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Rise of the Snowman 3:
Love is a Mystery, Part 1: Stupid Animals

It's been an infuriating week, folks.

I'll try and start at the beginning, but I've been getting steadily angrier for the past five days, so I may revert to annoying details about the present, and tell you exactly how I kill someone. Right, so to get us going, it turns out Anya is a complete and total bitch. I hate her more than life itself. My Manhattan hotel room is remarkably dry and I do not know why she was devoted to that old man, but she killed him at the beginning of the week and came to stay with me. DWHH is coming over for spirits soon, and bringing Shu Tri. I would rather drink with a woman, and yet I might tear her apart with my bare hands. Or I might let the Dog do it. I've always wanted to see him in action, but killing is a private addiction for him. He has some cathartic milkbones to work through, I think. All right, all right, you want to hear the story, I should not linger on the dog. Just please understand, it's comforting to think about him.

Instead of her.

She mentioned a cold, hard childhood. What about Francois kept her so placid and subservient? He probably had some sort of electronic brainstem control on her. God, he must have. She's nuts.

The Wall Street Journal is atrocious today. No kidding around. Thoroughly sub-par work throughout.

Except for her affection for this wimpy, flaccid Snowman, she is the most impressive woman I have ever met. And by impressive I mean ruthless. She is a pioneer, an opportunist in the purest sense of the word. Or, well, I guess in the regular sense of the word. Even without Francois she would have survived, on pure grit and the will to fight. She's a little fighter, she is. I think I want to fight her more than anything. I scare away the maid. She is old and ugly enough not to make me want to butcher her.

Francois is too nice a guy. What woman really respects a nice guy? What woman beds him and means it? It seemed at times that she'd never had niceness her whole life, that she didn't really know what it was, but took wild stabs at it and valued it higher than anything, though this past week, she spat at it. Strict enforcement of dating regulations regarding opened doors, pushed chairs, and dealt-with waiters, she told me when we met. The idea of a wife having coffee for her husband when he wakes up, preparing the laces on his boots the night before. She slicing oranges at 6, he scraping her frozen windshield at 7. Little niceties that to her make up the glue of a marriage. Francois is just such a pouf, to go in for creepy gestures of affection better left to lovers who want each other too much for anything to ever be comfortable. And he's also exactly the right kind of sucker, because there is no way, in holy Hell, that the bitch got him coffee once until he put the control collar in. Yet Francois is a scientist, a distant thinker in the abstract, as dead to emotions as she is. He did these little things for her love, certainly, because he was whipped worse than Jesus. But I doubt very much that he felt the tenderness she wanted them to encapsulate, or pretended to want them to encapsulate. She must have stayed with him because they both had this policy of not actually feeling anything, but doing fantastic jobs of pretending to. I want to kill them both. I can't believe she iced him for me. Taking out the both of them might have made my night. Then again, if they had stayed where I could find them, this would never have happened.

How much on a daily basis do we need to hear about Ken Lay? Satan bless me, I'm buying the Times.

I think she wanted me to kill him.

She might be heartbroken that I did not. This may have been my mistake; Devil knows I wanted to do it. She is a meritocrat at heart; I can sense her competitive urge, her desire to see a million fights and award herself only to the winner. I should have acted on my desires. It seems at times like the only good way to go through life is impulsively. Why did I spare him? Or we could blame her for her actions, snowman. Now that my reading glasses have been made less black by the Times actually bothering to report that the former mayor is doing "just OK" fending off depression in his new life as a bachelor, I do remember a spark of crazed ferocity within her. She may be too much for me. She is an adept at name-calling, for as callous as she is, she can read people. That might set me off balance in combat, and all she would need is that edge. She's too good. I might need help on this one. I'm too angry to ask for it.

This paper spins the bejesus out of world events.

I could run her down, I know I could. I have carte blanche use of the Death Foxfire, with the "D to the F to the O to the X to tha X to tha X to tha X to tha X," as he insists we call him today, off in Uganda next week. I could be on top of her within the hour, if my instincts are right. Yet should I? Am I ready to kill her? Francois was, I am almost certain, 90% homosexual. He mentioned as though realizing it for the first time--as Anya and I stared at each other and contained our rambunctious smiles--that the kitchen could really use some Chinese wisteria. Only a Francois could keep his emotions free of her black hole. Only a Francois could bring her down for sure.

I have to shoo away the maid again, though I sense she is too fat to survive this exchange a third time. Her heart won't stand for it, and neither will I. Oh hell with it, I'm going to--no. No, it's not her I'm mad at. I'm mad at my foolish, easy heart. Cease your beating, you tender snowflaky bastard!

One of the last things she told me was, "I don't want to make love to you because I don't love you. I lie to you because I don't care about you." Why would you bother to say this to anyone about whom this is true? Is she trying to convince someone to smash her to a pulp? I'll willingly let myself be manipulated this one last time, if I get to crush her icy heart in my hand. But she's too smart to stay self-destructive for long. That's what keeps her dangerous. By this time, there is certainly a considerable trap involved.

The only trap I see is the "lure" of spending my Sunday reading this yellow news because it's something my dork father would have done in 1953 in Central Park. My generation of men is a god-damned mess. Shameful! Where is that handbag to empty my recycling?

I think it would not matter to anyone that I take such a woman from the world. And yet she may have protectors, stupid snowmen to whom she's promised things. They probably do not know Francois existed.

Wait. Across five blocks, second window from the left on the fourteenth floor of the block tower opposite my window: a glint of glass! Down, down, down! The bullet rockets past the back of my head as I hurl myself away from the window. I snap up and flip in the air, because I know they'll start coming through the wall at foot level. They do. I leap and jerk and do fairly well getting out of the room. She gets me once through the stomach, but the entire point was only to hurt me. She knows she will have a harder time killing me. Probably not even her behind the trigger. This is why I hate Eastern European girls. They enjoy nothing more than convincing men to kill each other. I had not noticed the beeyaaaaaatch because of this bright, ugly day, the sun shifting and glinting on hateful silver escalades and white limousines. I start to rush to the stairs, to get to the slattern and torture her before she gets away, but suddenly she stops. If she is stopping now, I have no chance of catching her, even with my frictionless movement. Then I notice an odd pattern in the bullet holes on both sides of the hall wall outside my room. It almost looks like . . . words. O N E D O W N. What are you telling me, darling? What war have you started?

Later. I've consulted the Dog. He's an extraordinary tracker, but a very okay detective. Neither of us can figure out what in the name of our pirate lord she means by "one down." Is she coming after me next? Does she have a hit list pertaining to whatever secret clan she came from? There are few things I can do better than she--she may even be a superior shot, and I know she's a better combatant--but I carry my weight redressing arrogance. If she has murdered her husband, and now wages bitter a war of old grievances, it is a hard slap that she has left me a simple taunt, as if I'm not worth the finishing. One thing I loved and hated about her was her instant acumen as a businesswoman. She knows how to keep her heart out of things when she needs to, to cut whatever losses are best left behind. But she let me into the game with a jab, which must have been logistically troublesome if she were after Siberian snowpeople, but . . . fun if she is after me.

Or wait. Maybe it wasn't her. I must contact the DeathFox. He likes wars between old friends and lovers. The anger, the absurdly ferocious expenditure of resources in displays of fury, delight and fulfill him. He probably watched my entire Siberian ice-capade with a spy satellite. I must work on my strangling. It will piss him off if I kill him at his own game. Even if he's not involved I have little choice but to contact him, because his information network is wider and more oblique than any snowstorm. But I do not know how to find him when he's on assignment; I cannot find oceans of blood without my SnowRoto. The Dog probably knows how. I must talk to him about it, and hope I do not revive too many old ghosts.

I decided a few minutes ago to train Shu Tri as a detective. This is her first case, and it's no softball. But she seems to have a remarkable empathy for other human females, even ones much older than herself. She knows what they each want to hear, how they want to be treated. Perhaps she can sense something about Anya. Perhaps no one can sense something about Anya.

Deathfox! I know he has a hand in this. I'll cut him open with my keys!

No! Stupid! Francois. She never killed him. He invented a better control device. Or, wait, no, there never was a control device before, but now there is one. Yes. Of course he could do it. But why? To lure me out? He has clearly already found me. He would have to level the building to kill me, but he could do it, yet if it is him he's let the opportunity pass. No. He wanted to turn her into a harpie. To let me have "her" long enough to develop a loathing greater than any I've ever known. If that's true, he'll have installed a memory-wipe, so that he will never need to be forgiven. He was smart to do that: he never will be if she finds out. If I find her in time, I can--holy god no! She's here! He sent her to kill me! He's not a good enough tactician. It's too obvious. The message is written in her gun-writing. If she were the monster he made me think she was, she would send someone. But she's here, she is across the street. I can smell her a mile away, anyone can. Shu Tri, interpreting the message as 'one floor down,' has gone to the room directly below mine. I think there is a couple from Fiji staying there. I'm about to get in the Death Foxfire and hunt Anya down, but I am also uneasy about leaving Shu Tri to go somewhere alone. A scream! My little one's! I take the stairs, ready for murder.

A broken mini-supercomputer and a dead couple. I can tell by their smell that they're Sumatran, not Fijian, badly burnt. Ordinarily I'd giggle about a "full city roast"--these things just come to me, I swear--but my daughter is sobbing over two human corpses and I must concentrate on putting on her parka so I can hold her. Kissing her cheek through her little ski mask, I sway back and forth, staring at the computer blinking out the instruction: France. I smash the bastard thing and begin strategizing a search-and-deprogram in Siberia as I silently rush my baby out of the room. Francois is here. In the bathroom maybe, or in the lobby getting a USA Today. If my daughter were safe, I would kill him just for reading that. It doesn't matter as I take a wallop to the skull. I want my babyback babyback babyback babyback babyback babyback babyback babyback

Next: Sensemaking!