No one remembers snow country’s real name. The town was once a bustling spittoon of commerce complete with parks and a hopping Slung Your Jug, where tourists could enjoy gas, donuts and company. Residents lived in the real world amidst the stresses of school, finance and relationships. Then it started to snow.
When the snow came, Alphus was in fifth grade. He was a quiet boy, intent on finding a special rock each day and stowing it in his pocket. The snow was a light dandruff at first then increased to splotches – like insects dead upon windshields: round and unique, appearing in random patterns, and inconvenient when present in swarms.
On his birthday, the students were let home early. The snow fell in big web-like chunks. The ground melted the first flakes, but since then no one has seen it. Roofs broke in, and tree limbs sagged. The snow crept up to cover half of bottom-story windows, and let children to jump safely from tall decks and low roofs. The snow built up for about a week, and then, though it continued to fall from the sky, the level on the ground stayed the same.
School was canceled the day after Alphus’s birthday and the day, the week, and all the years after that. Business’s closed one after another. Only people who lived in their offices and who invested a large amount of their identity in their careers continued to work. Things became rather sedentary. Alphus did not finish elementary school.
In the mornings, as was his habit, when Alphus donned his robe and fed his quail companions or if he happened to take a walk to see his mother, Alphus would behold his next-door neighbor. Behold: the man had a tan round belly and a hairy chest. This was apparent because he would stand on his driveway in only his lime-green swim trunks and fireman boots and grill himself a bratwurst before noon each day. Alphus tried to avoid his neighbor. The lime-green shade of the swim trunks was unsightly.
To keep this up, the neighbor would wrestle his truck through the snow over to the food warehouse, and he’d buy the largest pack of bratwursts available. Alphus had seen these packs – dogs wrapped tightly in plastic like spongy teeth or a fleshy anemone. It hurt him psychologically.