in Fit to Die: a crime and mystery collection by the Ladies Killing Circle
“Maudite neige!” Jacques cursed as he fought through another deep snow drift. Those stupid old fools to go fishing in such weather.
With his eyes half shut against the stinging snow, he scanned the frozen lake hoping to see his grandfather and great-uncle. The sooner he found Pépère and Mononcle Hippolyte, the sooner he could get back to his tape of last night’s hockey game.
“Impossible to see in this soup,” he muttered at the wall of swirling white. He pulled his hood tighter.
Wondering how far he’d come, he looked back to the shore and groaned when he saw the red blur of the barn, its light the only sign of life in this vacuum. Sacréfice! He’d only come a short distance. But then again, it meant the beer he’d abandoned was still within easy reach.
It would serve those two crazies right, if he left them to handle things on their own. After all, it was their pig-headedness, which was forcing him out in this blizzard.
For a second he wavered. He could almost feel the smooth beer running down his throat. Then with a deep drag on his cigarette, he turned back into the storm’s fury. He had no choice he had to find those stupid old men.
It was difficult going. And the blasted snowshoes didn’t make it easier. He heaved one foot out of the snow and slapped it onto the shifting surface in front of him. It disappeared under a foot of powder. He picked up his back leg and swung it around.
“Tabarnaque!” He yelled when his leg plunged into the snow minus a snowshoe. He’d kill that old man when he found him. He jammed his boot back into the binding and cursed forward.
When he’d discovered that his new high-tech snowshoes were gone leaving only his grandfather’s ancient bear-paws, Jacques had blamed him for taking them. Now he figured it was really his uncle’s fault. Hippolyte had put Pépère up to it, which wasn’t surprising. Ever since his younger brother had arrived, Pépère was doing things he’d never dare do before.
Like today. It was only because of Hippolyte’s goading that Pépère risked ice fishing in such weather. After eighty years, his grandfather knew better than to go out on the snow-covered lake in a blizzard when you couldn’t see sky from ground. Sure it wasn’t snowing when the two of them set out this morning, but Pépère knew those clouds on the other side of the lake meant it would be snowing like stink by mid day, that’s for sure. He’d even said as much, but Hippolyte wasn’t having any of it.
“Eh ben! You gone soft behind the ears, old one?” Hippolyte challenged in his hoarse smoker’s voice. “Afraid of a little snow? Maudit crisse you are truly an old man.” His grandfather didn’t even bother to reply, just stomped out of the room.
Next thing Jacques knew, the two burly shapes, loaded down with tip-ups, buckets, and other ice fishing equipment, were lumbering down the hill to the flat plain of the lake. Each was the bookend to the other. Although there were ten years separating the two brothers, the passage of time had made them twins, short and stocky with thick spare tires around their middle, which even the heavy duffel coats couldn’t hide.
And of course they both had the nose, the Tremblay nose that Jacques too had acquired. No one could miss it for the amount of space it occupied on the high cheek-boned Tremblay face. And from the side profile it jutted straight out with a sharp downward turn like the beak of some giant bird, which was why people around here called the Tremblays, the Crow’s Beaks.
Unfortunately a nose of this size had one distinct disadvantage in this weather. It froze. Jacques rubbed the numb tip with his icy mitt. He tried to see if there was any sign yet of the two fishermen and was blasted once again by the wall of blinding snow.
“Pépère, you there?” he shouted praying they’d had the sense to fish in this part of the lake and not where they usually went. But the only response was the muffled rasping of the snow against his hood…
To find out how it ends buy Fit to Die