turned off his saw and brushed ice dust from the block. He worked quickly. The rapid dusk of late January swallowed huge chunks of light.
he thought. Maybe
was just rough stuff anyway--far from the finished masterpiece he had in mind. What he had in front of him was still very much The Uncarved Block.
you’re in there,” he whispered. His lips caressed the rough ice. For the briefest moment, an image peered out from within. Of course, only he could see her, but that was fine by
Ronnie. For now he had her to himself. The rest of the world could wait. Sculpting (most art probably) was like that, Ronnie thought. The artist was always the first.
If the job were done right, the rest of the world would follow.
do you right,” he said, his eyes closed now. “Trust me. Don’t you fret in there. I’ll take just enough. You’ll be stunning.”
kissed the block and reached into his coat for a chisel. At least he was done with the chainsaw for today. He thought he had some time, maybe a
couple a minutes, he
thought. He intended to use every second. January days were short enough.
hated winter—especially the months of January and February. They were just too long. They were hopeless months. Grey and cold and hopeless. If it weren’t for the winter
carnival, and the ice carving competition, he thought he’d probably just shoot himself and end it. He didn’t have any friends. He didn’t have any family. These facts only
amplified when the depressing chill of January and February drove people indoors. They were the cruelest, most lonely, most hopeless months.
winter carnival was his only break. His only personal outlet. His only attempt at creation. He’d been competing since he was eighteen. He didn’t win that year. Didn’t
even place. This was his twentieth winter carnival. He’d never won. He’d never placed. But he thought this year might be different. Something just felt
this year. Maybe it was his new faith—that art wasn’t created, but uncovered. Beauty was inherent in all things. The artist’s job was only to remove the excess.
worked near the top. Tap Tap Tap, with chisel and hammer, Scrape Scrape Scrape, with just the chisel. He scraped in an upward motion--pushing the ice up from near his chest to a
spot just above his head.
grunt. Push, Grunt.
arms burned. His breath froze and swirled as he squeezed out what was left of the daylight. Then he slipped. The chisel let loose on an upward stroke and sank into the soft tissue
of his neck, between his chin and throat.
Ronnie half scampered half tumbled from the ladder, landing at the base of the block. He did a quick assessment of the situation, couldn’t see how he could make it much worse, and
yanked the chisel from his neck. Blood squirted from the wound, staining the ice. He tried to wipe it clean, but only managed an ugly smear.
. .” He finally gave up on the ice, realizing there were more important issues at hand here. Ronnie reached into his pocket and grabbed the large cotton rag he would later use to rub
finishing touches into the ice—the smooth cheeks, the soft shoulders and breasts.
be needing this tonight anyway, he
thought, applying firm, and direct pressure to the wound. He sat there like that for an hour, cramming a cotton rag under his chin with his fist—like some twisted incarnation of The Thinker.
He was afraid to move. Nobody passed. When he removed the rag, he was thrilled to find that the gash was no longer squirting. It did still leak (quite a lot actually), but
Ronnie felt he could deal with that.
going to be fine, Ronnie,” behind him. It was a woman’s voice—soothing, comforting.
His voice hung frosty in the cold still air just a moment before the darkness swallowed it.
will be alright,” the woman said again.
right here, Ronnie.”
. .” But it hurt too much to talk.
hush now,” she said. “You get on home. You rest.”
thought that was best. He didn’t have the strength to hunt for sexy haunting voices. He stood, gathered up his tools with one hand, and loaded them in the truck. Walking back to
get the ladder he looked up and saw her image again. She was like an angel entombed in the ice—and she was his. His creation. His darling. He blinked and she was
morning, his wound had stopped leaking but he awoke hot and wet with fever. He had stopped at Wal Mart on the way home to pick up some gauze (what a sight he had been), and wrapped it snugly
around his neck before bed. Apparently that had done the trick. But he had not anticipated an infection. He didn’t have time for an infection. Had to get back to his
darling at the winter carnival. Had to free her from her frozen tomb.
come to him again in his feverous dreams.
must complete me.” A tantalizingly low voice. “I need you to release me. You need me to release you.”
beauty was beyond words. He wanted her. He needed her. So he got up and went to the park where he’d left her the night before. He had work to do. So he left before
still just a lumpy looking block of ice when he got there. It was still dark, but he couldn’t wait. The first thing to do would be to clean up the blood he’d spilled the night before.
Starting at the top, he worked with the chisel again.
get right back on that horse, he
neck ached, his head pounded with fever, but his heart pumped ferociously, and his arms and hands kept up. He would not slip today. Despite the pain and fever, he felt great. He
was on a mission. He had somewhere to be and something that needed to be done. For the first time that he could remember, he worked with purpose. He was taking action.
like a god, he
up, not a spot of blood could be found. By eight o’clock, the block took human form. By nine o’clock a few people had stopped to watch him work. By ten o’clock, a crowd had
gathered—amazed at the pace and precision of Ronnie’s work. He never stopped moving. He knew the people were there but he neither acknowledged them nor ignored them. He just kept
working—like a basketball star on the court—for him, the crowd was both there and not there. He felt their energy. He was exhilarated, euphoric, in a zone. It was like nothing
he’d ever felt. By noon he had a bust. By one o’clock a torso. The crowd swelled, and buzzed. By three o’clock she was complete.
stepped down from his ladder and backed away —seeing her for the first time as a whole piece. She smiled at him.
done it,” he whispered to himself. The crowd behind him hushed.
real. So life like. You’re beautiful.”
you’re beautiful,” she replied, turning her head, reaching out to him with a long slender hand.
channel 9 camera crew and reporter pushed through the crowd.
drew near her and she pulled him close.
go home now,” she said.
in place and microphone now in hand, the reporter began.
evening, we are standing live at the St. Paul Winter Carnival where a crowd has gathered in front of an amazing spectacle,” said the reporter into the camera. “According to witnesses, this
ice sculpture, begun by a Mr. Robbie Benson, has been, well. . .sculpting itself.
throughout the course of the day, the ice has been melting away. This magnificent figure you see behind me is what remains. . . ”
.” Ronnie said.
.Benson, who died early this morning from a stab wound to the neck. . .” The reporter continued, but his words were muffled and undecipherable to Ronnie.
now,” she said, caressing his cheek with icy fingers. “It’s over. It is time to go.”
Ronnie,” she whispered into his ear. “I’m here now, I’ll never leave you.”
don’t yet believe?” she said. “Understandable, but true. . . your time has come. Be at peace, with me, my love.”
news. . .they didn’t even get my name right.”
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