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Summer Snow Storm   By: (1928-2008)

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Snow in summer is of course impossible. Any weather expert will tell you so. Weather Bureau Chief Botts was certain no such absurdity could occur. And he would have been right except for one thing. It snowed that summer.

It was, as the expression goes, raining cats and dogs. Since the Weather Bureau had predicted fair and warmer, the Weather Bureau was not particularly happy about the meteorological state of affairs. No one, however was shocked.

Until it started to snow.

This was on the twenty fifth of July in the U.S.A....

Half an hour before the fantastic meteorological turn of events, Bureau Chief Botts dangled the forecast sheet before Johnny Sloman's bloodshot eyes and barked, "It's all over the country by now, you dunderhead!" Then, as an afterthought: "Did you write this?"

"Yes," said Sloman miserably.

Slowly, Botts said, "Temperature, eighty degrees. Precipitation expected: snow. Snow , Sloman. Well, that's what it says."

"It was a mistake, Chief. Just heh heh a mistake."

"The prediction should have been for fair and warmer!" Botts screamed.

"But it's raining," Sloman pointed out.

"We make mistakes," said Botts in a suddenly velvety voice. Then, as if that had been a mistake, bellowed: "But not this kind of mistake, Sloman! Snow in July! We have a reputation to maintain! If not for accuracy, at least for credulity."

"Yes, sir," said Johnny Sloman. One of the troubles was, he had a hangover. Although, actually, that was a consequence of the real trouble. The real trouble was his fiancee. Make that his ex fiancee. Because last night Jo Anne had left him. "You you're just going no place at all, Johnny Sloman," she had said. "You're on a treadmill and not even running very fast." She had given him back the quarter carat ring tearfully, but Johnny hadn't argued. Jo Anne had a stubborn streak and he knew when Jo Anne's mind was made up. So Johnny had gone and gotten drunk for the first time since the night after college graduation, not too many years ago, and the result was a nationally distributed forecast of snow.

Chief Botts' first flush of anger had now been replaced by self pity. His red, loose jowled face was sagging and his eyes became watery as he said, "At least you could have double checked it. As a member of this Bureau you only have to fill out the forecast once every ten days. Is that so hard? Is there any reason why you should predict snow for July 25th?" His voice became silky soft as he added, "You realize, of course, Sloman, that if this was anything but a civil service job you'd be out on your ear for a stunt like this! Well, there are other ways. I can pass over you for promotion. I intend to pass over you until the crack of doom. You'll be a GS 5 the rest of your working life. Are you satisfied, Sloman? Snow in July ..." Chief Botts' voice trailed off, the Chief following it.

Johnny sat with his head in his hands until Harry Bettis, the GS 5 weatherman who shared his small office with him, came in. Naturally, hangover or no, Johnny had reported for work first. Johnny was always first in the office, but it didn't seem to do any good. Now, Harry Bettis could come in an hour late and read the funnies half the day and flirt with the secretarial staff the other half and still be Chief Botts' odds on favorite for the promotion that was opening next month. Harry Bettis was like that.

He came in and gave Johnny the full treatment. First the slow spreading smile. Then the chuckle. Then the loud, roaring belly laugh. "Gals outside told me!" he shouted, loud enough so the girls outside would know he knew they had told him. "Snow! Snow in July! Sloman, you kill me! You really do!"

"Do you have to shout?" Johnny said.

"Do I? We all ought to shout this. To the rooftops! Sloman, my foot. You have a new name, sonny. Snowman! Johnny Snowman."

[Illustration: Thick mud held him while terror ravened at his heels... Continue reading book >>

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