Title: Christmas and Ice Cream
~ "Who can say when the roads meet
"She's an accountant," Elmer says. "I just know she is. She' got that walk 'bout her."
Elmer don't shut up, and even if he knew what was good for him, he still wouldn't. I would never understand that there buddy of mine. Him an' his strange habits. Who gets off just from watching people? I mean, they aint even interestin' people. They's all the boring people shuffling in an' out of work. Sure, I seen my own share of couples fighting, couples making up, hitmen... anything; You name it, we've seen it together. But I don't understand how a man with such attention deficit could just sit there and... I don't know... watch.
"You got anything to drink, Ed?" Elmer askes me. He's just all cozied up sittin' there in the front window of my shop. He's had at least three ice cream cups since he's been here, and it's only one o'clock in the afternoon. It's a wonder the man don't get fat.
"Yup. What do ya want?"
"Cream Soda; Nothin' but the best for your own personal watch dog." His weather-worn face grins like the pied piper at a Beethoven concert.
I swear to God, the man is a livin' oddity. It's snowin' outside, the ground is covered in black ice, and Elmer aint a year shy of sixty. Watchdog, my ass.
"Now, who's this?" It's obvious by the timbre in Elmer's voice that something's piqued his curiosity. "Man, I wish they made 'em like that when I was young."
I look up to see the object of his attention. It's a woman, headed straight for the shop. She's too far away, and all I can make out is her polyester pants and knee length trench coat, both in black. However, I do notice the baby-blue stroller she be totin' beside her. I keep squitin' until finally, she makes it inside the door.
She takes a quick stock of the store before moving toward me at my post behind the service counter. I quickly take her in. She's a short woman, barely able to see over the tops of the ice cream containers. Her red hair is glimmering, the snow outside the door casting some kind of eerie glow to it. Her eyes are sweet, and blue as the baby stroller she's got with her. She puckers her mouth and pulls out her wallet.
"Ummm... I'd just like a child-size vanilla, please." She tucks hair behind her head and turns to the toddler sittin' in the stroller. The kid is quite a combination- fair skin, red hair with a spike of brown running through it, and dark, hazel eyes. He's smiling, his little baby chin sticking out with a small river of drool running down it. He's clapping his hands. It's obvious the kid's had ice cream before, and it's obvious he wants more.
As I force the ice cream out of the tub, I comment, "That's a nice kid you've got there. What's his name?"
The woman looks surprised, and I can tell she is wondering why I have the gall to ask her such a personal question. But she answers the question, anyway.
"His name is William... Will."
"And what about you?"
She stammers for a moment. "I'm Dana." She hold her hand out to me, and I take it.
"I'm Ed. Would you like to sit for a cup of coffee, Dana? You look positively chilled."
She raises her chin, ready to decline, but thinks the better of it and nods. I come out from behind the counter, a cup of coffee already in hand, and gesture the table where Elmer sits, stupefied.
"So, Dana, what do you do?" I ask.
"I'd rather not speak of it, if you don't mind." She flashes me a testy look.
"Well, if you don't mind me askin', where's the father of that precious baby? I wouldn't leave you alone for a second, if I were that baby's father." I raise my eyebrows.
"We have a difficult, unchangeable situation. He's not able to be here." She looks down, and I can sense the tears welling in her eyes.
"I understand. Well, Dana, if you ever need the best ice cream in the Washington DC area, Elmer and me will always be here."
She flashes me a tight smile and rose from her seat.
"Well, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I need to get going. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," we both mumble back at her.
We stand up and watch her walk, and a more languid pace than she arrived, out the door. I turned back toward the counter and Elmer commented:
"Say, She forgot her Ice Cream, Ed."
"Damnit, Elmer, it's too cold for Ice Cream."
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