For Marnie and Chris G.
It started innocently enough. Team Seven had gathered at Larabee's ranch for a day of snacking, cards and the AFC playoffs. JD was unrepentant in his support for his home team, the Patriots, despite the fact that everyone else there favored one other team, that being whatever team it was that beat the Patriots.
"You're just jealous," JD observed. "I mean, the Pats don't always go to the AFC play offs, but when they do, it's usually always."
"That makes no fucking sense," Buck chided.
"Doesn't make it untrue," JD defended.
The game would not start for another two hours. There was a gigantic pot roast the size of half a steer in the oven, but it wouldn't be done for another hour or so.
It had snowed abundantly the night before, and Chris had spent a good part of the morning clearing out his long driveway so everyone would have room for their vehicles. Buck and JD had driven there together, as had Nathan and Josiah. Their vehicles were side by side in the driveway. Ezra had parked his Jag well behind them, in the very center of the drive, as if touching the snow banks on either side, or one of the lesser vehicles, would somehow infest the fancy sports car with vehicular cooties.
Most normal people considered snow in Colorado an inconvenient nuisance to be dealt with as needed. This was not true for the two youngest members of Team Seven. JD had grown up with plenty of snow, but that had not in any way dampened his enthusiasm for being outside wallowing in it. Snow had been a scarce event in southern Texas where Vin had grown up, but Vin just liked the outdoors in general, and didn't bat an eye at the idea of traipsing through the woods ass-deep in the stuff.
Ezra had bought them both a pair of North Face snow pants for Christmas, because it frankly alarmed him when they would return from their outdoor escapades not realizing they were soaking wet until their limbs were half frozen and hypothermia had begun to set in. The pants were lightweight, waterproof, windproof, and generally endowed them both with a feeling of invincibility.
Both of them stood in the mud-room, bundled in heavy jackets, thick gloves, snowboots and hats as well as the snow pants. They looked like the kid from A Christmas Story.
"Who wants to make a snowman?" JD asked his team mates.
"Nobody! / No one!" came five answers.
"Pussies," Vin laughed, then playfully punched JD in the shoulder. "Let them stay inside and keep their vaginas warm."
"Food's ready in an hour," Chris said, ignoring the insult. "We'll eat yours if you aren't here." He meant it, too.
As was usual after a storm, the weather was gorgeous. It was cold, but not bitter, there was no wind, and the sun was shining. The air was clean and fresh.
"Are we really gonna to build a snowman?" Vin asked, frowning, because he thought that idea was kind of lame. They were grown men, after all.
"I dunno . . ." JD said. "How big do you think we could make one?"
Vin looked around. "We should go up there." He pointed to a gentle slope where Larabee's property eased itself onto the base of the Rockies. The land was used for grazing so had been cleared of trees. "The snow there isn't all messed up like this." He kicked the snow that had been disturbed and scattered every which way by Chris's snow thrower.
Slowly, they made their way up the hill. The snow was deep, so it was tough going, especially since it was the dense sticky stuff. That was a good thing, though, since powder didn't stick together as well.
They both started out by patting together a nice big ball, then, setting off in opposite directions, they began to roll the balls over the fresh snow cover.
It was going great - the snow was sticking beautifully and bountifully, each turn increasing the diameter of the balls by a couple of inches. The problem was, the bigger they got, the harder they were to roll. They hadn't reached the point yet where they were really struggling, but it was becoming an effort to keep them moving and growing.
"SHIT!" Vin exclaimed suddenly, and JD turned around to see what the problem was.
Vin had hit a rock. His snowball, which was now about 3 feet in diameter, had cracked in two.
"Aww, man, that sucks," JD sympathized, although he was secretly smug that his snow ball remained intact.
Vin kicked the pieces of his. They bounced down the hill, slowly losing volume and momentum until they settled into forlorn lumps.
"Hey," JD said, pointing at his snowball, "we should see how humongous we can make this one with two of us pushing it."
That perked Vin up immediately. They set to work.
"What the hell are those idiots doing?" Josiah asked, peeking through the kitchen blinds as he cradled a steaming cup of cocoa in his hands.
Buck joined him. "Wow, that's the biggest damn snowball I ever saw."
It was true. Vin and JD were pushing a sphere of packed snow that was almost as tall as Vin, which meant it was taller than JD.
Nathan decided to take a look, too. "That's a potential hazard," he said sternly. "That thing probably weighs as much as they do. If they were to slip . . . "
"Should we tell them to stop?" Buck frowned, concerned.
Ezra laughed. "Do you honestly think they would?"
Nathan went into first responder mode. He opened the back door - letting in a rude torrent of cold air that threatened Josiah's cocoa - and yelled at the pair, "Y'all be careful! You hear!?"
Vin and JD heard and saw him, but couldn't make out a single word he said, so, they just waved.
"Dumb little shits," Nathan muttered.
"What . .. are . . . we . . . gonna . . . do . . . with . . . this?" Vin asked, periodically grunting with effort. The snowball was now really huge, maybe 7 feet in diameter. It was taking a lot of effort to keep it going, and now they'd reached a point where they would have to turn around and go back the way they'd come. Problem was, there was a huge rock on the down-slope, and they didn't want to risk their massive creation, so they were trying to nudge it a few inches up the slope so they could continue along a level contour.
Finally, after much careful effort, they were rolling again.
"I dunno," JD answered. "I wonder if Chris has any spray paint? We could paint it to look like a football helmet."
"That," Vin panted, "would be fucking epic!"
"Let's see how big we can get it first."
At around 9 feet in diameter, they could no longer budge the thing. JD decided a bit of sculpting was in order, so he stayed behind to do that while Vin went and looked for paint.
By the time Vin returned, JD had the snowball looking reasonably like a football helmet.
"Awesome," Vin laughed, shaking a can of blue paint. He had brought both blue and red, JD was happy to observe. Patriots colors.
Vin was a bit more adept with a spray can than JD, having misspent some of his youth happily applying graffiti to various public surfaces, so he was tasked with applying the details of the Pats' logo. JD began to cover the rest of the massive ice ball with blue.
The problem was, of course, that they were basically painting on water. The spray paint would not dry on such a surface, ever. It might not even stick for very long, but really, this was Chris's backyard, not the MoMA, so who gave a shit?
JD gently scraped a white '12' onto the forehead of the helmet, just so there would be no mistaking what team it represented.
Eventually, the masterpiece was complete.
It was almost time to eat, so they decided to head back to the house, where they could admire their work from a distance while basking in envious praise from their team mates.
They had both removed their gloves to better work the spray can nozzles, so their fingers were numb from the cold. While trying to put the lid back on the can of red paint, Vin dropped it and it rolled a few feet in JD's direction.
"I got it," JD said, reaching out. Unfortunately, he had to stretch and his left foot lost its traction on a patch of ice. His arms wind-milled a few times before gravity won out and he fell backwards, right into the snowball.
Vin pulled him up quickly, and they both examined the result with anticipated horror, then breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that their opus magnum was pretty much unscathed. JD did have blue paint all over the back of his jacket, but it was also blue, so, no biggy.
"Dumb shit," Vin laughed, and shoved JD playfully.
"Asshole," JD pushed back.
They laughed and high-fived each other, but their jocularity was short-lived.
Their triumphant grins turned to horror as some way, some how, by some cruel act of fate, or perhaps Newton's First Law, the snowball moved.
And then, it moved some more.
"Fuck!" they both gasped as slowly, but surely, the gargantuan lump of snow began to make its way down the hill.
Both of them hurried to position themselves in front of it, which turned out to be a Really Stupid Idea when the massive thing almost flattened them both. JD shoved Vin to the side before jumping out of the way himself.
They sat despondent on their asses waiting for the giant to meet the same fate to which Vin's smaller effort had succumbed.
Alas, it was not to be.
The snowball did not break apart. In fact, it kept growing larger and larger as it rolled faster and faster down the hill.
"Oh, that's not good," JD remarked as he noted the object's path of least resistance - which happened to be right in the direction of Ezra's Jag.
Vin closed his eyes. "I can't watch," he gasped.
JD shoved him. "Your fault!"
Vin shoved back. "This was your dumb . . ."
He never got to finish that thought. The snowball, now greater in diameter than the Jag's entire length, reached the bottom of the hill, cut through the snowbank like it was butter (adding to its volume) and t-boned the Jag dead center.
The impact pushed the car into the opposite snowbank, causing the alarms to go off and the side-impact airbags (on both sides) to deploy.
That in and of itself would have been bad enough, but it somehow the thing had lost its newly acquired outer coating like a reject peanut M&M, and the center had left a spectacular splash of blue paint with tinges of red all over the formerly pristine triple resin black finish of the Jag.
Not that it mattered much, because it was going to have to be repainted when they fixed the dent in the door.
"We're dead," Vin muttered softly.
"As two-week old roadkill," JD agreed somberly.
The rest of Team Seven came pouring from the house, looking alarmingly like wasps whose nest had been poked.
Vin and JD slowly - so as to postpone the inevitable as long as possible - made their way down the hill.
By the time they got there, Ezra had turned off the alarms and was examining his beloved vehicle. His expression was unreadable. The man really did have a poker face. Still, his posture spoke volumes. He was pissed.
Nevertheless, despite being a fancy luxury sports car, the Jag was soundly engineered and constructed. There was a slight, but fixable, dent in the passenger side door, but the rest of it appeared to have escaped undamaged. Of course, the dent would have to be fixed, and the splashes of paint removed, and the airbags re-packed.
"We'll pay for it," JD said humbly.
Vin nodded in agreement. "We're really sorry, Ez."
"You gentlemen appear to be failing to see the obvious problem here," Ezra said, patiently. Forced-patiently, it seemed to Vin and JD.
He indicated the mammoth snowball.
Not only did it have the Jag pinned in place against the snowbank, it was also blocking the driveway, so that Buck's and Nathan's vehicles weren't going anywhere, either. It had also compacted itself into a solid chunk of ice the size of a small bedroom.
Chris put an arm each around Vin and JD's shoulders. He pulled them close in a brotherly embrace that felt oddly like a choke hold.
"Let's all go inside and have some dinner," he said, his calm voice betrayed by the glint of evil in his steely eyes. "Then, I have a sledge hammer and an ice chopper in the barn. Shovels, too!" he grinned.
"But the game . . ." Vin began, and was cut off by the Larabee Glare.
"Anyone have anything else they want to say?" Chris shook them both rather less than playfully.
JD looked down at his boots and mumbled, "Go Pats?"
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