats in the meantime, they could snap out of their coma on a dime and fly away as if nothing ever happened. Come to think of it, the same phenomena occurred with me when I was tossed over the handlebars of a dirt bike a few years back, landing on the crown of my helmeted head whereupon I popped right back up and got up on the bike, cool as a cucumber. Or so I thought. My friends had seen the accident and told me after the fact, that I had laid motionless for three minutes, appearing very dead, when out of nowhere I popped back up, looking almost possessed. Birds, humans, knockin’ ourselves silly.
I guessed that my work had been done here, not that I really accomplished anything with the bird. And although it was Spring in the mountains and the sun was out, it was still frickin’ cold as a witch’s wrinkled bellybutton and I was still only wearing a robe and boots. I started retracing my tracks, stepping back into the foot-holes toward the house when a low bassey ominous scraping sound jerked my head around to witness the four-foot high pack of snow sliding off of the roof onto the patch of ground where I had been with the bird not forty seconds earlier. A veritable bludgeoning avalanche of a multi-tonnage parcel of frozen water blocks hit the ground with thwomps of muted heaviness certain to flatten or maim any living thing under its deadly cross-hairs. Wow. Fuck. Shit. Goddamn even.
“What was that, Milo?” Nicole asked coming quickly to the window.
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. She looked down at the pile of thick white tombstones and my footprints leading in. Then she looked over at me, less than ten feet away.
“Holy shit,” she said.
“Holy shit is right,” I said, releasing my breath.
One wouldn’t normally think of falling snow as a leading cause of death but throughout the ages literally thousands of humans, dogs, horses and cattle have been clobbered, paralyzed and killed by snow falling from houses, buildings and mountains, even critically stabbed by falling icicles. Bludgeoned by spring thaw.
And I had been spared. And the bird had been spared. A veritable dual reprieve. Had I saved the bird’s life? Or had the drop of snow water saved the bird’s life, thereby saving my life? And was it possible that the three ounces of bird hitting the window had reverberated through the walls of the house loosening the snow from its moorings? Or had it been the wicked motion within the bedroom? Or had it been the exponential sum of both movements coupled with the spring blast of the sun? Or was it just a coincidence? Or was it a coinciding?
As I attempted to assimilate what had just transpired, I teleported back to Boner and me watching the roof of that barn on that ordinary spring day fifteen years back. I had been so sure and Boner so skeptical and we watched that roof for close to twenty minutes before that snow pack came careening off that 40 x 60 tin roof like the epic frozen ghost of Niagara Falls. I can still see that orange cow, in exactly the wrong place at exactly the wrong time, crumpling under the weight of that snow, its legs buckling and snapping, a dreadful noise mixed with the muffled caterwaul of a guttural moo. I can still see it. In my wisdom container. I can still see it all. That and the expression on Boner’s face.