Show of paws here: how many people know what a pogonip is?
For the unwary, a pogonip is also called an ice-fog and is basically a thick blanket of winter fog that freezes on contact with anything solid, forming a super-slick rime of ice up to several inches thick.
As penance for my brutal assassination of Santa Claus the year before, the Sheriff had graciously allowed me to be volunteered to play the Jolly Olde Elf at the town Christmas pageant.
The suit was a wonder. Even wearing armour and a gun-belt, I still disappeared in the deep, dark depths. This little problem was solved by the addition of several pillows from the trustee cell and three crumpled editions of the Sunday Dallas Morning News. The boots were actually overshoes, which velcro-ed quite nicely over my ropers, and the issue beard was tossed in favour of something dug up by the Chief Dispatcher (who also did the wardrobe for the town theatre group), said dispatcher promptly gluing the beard to my face with some kind of clear adhesive which she assured me would come off quite easily once the performance was over.
Anyhoo, I pulled on the supplied mittens, extracted my 22-year-old-Sheltie from under the Dispatch desk (the ladies in the office had given her a Christmas-themed sweater, put bows on her ears and painted her toenails in sparkly red-and-green hues) and drove my cruiser over to the Fire Department.
The night before, our area of West Texas had received one of the rare pogonip fogs, which had rendered the entire area about as slick as a greased hockey rink.
I didn't realize how slick everything was, until I wallowed out of the cruiser and slammed the door, which sent the cruiser sliding slowly about a foot left ... and into the gutter.
Anyhoo, I rode the brand new pumper truck over to the courthouse, did the "Ho, ho, ho" thing, got my lap wore out, everyone exclaimed over my Sheltie and she suffered herself to have many, many pictures taken with various personages...a generally good day.
After the festivities, I discovered that the guys at the FD had been nice enough to pull my cruiser out of the rain gutter...twice.
I plunked the dog into the side seat, shoehorned myself behind the wheel and was gingerly inching my way home, when...
You guessed it.
The radio went off. Burglary in progress at one of the local churches.
I pull up to the church, and mindful of my experience at the Fire Station, I get out of the cruiser, but I don't close the door.
Parked in front of the church is a pick-up truck, engine still running. Across the street is a little old gentleman with an absolutely huge mustache, holding a cordless phone and giving me the old hairy eyeball.
I immediately assume that the gentleman with the phone is most probably the Reporting Party, and I start to waddle across the street to get more information, when I notice that someone is in the act of walking from the front lawn of the church to the pick-up truck, and the person is carrying one of the figurines from the outdoor Nativity scene. This kind of strikes me as odd, so I holler, "Sheriff's Office, may I have a word with you?"
The old boy heisting Joseph (or maybe one of the Wise Men - I never was real sure), immediately drops the purloined porcelain and takes off at a high-speed shuffle for the pick-up.
Deciding that I really, really wanted to have a talk with that critter, I also kick into (sorta) high gear for the truck.
He gets there first, snags onto the side mirror, pirouettes a couple of times and goes ass over tin cups onto the street --
-- just before my feet abruptly kick out from under me and down I go. God bless the Dallas paper, I couldn't have been better padded if NASA had given it a try. I roll over and start pushing myself to my feet, when the critter rights himself, glances over at me and starts a high-speed slide/crawl to the curb.
Once on the chapel yard, he finds (somewhat) better traction and abruptly takes off at a dead sprint, me breathing down his neck. At the corner, he pulls a sneaky. Since he hasn't slowed, I figure we're for a full sprint down the block, but he puts out an arm, grabs the guy-line for the telephone pole and makes an abrupt right turn. While this is, indeed, a good move, unfortunately it dumps him on his fourth point of contact and the critter slides a good 10 yards down the street.
Not having benefit of the guy-line, I turn right much like a battleship under full steam: I use the entire street and most of the yard across the street just to change direction, said extra room giving the afore-mentioned critter enough time to scramble to his feet and head back the way we came.
Apparently, I was still a bit too close for comfort because the critter ran past his pick-up without even slowing down. Which put him on a direct course for my cruiser. With the drivers side door open.
I could almost see the 25-watt bulb light up over his head as he Got An Idea. Visions of dog-napped Shelties suddenly coursed across my minds eye.
Not to mention the thought of having a fully-equipped Sheriff's Office cruiser stolen out from under my nose, of course, but priorities and all.
Fortunately, my Sheltie chose that moment to daintily step into the driver seat, fix the approaching critter with a gimlet eye, and utter a short, sharp "Ah'm wee, but Ah'm wickit" bark -- thus causing my critter to lock up the brakes, his legs shoot out from under him and he slides under my cruiser, slick as a pin.
My last desperate grab for the Manger Bandit cost me my balance, and I hit the ice, sliding along at full speed, and scrabbling frantically at the ice, because my visions of a dog-napped pooch had been replaced by visions of my over-loaded butt slamming into the cruiser and sliding the whole enchilada into the gutter -- crushing my critter along the way.
By the grace of God, I narrowly missed my cruiser and slammed into the gutter -- not as bad as it sounds, due to the extensive Santa padding -- spun about and there is my critter, staring at from under the cruiser about ten feet away.
"Right then, boyo," I snarled, "You're nicked. Let's go."
My critter blinked at me in utter incomprehension. "What?"
"You're under arrest. Let's go."
"No" sayeth the critter. Now it was my turn to blink in confusion. "What?" I snappily replied.
The critter turned over and got a couple of good handholds on the undercarriage of my cruiser. "Make me."
I pushed myself to my feet and stomped over to the cruiser. "You're under arrest." I gritted through clenched teeth, "Get out from under there!"
"Work for it, fat man."
I was digging past umpteen pillows and the Lifestyle section of the Dallas paper trying to lay a paw on my pepper-spray, when my gaze happened to land upon ...
There. In all its glory. Not twenty feet from the front bumper of my cruiser. Left over from the heady Frontier Past of the city:
A horse trough.
I happily, one might even go so far as to say joyously, ambled up to said horse trough, peered over the side -- and it was full of water, with only a three-inch thick crust of ice over the top.
I'll have you know that I was wearing a full Santa Clause beard glued to my face, so anyone who testifies that I was "Grinning like an ape" as the stopper gave way is obviously mistaken.
I ambled back to the cruiser, watching my Very Own Tidal Wave creep down the gutter and said, gently, "Time to come out from under the car."
"Don't you have an elf to play with?"
"It would really be in your best interests to come out."
"What are you going to do? Put coal in my sto -- HOOOOoooo WHoooaaaa Ohohoho Haaaa! Haa! Huh-huh-huh!"
I tugged reflectively upon the beard. Yep. Between a combination of Panhandle winter wind and three quarts of glue, it was stuck but good. Under the cruiser the yodelling briefly died down to a series of gasps, but a sudden soprano shriek signaled, I thought, the infiltration of Polar water into the underwear area.
The impromptu yodel-fest died down to noises strongly reminiscent of a rapid-fire castanets, so I cleared my throat gently and remarked, "There's hot coffee down at the jail, dry clothes and a warm bunk."
"Or I could come chip you loose when the cold snap breaks. I figure, what? This time next week?"
A dripping, kind of blue-ish, vibrating-a-bit face appeared above the front quarter panel and stared accusingly at me.
"I d-d-didn't n-n-nknow S-santa Cl-Clause was such-such a s-s-sumbitch."
"Believe it. Into the back seat, Nanook. Let's go put you into a nice warm cell."