I can hear the ice cream truck again as I walk along the road beside the cornfield near my dad’s trailer. Its music is soft and faraway, and the sun is hot. I wish it would come this way soon. I would ask for an ice cream cone, take it, and then run into the corn rows while the ice cream man did fuck all to stop me. It is kind of annoying to hear that silly little chiming song and not know which direction it comes from. It almost sounds like it is coming from the cornfield.
School sucked today. It always fucking sucks. Too many stupid kids. Too many stupid teachers. I wasn’t in a good mood anyway since my arms were all scratched up from playing with that cat yesterday. Man, the way it shrieked! I was glad for the silence afterwards, when I finally shut it up.
My dad always said Jews had Jewy noses, but I didn’t know what he meant until I saw Jon at school. Jon had a Jewy nose like a pelican. When he was sitting in the cafeteria, eating the same nasty food his mom always packed for him for lunch, I realized how much I hated him. He had to eat different food than the rest of us because he was a Jew. Kosher, he said. But I was sick of smelling it every day, and I was sick of his Jewy nose. So I told him he was going to Hell for his shitty food. He told me he wasn’t. I stood up and told everyone in the cafeteria that Jews went to Hell because they were unbaptized. They didn’t believe in Jesus. That’s what dad says. The look on his face! He started crying like a baby. I got sent to the principal’s office, but I didn’t care. I get sent there every day. I tune Mr. Shaw out. He might as well be a bug under my shoe. I don’t care what he says, or what anyone says. Lectures don’t bother me. And detention doesn’t bother me, either. Not usually, anyway. It was just that today it was hotter than usual. Cheap-ass school’s cheap-ass air-conditioning. It was like being outside. It was almost as hot as it is now as I walk the road and wonder where the ice cream truck is.
Man, today is boring.
It’s hotter today, and the ice cream truck is a little closer, it seems. The winds sure are blowing hard, too, thrashing the corn against each other.
I got in trouble again for stealing Cindy Lansberg’s training bra on the bus. She should have known better than sitting in the back of the bus, though. She was asking for it. That’s my territory. She tried to get all puffy at me when I sat beside her, but she knew what would happen. She was asking for it. At first I tried to tickle her. She told me to stop. Then I reached under her shirt and snapped her bra, pulling it out. I could see her poking through her shirt, so I grabbed them. She started to cry and the bus driver, Mr. Cochran, pulled the bus over and grabbed me by the ear and dragged me to the front of the bus. They tried to call my dad when we arrived at school, but dad never answers the phone. He doesn’t give a damn about anything when he’s drinking.
They gave me detention again and I was told to sit at the front of the bus for now on. That’s fine with me. Still got to play with Cindy’s boobies. They were pretty nice. I couldn’t wait until they would get bigger. Like Mrs. Mattingly’s. Mark was so jealous. He asked me what they felt like. I told him he would never know what they felt like because he was a fag.
Is that the tornado alarm?
During Recess today I snuck back into class and went through some of the lunches the other students had brought from home. Jeremy Brennar had the best lunch: a box of lunchables and two chocolate puddings. Anthony Perry had the worst lunch. He had some kind of disease or something, so his parents made special food for him that tasted fucking awful. I ate it anyway, because it was there and it needed to be eaten. There were other lunches, too. Some good, some not so good. My stomach was so full by the time I finished that I fell asleep on the floor. Mrs. Mattingly found me surrounded by the empty lunch boxes when class returned from Recess. She threw a hissy fit. I didn’t care. My stomach sloshed around and I felt sick. She sent me to see Mr. Shaw again. He threatened me with Saturday school, but I knew better. There was no Saturday school for 5th graders. There was for 6th graders, but I had been held back twice since I couldn’t read so good.
Where is that ice cream truck at? I can hear it, but I can’t see it. Fudge bars, cones, shaved ice, popsicle— I want to eat them all. I got a bad craving.
I stole Cindy Loggins’s cell phone when she went to use the girl’s room. She just left it on the bleachers, like a dumb cow. I don’t carry a backpack so I gave it to Mark to hide it in his backpack until we got on the bus. Mark’s the only person I can use. He thinks we’re friends, but that’s because he’s a fucking idiot. Anyway, Cindy came back from the girls’ room and it was funny as hell to see her frantically search for her phone— looking confused at first, then panicking. She started to breathe really badly, since she has asthma, and she was bawling like a baby. Mrs. Mattingly went to me rightaway and demanded that I empty my pockets. I did. The look on her face was priceless. She even apologized for suspecting me! She didn’t ask to check Mark’s backpack because she already felt guilty about accusing me. When me and Mark got on the schoolbus he gave me Cindy’s phone. I went through her photo gallery, making fun of her pictures while Mark laughed. I then deleted them all.
I am keeping the phone for myself. It’s pretty cool. I use it to take pictures of stuff, like these farmhands pushing bales of hay onto the wagon. The idiots keep smashing them together and knocking each other backwards. They are red in the face and probably drunk. Dumbass Mexicans.
It is really hot right now, but the ice cream truck is nowhere to be seen. I can hear it, though. Its song sounds like ice cracking deliciously. It makes me thirsty.
Martin had it coming for a while, but I was glad I was able to knock his teeth out in front of class. The look on Mrs. Mattingly’s face was priceless. She should have known better. He should have, too. She called on me to solve a stupid math problem on the board. I didn’t give a shit. She kept henpecking me to try, but I didn’t feel like it, and then Martin, that little cumstain, laughed about at my answer. I walked up to him— feeling pretty damn hot like I do now as I walk beside the cornfield— and I just punched him right in his laughing face. Punched him so hard that blood splattered all over Mandy Armstrong’s desk and dress. Her face was priceless, too. The silence was priceless. Martin’s tears were priceless.
Mr Shaw and Mrs. Mattingly argued pretty loudly afterward while I waited in Shaw’s office. She said it was my dad’s fault, the way I was. He said I was just a natural bastard. He was probably more right than she was. I am what I am.
Man, it stinks out here today. The farmers must be dumping manure everywhere. Or maybe its Pig Shit Creek, the creek that runs by the old pig farm. The shit just washes downstream. I hear a scuffle in the corn rows and see two hawks fighting in the sky. Eventually, one falls to the ground and the other tears him apart with his beak. Awesome.
The ice cream truck is as close as ever, now. I wish I had a popsicle to cool me off. I feel like I could tear something apart, I’m so angry.
Man, I raised Hell today. Poor Ms Paige! Ha! Now everyone thinks she’s a slut, and Mr. Shaw is her sugar-daddy. It wasn’t that hard to do, neither. I just told Mark to spread the word, and then I spread the word, and soon everybody was spreading the word. But no one knew where the word came from, and so no one could do anything about it. The school was full of cockroaches now, and Mr. Shaw couldn’t squish them all, no matter how hard he tried. Actually, the harder he tried the more he looked guilty. And Ms. Paige actually cried! In front of everybody! Mark said he felt bad afterward, but that’s because he’s a pussy. A pussy and a fag. I don’t know why I let him talk to me.
Today is hotter than yesterday. My tanktop is drenched with sweat, and I can hear the ice cream truck somewhere on the other side of the cornfield. It pisses me off. Why doesn’t it come this way? A group of men are standing near a rattlesnake hole, stuffing it with hay. They set it on fire and stand by, leaning on their pitchforks, while the snakes burn. How can they stand so close to the fire when it is this hot outside? And why are they burning them in the middle of the day? Adults sure are stupid.
I went to the playground today during Recess, instead of playing with my other classmates on the field. It was too hot to play Kick Ball. I wished all of my classmates fell dead from heat stroke.
A lot of the younger kids were in the playground. There was a 1st grader playing in the sandpit. How could he play in sand when it was this hot outside? It made me angry. Sweat boiled in my eyes. I smashed the sand castle he was building and then whipped him with his plastic shovel. The 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Mullivan, was really peeved. I didn’t care, though. The little brat deserved worse.
Mr. Shaw called my father, or tried to. He couldn’t get through. He actually cussed in his office. I almost laughed and asked him where Ms. Paige had gone. He actually slapped me across the face and sent me out of his office. I made sure that all of the students and teachers saw the red welt on my cheek. It burned and stung, but I had never felt better. When Mrs. Mattingly asked me what happened, I forced a tear out and whimpered, “Nothin’.” She looked like she might actually cry. The dumb bitch.
The creek should be boiling today, since it’s so damn hot. There are a few bubbles, but that’s just from the fast currents near the rocks. I almost swim in it, but then I see the pigshit floating through the brown water. As hot as I am, I’m not ready to swim in pigshit. I only get my feet wet a bit, and it sticks to my toes like river silt. My toes don’t matter much, though. My feet are almost always dirty.
Walking away, I find an arrow in the ground. A neighbor probably lost it out here because of his shitty aim. There are also some hoofprints in the dirt. Maybe the shitty archer was trying to shoot a deer, or a horse. Can’t tell which. I pull the arrow from the ground and take it home. I can hear the ice cream truck driving on the road near the creek, but I never see it.
I got Mr. Tinnell good today. They’ll fire that four-eyed, sax-sucking bastard for sure. It’s what he gets for being a dick to me during Music Class. I told him I was playing Jazz, so he should have just shut the fuck up and let me play it. What’s the point of Jazz if I can’t make shit up as I go along? It’s what they call “improv”. Just wait until the mail comes tomorrow! The idiot left his wallet on his desk and I took his credit card. Ordered all kinds of stuff online and had it sent to the school’s address. Porn videos, dildos, condoms, sex dolls. All next-day shipping, too. God, I love the internet. I made sure to order some musical instruments, too, just so it looks even more legit. It’s gonna be funny when they start unboxing the flutes and find a big plastic dong staring them in the face. Blow on this, class. Follow the sheet music. I can’t wait.
I keep hearing the ice cream truck’s song. Ice cracking upon ice. Icicles falling in rhythm. It seems as if the truck will come around the corner at any moment, but it never does. I am sweating waterfalls. Dad is pass-out drunk again, as always, so I’m walking down the road, looking to see what I can see— cornfields surrounding me. The ditch along the road is pretty crowded. There are reeds growing up from the water. A frog jumps here and there, croaking. I see a cat poke its head out among the stalks, but when I try to catch it, it runs away. It is probably Candice Bowen’s cat. I wish I had her to play with.
Just when I am bored I see a dead dog laying in a jumble. It’s head is backwards, but otherwise it looks normal. I pick up a stick and poke at it for a minute or so before becoming bored again. And hot. It is too hot out here. Why do I keep coming out here when it is hot? It makes no sense.
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that tomorrow Mr. Tinnell is going to be fired. And I am going to laugh and laugh. When I told Mark, that little coward said I shouldn’t have done it. He said I went too far and should have returned the credit card. But I did return Tinnell’s credit card, otherwise he would be able to claim that he didn’t have it— that someone stole it— and so he was innocent. Now he is going to look guilty as sin when he pulls it out of his wallet.
Mr. Tinnell was fired, but that was the least interesting thing that happened today. What was really good was when I snuck into Mr. Shaw’s office and poisoned his coffee. He started gagging and foaming at the mouth and they had to call an ambulance. Unfortunately, the paramedics arrived in time to save him. They say he almost died. After that, the police went searching through everyone’s backpacks. They found the window cleaner in Mark’s backpack, where I stashed it when he wasn’t looking. Mark bawled like a baby as they took him out of class and called his parents. He should have known better, though. He threatened to rat on me. The little two-faced fag. I showed him, didn’t I?
After that, the school closed down for the day. I got to go home early. Maybe I should poison Mr. Shaw more often. Maybe next time I will poison him for good.
I wipe my forehead with my arm. It looks like I have been sprayed with a water hose, I am sweating so bad. I hear the ice cream truck again in the distance— its stupid little chiming song—and wish it would hurry up and get here. I am roasting, inside and out. It is noon and dad isn’t home yet, so I am walking the road again. I hope I will see some of my classmates outside. Candice, or Cindy. But there’s nothing but the corn rows and the road and the stupid song of the ice cream truck.
And then it arrives. Out of nowhere. Scares me, the way it just rolls out of nowhere. I turn around and see it: big, white, shotgun-blasted with all of these colorful ice cream stickers. The man behind the wheel wears a little white hat and a white uniform. He is grinning, and I feel hotter than ever.
“Well, hello there, Judas,” he says. “How are you doing today?”
“The name’s Jude,” I say, though I don’t know why he should know my real name. “And it’s hot as Hell.”
The man nods his head in an exaggerated way, still grinning like a skull. It’s odd to see a guy like him working as an ice cream truck driver. He is so good-looking he could be on the cover of one of those romance novels my mom used to read all of the time before she left. He almost glows, he’s so good-looking. The bastard. I bet Mrs. Mattingly would drop her panties for him in a heartbeat. All of the girls would, and some of the fag-boys, too.
“Nothing helps with the heat like a popsicle or ice cream cone,” the man says.
“I don’t have any money,” I say. It is a lie. I have a pocketful of lunch money I stole from Henry Stayton just this week. I have a shoebox full of lunch money I stole from several kids throughout the year. I keep it buried so dad can’t take it and waste it on booze.
“Money’s no good here,” the man says, “unless, of course, it has been earned through an Indulgence. And you do not look like a priest, do you?”
If it is a joke, I don’t get it. The guy seems like an idiot, but maybe the ice cream is good. And I am so damn hot. I can feel the cool air flowing from his truck, and I just want to lay in the freezer and go to sleep. But not with this pedophile staring at me like he is.
“What kind of ice cream do you got?” I ask.
“Every kind,” he says. “Every color, flavor, creed, and nationality.”
I stare at the stickers on the ice cream truck. There are fudge pops and orange-swirls, pudding pops and pineapple-mango ice, ice cream sandwiches and frozen fruit bars. All kinds of ice cream. While I look, the driver puts the truck in Park and then steps back into the refrigerated trailer, rolling up the drop-down door where his serving counter is. There is a wall of pictures and names behind him. Many of the names I can’t make heads or tails of. Antony’s Neapolitan? Borgia’s Rocky Road? Usurer’s Sherbet? What the fuck?
I am too perplexed to understand what they all mean, and too hot to care.
“I don’t know what is good,” I say.
“I know you do not,” the man says, smiling angelically.
“Just give me whatever,” I say.
“You will get what you deserve,” he says.
He pulls a popsicle out of thin air and hands it to me.
“What kind is it?” I ask, ignoring his magic trick.
“Your kind,” he said.
I stare at the popsicle for a moment— wondering what kind of flavor it is— before sticking it in my mouth. It tastes awful.
“I don’t like it,” I say, trying to give it back.
The man merely smiles knowingly.
I hold it up for a moment, but when he doesn’t take it, I toss the popsicle into the cornfield. The green stalks and leaves wither and fade, the whole cornfield wasting to shriveled shoots of blighted stubble. I feel a chill that does not leave me. No matter how bright the sun burns down upon me, the heat I felt does not return.
I choke out the question as fear coils my throat like a snake.
“Who are you?”
“You know who I am,” the ice cream truck driver says, taking off his hat to reveal his horns. “You have always known who I am. Your whole life. I am your mentor. Your collector. Your curator.” He reaches for me with a taloned hand as the ice cream truck’s music crashes in my ears like breaking icicles. “Your destiny…”
The world is cold now. Everything is cold. I am frozen within and without. My heart does not beat; my blood does not pump. I am impaled on a giant stick and his horned head looms over me, nibbling on my soul and sucking whatever warmth remains in me. All around me is a dark, frozen lake. Icy bodies crack and break down below. Thousands are frozen here, unable to move or leave, their bodies shattering into icy fragments. There is no hope here. There is no warmth. At the bottom of the world, where the light of Goodness cannot reach, I shiver, wishing for the days when I could feel the heat of Hell’s other circles at my back. Somebody help me. Anybody. Please. I cannot escape that terrible cracking icicle song…