My Belly Stings

Contributor: Marco Scibelli

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The ice cream truck was plastered with stickers of the treats held inside, pasted over other stickers from the years gone by. On the hood, a mock metal ice cream cone was displayed, and it always bothered the driver; it looked sharp and scary. He didn’t want it flying through the windshield in a collision and killing him. The truck cruised steadily up the slight incline, with the plains of sage forming a downstage for the beautiful, jagged mountains that punctuated the background. If this was a play, the stage crew did a nice job on the set design.
The driver was an unimpressive man of ambiguous age, but he wore his white uniform well and he kept his hat neatly pressed to always have that paper-boat look in perfect form. He gripped the wheel lightly, just enough to make sure the van didn’t veer off course and crush all this beautiful scenery. Yes, he’d driven all over God’s Green Earth selling ice cream, and he’s had his favorites, (how beautiful the Everglades seemed from a freezing cold car), and his least favorites, (as far as he could tell, New Mexico was just a void with some road construction in the middle). This plain, however, took the cake with its stunning gorgeousness.
The cheery van slowly rolled over the pristine, natural landscape, and into the sightline of a seven year old girl. She was standing on the side of the road in a purple dress–oh, rather, a lilac dress because purple can be a boy’s color and she isn’t a boy, thank you very much–with little yellow polka dots. She was all alone as the van pulled up in front of her and came to a stop. The man threw it into park and approached his window.
“Why, hello there little girl.”
“Hello, mister.” The man smiled a grin at the little girl, exposing every one of his yellow teeth, crooked and ugly.
“Would you like a ride someplace?” the man asked the little girl. In her mind she knew her dad and her mom told her never to ever accept rides from strangers, (especially old ones because they’re very lonely, or so her mom said and her dad nodded gravely).
“I had ought to not, I’ll be fine without one. Thank you though.” The girl turned her gaze from his hollow, deep brown eyes and she fixated it on the ground. Crumbled rocks, encrusted with dirt at the edges.
“How about some ice cream, then? My treat!”
With this the girl looked up again and, after contemplating for a brief moment, nodded her head yes. The man retreated into his van, only to return seconds later with a nice cone of swirly vanilla ice cream. To the little girl it looked like the snow that crowned the mountains of the plains, and she was very excited as she took it. “Thanks, mister!”
“Oh, no problem little girl. No problem at all!”
She began to lick her ice cream happily, and not wanting to frighten her, (ice cream men know everyone thinks they’re pedophiles), he climbed back into the driver’s seat and threw the transmission into drive. The music, a little circus ditty, began to play from the rusting speakers atop the van. He pulled away and the little girl waved as he went.
He got home at half past six, and he smiled a little grin, not enough to show his teeth, though. Half past six was his favorite time to get home, he would have just enough time to do an inventory before Jeopardy! came on television, no extra time for idling and dilly-dallying. He counted, he watched, he went to bed.
The next day he found himself driving through the barren cold of the Canadian highways. No one else was on the roads, just him and the coniferous; occasionally a deer would hear his bittersweet jingle from inside its forest home and peer through the trees. He drove on like this for a couple hours, and found no one, nor nothing. Maybe it was a bad idea to try and hit Québec today, he thought to himself. He knew the French didn’t like his ice cream, were the French Canadians the same way?
His musings came to a shattering stop, and he found himself with a face full of air. Or was it a face full of bag? Shoving it back into the wheel, he noticed blood all over his now shattered windshield. He shivered through his whole body, but flung open the door with a start and peered out onto the road. He had hit a moose (at least if that’s what a moose looks like when a two ton ice cream truck hits it), and it was dead. Through what once was the moose’s neck was now the prop ice cream cone that once adorned his truck; where the ice cream cone once adorned his truck there was nothing but an eye. He hoped it was a moose’s.
At that moment a little boy, who had been watching from the side of the road, spoke up and startled the driver. “Hey, can I get an ice cream?” If it wasn’t in French the driver probably would have been appalled at the question, but something about the strangeness of tongue put the man in a daze. He gave the boy an ice cream.
That night he got home at nine. It had taken him a long time to find a shop to put his ice cream truck in, and it was pretty badly broken. He sat on his couch and turned on the television, but all that was on was Wheel of Fortune. He stared blankly at the television screen, ran his tongue over his teeth, and shivered again.
If this were another story or man, he’d probably kill himself. But this is this story and this man, and some day in a couple of weeks he would get his truck back and go back to the same old grind, and hope no one’s afraid of him that day or thinks he’s a pedophile. Yes, up until today he had never hurt a fly. No, he won’t kill himself. He’ll keep trying to live.
You! Tell me what’s sadder.

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Marco Scibelli's just some guy who tries to write sometimes.
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