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The Snowburst

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They maneuvered around the body with their feet fighting the snow for balance. Nazaire grabbed the inside of the elbow and pulled down, revealing a crusted line where the lips should have been.

“Raoul, look and see if it’s him,” Nazaire said.

Kaine held the back of the man’s head while Raoul rolled the body to free the opposite arm and pulled down. Crack. The men stopped and looked at each other.

“I think we broke an arm this time,” Kaine said.

The men stopped and searched each other’s face.

“We can’t stay in this cold much longer,” Kaine said.

Nazaire’s feet shuffled without purpose while Raoul remained silent and looked wide-eyed.

“Check his pockets,” Kaine said.

Nazaire pulled off a glove and struggled to turn the body on each side. “Nothing,” he said.

The pockets were empty. No ring, no chain or religious cross or cloth scapula. A real lost soul.

“How about his teeth?” Kaine asked.

“We can’t get his damned hands away from his mouth. How’re we gonna check his teeth? With a blow torch?” Nazaire said.

“Break his wrist with a wrench,” Raoul said, looking up at Kaine. “I’m not breaking anything. Don’t want no widow upset with me for desecrating her husband.”

The man was almost angelic with hoarfrost covering his bare chest. Under the legs, a slab of yellowed ice had been chiseled to free the body from the ground. He lay in a round as young children sometimes do, collapsing elbows and knees as if in want to disappear. That one eye open followed the men no matter how they twisted and turned to inspect the face. Nazaire and Raoul searched the face, stomping their feet in the cold.

“Well is it your brother or no?” Kaine asked.

Nazaire’s heart pounded. He bent to get close to the face and almost fell on top of the ashen man. “I don’t think so.”

Raoul studied the face, and evaluated it from a side angle.

“Look, the nose,” Raoul said.

Again, Nazaire approached the face, searched the nose, the forehead, and back to the nose. His breath pushed a puff of white into the air.

“Not him, nope, not Gaudias.”

“You sure?” Kaine asked.

“Yea.” Nazaire looked at Raoul, grinned and turned back to Kaine. “Six generations of Poulin men and not one hook nose in the bunch.”

After weeks of inquiry, the mystery of the frozen man was over. He was Lippo Kalm just out of Seattle from Finland coming to join his brother working down the Indian River.