Ides of March


A CRUEL, unavoidable empathy has overcome me today.

It had been an otherwise typical day in the middle of March.
Spring was coming in like a lamb, and I had the radio deejay
repeatedly reminding me of it all morning. Repetitive as his
ramblings were, the fact that I was sitting at my desk in the front
window and was thus witness to the weather made it all the more

But I needed the deejay’s company; to keep me sane.

I’d been there at the desk near the window all morning on self-appointed
sick leave. No, I wasn’t ill, but I did have to fill out the tax
forms for my wife and I, and if neither of us got on the ball, they’d
never get done. On second thought, maybe I was sick. Why else
would I volunteer for such a task?

So I sat there, playing with numbers, feeling the warm sun on
my face with the easy listening radio station filtering old top 40 tunes
to my mind. The temperature outside was just above zero, I could
tell, for the previously icy sidewalks were now infested with puddles.

The warm temperature left the remaining snow wet and sticky.
The neighbor’s eight year old boy, Charlie Fung, was putting the
finishing touches on what would probably be his last snowman of the

Everything was normal. Everything was fine. And except for
the grueling hours and triplicate form headaches that lay ahead of me,
it was a pleasant day.

Then this black truck, a Range Rover, I believe, appeared from
around the corner of our street and Fifth Avenue and swerved
dramatically, taking a long wide turn into the double driveway that
we shared with the Fungs.

Two figures sat in the cab, but it was hard to see them through
the glare of the sun on the windshield. I was certain that they were
drunk, or at least the driver was, the way he’d maneuvered the
vehicle. That upset me. I mean, it was barely noon, and already
drunk drivers were on the road, endangering lives. I’d never seen this
truck before and wondered what connection these yahoos might have
with the Fungs, who were very conservative, peaceful and quiet

Both figures stumbled out of the truck and confirmed my
suspicions about their drunkenness. Their fashion sense wasn’t much
better. They were large, overweight, and dressed in similar beige full
length overcoats, blue baggy ski pants and wool hats with long,
floppy brims that kept their faces in shadow.

Together, they lurched toward Charlie, who was looking up at
them from his recently created masterpiece. The driver was the first
to reach the boy and as he approached, he grabbed Charlie by the
shoulder and threw him to the snow.

I sprang from my desk and ran back through the living room,
into the kitchen and down the steps to the front door. When I burst
into the front yard, Charlie was sitting in the snow, crying silently,
and the two men were carrying away the snowman.

When Charlie saw me he started to wail out loud, and I rushed
over to see if he was all right.

“The pushed me!” He bawled. “They pushed me! They pushed
me!” He continually repeated this phrase, louder and louder. For an
obscure moment I wondered if he held any relation to the deejay
who’d been keeping me company all morning with his repetitive and
redundant words.

Assured that Charlie wasn’t hurt, just scared, I looked up to see
that the two strangers were putting Charlie’s snowman into the back
of the truck where five other snowman sat.

I wouldn’t be surprised if my jaw hit the snow as I stood there

Stealing snowmen from children? What kind of mentally
unbalanced people was I dealing with here? Our world was getting
more and more stupid each passing day.

(Opening scene from "Ides of March" from One Hand Screaming by Mark Leslie © 2004 by Mark Leslie Lefebvre)


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