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Against the Clock
Will he make it in time?
“Ok, gang, what kind of ice cream should I get at the store?” Don said to his family at the supper table.
“Death by Chocolate,” said Aden the oldest.
“Triple Brownie,” Sophia the youngest said.
LuLu said, “Rocky Road.”
“I vote vanilla,” said Don’s wife, Jodie. “That way we can build upon it at home. I have strawberries, chocolate syrup, blueberries, and whipped cream. I think we still have a banana around.”
“Nope, I ate it this afternoon.” Aden said.
“Vanilla it is then,” said Don. “I’ll be back in a few.”
Don met a wall of heat when he opened the front door. He looked over at the digital thermometer in the shade: 102. He hesitated before going further.
“Will it melt on the way home?” he thought. “Eh, sure beats twenty bucks and a long line at Ralphie’s. Great ice cream, but man it’s expensive.”
Don was in the store and checking out with a gallon of French vanilla ice cream in no time at all, making sure to hold the carton by its rim so he wasn’t touching the frozen part. He double bagged the carton to keep the coolness in but realized it would be rendered useless in the heat.
Back into the heat now, Don rushed to his car and threw the bag onto the passenger seat. The car was twenty degrees cooler than the sun blazing down on the car.
“All right now. Three red lights, two stop signs, and home out of this heat,” Don said out loud after starting the engine.
He made it to the first light without a delay. As he waited for the light to turn, a black hearse led a funeral procession in front of him. With each car that passed, he visualized the ice cream melting more and more. At 42 cars in the procession, he slammed his head against the headrest and took a deep breath. Even if he made the turn now, he couldn’t pass the procession, so he’d have to stay back and bide his time. Don kept glancing over at the plastic grocery bag, then strained his neck to see how many cars had yet to pass.
It seemed as if there was no end to the procession. After another two dozen cars went by, the last car emerged – another hearse with blue and yellow lights on the roof flashing - with no one else was following. He could take the back way, but it had two more lights and four stop signs in total, plus it went right by the cemetery, so the chances of him seeing the procession and needing to wait again was very real.
Don turned at the green arrow and he was four cars behind the procession. In theory he could pretend to be in the long line of cars and make his turn at the last minute but that wasn’t right. He reached over and felt the carton through the plastic. He could tell it was still solid but sweating from the condensation.
When he finally made it in the door 25 minutes later, the family was scattered throughout the house.
“Jodie? Dessert’s here.”
Don walked into the dining room and saw four empty dishes bowls and spoons on the table.
“Tried to text you, Don,” Jodie said. “But we had a full tub of fudge swirl in the freezer. Bought it a few weeks ago and it got buried in the back somehow. Had our toppings too.”
“Just as well, unless you want vanilla soup.”