Suggested Audio Neapolitan:
Earth Leakage Trip “The Ice Cream Van From Hell”
There’s something deeply unsettling about the Ice Cream Van. It always bothered me somewhat, its ghoulish jingle as it circumnavigated your block and the instant hypnosis it performed on every child to fall under its spell. It all suggests something far darker than simple distribution of sorbet in my book. Mayhaps it was the fact that I had watched Assault on Precinct 13 as a child and knew of the dangers of voicing one’s displeasure over wrongly scooped vanilla twist. Hapless pig-tailed Kathy had it coming, to be fair.
Such an Ice Cream Van performed its rounds around my locality daily and sat ominously at the end of the street enticing me with its off-key chimes while I hysterically attempted to track down my parents. It was life or death… nothing was as paramount as grabbing that cone before the van trundled away for another day. It ordinarily took a good minute of whining to secure the shiny coin I requested and I was invariably last in line for my cornet.
Some days I was foiled by my parents’ procrastination and made it to the scene as it began to pull away. I always envisage the driver, a mustachioed Italian named Mr Rossi, glancing in his rear-view mirror with an impish grin as he watched my dreams dash and left me there in a melancholic blue funk and empty-handed. He had my heart in his hands and took great pleasure in kneading it to a mere pulp. Bastardo!
Years later and that audio still gives me a vague dose of the willies. Thus it is with a great sense of disparagement that I report the following. For the past few days there has been an Ice Cream Van crookedly parked adjacent to my house, presumably discarded. At first I gave it but a cursory glance, expecting it to be gone by the time I returned from my jaunt to town. It wasn’t…and hadn’t move a millimeter. Inquisitive, and just a tad ruffled, I performed closer inspection.
This particular van was more antiquated than the norm, off-yellow in coloration and noticeably grimy. It also carried a faint scent of musty sorrow and its windows were thick with mildew obscuring one from its internal decor. Soundly stumped, I ventured back inside and carried on with my chores. As the sun bled away and I made my way to my chamber, I peeked out once more. There it was, concealed by the night and lack of immediate street-lighting, it sat perched like a filthy boil awaiting lancing. What transpired next jolted me to my very core.
Its lights flashed on, searing the vicinity and appearing to point straight at me. It was as though it had eyes for me, knew of my attentions and felt ready to inform me of its own. After a few moments of bucking up every ounce of courage I could muster, I shot downstairs in the manner of a whippet and proceeded to head outside. As I unlatched the gate and stepped into the street, I was met with inky disappointment. Blackness…no sign of life…none of the illuminations from mere seconds earlier. Stillness.
Every night as I prepare to bed down, it has played the same nefarious trick. Like clockwork and always at 11.37 pm, the lanterns blaze again and any haste on my part matters not as it is dormant by the time I scurry out. So right now it is 11.32 on the seventh day since its fateful insertion and I am resolute to grab myself some answers. Besides, they owe me a fucking Cornetto.
Four minutes left on the clock so how are we going to fill it? To hell with patticakes, I think it’s time for one of Keeper’s little blackened nuggets. Something in keeping with the tone, a slither of poetry to get me in the spirit before my stakeout commences. I must delve deep within myself to locate prose suitable to set the scene. I happen to have a bit of a thing for nuns, in particular nuns licking the shaft of guns. No innuendo this time…we’re talking fully loaded six shooters and scantily clad women of the cloth. Sexy canonesses with cherry red lipstick and come-to-the-confessional eyes. Right, here goes…
Under The Habit
God has no place here inside these four walls
Where lust is the dish of the day
This convent of sin these sanitized halls
Where children of he come to play
Each chastity broken is but a mere token
of lust and forbidden desire
Right under his nose blasphemous words are spoken
Injustices stoking the fire
The veil has been lifted the flesh has been tasted
All vows clearly now off the table
These sisters they ravage in semen they’re basted
It appears the sisters are mislabeled
They guzzle and yearn hard bodies defying
Prepared with no prayers for redemption
With paddocks unbolted and primed for defiling
Each courting profane intervention
11.36 plus change… perfecto. Any minute now… Nothing. I feel short-changed as I’ve built myself up for this all day. Isn’t it ironic that the one night I share this with my beloved Grueheads the van takes a night off?! I don’t know what to say to y’all other than to apologize. I feel as though I’ve let you down some after promising enlightenment and must now hang my head in shame. Hold on… what is that sound? Music? Grotesque contorted chimes of torment which needle my ears more like. I take it they wont be expecting much business this night although something tells me there is only one consumer they are looking to snag. I’ll be there soon enough, lining up for my cider lolly.
Without even returning to the window to confirm the source of this godawful growling din, I make haste in grabbing my coinage and darting outside to claim my trophy. This time the lights stay on, we have pay dirt Grueheads. Now let’s go grab ourselves a Popsicle or two. I approach the window with wide-eyes and when I arrive I regret not squinting. The hatch is open and business has resumed but that ain’t Mr Rossi!
The face which stares at me blankly does so because it is devoid of any features. It is merely a blank canvas which unflinchingly stares in my direction despite bearing no eyes. Evidently dialogue is going to be a decidedly one-sided affair so I’m glad I have the correct change in my pocket. Whatever stands before me is clad in necromancer’s garb, a crimson veneer complete with hood to be precise. Its hands have no fingers which I presume rules out toe-henna also. I am without a reaction, simply catching flies by this point.
I feel hands upon my personage, several sets of chilly feelers which usher me to the back of the vehicle. I dare not look back and, besides, I’m utterly transfixed by the sight before me and hold its gaze as I’m gently guided round to the rear. Upon arrival, the door swings open and I instantly kind of wish it hadn’t. There is a freezer in the corner strewn with bloody hand prints and bulging at the seams. I step in, though not through free choice as I have been neutered of any resistance by that incessant chime.
I cannot bear to look. But I shall. As I reach forward and yank open the container I am greeted by a sight which makes me wish again for ambiguity. Limbs, callously sheared appendages, all piled high and marinading in darkened cruor. I vomit a little in my palette as both flared nostrils scream and my blood turns to ice in my ventricles. Instantly I know I have made a badly informed choice, a real humdinger. God likely has no idea as to what kind of illicit trading operates under this roof and I wish I could wind back to 11.37 and grab a macaroon instead.
I swivel around to lodge my escape but the back door is no longer there and I am alone now. No grabbing hands or pale faceless death, just Keeper and my overspilling anguish. The vehicle starts unprompted and begins to move slowly from where it has stood the past week. I endeavor to shriek but no sound emerges. At this point I feel like a mime artist in mid cardiac arrest and the realization sets in that this won’t end well. This is further confirmed as I use the arm of my crimson veneer to wipe the mildew from the screen and discover that the face staring back at me bears no features.