Part 8: Sugar Junkie

This is an excerpt from my novel Caroline. See the previous chapter here.

Caroline and I were alone together in the house (yes, mom was too cheap to pay a babysitter, she figured that if the absence of a babysitter caused one of us to die in a stupid accident, she could always give birth to another child) when I suddenly heard the sound of an ice cream truck passing by. Now, sugar is like heroin to small children, and I was and still am a sugar junkie; to me the sound of an ice cream truck passing by is like the sound of black tar heroin cooking up in a dirty old metal spoon to an addict. As soon as that sweet tune passed by I cannot physically restrain myself from jumping off the couch and running out on the streets.

Caroline walked past and asked me, “Where are you going?”

“Ice cream truck,” I explained.

Caroline appeared puzzled and asked, “What is an ice cream truck?”

All those years she spent in the hospital had caused her to missed some of the best childhood experiences, so I explained, “Some vendors of ice cream use ridiculously slow moving trucks as a platform from which they hawk their products, do you want to come? Make your decisions fast, Gerome will not wait for us.”

Caroline seemed to take an excruciating long amount of time to decide, but it was probably because I was experiencing time differently from her. I’m a sugar junkie; any delay in getting sugar into my veins is pure agony.

“Aunt Sylvia hasn’t gotten us ice cream and the temperature has hit three digits for three days now and is likely to continue into a fourth day, oh, I would love to have that sweet, sweet cold, smooth ice cream slide down my throat.”

“Standing there won’t get you any ice cream, come on! Let’s run!”

Caroline followed me and ran into the streets, it was just in time because Gerome was about to turn a corner and leave the block when we suddenly approached him. He had a great eye and saw us in his rearview mirror and slowed his van at a stop sign. He stuck his hand out the window of his van and said, “You are such a regular customer that I was actually a little worried when I drove past your house and you didn’t come out. I thought you might have tripped and broke a leg as you were running out, but now that you’re here, who’s this girlfriend of yours?”

I glanced over at Caroline, who shirked away in embarrassment, then back at Gerome and said, “She’s not my girlfriend, she’s my cousin.”

“Ah, the forbidden fruit is ever more sweet, isn’t it?” he said with a wink. At that time I didn’t understand what he was saying but apparently Caroline did, because she responded by letting out a shrilled laugh. Quickly I handed two one-dollar bills to him, by then my hands were already trembling from withdrawal.

“You know what I like, two scoops of chocolate-coffee ice cream with sprinkles, and Caroline would vanilla be fine for you?”

“Anything you order I’m sure I’ll like.”

“Yeah, I think coffee would be too strong for her.”

I gave Gerome the money and with lightning speed he went to the back of the van and got us two cones. I nodded to him before he drove away. Quite content holding and licking our ice cream cones we slowly walked back home. Before I even took my first lick of ice cream I asked Caroline, “Do you want to try some of my coffee-chocolate ice cream?”

At first Caroline was reluctant but then eagerly took my right hand and took a big bite out of the top scoop of ice cream. Her face was filled with many interesting expressions as she tasted it, then said, “How are you able to stand eating that stuff?”

“I have to admit that my first reaction to coffee-chocolate was like yours. But after a few licks the flavor becomes less overwhelming and you get to savor the subtle flavors.”

Caroline did not appear convinced and continued eating her vanilla ice cream. We returned the house and all seemed calm, but suddenly as I tried opening the door I found it locked.

“What’s the matter? Are we locked out?” Caroline asked.

“I don’t know,” I responded, still not admitting defeat but continued rattling the doorknob. After a few seconds I said, “okay, we’re locked out, but maybe the back door is open.”

We tried the backdoor, but some schlub (probably me) was very meticulous and locked the backdoor too, and it wouldn’t open no matter what I did. I took ten steps backward and with full force ran at the door and ram it open with brute force. But all that happened as my shoulder collided with the door was a shooting pain up my neck that nearly forced me to drop to the ground.

“Are you okay?” Caroline said, running towards me when she saw raw pain on my face and putting her hand on my left shoulder. “Here, let me hold your ice cream.”

Despite the pain I managed to walk to the nearest windowsill and prop my body up. As I put the weight of my body on my left hand there was a popping sound, and I let out a shrilled scream.

“Are you okay?” Caroline asked with a tone of worry in her voice.

“Yes, I believe my shoulder socket has popped back into place; the pain has improved quite a lot.”

I moved my shoulder around to allow it to settle back into place, there were a series of popping and crackling sound but it wasn’t accompanied by much pain. As I gestured for Caroline to hand back my ice cream cone, she remarked, “I couldn’t understand why you think ramming that door would make it pop open since that door swings out, not in.”

“Well thank you for making me realize what a buffoon I was,” I said, starting off with a tone of exasperation trailing off with a flippant smile looking into Caroline’s eyes.

In good humor Caroline asked, “Got any more ideas, Einstein?”

I good a look of the formidable fortress that is our home and said, “Well, I know this house is made mostly of flimsy drywall and asbestos, if I run fast enough maybe I could break through. Of course, there is the danger of hitting a stud.”

“I forbid you from trying to penetrate the wall by running through it,” Caroline responded, “you already dislocated your shoulder by trying to ram the door, god knows what you’ll dislocate if you put your body up against the entire house.”

“You’re right, and I imagine that mom would be mad if we punch a Ricky-sized hole through one of her precious walls.” Not able to get back into the house, we decided to enjoy our ice cream under the shade of a gingko tree across the street. We sat on the curb under its shade right over a storm drain, so I could enjoy the smell of decaying leaves along with my ice cream.


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