I used to buy comic books at the newsstand around this arena when I was a squirt. :(
Friday, May 17, 2013
“Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard sailed from the blue and pink-framed jukebox. Rachel Wyatt wasn’t a fan of the song, let alone country music, let alone Merle Haggard, but she kept her trap shut, still wanting to work at Moonlight Diner, a lonely establishment outside Las Vegas. With her sweet, cherub looks, Rachel could have made a good living as a showgirl, but making it big in Hollywood was her dream, and she wanted to struggle. Get in line, her friends from high school told her. Some friends.
Her sandy blonde hair tied in a bun and dressed in an egg-blue blouse and dress, Rachel went to a booth. The tray she carried was occupied by a bacon cheeseburger, ketchup-drenched French fries and a big Styrofoam cup, filled with ice cold Coke. The customer: a paunchy truck driver. Plaid shirt. Uneven, two o’clock stubble. Cap with a picture patch of the American flag on it. God or the government must have a secret factory where guys like him are put together, but Rachel hid her thought behind a warm smile.
“Much obliged, missy,” the trucker smiled.
Rachel turned away, hoping she wouldn’t get her derriere pinched. Fourteen times, it happened last week. If only she had a knife. . .but ten thousand dollars was her goal. Ten thousand dollars, she promised to save in the bank and leave, avoiding the fate of Lorna Selmer. A fellow waitress, Lorna probably had dreams when she was younger, but they went away quicker than a cancelled sitcom on the crappy Small Three (or Two) TV broadcast networks (if you don’t had cable), when she got knocked up by Dwayne Eldelson, her boyfriend from high school. For ten years, they’ve been married and breed three girls, eleven, seven and four. Hank works construction, Lorna waits on tables and her grandmother, Anna, keeps watch over Sidney, Tara and Charlotte.
Sure, she wanted kids, but Rachel wanted a career first, and she didn’t think being a plump baby doll was going to help her. Lorna was one. Red-haired. Freckled-faced. A bit cynical on how life turned out for her. A few paces away, she had two trays, one in each hand, which had the same meal: gravy-covered meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green peas and carrot cubes and a cup of orange juice. The couple that got them was probably on their second honeymoon. The man’s buttoned shirt was so loud, a deaf man could hear it, and the wife looked like Allison Janney of “The West Wing” without the charm.
“Hey, Rachel! Pickup! Booth seven!”
Al Tremaine tapped the bell on the service window’ sill as he peered through it, from the kitchen. The tray besides him had another bacon cheeseburger, but with a cup of lemonade and a slice of apple pie with a dash of whipped cream on it.
Rachel went to the service window and picked up the tray, “Is Billy still playing hooky?”
“Don’t get me started on that fool son of mine. The next time I catch him. . .”He picked up waved a meat cleaver.
“Then Lorna and I would be out of a job.”
“Joke on your own time, Rachel. Booth seven.”
Rachel turned away. An exact copy of the Vic Tayback, the late actor who played Mel the diner cook in the Martin Scorcese-directed dramedy “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and its family-friendly TV sitcom version “Alice”, Al Tremaine was a tough boss. Twenty-two years in the Navy made him that way. Ran Moonlight like a ship, ready for battle. One time, Al blew up and gave Lorna shit and a half for accidently dropping a fried egg on the floor. Racherl thought she was going to have a heart attach. Just think about the ten thousand, she told herself. Only $2,871.38 to go.
Rachel went to booth seven. Causally dressed, trim, clean-shaven and neat, a man sat there. He was kind of nerdy, like Dale Keating, a little boy Rachel knew from her kindergarten class, who was made fun of because he was naturally smarter than the other kids, and he threw up on the new sneakers of classmate Carolyn Bennett. It was an accident, but none of the kids, not even Rachel, would let him forget it. When he was ten, Dale and family moved to San Diego, leaving Rachel with feelings of regret. She liked Dale. Sure, peer pressure told her to shut the fuck up, fall in line and accept the status quo, but Rachel was young and dumb, and her feelings were more than true.
Rachel laid the tray on the table, “Excuse me. . .but you look familiar.”
The customer looked at her, “I do?”
“Who am I supposed to look like?”
“An old classmate from school. . .but older, obviously.”
Rachel blushed, “Well, I--I better get back to work before--”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
Rachel grins. She left the customer as he took a bite into his bacon cheeseburger. “Mama Tried” dies down, and is replaced by “That’ll Be The Day (When I Die)” By Buddy Holly. Rachel thought he died too soon.
The dine’s door opened, tickling the bell hanging over it. Rachel stopped. The new visitor was tall, paunchy and muscular. His hair was long and jet black. A black leather vest, a white T-shirt, blue jeans and pointed cowboy boots were his clothes. Two identical tattoos marked his upper arms: OMB. With a serious look on his face, the man went to table four and sat.
Rachel shuddered. Yeah, the new customer was intimidating as a shark in a kiddie pool. Lorna went to her, “You want to serve him?”
“Lorna, if you want to, I won’t mind.”
“You need the money, sweetie,” Lorna tapped Rachel’s back.
Rachel sighed and gulped. She went to booth four, where the new customer folded his hands against each other on the table. The aspiring actress pulled out a small notepad and a pen from her blouse’s pocket, “What’ll it be?”
The new customer picked up the menu and studied it.
“Three things. One: black coffee.”
Rachel writes it down.
Rachel stopped, “Uh. . .that’s nice, sir, but--”
The man quickly pulled out a pistol from his jeans’s left pocket and pointed it at Rachel, who froze and dropped her pen and notepad. Lorna and the other woman screamed.
“Shut up!” the man said.
Silence, save for Buddy Holly. The door to the kitchen swung open. Al came out, holding a 12-gauge Winchester shotgun and aiming for the man, “Drop the gun, you--”
The gunman pointed his gun at Al and fired. The round barked, finding Al’s right shoulder. A geyser of blood flowed out. The waitress and customers dropped to the floor. So did Al, but he fell down hard. The women screamed.
“I said shut the fuck up!” the gunman was serious.
Silence came back again. Buddy Holly was still singing. Rachel covered her mouth, suppressing her needed will to scream. This wasn’t the way she wanted to go. After two husbands, some Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe, she would have preferred a prescription drug overdose, but that seems so stupid to think about at a time like this.
The gunman left the table, passing Rachel and arriving at Al, whose blood stained his shirt and part of the floor. He groaned. The gunman holstered his pistol and picked up the shotgun.
“Thank you, dipshit!” the gunman kicked Al in the belly and chuckled.
The trucker grew up a pair. He got up from his booth and ran to the gunman, who turned and fired the shotgun. The blast struck and lifted the trucker off his feet; his hat left his head and fell to the floor. The poor fool fell back, crashed through one of the diner’s windows and landed in the diner’s parking lot. Rachel and the other women screamed and cried.
“Shut up! Don’t you assholes listen?!”
Rachel cried. Bad move. The gunman went to and dragged her up by her blouse. Rachel squealed; she smelt beer and tobacco.
“Open the cash register, stupid! Now!” the gunman shoved her away. Rachel went behind the counter and crossed to the cash register. She quickly dialed some keys and the drawer popped open.
“Bag it all, bitch!” the gunman pointed the shotgun at Rachel’s head.
“Leave her alone.”
Silence. Buddy Holly still sang. The gunman focused on the man. The man who was causally dressed, trim, clean-shaven and neat. The man who ordered another bacon cheeseburger, but with a cup of lemonade and a slice of apple pie with a dash of whipped cream on it. He was finishing the cheeseburger as the gunman went to him, aiming the shotgun.
“Excuse me?” the gunman was annoyed.
“You heard what I said.”
Rachel whimpered, “Please, mister. Don’t--“
“Shut the fuck up!” the gunman went back to the customer, “Who the fuck do you think you are?”
The customer sipped some of his lemonade, despite the gunman getting closer, pushing the shotgun’s barrel straight at his right temple.
“I’m talking to you, asshole!”
“And I’m listening to you.”
“Look at me, you shit!”
The customer abided.
“You see my tats on my arms?!”
The customer nodded.
“OMB. My name’s Grady Cole, but I’m OMB. One Mean Bastard. I like to fuck bitches, kick dogs and spill at little kids, if I’m doing gigs like this. I’m one mean bastard, and I’m damn fuckin’ proud of it, too. Damn proud. Now, you better tell me who the fuck do you think you are, before I get to five, you fuckin’--”
The customer quickly took the gun from Cole, surprisingly him, Rachel and everyone else. He then got up, tossed the gun aside and went Cole, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. Desperate, the thug threw a right punch. The customer stepped aside quickly, but forced his right hand into Cole’s chest, piercing it. Blood erupted as the thug yelled; a pathetic stare marked his face. Shock covered the customers and diner workers.
The customer then ripped Cole’s heart with one pull. As the thug’s corpse, the women screamed. Then, Cole’s body shrived up, the same way a grape becomes a raisin but quicker. The customer then looked at the heart in his right hand, covered it with his left and squeezed it. His hands slowly glowed warm blue. The customer opened his hands. A butterfly flew out and from them. It fluttered outside through the broken glass window.
Rachel, after seeing this, fainted.
Rachel felt being rocked as she woke up. She wasn’t in the diner, but in a car, going fast on a highway. She was in the passenger seat, buckled. The customer was behind the wheel.
“Nice to meet you, Ms. Wyatt,” he said.
“What is this? Where are you taking me?”
“Far from here.”
“Let--Let me out! Stop the car and let me out!”
“Can’t do that, ma’am, and I wouldn’t even to hit me or leave a speeding car.”
Rachel couldn’t believe this, “Who are you?”
“David Halloran, at your service,” he grinned.
Rachel gives him a hateful stare.
“I’ll shake hands with you when we get to our destination.”
“And where’s that?”
“Any one I see.”
“You--You killed that man.”
“I killed a demon.”
“You know. A demon. One of Satan’s minions. Nasty fellows.”
“You’re an angel?”
“Why are you—excuse me—why were you were a waitress, if you have a brain.”
“You’re telling me that you’re an angel.”
“Oh, God,” Rachel covered her face.
“Don’t be so morbid. He loves you. He needs you. You’re the new Mother.”
Rachel looked at David, “The what?!”
“The new Mother. You’re responsible—well, partially responsible—for the second coming. I’m commissioned to keep you safe and happy.”
“The other people in the diner, Al, Lorna--”
“I called 911. They’ll be all right.”
“Let me out, you freak!”
David pulled over to the highway lane’s sleeve. He then grabbed Rachel’s left arm, “Look, Ms. Wyatt. I’m here to protect you, the carrier, the Mother of my boss’s Son. I’m not going to—excuse me—fuck it up, because if I do, I’ll be in trouble and so will the whole world, let alone all of existence. Being hysterical isn’t going to help. Being rational is.”
Rachel relaxed and started to cry, “All--All I wanted is to be an actress.”
David sighed as he let her go, “Rough luck. Just be strong,” He started the car and drove, “By the way, God not only wants me to protect you, he wants me to. . .well, I’m gentle.” He winked.
Rachel covered her mouth, turning white as a sheet.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
“Our treats equal happiness.”
That's the motto of the Rainbow Ice Cream Company, a New York City-based business that makes and sells frozen sweets. During the seasons of spring and summer of every year, the company sends out ice cream vendor vans on the city streets, giving treats and drinks—at cheap prices—to sufferers of the sun's heat and humidity. The veteran vendors get some satisfaction from bringing a smile on a child's face; Mike Rollins only saw dollar signs and some job experience.
His mother wanted him to work at a hospital as a volunteer, after finishing his sophomore year in college. Mike didn't want to be around the infirm and elderly, let alone not getting paid for it. That got him a bump on his head, courtesy of Mom and her frying pan. Fortunately, Mike found Rainbow's ad, in one of the local newspapers. It called for high school and college students to apply as assistant vendors. A driver's license was required, and no experience was necessary. He got the job on the spot, and Mike looked for van #832 in the company's garage Wednesday morning.
The funny thing was the human resources manager, who interviewed Mike, wished him “a whole shitload of good luck,” and never explained why.
After going through rows of identical vans—they were all painted white with the company's logo and mascot, “Bowie”, a rainbow with a cartoon face and limbs, on both sides—Mike found his assigned vehicle. He looked into the passenger's seat window. Inside, a man was sleeping in the driver's seat. He had jet-black hair. A pair of thick-rimmed glasses, a black golf shirt, fading blue jeans and a pair of black sneakers were the articles he wore. Mike knocked on the glass, and the man woke up from his slumber.
He wasn't happy when he faced Mike, “Who the fuck--Who the fuck are you? Don't you know not to interrupt a man's sleep?!”
“I--I--I'm sorry. You're Frank Cooper, right?”
Frank opened the passenger door, “I'm actually the Pope. This is just a day job.”
Mike got in the van, sat in the passenger seat and extended his right hand, “Mike Rollins. I'm your new partner.”
“This isn't a fancy-pansy tea party, kid. You know the schedule?”
“Yeah. I have the paper in my right pocket.”
Frank sighed. He looked at his watch. It was 9:35 a.m. He put on his seat belt and turned the van's ignition key counter-clockwise. The motor first purred and roared as Mike put on his seat belt. His partner then moved the stick shift from position to drive, looked both ways for traffic. Frank pressed his right foot on the accelerator. Holding the steering wheel with both hands, Frank turned the van to the left and drove it outside the warehouse and onto
Queens Boulevard. Mike felt pretty nervous around the man behind the wheel. He wanted to start some conversation, but grouchy was a good adjective to describe Frank. Maybe he should listen to his mother and--
“Are you goin' mute on me, kid?” Frank broke the silence as he stopped at an intersection in Woodside when the light turned red.
“Good. I thought I was stuck with a mute or a dead man.”
“Sure. This is a summer job for you?”
“Yeah. I need some cash for textbooks, clothes and stuff.”
“A college boy. Which college do you go to?”
“You wanna be like Jerry Seinfeld or Paul Simon?”
“I haven't decided which major I want to take.”
The traffic light turned green. Frank drove on, “What the fuck? You're tellin' me you're in college, and you don't know what major you're gonna take as a major? Why the hell are you in--”
“Hey, I'm still young.”
“Yeah. So was I, and I got what I wanted out of my life. Life's too short. One friend I knew had no sex with women in his life. A fifty-two-year-old virgin. Can you fuckin' believe that? His mother fucked up his brain with sex being a sin and all that shit when he was growin' up. His father skipped on the both of them. So guess what?”
“Guy buys a porno tape. Betty Gets Banged In
. He gets a heart attack. Died in his underwear,” Frank shook his head, “Life's too short for some fools in this world.” Washington
Mike's eyes widen. Silence came again when they went through the towns of
Elmhurst and . When they came into Rego Park Forest Hills, Frank steered the van to the left, going on Jewel Avenue. Then, the van crossed over the Van Wyck Expressway, entering lower Flushing and made a left on Main Street.
Mike popped, “Hey, I thought that we're going to--”
“--the co-ops near your college,” Frank said, “We are. I just have to drop out some books and get some more at the library.”
“Don't be such a Nancy Neat, okay?! We're not doin' any fuckin' rocket science.”
The Kew Gardens Hills branch of the Queens Borough Public Library. Mike tapped his fingers on the reading table where he sat. He hated being sidetracked. He saw his partner going through some bookshelves; Frank had three books in a plastic bag. There weren't a lot of people in the library.
“Are you finished?” Mike whispered, impatient.
Frank showed Mike his left hand's middle finger and resumed his search for more literature. Mike sighed and shook his head. Then, he began to hear someone grumbling. Mike turned around to the library's foyer doors. A plump man, dressed in a gray shirt, denim shorts and leather sandals, walked in. For some past weeks, this man visited the library, going through newspapers and books while murmuring incoherent words to himself. He hasn’t posed any threat to neither the staff nor the patrons, yet he's annoyed those who wanted quiet. The man also annoyed Frank. He followed the man when he came into the rows of library shelves. The ice cream vendor got closer to the man, who was reading a book. Without saying a word, Frank threw a roundhouse right punch to the man's jaw. The blow knocked him to the floor. Frank looked behind him; no one saw him hit the guy. The library's restrooms were nearby. Frank dragged the unconscious man there and left him in the ladies' room. He did his best not to laugh as he reunited with Mike.
“Why don't you get some books, kid?” Frank said.
“I don't want to put my job in jeopardy,” Mike said.
“Fine. Be a boy scout.”
The two men went to the library's checkout desk. Frank got his books processed. At that moment, a woman's scream pierced the silence. Some of the library's employees went to the restroom area.
“What the--?!” Mike said.
“Let's go,” Frank said, “Don't look back.”
Frank didn't let Mike finished his sentence. He ran out of the library. Mike hurried after him, and the two went into the van and sped off.
“What the hell did you do back there?!”
Frank explained the whole story.
“Are you insane?!”
“Shut the fuck up! That guy was a fuckin' loony tune! I did those people back there a favor. You should be appreciative.”
“Appreciative?! You punched a guy, and you want me to be--”
“I don't need your fuckin' criticism. You kids today think you're all bigshots.”
“I don't believe this.”
“Just go in the back of the van, okay?”
Mike did so. Frank stopped the van at a red light on the intersection of
Main Street and Jewel Avenue. The items in the van's back were two freezers units, an air conditioning unit, an ice cream fountain machine, a small table with some candy boxes on it and a small stool. Mike sat on the stool. There was also a dark green duffel bag leaning on the floor, against the van's back doors. The light turned green, and Frank made a right on Jewel Avenue. He turned on the vehicle's sound speakers and tape player. A bright jingle escaped from the speakers and went through the air. Frank clicked on a microphone, connected to the speakers' system and spoke into it. Frank drove through the intersection of Kissena Boulevard and Jewel Avenue, “ICE CREAM! GET YOUR MOTHER FUCKIN' ICE CREAM! IF YOU DON'T WANNA SWEAT LIKE A FUCKIN' RETARD OR A FUCKIN' PIG, YOU BETTER COME OUT AND GET SOME ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM! GET YOUR MOTHER FUCKIN' ICE CREAM!”
Mike's lower jaw dropped.
Despite some complaints from some customers (whom Frank told to fuck themselves), Frank and Mike worked hard and good. It was a very humid day, and they decided to linger for a while for some more customers, near the corner of the aforementioned streets. Mike liked being in the back of the van. The air conditioner was on medium. Frank was sitting in the driver's seat, drinking a can of beer. Mike thought it wasn't a good idea. To risk Frank's wrath also wasn't a good idea. He stuck his head out the van's customer window. The warmth of the summer’s air brushed against his face.
Then Mike saw a pretty young lady, walking towards
Kissena Boulevard. She was a pretty brunette; her hair was laid upon her shoulders. A white tank-top shirt, blue denim shorts and a pair of sneakers were the clothes she wore. The young woman also carried a bookbag on her back; she must be a summer student at the nearby , Mike thought, seeing her coming towards the van. The lady's bosom bounced while she walked, and she gave off a friendly smile to Mike, who waved back. She then stopped. A penny was in her path on the sidewalk. It was probably discarded by one of the customers earlier. The co-ed then bent over to pick up it. Mike got a good look at her cute ass. He felt his genitals throbbing. Queens College
“Mike,” Frank said.
Mike didn't respond. His mind was on the young woman, who stood up straight, placed the penny in one of her pants' pockets and resumed her journey.
Still no response.
Frank turned to the back of the van, and threw his empty can at the back of Mike's head. Mike yelped, putting his head back into the van and nursing it. He faced Frank, “Why the hell did you do that for?!”
“You were off on cloud 456,” returned Frank, “What the hell are you looking out--” From the corner of his left eye, Frank noticed the young lady walking by, looking through the van's windshield. He turned to get a better look and whistled, “Man, you got some good taste. If you wanna meet her--”
“I don't know if--”
Frank shook his head, “Don't go all chicken shit on me, kid. I bet you haven't got any good pussy in your--”
“Drop it, Frank.”
Frank slowly turned to Mike, “You're a virgin, aren't you?”
“That's none of your business.”
Frank didn't let go, “Of all the guys I’ve been setup with, I got stuck with a virgin,” He then laughed.
“There's nothing wrong with being a virgin.”
“Is there anything wrong with not finding a major in college? I think so.”
“Why don't you--”
The two vendors turned to the customer window. They saw outside a young man. He was in his teens, wearing a New York Yankees cap, a green T-shirt marked with the drawing of a naked girl holding a hotdog, blue jeans and sneakers.
“Hey, Tim,” Frank and Tim exchanged a slapping five, “How the hell are you, man?”
“Fuckin' hot, man,” replied Tim, “Could you give me two Chipwichs, two orange sodas, a bag of M-80s and a bag of reefers.”
“Right. Mike, give him the goodies.”
Mike was shocked, “You're a drug--”
Frank went over to the duffel bag on the floor. He unzipped it, pulled out a 12-gauge shotgun and pointed it at Mike's head, “Do what I say, or you’ll lose what's left of your brains.”
Mike quickly took out two wrapped Chipwichs (a treat made up of two chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream and chocolate chips between them) from one of the freezers and two orange sodas from the freezer. As for Frank, he took out a bag of M-80 firecrackers and a bag of reefers from the duffel bag. The two men then put all of the items in a big, paper grocery bag, which Frank gave to Tim. Tim paid $25.
“You want change?” asked Frank.
“Nah, seeing your buddy get scared is enough for me.”
“Mike's his name, and he's a virgin.”
“A virgin?!” Tim exploded with laughter, “Oh, man!” Then he left, still laughing.
Mike gave Frank an angry look.
Frank grinned, “Check your pants.”
Mike looked down. He felt wet. A wet puddle was present on his crotch.
Mike bought a pair of blue jeans and a bag of three briefs at a discount clothing store on
Jamaica Avenue, and he and Frank drove to 87th Ave and 150th Street. When they stopped at the corner, the two men heard the rapid tapping of footsteps against concrete. Mike stuck his head out the customer window. He was met by the requests of a small group of young, screaming children.
“Gimme some Buffalo Jim!”
“Do you Rock Pop!”
“I want a cola!”
“I want strawberry ice cream!”
“Juicy gum. I want Juicy--”
Frank couldn't stand it any longer. He got out of his seat, went to the customer's window, “QUIET!”
The children did so.
“All right, you little bastards! I want a straight line up to this window here, and I want each and every one of you to ask for your candy or ice cream or soda politely and with a please. If not, I'll leave, and you'll get squat!”
An obese woman walked nearby. She heard this ultimatum and didn't approve, “You should be ashamed of yourself! How could you be so cruel to these children? All they want is their ice--”
“Shut up, you! I don't need any criticism!”
“You employer wouldn't like it if I told him about--”
“Tell him shit, since that's what you are! Big shit! If you give a damn, you should drop dead and make an alligator's dream come true, you cow!”
Tears started to roll down her cheeks, and the woman ran from the van crying. The children and Frank laughed. Mike sighed. This was going to be more trouble for him. The kids then followed Frank's instructions and received their goods. When the last kid left the van, Frank asked Mike, “You wanna drive?”
“Really?” Mike was surprised by this sudden change in Frank.
“Sure. Just be easy on her.”
Mike went to the driver's seat, and started the ignition. An angry, subhuman roar then cut the air. It didn't come from the vehicle. Frank stuck his head out again. He saw the same fat lady behind the van. She ran towards him with an aluminum baseball bat. Frank got his head in the van before the woman got a chance to strike him down. She was mad. Frank could have got out his shotgun, yet more trouble was not needed.
“Drive, damnit!” he yelled.
Mike pressed the accelerator. He heard the woman’s yelling and her bat’s bashing of the van’s metal. The van went off towards
Hillside Avenue, but the woman was right behind, swinging the bat.
Poking his head out from the van, Frank saw her, “You’re doin’ a good job, Babe Ruth!”
That comment made the woman angrier. She tried to keep up with the van; her heart couldn't take the strain. She then blacked out, letting go of the bat. Head first, the woman fell to the street. People nearby came to her aid. By the time the ambulance arrived, it was too late.
“...have to admit, Mike. That was funny,” noted Frank.
Mike said nothing, driving the van down
Springfield Boulevard in . Queens Village
“That fatso got what she deserved. Don't blame me for her being a fuckin' loon.”
More silence. Mike bit his lower lip.
“What do you want from me, huh? Man, I should be drivin’ instead of you 'cause you're bein’ such an ass.”
Still more silence.
“Please tell me you're alive.”
“You're a menace, Frank,” Mike said, “You're a real fucking menace.”
“I'm not Hitler, man. That dumb fatso shouldn't have mess with--”
“All I wanted was a nice, good-paying summer job without any trouble. A good worker is what to be, and you have to be rude and fucking crazy!”
“Big deal! Instead of cryin’ to your mommy and suckin’ on a lollipop, why don't you just grow up?”
“Why don't you?”
“I'm forty-eight, you dipstick. So screw off and respect your elders.”
“Respect?! You damn--”
A young boy jumped in front of the van, running. Mike hit the break. The boy wasn't hurt, but he still ran. He wasn't wearing a shirt. His pursuer: a man dressed in a clown suit. A clown suit stained with fresh blood.
“What the fuck--?!” Frank exclaimed. He then went to the back of the van, opened up the duffel bag and took out a wooden baseball bat. Frank then got out of the van and chased the clown.
“Hey, you!” Frank yelled.
The clown looked behind, seeing Frank holding the bat in a threatening way. He tried to move away from the boy, yet he wasn't quick enough. Frank threw the bat at the clown, knocking him down to the pavement. Then the vendor grabbed the clown by the neck of his jumpsuit and punched him with his right fist.
“I got the clown!” Frank said.
The “clown” was one Dave Stang, 45, single. According to police investigators at the 105th Precinct, Mr. Stang was responsible for the kidnapping, rape and murder of twelve children, ages ranging from four to nine, during the last six months. The bodies of the children were found in the basement of his house where he lived alone. Mr. Stang even admitted to the police that he devoured some of the bodies. For twenty-three years, Stang worked as a post office worker at the Main Office in
. His father, Wilbur, worked as a part-time clown, entertaining children at parties. The irony of it was that the elder Stang didn't show the same care or understanding towards his sole child. Not only did the younger Mr. Stang guilty for his acts, he also felt embarrassed about the way he was captured. Jamaica
Three more ice cream stops were completed, and Frank and Mike returned to Rainbow's headquarters. It was still warm outside; the sun settled westward. When they left their van, a co-worker approached them.
“Frank, Greenbaum wants to speak to you and the kid. He's really pissed off.”
“Oh, great,” Frank muttered.
“What in the name of sanity is wrong with you, Frank?!” demanded Sidney Greenbaum, the fourth-generation owner and manager of Rainbow. He was sitting at his desk, facing Frank and Mike who sat across from him, “I tell you to be nice to the customers. The customer is our friend. No one can get through life without friends. But you. You want to cause hell!”
“Shouldn't the customer be nice to me?” Frank pointed out, “I bust my ass getting out of bed and working. I believe in the two-way street system.”
“I don't believe what you are saying!” yelled Greenbaum, pointing at Frank, “You abused the van's speaker system and you let a woman die! A woman who has a husband and three children.”
“They’re really lucky now,” Mike quipped.
“Watch your step, boy,” Greenbaum warned, “This is your first day here.”
“You’re right. So lay off, Sid. We didn’t know she was going to drop dead.” Frank noted, “Boy, was she nuts, and we were just protecting ourselves.”
“Some people called up saying that you made fun of her being fat. That's not self-protection!” barked Greenbaum, “You two will be looking for work if you don't straighten up your act! In fact, you’re both--”
The phone on the boss's desk rang. He pressed the speaker button.
“Ms. Simmons, I thought I told you that--”
Greenbaum's secretary, Evelyn Simmons, defended herself, “I'm sorry, sir, but there's a police officer from the 105th Precinct on line four.”
“Thank you,” Greenbaum gave his employees a less-than-pleased look as he picked up the phone receiver up to his left ear and pressed the fourth telephone line button on the phone, “Greenbaum here.” Anger disappeared from the man's face, replaced by shock and depression when the police officer on the other side of the telephone line reported Frank's courageous act. After a polite thank you, the manager of the Rainbow Ice Cream Company hung up the phone.
“You're safe for now, Frank,” he admitted, “but when you screw up next time, I'll--”
“Yeah, yeah,” Frank got up from his chair as did Mike, “Just make me the employee of the month, like I should be every month.”
Frank and Mike left the office. Greenbaum slowly caressed his forehead with seething anger and self-pity.