Jack Dougherty put the last three dollars he had in his wallet on the windows ledge of the “Mr. Happy Cream” ice cream truck.
“Gimme another chocolate-vanilla swirl” Jack said with a bit of an edge in his voice. The driver stared at Mike coldly then turned around to get out a wafer cone to fill.
“Well, Jackass he could have easily just given her another one”. Jack thought to himself. The her he was thinking of was a blonde haired youngster going by the name “Allison”. At least, that’s what Jack heard her the friends that she was with call her. Jack had been sitting on a bench in Cedar park still recovering from his latest hangover. Like dozens of other nights before Mike hit the tavern early yesterday and slowly begin to soak in the never-ending flow of booze. This is what Jack did whenever he finished his work day at his stagnant job and was away from his ordinary wife. Drinking was his way out of this inescapable trap-period. No lottery was going to be won by him and no genie would stop by with three wishes for Jack to enjoy. Life for him was simple gratification at the edge of a bar and the penalties of his diversion being felt the day after. The driver handed Jack the freshly made cone. A chill came off it as he grabbed it and brought it down from the window.
“Hey Allison!” Jack said to the little girl who was still looking down at the ice cream cone on the hot pavement. The one she bought for herself with the money her Mom just gave her. She got one long lick on it before the whole thing toppled over and hit the ground. The tears from her eyes happened instantaneously. She had looked up at the driver in the truck, her face red and slightly now swollen. He gave her a shrug of apathy, ignored her dilemma and then proceeded to read his newspaper. Jack had witnessed this whole thing from afar and wanted to jump inside the truck just to yell directly into the driver’s face.
“HEY! YOU COULD GIVE THAT KID ANOTHER ONE, ON THE HOUSE” Jack loved the idea of doing this but, came up something more positive.
Allison looked back at her Mom who was sitting on a bench watching her the whole time. She gave Allison that look that all moms give to assure their child of their safety. Jack stood at the side of the truck and handed Allison the new ice cream cone. He watched as her face turned from apprehension to one of sheer joy. The tears were long gone now.
“Thanks, mister!” She squeaked out as she took the ice cream from Jack. He looked down at her and smiled. He had thought hopefully Allison is not familiar with the smell of residue Whisky and she wouldn’t notice it coming from his breath. Allison turned around, ran past the melted ice cream that was now slowly spreading out into a puddle on the ground. Jack looked away from her just as she sat down safely next to her mother on the bench. The Mom waved at Jack and he responded back happily.
“Your ice cream looks good” Jack said to the driver with no emotion in his voice.
The driver looked over his newspaper at Jack. “It is. Good and expensive to make”. His tone was sympathetic, as if making ice cream was the last thing he wanted to do in this world.
Jack started to walk away, his head still filled with cotton. He looked back at the driver one more time and shouted back.
“Oh, by the way Mr. Happy Cream? You’re an ASSHOLE.” The driver gave Jack the middle finger and then went right back to reading his newspaper.
Jack shuffled towards the park’s exit thinking that his plan today was to deal with the hangover simply by continuing to drink through another day. He was going to use his last three dollars to buy a pint of anything at the local liquor store and drown in it. Instead, he made a little girl happy. He stopped right before leaving and looked back once again at Allison and her Mom. Allison raised her arm and waved in enthusiastic delight. To see her do that and enjoy her ice cream gave Jack that he hadn’t experienced in a long time. Jack smiled back at her and decided right then and there, it was time for someone to help him. He realized that he needed to stop escaping into a bottle and find another way to deal with reality. He left the park with thoughts of finding more alcohol slowly melting away, like fallen ice cream on a hot paved ground.
August Writing Prompt-Melted ice cream-Day 17/31