Some stories we write and love to read again. Others we write and sort of shudder. Not because they’re bad, but because they remind us of a certain time and place we’d rather not revisit.
My short story, “Ghosts of Ice Cream,” is one of those stories, written during a deep depressive phase in Phoenix when I was … blocked. A writer’s nightmare. Plus there was just some bad shit going down, so I wrote this story, haltingly, alone in a corner, probably smoking a cigarette.
Bop Dead City admired the freak factor of a ghostly ice cream truck at Christmas in the desert. There is something creepy about that ice cream truck song, especially when there aren’t any children around to hear it.
Excerpt: “Ghosts of Ice Cream”
by Sara Dobie Bauer
Presented by Bop Dead City
My marriage now feels like something that happened to someone else—a story told over the phone by an old high school friend you never liked, never cared about, but pretended to because you used to be a nice person. But the dreams. I don’t dream. For the first time in my life, I don’t dream.
I wait every day for the ice cream truck. Today, I try to see it. I consider running outside and ordering an ice cream cone, but I don’t want to leave the house. I wait for the telltale ting-tang-tinkle, and when I hear it, I scurry to the nearest shuttered window. I hear the music, right out front, the same nameless tone shooting like sparks into the tepid Arizona winter sky. I wait for the little truck to pass by. It must be close, so I check another window, on the side of the house.
The noise grows louder—the low hum of an engine, the continued music, but no words, just music. I see no ice cream truck. I must have missed it. Surely it turned the corner before I made my way to the window, as the music now seems far off, perhaps blocks away already. I take a seat on the living room floor and open my computer. I go so far as to open a Word document, but all I can type: “Ting. Tang. Tinkle.”
One night, I drink vodka and manage to sleep. I wake in Michael’s arms, the side of my face stuck to his chest. He always did sweat in his sleep. My fingers rest like a sleeping spider against his collarbone. I breathe the scent of him: salty sweat with an undercurrent of men’s cologne, leftover from his day at the office. He takes small inhales, exhales, and hums a little when my fingers touch his throat. Our legs are tangled together. We’re both naked, the way we used to sleep during the long Arizona summer. I don’t open my eyes. I sense the darkness in the room around us, probably close to midnight.
And then I hear it: the ice cream truck. I recognize the song: an off-key, off-tempo version of “Beyond the Sea” that comes to me like screams through water. It was our wedding song. I shiver and pull closer to Michael, who falls apart, a pile of ash in my hands.
Read the rest of “Ghosts of Ice Cream” (and other awesome stories) by buying the newest edition of Bop Dead City for $3 HERE.
(Intro photo by Laurence Demaison.)