Ice Cream Man Ch. 01byMungoParkIII©
Zed slowly turned the corner with his van and slowly headed down the street, carefully watching for any children in the area. The music blaring on his loudspeakers had cycled for what must have been the five hundredth time that day and Zed was sick of it. The day had been slow, boring in fact and the asinine music was gouging a hole in his head.
He had sold some ice cream, but it was all to groups of kids or with adults around. The groups of kids were frustrating all shouting and screaming at once, Zed preferred one on one contact with them. As far as the adults go, they just made Zed nervous, inspecting the ice cream before giving it to the kids, as if Zed might try to poison them or something. Just the thought of that was an insult.
As he slowly rolled down the street, music blaring, he saw someone a short ways ahead. It was a young girl, maybe five or six standing at the street by herself. He could see she was excited, kind of hopping up and down in anticipation, which a lot of kids did, but what was different about this little girl was that she was wearing mittens.
Now the weather that late August had been cooler than normal, certainly cooler than the heat wave they experienced the first week of the month, but it was still above ninety degrees outside. Zed pulled to a stop in front of the girl, slipped back in his van to the window on the side and slid the plastic pane to the side. He looked down at the girl, but she was so short that even with her standing on the curb he couldn't get the ice cream safely down to her and he certainly couldn't get any money. Moving to the back of the van, he opened the back door and stepped out.
"Why hello and what is your name?"
"Stacy Ann Williams."
"What a nice name for such a big girl as yourself, and how old are you?"
"I'm six, but my mommy says I think I am a teenager."
"A teenager? Do you want to be a teenager," Zed said squatting down close to the girl.
"My big sister is a teenager, but mommy says I act older than her sometimes."
"Oh, do you know how old I am?"
"Are you a hundred?"
"A hundred?" Zed giggled.
"My great-grandmother is a hundred. She lives in Cal... Cali... California."
"California, that is far away."
"I know, she flies in an airplane," the little girl replied, then looked up at the pictures of ice cream on Zed's van.
"You know, we have an ice cream that looks like an airplane, would you like to see it?"
The girl nodded her head and then looked up at the pictures again looking for it.
"Oh no, it's not up there, but I have it in my truck. If you come in I can show you," he said, standing up and moving toward the back.
"Oh you have a kitty cat one," she exclaimed, "I have a kitty cat."
"But don't you want to see the airplane?"
"I like the kitty cat," she replied, holding her hand out as if pointing.
"Mittens," Zed said, "Why are you wearing mittens, it's so hot outside."
"When I eat the ice cream it makes my hand cold."
"So you wear mittens, that is so smart. Are you the smartest girl in your class?"
"I go to first grade this year, I was the best colorer in kindergarten."
"Were you? Did you draw your kitty cat?"
"Yes I drew a hundred kitty cats and they all were mine," she replied proudly.
"I have a kitty cat in my truck, would you like to see it?"
"It might hiss at me, my kitty cat does that at strangers."
"This kitty cat is a nice one, it won't hiss."
"Are you a stranger?" the girl asked pensively.
"No, I'm an ice cream man."
"Ice cream, I want the kitty cat one."
"Okay, okay, I'll get a kitty cat ice cream," Zed said, climbing into his truck. He grabbed one kitty cat ice cream and stepped out. He walked back over to Stacy Ann and squatted down. "It cost one dollar," he said.
"But I don't have a dollar."
"Do you have any money?"
"I have seven pennies in my piggy bank."
"But you need money to pay for the ice cream."
Stacy Ann stood for a moment looking pensive and then said, "Can I draw you a picture of a kitty cat and then you give me the ice cream."
Zed reached out his hand to clear a stray bit of her hair from her face, he stopped his hand just inches from the strand of hair. He remained motionless for a moment until he noticed his hand beginning to shake. Moving it away from her head he wiped his hand on his shirt. "I don't have anything to draw with," he said to her.
"I know, I'll go get my sister, she always has dollars."
"No, no, that's okay. Hey, what if I give you the ice cream and you give me one of your mittens?"
"But my hand will get cold eating the ice cream."
"No, no, see you will have one mitten to hold the ice cream with and you can use your other hand to pet the kitty cat in my truck."
"Okay!" she replied, beaming with excitement.
"You give me that mitten," he said, watching her bite the end and pull the mitten off with her mouth. She handed him the mitten and he reached out the ice cream to her, but then hesitated. "Here, let me open it for you." Pushing her mitten into his pocket, he pulled off the paper and handed her the ice cream.
Zed watched intensely as Stacy Ann delicately ran her tongue over the ice cream, her body shivering first from the excitement and then from the cold. He watched her lick the ice cream several more times.
"Now do you want to come pet my kitty cat?"
She nodded and followed him around to the back of the van. As Zed reached to open the door he noticed a motion at the window in Stacy Ann's house. Suddenly the front door burst open.
"STACY ANN!" came a loud shout from the door.
Stacy Ann looked up at Zed and said, "That's my sister, Katy. She has a loud mouth."
Quickly opening the door, Zed slipped inside, closing it behind him, leaving Stacy Ann standing in the street behind the vehicle.
"STACY ANN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
Zed could hear the shouts from inside the van. As he went to shut the window the teenage girl she asked him, "What are you doing with my sister?"
"Ice cream, I got her an ice cream."
"She doesn't have any money."
"It was a sample, free sample," he said, pulling the window shut and quickly moving up to the driver's seat. He started his van and began to pull away, watching the teenager carrying her sister back toward the house. Stacy Ann held up her hand, the one without the mitten, and waved goodbye. Zed could see her soft, delicate fingers moving in unison.
"Good bye, Stacy Ann," he whispered, pulling out of the neighborhood.
Once at home he quickly moved the ice cream from his truck to several freezers he had in his garage. He then went into his small house and walked back to the bedroom. Once inside he moved over to a large bulletin board hanging on a wall and looked at his collection of things. Bits of clothing, socks, a shoe, a tee shirt, some small hats and a lock of hair were all thumb-tacked to the cork backing. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the mitten. Selecting a thumbtack he hung up his latest trophy and then sat down on his bed.
He had to admit he had a good day today, he came very close, closer than he had anytime before and he had a wonderful memento. Whispering to himself he said, "Yes, today was very good and maybe tomorrow will be better."