Our hero, let's call him Dave, was a jerk. People around him just got uneasy, if they had any good judgment in them. Ever this far North, on the lip of the Arctic Ocean where fresh faces are as precious as diamonds, Dave was a stale fish. He just knew the wrong thing to say at the wrong time. He could make the most pious man swear, bring a red flush to a sailor's cheeks with his foul language, and make a woman splash her drink in his face before uttering a syllable. He was an all around class act. It came as no surprise to anyone that he would find the most isolated and reviled job in the tiny pseudo city of Tuktayaktuk, nestled in the frozen arms of Kugmallit Bay, just left of the mouth of the Mackenzie River, way the hell north in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Seriously, they just kept going north till they ran out of land. Anyway, Dave was the sewage dude in town, with the sweet sideline duty of being chief garbage man. The problem with both lovely byproducts of human habitation is that all that the main focus of the last thousand years of sanitary engineering has focused on moving these problems underground. That's not much of an option when the ground is frozen solid all the time. Permafrost, perma as in forever.

When he wasn't pumping sludge or slinging trash bags, Dave made himself as much of a nuisance as possible. He drank to the edge of blindness every payday, picked fist fights with the oil workers on furlough, participated in a dazzling array of illegal hunting and fishing, and, much to the chagrin of both, yes both, cops in town, rode his snowmobile everywhere.

Actually, snowmobile is a bit of a stretch. Given the immense resources of scrap metal, free time and noxious fumes that his job afforded him, Dave had crafted something that the Devil himself would be a bit nervous to ride on. It sounded like a jet engine being pulled though a keyhole, a high irritating scream very rarely heard coming from anything other than a star-struck teenage girl. He rattled windows day and night, crisscrossing yards, cruising streets, chewing up the coast like so much bubble gum. Dave believed that the city, such as it was, was his playground. The howling smoking steel beast bore his rarely sober form across his kingdom, peasants be damned. Anyone who spoke up would soon be hip deep in their own unpumped sewage, trapped inside by the mountain of their own uncollected garbage. He had a kind of power, Dave did, and as expected of a man of his demeanor, he abused it.

Why am I telling you this tale? Well, something special happened one Christmas... Now just wait a minute. Since 1843, Chucky Dickens has had the market on holiday stories about bastards cornered. Ebenezer Scrooge and his four ghosts -- Jacob Marley, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, they have the market sewn right up. Figures. Scrooge would have loved a monopoly. This tale about a particular asshole getting his comeuppance, well, it has something much better than ghosts. Ghosts are for Halloween anyway. Way to mix up your holidays Dickey-boy.

Where were we?... Ah yes, Christmas. The last ship before the pack ice of the Arctic seals the bay like a big ziploc full of fruitcake lands on Christmas Eve. A winter's worth of booze sits clinking in the cargo hold until that magical moment when the icebreaker clears the docks, the ship casts down her ropes, and the entire town crowds around, rubbing mittens and licking lips. Cause really, who wants to be cold all the time if you can't at least be buzzed? It's part of the national character. The Christmas Party, entitled such because it is really the only event in town, sees children of all ages get shit-faced down at the heated aircraft hanger at the airport, which is about 50 feet from the harbor.

But something magical happened that one special Christmas Eve. Dave, having started last round of sewage pickup before the holiday break, stole himself a bottle of rum which had been earmarked for eggnog from the town office. Yes, I know, "What a jerk." Not wanting to be caught red-handed with the proceeds of crime, he proceeded to have the rum proceed down his throat while he proceeded his tanker truck over to the airport. Toss a little salt in the mason jar, because Dave is now pickled. The tanker, as sure-footed a beast as you are going to find on a snow covered road, deftly guides itself over to the sewage tank at the rear of the hanger. Well, more "into" rather than "over to".

A rolling brown wave of sewage splashed an impressive distance up the hanger door. It was an even beat as to what would alert the authorities first: the stench, which made even Dave's practiced eyes water, or the noise of bursting pipes and a collapsing tank. Based on the flow rate the steaming puddle was accomplishing, combining into a frothy slush as it rolled around the building, Dave had a few scant minutes to escape. In fact, the first people that splashed their feet in the chilled stink punch that swamped the tinsel decked hall would later remark that they would have had no idea who was responsible if it wasn't for the Dave-shaped indents in the snow banks around the crime scene. Rum, sweet sun baked rum from parts so far removed from his traditional homeland, proved to be Dave's Kryptonite. Blind drunk and running from a sober mob upon whose parade he had "rained" upon, Dave turned to instinct. "Get on your bike and ride" flashed in big neon letters upon the three sheets he had in the wind. Off he ran.

The cartwheeling steel glinted majestically in the late afternoon sun. Tossed like a baton, end over end, spiraling straight up, Dave briefly wondered if he could fly. As the snowmobile achieved the same dream beside him, he considered the horizons that met and danced above and below him. Briefly interested, he instead surrendered his eyes to the liquid fire that danced in his veins and drifted off to sleep, all while falling back to earth. The undigested piece of beef or bit of mustard that crafted this dream was in fact a caribou carcass, picked clean by wolves and neatly frozen to the cool snowy ground beneath it. The dice all clattered to the table in a neat pile, the impact affording Dave a measure of comfort that saw his sleep uninterrupted. Alcohol, blessed lubricant of our lives, saw Dave into his lonely grave, all without the assistance of a gimpy kid and a ghost from the future.

The cool fur that brushed his cheeks woke Dave up for the last time.

Merry Christmas everybody!

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