The Captain and the Snowman

This captain’s boat skims into the harbor at dim and dawn

The brick of the buildings bruised and brown, the soot of man coming down

Three bars of silver light, sun reflections, eyes of heat and love

Gazing into the past he goes, at the hotel by the sea

The room is painted blue like the ocean, the heavy drapes keep the room dark

A naked slide to the window, to part, to look out

Someone there down on the dock, someone who isn’t someone

The mists graze upon the locks, feed on the shadow, it falls into the water

The betrayal cracks a leaf-littered mirror, he presses on nonetheless

Down to the dining hall the captain goes

His guts all a rumble

Time for some swordfish and slaw, peach pie and indecent exposure

Nerves gnawing like Caligula on grapes

Buttered rum biscuits, naked silhouetted napkins, a firing squad bursts from the kitchen

It’s play bang, play dead time

The pirate fry cook swings his narwhal spike sword with an aim to maim

The ghetto mushrooms have been tainted with habanero rainbows,

The hands of maniacs stick like school glue exponential

The math on the board is so puzzling, a girl with golden hair swallowed the white chalk

Writing out geometric formulaic hypothesis on crackers and pool tables with her soul

The balls of all slowly crawl across the matted green felt, like in a jail release bar

On another star, so afar

Someone wondered if he was coming to the New Year’s ball

A woman dressed as a goat and holding an unripe papaya

She claimed it was to save her from the inevitable pains in her stomach

She said she lived in a pink house on another planet right next door to John Cougar Mellencamp

The cloud of people wondered what gaseous cloud had overtaken her, she was senseless, eccentric

Gravity all nonsense

Like dream gravy in a spaceship, like green Gazoo in a parking lot pole.

They called Captain Wild Nuts to the front to accept his award for being the most solitary sailor of the world.

They wondered how he could do so much alone, he tried to speak between the lines of the camera flashes exploding in his wayward face.

“That’s enough!” he finally cried out. “Put away your pens and your recorders of thought and your digital image makers. I am merely a Puff, like a dragon high in the hedges of some warm English lane.”

He went back to his table to a round of soft unintended applause.

“He’s so weird,” someone whispered loudly.

Captain Chaos took his seat and leaned toward the snowman with the carrot cock for a nose. “Aren’t you afraid you’re going to melt?” the captain asked. “It’s warm in here with all these pointless bodies.”

“I’ve melted through a thousand and one lifetimes… So, no. There is nothing to fear. The other side is wonderful. Congratulations, by the way.”

“Can I ask you something?” the captain said to the snowman with the carrot cock nose and two eyes of coal.

“What’s that, Captain?”

“Do you eat ice cream?”

“I love ice cream… And the best part is, if it drips down on me, it doesn’t matter.”

The captain chuckled. “I want to get out of here. This place is full of stuffy stiffs, and I hate it. I’ve been to this port before, and I know of a wonderful ice cream shoppe just across the road from here. If you’d like to come with me, I’ll buy you a cone or a dish or whatever you’d like.”

“Why thank you, captain. I would like that.”

“You can call me Captain Vanilla, by the way,” the captain said to the snowman as they trudged through winter walkways toward the ice cream shoppe beyond the veil of swirling snow.

“Your name seems to change every five minutes or so. Why is that?”

The captain laughed. “You’re quite sharp for a snowman with no straight edges. The truth is, I’m in hiding. There are people after me.”

“Whatever for?” the snowman wanted to know.

“For being a menace to society, I suppose.”

“But you’re the most solitary sailor of the world… How could you possibly be a menace to society.”

“They just got me pegged, I guess… And I don’t even have a peg leg,” the captain roared.

The bell to the ice cream shoppe jingled like Christmas when they pushed through the door.

A man behind the counter took an instant dislike to them. “Hey! You can’t bring a snowman in here. I don’t want slush all over the floor. He’ll have to wait outside.”

“But kind sir. I promised my friend here an ice cream.”


The captain turned to the snowman. “I’m sorry about this… What kind of ice cream would you like?”

The snowman was crushed. Tears of ash and soot ran down his face. “Oh, never mind. I’ll just go and stand in a field or something and wait for spring to murder me.” He trundled out the door and stood on the walk and looked in through the window.

The captain felt his pain like he felt everyone’s pain. He sharply turned to the man behind the counter and raised a sea-hardened finger. “Do you get your jollies over being mean to people, huh? He’s never done you a day of wrong and you treated him horribly. All he wanted was some ice cream and you made him feel like less of a person for it. What do you have to say for yourself.”

The man behind the counter scowled at the captain. He rolled up his sleeves and crossed two thick arms across his puffed-out chest. “He’s a snowman, not a person. I’ve got rights as a business owner, and I got the say when it comes to who I want to serve and who I don’t want to serve. If you don’t like it, join your weepy friend on the other side of the door.”

The captain backed up and looked in the case at all the different kinds of ice cream. “Do you have pistachio?”

“Not today.”

“How about mint chocolate chip?”

“Do you want a cup or a cone, and how many scoops?”

“Hmm… Two scoops in a cone. One of those pointy ones.”

The gruff man behind the counter went to work making the captain’s ice cream cone. He handed it to him. “That’ll be $4.50.”

The captain dug in his coat for the money and handed it over. “Thanks. Have a fine day.”

“Right,” the man behind the ice cream counter grumbled. “A fine day.”

The captain went to sit on a bench in a snowy park not far from the hotel. He sat there in the flurries licking at his ice cream cone and watching the snowman who was just standing there some ways off near a clump of leafless trees, the branches casting outward like witches’ fingers.

A small group of unruly children from the wrong side of the town were passing through the park. They were making noise and tossing hastily made snowballs at each other. When they reached the snowman, they paused. One of the boys started punching him in the midsection. They all laughed. Another boy started kicking at the snowman. They all laughed some more. Another boy still, yanked the carrot cock nose from the snowman’s face and started stabbing at him with it while the others cheered him on.

The captain had had enough, and he went over to the small cluster of rabble rousers to put a stop to their bullying. “Knock that off, boys! That’s no way to treat a snowman. He’s, my friend.”

They all laughed at the captain in a loud mocking way. “Piss off, old man!” one of the boys yelled at him.

“Yeah, piss off!” said another. “Don’t you have a ferry to catch… Fairy.”

One of them threw a snowball at the captain and it smacked him in the shoulder.

That angered the captain, and he threw his ice cream cone at the boy, and it splattered right in his face. “Yeah, how do you like that ya little shit!” And he looked at the circle of misfits and raised his arms to make himself look more threatening and he made a loud, unintelligible warbling sound like some crazy bird. The boys looked at each other and then decided it would be best if they ran off to get away from this deranged sea captain defending a snowman in a snowy park in a faraway place on a wayward day with little to no meaning but with plenty of meaning just the same.

The captain went to retrieve the snowman’s carrot cock nose and stuck it back in his face. “There you go,” he said as he adjusted it just right. “Now you can breathe again and smell things.”

“Thanks, captain. And thanks for helping out with that brood of bastards. I’m sure they would have done me in completely if you hadn’t come along.”

The captain took a deep breath and looked around. “Well… I’m a captain, that’s what I do. And you’re my friend. I’m sure you would have done the same for me.”

The snowman shifted uncomfortably and tried to smile. “I… Guess I would have.”

“What do you mean, you guess you would have.”

“I mean. Well… It’s not like I’m in love with you or anything. And besides, I’m not one for violence.”

The captain was shocked and took a step back. “Why you… You ungrateful little shit of a snowman! I risked my life for you. I risked my freedom for you! Why, right now that boy could be telling his father that I assaulted him with a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone and the next thing you know, here come the coppers ready to lock me up. All because I considered you a friend and I wanted to protect you! Well, isn’t that a fine kettle of fish!”

The snowman shrugged. “Sorry. That’s just how I feel.”

The captain rushed at the snowman and plucked the carrot cock nose from his face and threw it as hard and as far as he could. “There! I hope you suffocate!”

“I still have a mouth… Hee hee hee,” the snowman snickered.

The captain ferociously rushed him once more and knocked the snowman’s head off. He kicked at it after it thumped to the ground. He screamed loudly as he repeatedly stomped on it.

The cop was watching him from a distance and now spoke into his handset. “Yeah, I found him. Looks like some kind of nut job. He’s smashing the poor kids’ snowman. I’ll make contact.”

The captain was startled and turned when the officer called out to him. “Hey! What are you doing there?”

“Oh, hello officer,” the captain chuckled. “I suppose I look quite silly smashing up this snowman.”

“Uh, huh. A young boy says some man in the park threw an ice cream cone at him. Do you know anything about that?” the cop asked.

The captain sighed. “Yes, officer. That was me. But I only did it because he threw a snowball at me and him and the other boys, they were messing with my friend here.”

“Your friend?”

“The snowman. He came to life. We had a good time together, but then that prick at the ice cream store wouldn’t serve him… Oh, never mind. It’s a long story.”

“Uh, huh. Turn around sir and place your hands behind your back. You can tell your story to the judge.”

The captain stayed quiet as he rode in the back of the police car. He looked out the window at the white, cold world and wondered why he was even born. He looked out at the harbor and his ship was gone. It was gone because it was never there. None of it was ever there. He had simply ridden the waves of the rough surf inside his own head once again. The captain laughed out loud when the jail came into view. He saw the nearby corner bar with the red neon and knew that was going to be his first stop when he got out.


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