Night of the Prospector

This guy was frozen solid. Me and Marty stood him up and leaned him against a tree and he stayed in that position: arms out, almost Christ-like. Frozen hair spiking every-which-way. Eyes glassy and staring. His expression a twisted scowl. I brushed some powdery snow off his forehead with my glove.

You hungry? asked Marty. Cuz I ain’t eaten all day.

What, and leave this guy here?

He ain’t goin’ anywhere.

Yeah, but what about them kids? It was decided: we lifted the frozen man and set him in the back of Marty’s pickup truck. We threw a furniture blanket over him so no one would really see anything.

Later at Spidelda’s Inn we sat finishing onion rings. There was a large chandelier made of antlers overhead and a fire burned in the fireplace. How long do you suppose he was lying there frozen? Marty asked.

I don’t know. But hardly anyone wears clothes like that anymore. Maybe he was an old miner back in the day.

Miners don’t dress like that. Maybe a prospector.

What do you think would happen if we un-froze him?

He ain’t comin back to life.

Why not?

You can’t freeze someone and have ‘em come back to life. That’s science fiction.

A red-headed waitress named Rosa came over. You gentlemen finished with yer onion rings?


Driving back out to Spurry we couldn’t help wondering what would happen if he really did come back to life. When we got to the trailer we leaned him against the wall right by the space heater. Then we went back out to the woods to finish tapping the maple trees and all but forgot about him. It was dark when we returned to the trailer that evening.

Did you turn off the outside light this mornin’? asked Marty.

No. Maybe it burned out. We walked up the steps and kicked snow off our boots. Marty pulled open the outside door and then the inside door. It was dark in the trailer and there was a silhouette of a figure on the couch in front of the TV. It’s the prospector, Marty said in an excited whisper. Hello, sir! Marty said but the figure rose up and lunged at us, holding a pick-ax high above his head. I was out of there in a flash, the door slamming itself shut behind me.


Back so soon? asked Rosa when I showed up out-of-breath at Spidelda’s. I could not get a word out. Here, I’ll get you a coffee so you can warm up and tell me what happened, she said and went back behind the counter. Just then something crashed through the plate-glass window behind me. I turned to see the old prospector, still blue from the cold, with his pick in one hand and Marty’s disembodied head in the other.

Rosa pressed a shotgun into my hands. You want to do the honors? she asked. It took multiple shots to bring him down. Afterwards I stood with Rosa over the body with its frozen blue skin. The bullet holes were clean and bloodless. You know, I wish he didn’t have to die this way, I said. Rosa hugged me to her breast. You did the right thing. What’s an old prospector gonna tell us that we don’t already know?

I returned the hug and the hug turned into a passionate kiss. That night we did some serious drinking in her cabin and I found myself staring into the wild flames dancing on her hearth. I confessed to being haunted by the image of the blue-skinned prospector holding my friend’s head. Forget about them, she told me. Forget, baby. She smiled and narrowed her eyes. Come join me by the fire.




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