JERRY GUARINO - SHORT-STORIES
Ice Cream Girl
Remember the song that played on summer afternoons, as the truck pulled into the neighborhood? It was the clear sign that the ice cream man was here. All the kids would run over and get in line, holding a dollar from their mom or dad, ready to get a push pop, ice cream sandwich or another of the dozens of treats pictured on the van.
That large ice cream truck has been replaced by a motorized tricycle with a small freezer, no bigger than a golf cart and no longer driven by a man looking like Captain Kangaroo. No, now the treats were delivered by a young girl, in her teens with a long pony tail, cut off shorts and tie dye t-shirt, the ice cream girl.
Marley (vegan dog) and Jeri (stoned cat) were the first to notice her, hiding in the bushes hoping to get a treat dropped by a young child.
“Marley, what’s happening?”
“See that girl, handing out ice creams. Her name is Nikki. And that boy holding the child’s hand is Tommy. He likes Nikki, but he’s afraid to ask her out.”
“They would make a cute couple. Can we help them get together?”
Jeri tilted her head. “I’ve got an idea.” She bumped into a little girl, who dropped her ice cream cone. The girl started to cry. Jeri was quick to lap up the vanilla treat. Tommy stepped up.
“Don’t cry little girl.” He handed Nikki a dollar. “Please give her another cone.” The little girl smiled with gratitude. Nikki was smiling too.
“That’s very kind of you. I’m Nikki.”
“I’m Tommy. No little one should lose their ice cream.”
Marley smiled. “Well done, Jeri.”
“I think we need to do more. Tommy isn’t asking her out.” So, Marley and Jeri recruited Larry Bird (the cockatoo) to follow Nikki and Duck to follow Tommy and find out more about them.
The next week, the birds came back with their report.
“Well, if we’re going to get these two together, Tommy is going to have to know something about Nikki.”
“Well, she just broke up with a boy who was cheating on her. She won’t stand for that.”
“Of course, most girls wouldn’t.”
“But that’s not all. He was cheating on her with her mom. She caught them making out in the house when she got back from her ice cream job.”
“Oh my! That’s got to hurt.”
“Yes, so Tommy shouldn’t push her into a relationship right now. She needs time to recover emotionally.”
“Duck, you’ve been following Tommy. What’s his state of mind?”
“Not good. Tommy’s been getting ready to ask her out, even going over to her house to do it in person.”
“That could blow up big time. If he happened to be there alone with her mom, waiting for Nikki to come in.”
“We have to follow Tommy and intercept him. He can’t go over there yet.”
So, Marley, Jeri and the birds tailed Tommy.
Soon, they found him buying flowers and walking towards Nikki’s house. Nikki was finishing her ice cream route, so he would get there before she came home. Disaster.
Marley rolled around in some mud, then ran up against Tommy’s pants.
“Argh. Damn dog. Now I have to go home and change.”
Crises averted for the moment. Tommy would have to wait another day.
The next day, Tommy tried again, but Larry landed on Tommy’s shoulder.
“Hey. Get off me.” But Larry just smiled and stood there. Tommy tried to shake him off, but to no avail. And duck walked in front of Tommy, interrupting his gait.
“What is this, a Hitchcock movie?”
Larry started pecking his neck while duck nipped at his ankles.
Tommy screamed and ran home. One more day of relief for Nikki, but the animals knew they couldn’t keep Tommy away forever.
He decided that a lesser gesture might be more effective. No flowers, no showing up at Nikki’s house. He would just approach her at the ice cream truck.
The next day, he waited behind the little kids getting their treats. Marley, Jeri and the others watched quietly from a safe distance. When he was the last one there, he handed Nikki a dollar.
“May I please have a creamsicle?”
Nikki smiled and handed him the frozen treat. “Of course, Tommy. I haven’t seen you here in a while.”
“I’ve been thinking about the future. How have you been?”
“Well, I had a problem with my old boyfriend, but I’m over that now.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Would you like to talk about it?”
“Maybe we could. What are you doing later on?”
“Not much. Can we meet down by the beach for a burger?”
“I’d like that Tommy. Six o’clock good? I’ll bring the dessert.”
Tommy and Nikki smiled.
Jack and Jill
Jack and Jill pedaled up the hill in the bright sunshine of a Washington State morning.
“Sweetheart. I’m getting too old for these climbs.”
“I know Jack. My knee is starting to ache. But I love our bike time.”
“Maybe it’s time to get one of those electric bikes.”
They ordered two eBikes from California, backordered because of the demand. After a few weeks, Jack opened an email to say the delivery was on its way.
“Jill, the bikes are leaving California today. They should arrive on Friday.”
“I can’t wait!”
Meanwhile, Tim the delivery driver was winding his way up from the central coast towards Seattle. Tim loved his job, often stopping along the way to get local treats and generally smelling the roses. He was not a type A driver. Although he was only 19, he had the soul of a 1960s hippie.
His first stop was in San Francisco, delivering some tie dye fabrics for a small clothing boutique in Haight Ashbury.
The owner opened the box right away. “Oh, these are just perfect. We can make more t-shirts for the farmer’s market this weekend.”
Tim was intrigued. “Do you have any shirts done?”
“Of course, take a look in our shop.”
Tim browsed the display of colorful shirts, some with peace symbols and some with words. He finally settled on a blue, orange and green shirt with the words ‘take it easy’ on the back. He put it on over his uniform shirt.
Back on the road, his next delivery was in Berkeley, home of the University of California and peaceful protests that hadn’t completely finished from 1969. Easing down Channing Way, he pulled into the Solar Car Wash (yes, that’s right).
Opening up the back door, he pulled out two large boxes of solar panels and handed them to the owner.
“Say, how does this work?”
“The solar panels store electricity and power the car wash brushes.”
“What happens if it’s cloudy?”
“Well, then it’s hand washing until the batteries are full again. Say, your truck looks like it could use a cleaning. Half price for delivery trucks.”
Tim smiled. “All right, but make it quick, I have to get going.”
The truck was all lathered up and moving through the wash cycle when the system shut down. Tim’s truck was locked in the middle of the machine; he tried to see out of the soap covered windshield.
“Hello? The wash stopped.”
“Don’t worry, my friend. The backup generator should kick in any moment.”
An hour later, the car wash started up, the soap having dried onto the delivery truck and Tim came out the other side.
The owner apologized. “I’m so sorry. No charge. Take it easy.”
“No worries, but I have to get going.”
Driving up University Avenue, he saw a group of women offering car washes.
“Might as well get this dry soap off. My truck looks like a pop art experiment. What are you raising money for?”
A pretty coed in cut off jeans came up. “We’re donating money to the shelters in town. There’s a lot of homeless in Berkeley.”
“I see. We’ll, here’s $10.”
Tim thought to himself. I should have gone to college.
The Cal sorority girls did a quick, but thorough job cleaning the truck and Tim was back on the road towards Oregon. He came to a fork, either 101 North, the coastal route or I-5, the faster interstate. Tim took the slower road along the coast. That may have been a mistake.
By the time he reached Eureka, he was exhausted and hungry. He decided to eat, stay at a motel and get an early start in the morning. He overslept. It was 10:00am when he woke up. He grabbed a fast food order from a drive thru and started driving, knowing he couldn’t make up the time by speeding.
“I should have taken route 5. It’s mid-day Thursday and I’m not even in Oregon yet.”
Meanwhile, Jack was checking the status of his bikes. “Still says Friday by the end of the day Jill.”
“Great, it will be perfect weather for a ride.”
It was Thursday night, when Tim arrived in Troutdale, Oregon, a small town outside of Portland. He parked his truck to get dinner at a local diner.
Inside, he ordered a burger. A pretty waitress brought it to him. Her name tag said Heather. She wore bell bottom jeans, a red Danskin top and flip flops. Her hair was long and straight. All she needed was flowers in her hair to complete his fantasy.
“Would you like anything else? We’re about to close.”
“Where’s a motel?”
“I can show you. Let me close your tab and get my things.”
Tim was starting to get excited. Maybe this is the beginning of something.
Heather took Tim to her apartment, a two bedroom she shared with a girlfriend.
“Sit down, would you like some wine?”
Heather brought a bottle. They shared it, along with some pot. Tim was totally relaxed as was Heather. They made love. Heather brought out two brownies.
“Here, try these Tim.”
They both ate the brownies, hungry from the wine, pot and making love. What Tim didn’t know was the brownies had LSD in them.
It was Sunday before Tim left, but he didn’t mind. He had spent days with his fantasy flower girl and the best love he had ever had. She kissed him goodbye.
“Hope to see you again Tim.”
He stayed the night. He could get up early to deliver the bikes to Washington, only a few hours north.
Jill got an email from the shipping company. The delivery date now says by the end of the day Monday. “Jack, the bikes won’t be here until Monday.”
“Man, that’s disappointing. Three days late. What happened?”
“It doesn’t say.”
“Take it easy, dear. We’ll have plenty of time to ride.”
Tim pulled onto his final stop to deliver the eBikes for Jack and Jill. They came out, a little perturbed.
“Finally, we thought these were coming on Friday.”
“I’m sorry guys. You wouldn’t believe that disasters that I had to go through to get these to you.”
Tim left for California. Jack and Jill started to unpack the bikes and began the assembly, following a video provided by the company. They had almost finished the bikes when they came to the last step: attach the seat and secure it.
“Where are the seats dear?”
“Check the boxes.”
“I did, they’re not here.”
Tim returned to Troutdale to rendezvous with his new lover Heather. After another day of bliss, he had to return to the bike company in California.
“Tim, where have you been?”
“Why, I just took my days off in Oregon, seeing the sites.”
“A customer in Washington said you didn’t deliver the bike seats. We had to fly them up overnight. Cost us $100. We’re docking that from your pay check.”
Tim checked the back of his truck. Under some packing blankets, there they were, two eBike seats.
“Guys, I’ve decided to go back to school. There’s a nice junior college in Oregon.”
Tim settled into a nice college life with Heather.
Jack and Jill could finally go up the hills again.
Marley’s Next Adventure