The Ice Cream Man

The Ice Cream Man

 

The Ice Cream Man drives up the winding road every summer evening with horns alive and blaring. Every evening his truck strolls along the avenue and the roar of happy children creates a silence in the air that screams to the parting skies as the clouds storm hungrily along the outlines of oak trees.

 

There is a boy.

 

He is a poor boy that stands by the curb, sadly shuffling the dust of the fallen daybreak through the famished gutter with a worn, unlaced tennis sneaker that screeches on the rough of the pavement. When all of the children leave with the contentment of sugar, the Ice Cream Man decides to give the boy a free cone, to which the boy screams and hollers, then runs hastily along the avenue with red cheeks and hair on end.

 

The next day, the children crowd around and the boy stands sheepish, again at the curb with arms folded and eyes to the floor. The Ice Cream Man gives him more, as he feels charitable, he has a surplus. Again the boy runs.

 

As days pass and weekends stream by, the boy grows sick, perhaps of an allergy, perhaps of unclean hands: the Ice Cream Man feels compelled now. His charity is his love, all things beautiful are the laughter of a child, the smiling eyes that dance away from poverty, the defenseless hopes that whistle in his screams. Maybe he doesn't realize that he is making the boy sick, maybe he doesn't care. The boy's smile keeps him alive, but now there doesn't seem to be much to live for.

 

The boy's windswept heart has diminished. He knows he is sick, he knows that he is poisoning himself. He knows that the Ice Cream Man wants to make him feel cared for. He does not want to disappoint. His eyes have forgotten the sight of love, the singing carols of the joyous truck no longer birth a lovesick moan in the bowels of his chest but they make him squeal. All he can see is the darkness when the lights have gone home and all he can hear is the freewheeling violence of the straying tunes that whisper in the wake of the truck's depature. All he wants is that joy, that feeling of warmth, the love. But he knows it will kill him.

 

The boy no longer sulks at the corner, but haunts the alleys with a hunger in his chest, a never cured sickness in his heart and ears that hear pale music drifting from the moon painted fire escapes that travels down below.

 

The Ice Cream Man is confused. He tastes the vanillas, the chocolates, the syrups, the sprinkles. The rainbow ices, the popsicles, the candied ice: there is nothing there that can't cure the soul. He weeps for the boy behind the wheel of the laughing van, he weeps on rain days when the kids are away with their toys. But the summer isn't over. At the corner there will be another boy with scuffs on his sneakers. There always will be.