sprinkleEyeInspired by real-life events

Bob shuffled closer to the head of the line, slapping at a mosquito that buzzed near his head.  Sweat trickled down his back, despite the fact that the sun had set hours ago.  Ahead of him, two teens shoved each other in a good-natured argument over who would pay for the sundaes they had ordered, then moved on.

A woman stepped up to the window and launched into a long order of cones and dishes of ice cream for her family waiting back in the car.  Bob leaned back and looked up.  He wished he could see the stars, but the yellow-orange glow of lights under the ice cream stand eaves turned the night sky into a black smear.

Finally, the woman was done and Bob stepped up to the window that glowed cheerfully in the night.  It was surrounded by countless signs, haphazardly hung, advertising various kinds of frozen treats – shakes and floats and sundaes and dozens of flavors of ice cream, soft and hard, as well as things no one in his right mind would order at such a place, like hot dogs and hamburgers.  Cold air from the air conditioned interior washed out over him as he neared.

“What’ll you have?” asked the clerk, a tanned young man in a backwards baseball cap and faded varsity football t-shirt with the sleeves torn off.

“What kind of … sprinkles do you have?” Bob asked.

“We’ve got chocolate and rainbow,” the clerk replied.  He reached up to swing his hat around so the brim faced forward.  “And sprinkles that taste of a kiss once offered but never taken.  Sprinkles that taste like spiritual awakening and sprinkles that taste like the tears of your enemies.”

The boy looked around the cool, cluttered interior of the shop, reminding himself of his inventory.  “We have contentment sprinkles and fame sprinkles.  Sprinkles that taste like opportunity missed and sprinkles that taste like wealth.”

He paused and peered under the counter, and Bob heard a rattle as he shook a plastic container.  He straightened, took off his hat and fanned himself.  “And it looks like we still have a few sprinkles that taste like what you thought you’d do when you grew up, back when you were a child, and just one serving that taste like the best things you thought you’d end up doing when you were a teenager.”  He put the hat back on, and spun it backwards.  “So what’ll it be?”

“Well,” Bob said after a moment.  “I’ll go with chocolate, I guess.  I was going to have peanut butter ice cream, and I don’t think any of those other would really go with it.”

“That’s true,” said the clerk, and reached for his scoop.

~ by smwilliams on July 23, 2013.

3 Responses to “Sprinkles”

  1. I love this so much! I especially love the clerk, who seems so cheery – the opposite of poor Bob. this is a quintessential summer story. Very Ray Bradbury.

    • Yes, I feel this is what would have happened if that real-life person had been given this kind of ice cream topping option. Whatever it is he’s looking for, I suspect it is beyond my abilities to imagine. But I hope he keeps asking.

  2. Oh, I hadn’t seen this! Very good, SM. You should have submitted that somewhere.

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