The Minnesota Iceman

"Bozo's face is his most startling feature, both to anthropologists and anyone else- and for several reasons. Unfortunately, both eyeballs have been 'blown out' of their sockets. One appears to be missing, but the other seems (to some, at least) to be just visible under the ice. This gives Bozo a gruesome appearance, which is enhanced by a considerable amount of blood diffused from the sockets through the ice… But- to me, at least- the most interesting features of all are some folds and wrinkle lines around the mouth just below the cheeks. These are absolutely human, and are like those seen in a heavy-jowled, older white man."
-Ivan Sanderson, Argosy magazine, May 1969


Everything I'm about to tell you is 100% true, ladies and gentlemen.
The Minnesota Iceman, all I can say is, he is as real as you or I. We are all the Minnesota Iceman, is what I've come to believe. He was the great tragedy, and the great mystery, of my lifetime. He was the love of my life.
Now folks, when I say love, I mean all-consuming passion, I mean reason for being. I mean when you devote your whole life to something, and one day that thing is taken away from you by some rich man, some self-appointed higher power among us mere mortals, you go on a binge that will kill a three-ton hog. When this binge comes, my friends, there is no substance on Earth that you will not gladly consume.
The last real good time I had drinking was I think in early 1969. My wife was out of town for the weekend, and two globe-trotting scientists had come to have a look at my Iceman. Sanderson and Hoobleman, lords of logic and fact. There was no theory that they could not prove or disprove.
These fellows stayed with me at my home in Minnesota for three days. I refused them access to the beast for two days. On the third day, we broke into the gin. Sanderson started telling stories about women he'd slept with, and Hoobleman did his best to try and show the hyperbole of Sanderson's claims. I tell you, these men were wizards of persuasion and truth.
I arm-wrestled Hoovelman. I told Sanderson he should change his haircut. He forgave me. We all three of us sang Roy Orbison tunes in what must surely have been an unholy caterwaul to end all caterwauls, Hoovelman on piano. We lay on a grassy hill, just a couple hundred yards away from my estate, looking out at the stars, the two men of science telling me about various constellations and me acting like I already knew. We discussed our mutual excitement over the possibility of a man landing on the moon. I said if the U.S. really knew what it was doing, it would just create a hoax. What difference would it have made anyway? This led to a long debate about the nature of truth, the contents of which I will not bore you with here.
I also told them about my kid brother Steve, that he's a successful lobbyist down in Washington, D.C. He's an asshole.
I confessed to the men that the Minnesota Iceman  - Bozo, we called him - was not, as I had been telling audiences across the nation, found in a block of ice off the coast of Siberia. In fact, the creature was killed in 'Nam. They begged me to let them view the abomination of nature. I told them that the beast was in fact not mine to show – I had sold it to an anonymous captain of industry based in central Virginia. In fact, what I had been displaying was only a model of the real animal. I kept the creature in a large meat locker underneath my house.
“But you want to, though, you want to show us the Iceman.”
“I can’t!”
“But I heard that you want to.”
The men worked their brilliant persuasion on me yet another time, and poured me another drink, and I gave in. They were mental giants.


1966


Bozo was in a house of ill repute. Shaven, clad in full army gear, he scared the family that owned the whorehouse only slightly more than did any other American. The patriarch of the establishment took Bozo past the filthy waiting area and into a room where the thatch floor cut off and it was just dirt and Bozo beheld seven of the most beautiful prostitutes in the Far East, all identical but aged twelve to thirty-four, Sirens of the Orient. There was a smell like stale produce. The women were arranged in an untheatrical manner, save for the fact that the entire room was illuminated by a single light on the floor, which made these ladies of the night cast grim and exaggerated shadows that stretched to the ceiling. Bozo did not take a moment to consider, but instead pointed his arm laconically at the sixteen-year-old daughter and grunted. The man became gleeful and stammered things in liquefied English, things that would make a libertine blush. It was impossible to tell if the apparent sadness in Bozo's eyes had anything to do with an awareness of the twisted family relations he was witnessing.
Did our beloved freak make beautiful, tender love to the sixteen-year-old prostitute? Did he apply his lipless maw to her cheek, her neck, her supple bosom? Did they, together, reach a state of satisfaction in physical love so powerful that it could only have been borne of a needless quagmire of misguided Western aggression against a bucolic Eastern nation? Did Bozo, the missing link, nature's cruel parody of man and ape alike, hold young Ly Nguyen in his hairy muscular meathooks until the sun came up, making her forget, if only for one night, the constant cruelty and abuse into which she had been hurtled by the uncaring child-bullies of fate?
Or did Ly Nguyen, as our heroic Bigfoot went in for a kiss, take him for the evolutionarily-misguided romantic that he surely was and reach underneath the bed to grab a pistol, and shoot the beast in the back of the head, then and there? Did she lay there, and for how long, covered in dead Sasquatch and gore and brains, her entire family standing in the doorway and looking at her with sinister approval?
It would be indecorous for me to tell you one way or another.


Somewhere on some boat on the river Saigon, two men stood stone-faced over an enormous, partially-concealed corpse.
"He was a good soldier."
"I never heard a word out of him."
"He went out before his time."
"Shot in the back of the head."
"Damn shame."
"War is hell."





1967


I sat in a leather easy chair in the living room of my asshole brother’s house, by the fireplace, all alone except for the dog in my lap. It was Christmas, and everyone else was standing around the kitchen, fervently awaiting Bûche de Noël. The two conjoining rooms were lit exactly like a TV Christmas special somehow, the greens and reds just in the back of everything, stretching across the porch and visible through the windows, and the amber-white lights plentiful and omnipresent, giving everything a sparkling, glossed-over feel to it. The dog, whatever it was, must have been deliberately and painstakingly bred for generations to come out looking exactly like a sentient, but recently-used mop head. I was sober. I scratched the dog’s head and the side of his torso, just above his left haunch, so that he would kick in the air. I could tell by his eyebrows that my brother was doing his James Bond impression, much to the extreme amusement of my wife, as if she hadn’t seen it before. I loved that dog.


1971


            The captain of industry stood at the front door of my house, clad in a brown and yellow plaid three-piece suit, his tie a grey ribbon and his pants supported by suspenders.
 "I've come to reclaim my monster," he said, smirking and twirling his handlebar mustache.
            "S-so soon?" I asked. The beast's owner scratched a strike-anywhere match across my face and used the fire to light his pipe. He was a man of many accessories.
"I was about to go back on tour." I tried to explain, but the man only kept gazing at me with his detached, snow-blue eyes. He smelled very strongly of copper, and something was funny about the pigmentation of his hair and face, something raw, as if he’d been out in the elements too long.
Ladies and gentlemen, the individual of whom I speak is no character of my invention.
He stood silent and packed his pipe for several minutes, then blew smoke in my face. I stood my ground.
            The man stepped closer to me, pressing his golden wolf-headed cane against my chest. He had no practical use for the cane, as he was in fact relatively young and quite limber. He had inherited his fortune and company from his father, who was nowhere near as mad as he, nor as post-modern.           
            "Please," I pleaded. "Give me a few months. I need the money."
            The force of the cane propelled me backwards into a tank of fish. The rightful possessor of my beautiful deceased creature walked casually past me, lumbering into my home, followed suddenly by two burly leather-clad men I had not seen at my door. I sat stunned in a pool of glass-shards and flopping koi.


"You've been drinking again."
"I have not." My shirt was not tucked in. I stood at the opposite end of the hall from her, standing self-consciously inactive, with no place to put my hands.
"You're a liar. You're a professional liar. I don't know why I ever trusted you." She had just come back from work, and I had not worked in months.
"But baby, I only ever lied about the Iceman's origin, that he was washed ashore when in fact he came back in a body bag from Vietnam– " I moved towards her. When I opened my mouth, it smelled like the remorse of a thousand Irishmen, like interrupted regurgitation. Behold: a redolence that would have sent a lesser woman to her grave! If only I could have ceased to breathe.
“You lied to me about that trip you took. You lied to me about your friend Congressman Mondale. You lied to me about where your brother was. And what he was doing. You lied to me about the heating system.” She had a look, I realized, like she had been waiting for this. Like she’d been working up the courage for this whole confrontation, expecting me to be drunk when she got back. Her arms at her side, she clutched the ends of her jacket sleeves with her fingers, stood up straight, and breathed in slow exhalations.
“Baby, first of all, they told me that if the Iceman – ”
"I never believed in the Minnesota Iceman, and neither did you." My wife's childlike features imploded into a crimson cringe, her soft lips inverting and pouring forth over her small chin and exposing her gums. Her tears flowed symmetrically, and moved from her eyes all the way down to the bottom of her face in an almost instantaneous manner. She turned and walked out the door, and I never saw her again.


1969


Sanderson, Hooverman, and I wobbled down the stairs to my frigid cellar. Sanderson's boot slipped on a step but he caught himself. I flicked a light switch that stood apart from the bare wooden wall, and a suspended lamp flashed a vanilla strobe.
In the center of the room lay a glass case, reflecting the same moderate and occasional light as that which hung above it. Inside the case, a ragged brown humanoid hovered in crystalline containment.
"My God…"
The two scientists stood over the clear box, squinting, mouths agape, now backlit, now shrouded in blackness.
"Can we open the case?"
"I'm sorry. I could never allow it."
Our inebriation began slowly to abscond as the cold and the tension overtook us.
The lamp flashed directly above Hooverman's head. He grabbed it and pointed it at the creature. An unintentionally-projected excess of force from Hooverman's arms caused the light bulb to fly from the lamp and directly through the glass that protected Bozo from exposure to the wicked world.
Bozo's blood trickled down from his desecrated regions, forming tributaries around his great hairy mass and mixing with the shattered glass. Immediately, a stench of rotting and decay filled the room. That enemy of mankind, that inevitable, invisible opponent of progress and beauty, rammed himself inside our nostrils. Consider if you will: a psychopomp, olfactorily-manifested!
The smell was that of a being long succumbed to entropy, whose true foulness, once shielded by pure solid ice, was now wholly exposed. A scent which must surely permeate the existence of an undertaker or an embalmer, but to a huckster showman like me, should come only once - in those final, beautiful, moments of death's release, when I would imagine that the intoxicating, overpowering sensation of unburdening and final escape, that freedom from one’s self, will cancel out any surrounding unpleasantness. The sour-sweet Scent of the End, like that of all things expired: stale produce, a long-dead freak, a liar’s soul.


Dear readers, Bozo did not serve in Vietnam. I killed the beast one night when he lurched onto my property several years ago.

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