Frostwriting

Carl the Speedy Eskimo

by Kate LaDew

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Carl the Speedy Eskimo

    Ellinger worked at a newspaper.  He was currently sitting at his desk in the corner of the office writing a poem.  He sometimes did.  “What rhymes with minute?” he asked Jeff.
    Jeff thought. “In it.  Spin it.  Shin—Shin it.”
    “Shin it?”
    “Inuit.  Inuit,”  Jeff said it again.  “Inuit.”
    “Not really, though.”
    “Close enough.”  Jeff looked at him.  “You could write about Inuits.  Fast, I suppose.  If you need to use minute.  Fast Inuits.  One.”
    “One?”
    “One fast Inuit.  You could write about one fast Inuit.  Named Carl.”
    “Why is his name Carl?”
    “Why not?  There must be someone named Carl.” 
    “Hm,” Ellinger said, looking down at his poem.
    “Carl the speedy Eskimo.”
    “What?”
    “Call it Carl the speedy Eskimo.”
    “For my poem?”
    “Poem?  I thought it was for the paper.”
    “Why would I need to rhyme for the paper?”
    Jeff shrugged.  “It did seem curious.”
    “Hm,”  Ellinger said but decided to abandon his poem.  It was making him tired.
    They sat in silence for a few moments.  “I wonder if there really is a Carl the Speedy Eskimo,” Jeff wondered a little dreamily.
    “I could ask,” Ellinger said.  So he told the paper he was writing a very important story and went to Alaska because he’d never heard about Eskimos living anywhere else.
    “Where are they?”  Ellinger asked a man standing around.
    “All over,” he answered, kicking a cloud of snow with his foot as emphasis.
    “Sure,” Ellinger said.  It was probably true.  He decided the best way to find who he was looking for was to yell out the name Carl and see if anybody answered.  No one did for awhile.
    “Why are you yelling?”  Someone asked.  It might have been an Eskimo.
    “Are you an Eskimo?”
    “Yeah.”  It was.
    “Are you named Carl?”
    “No.”
    This was making him tired.  Ellinger thought about abandoning the whole idea but he was already in Alaska and didn’t have anything better to do.  “Well, do you know anyone named Carl?”
    “Sure.”
    “Take me to him.”
    The Eskimo did.  He pointed at a man and said, “There he is.”
    “Are you Carl?”
    “Yes,” Carl said.
    “And you’re an Eskimo.”
    “No.”
    “You’re not an Eskimo?”  Carl shook his head and Ellinger looked at the only Eskimo in the room.  “He’s not an Eskimo,”  Ellinger said.
    “You didn’t say he had to be.”
    Ellinger supposed he hadn’t and left.  He came back a minute later.  “Do you know any Eskimos named Carl?”  He asked the Eskimo and Carl.
    “No,”  Carl said.
    “Yes,” the Eskimo said.
    Ellinger stopped the Eskimo before they rang the supposedly Eskimo Carl’s door.  “Is he really an Eskimo?”
    “Yes.”
    “Okay,” Ellinger said.
    A man opened the door.  The Eskimo pointed at him.  “There he is.”  He turned around and began walking away.
    “Where are you going?” Ellinger said.
    “I can’t just point at people all day,” the Eskimo said and was gone.
    Ellinger looked at the man.  The man invited him in and they sat across from each other in what might have been moose covered armchairs.  Ellinger didn’t ask.  He did ask,  “What’s your name?”
    “Carlton.”
    “Carl?”
    “Carlton.”
    “Does anyone call you Carl?”
    “Not if they want me to answer.”
    “I see,” Ellinger looked down.
    “You seem tired.”
    “I am.  More Eskimos have let me down today than ever before.” 
    “I prefer Inuit.”
    “So you are an Eskimo?”
    “Inuit.  Yes.”
    “And are you fast?”
    “Comparatively.
    “Compared to what?”
    “It depends.”
    “Has anyone ever called you ‘Carl the speedy Eskimo?’ ”
    “No.”
    Ellinger thought a moment.  “Have they ever called you ‘Carlton the fast Inuit?’ ”
    “No.”
    Ellinger was at a loss and tried to think of something to say.  “You sure do have a lot of clothes on,” Ellinger said.
    “Well, it’s cold.”
    “Sure,” Ellinger agreed.  It was true.  He decided to be honest.  “I was just trying to write a poem when all this happened.”
    “You know, I’m naked under all these clothes,” Carlton said with a wink. 
    Ellinger supposed that was true.  “But I don’t want to write a poem about it.”
    “Nobody ever does,”  Carlton said.  He sighed.

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.

Issue 12 contents

Poetry