A few houses up Carl and Cathy’s street resided their school’s head custodian, Phil Anders, who was also home on this snow day. His philosophy of life could best be summed up as “Make love AND war!”
As for the “love” element to that phrase, according to the neighborhood grapevine, he and his live-in gal pal were “friends with benefits” decades before that phrase would become popularized. There was even some clever wordplay, which had morphed his name to the nickname, “Philanderer Phil”.
As for the “war” element, this guy harbored “I’m as mad as hell” anger management issues that, a decade later, could’ve easily inspired actor Peter Finch’s portrayal of TV anchorman, Howard Beale in the big screen flick, “Network.”
Indeed, he could’ve spun a sphygmomanometer into perpetual motion and blown his top skyward with such a force, his shiny cranial bone fragments could’ve easily reached escape velocity to create safety issues for 60s era NASA astronauts orbiting the Earth in their Gemini space capsules.
Physically, Phil was a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger (minus the accent) and the Incredible Hulk (minus the green). Were it not for his receding hairline, under dim lighting conditions he could’ve even triggered a few bogus Sasquatch sightings, too. As for battling the winter elements, with such a burly physique, he was a natural.
He was always loaded for bear (loaded on beer, too) and ready to engage any DPW’s snowplow driver who had the gall to “home deliver”… from the roadways to his lower driveway… the mega-tonnage of oft thigh-deep snow and icy sludge.
When in his full-blown wild-man mode, he was not only the maestro of middle digit sign language, but he also had a knack for providing the neighborhood youngsters a liberal education… expanding their vocabulary with words never heard in the Bible… well, at least not his choice, four letter synonyms. His protégés even developed an appreciation for poetry once they heard how well he could form crude couplets involving the words truck, trucking, trucker… well… you get the idea.
On this particular snow day, he even introduced his captive audience to his precision snow shovel hurl event… targeting… you guessed it… the moving DPW truck! With a bit more training, a bit less beer and proper self-promotion, he could’ve created a whole new Winter Olympics event.
Carl could already smell that approaching plow truck’s diesel, hear the telltale Doppler shift effect of its roaring engine and the scraping sounds of blade applied to asphalt when… reverie broken… he returned to the here and now snowstorm… just in time to hear the sounds and catch a whiff of the actual thing.
Gazing up the street through the whiteout conditions, he was just in time to spot the DPW snowplow rounding the bend. Carl could only imagine how Phil would’ve reacted for that madman had passed on decades ago.
Mere moments later, the driver had blocked his driveway with a ton of hefty, heavy, slushy, snow “boulders”. Though sufficiently PO’d to morph into Phil’s persona, he suppressed the urge to reintroduce his snow shovel hurl. He was forced to concede that this was the one and only efficient and cost effective snow removal method available.
So there Carl stood… momentarily leaning on his shovel… figuratively and literally snowed under by the new task at hand. Armed with only his muscles and shovel, for the second time that day, he was again slaving away to clear his lower driveway.
He did chuckle a bit as he caught himself muttering some of the very same profane couplets ol’ Phil had taught him in his younger days.
After a half hour had passed, it was mission accomplished. Even better, the snowfall had eased up a bit, too. Carl was finally heading back for the warmth of his home. Turning the key in the lock, just prior to turning the doorknob, he did linger a moment to take one last look up the street… set his gaze upon the house once occupied by his unforgettable neighbor.
Through the upward wafting frozen clouds of Carl’s exhaled, condensing breath, he offered his thanks to Phil for all those fun, fond memories. And just in case that wild man had, instead, wound up taking the “down escalator” ride, Carl sent those same thanks hellward, too.