Ice Cream Man (act 2-4)
Mike W McCoy
<>4<> L.A., 3am, 30mph
Black dust rooster-tails down Colorado Blvd. behind the yellow ‘Kandy & Kartoon’ ice cream van. Cracked skulls and other large bone fragments rattle off or ricochet against cracked curbs
and cut off foundations. Viewing closer, the van sways a sloppy sideways in a serpentine ‘Self-suicide Slide’ with bounding bass beats blaring out bravado.
Black rosary beads below the interior mirror hold a blood-stained plastic St. Somebody. The almost empty Mr. 12 rattles atop the dashboard amidst a gallon of empty pint bottles, dog bone
crumbs, and spent shell casings.
Vast vacant views beyond the windshield are framed by dusty moon-shadows that arch across the graveyard surface of Los Angeles, 3am, 30mph.
A ‘Mile. Mile, & another Mile’ melt away before closing on more intact upright and solid phantoms start to announce themselves. Sluggishly before the 12-volt headlights, the pre-dawn
ghost town montages start to become more real. Mounded edges give up, and soon clumped and cobbled crashes of burned-out and bombed-ta’shit this-and-that stretch straighter and longer, which
creates a roadside attraction of mass murder and madness.
In between these drab depressing dioramas, decorated poses of crusty crumbling skeletons, still sporting the sun-bleached bite-marked fashion of the time, leave a bad tasting feelings in the air as
noted by a twisting canine snot.
“Grrawll-rrudth,” sounded non-committal by the shiny rust-streaked black colored animal. “Grrawll-rrudth.”
The extra-large dog resets his huge head through the open window then short snippets of snarls become subvocalized emotions of malice.
“C’mon Rusty. Mo-most of that is…” a dark drunk voice slurs with syrup. “…’bout two years old.”
“Grrawll-rrudth,” Rusty throws towards a new section of artistically altered and naturally-posed still-life clusters.
“Saint Somebody said the ghosts sometimes say nothing,” the voice pauses. “And sometimes the nothing is the something.”
After the next intersection the artist’s set decoration starts with ‘Rich & Rotten’, and slides towards ‘Subhuman Suburban Cannibals’. Especially when frightening-friendly families of
gnawed upon child-sized bones stay half-ass stacked against a low cinderblock wall. Serendipitously scatted nearby are low piles of corpse-shaped charcoal briquettes balanced between broken
crudely constructed low-tech barricades.
Cruising the Blvd. continues into an assortment of riot-smashed and gore stained mismatched military vehicles. Several strings semi-trucks sport a ‘Bullet Hole Bias’, as they park forever
abandoned. Some of the drivers are of the better dead variety, and still glow slightly as radioactive molds mummify their human flesh in a patchy penetrating fashion.
Some flapping remnants of medical tents stand scattered in the next parking lot. Industrial strength thick multicolored transparent plastic isolation bubbles are lost amid fenced mazes of
Polyvinylchloride sheets, painted by blood and bullet hole stop signs.
All alongside the rolling yellow ice cream van, other bits of the Ghost Culture smudge into the darkness just before its high beams pierce inside and across abandoned medical equipment. The
moment stretches the Soundtrack with squeaking tires, canine growls, and drunkard giggles.
“Holy shit!” The volume overruns the thrust of the heavy vehicle as it burns rubber and dirt into a stop.
“I just thought of something.”
His words sound straight and sane, but the flickering dashboard light shows eyes sans sanity, stereotype it super-villain. The very heavy canine that glairs from the passenger seat, and hears
something else over the idling engine, the familiar slur of speech from the foul smelling water.
“Grrauff, grruaff,” breaking into a wide gruesome yawn of dangerous teeth and fierce junkyard-dog eyes. “Aruff-cha, aruff.”
“No,” he adds , then faces the faithful animal head on. “I’ll ‘ell you. Swer’ t’god honest, this’ll keep me awake.”The animal scratches itself with indifference.
“Smokey?” the greasy haired red eyed driver starts with a smile.
“Wha’ff he gets one pregnant? Huh…ha,ha. Think’s about that,” the denim dressed man giggles uncontrollably while getting the van moving again.
“Grrawll-rrudth!” The dog returns not even a look, until the van shifts into a swift short series of turns around-and-around the same overstuffed parking lot.
“A baby Smokey? Maybes’ hole bunchs’ um’em.Some scary idea.”
“Aruff-grrawll,” the brute barks as if annoyed. “Aruff-grraw.”
“Whoa, Rusty,” taking another reckless turn around the shadow-shifting deep AM-dark engulfing the crowded outside double mall sized parking lot.
“Grrawll-rrudth!” snapping the teeth. “Aruff-rodth!”
“Yeah, yeahs’ don’t worry I’ll g-got this,” steering a swaying slow-drifting turn with just a hint of drunk driver delay.
“Damn it,” swerving a U-turn away from another blocked Exit. “Rusty, ‘shelp me fi-”
KAGH-THUNK, KAGH-THUNK, STHUNK, STHUNK
Break lights flash erratically, duel sliding skids stain asphalt.
STHUNK, STHUNK, STHUNK, STHUNK, Stop.
“Roodth! Grrawll-rrudth!”” the Hell hound snaps just as G-force swings sharp. Guns, tools and trouble swiftly slide sideways across the van’s interior adding a loud rumbling train wreck
to the Soundtrack.
“Saint Som-” buzzed and happy alcohol accented.
“Grawll grawll roodth roodth!” rumbles from the big dog now crumped on the floorboard.
“I’m sorry Rusty, honest to God.”
“Aruff-grawll,” the grime-darkened battle-scarred brute barks with ferocious animal instinct. “Arrruff, aruff-roodth!”
The man reacts instinctively and bails from the driver side only a chest pounding heartbeat before the heavy animal lunges from the van. Classic comedic stumbling diverts the drunken driver
several shaky steps sideways before gravity pulls hard, and collapses him face first and skull thumping hard.
“Ha, ha, um, hugh, hugh,” then another exhausted giggle erupts slowly from the dark grease-stained denim jumpsuit wearing tall shaggy haired old white man. The spray painted bright yellow
smiley face on his back could almost be comic irony if it wasn’t for the Aftermath.
Eyes closed at the pain of a scraped face, he hears only ominous killer canine barks aimed at frantic phantoms panhandling by passing across the van’s feeble failing headlights, and his thoughts
start to ‘Silly Putty’ stretch beyond the obligatory.
“Roodth! Aruff-roodth!” fading, distant, and around a corner somehow.
The alcohol shuttered brain struggles on separating the randomly remembered glimpses of gore. Images of the first waves of the afflicted amid mountains of the dying, and the walking
not-so-dead dragging an undercurrent of his own ‘Sort of Suicide’.
Quickly rolling over onto his back banishes the memories, but not the pain. Both irritated eyes stare straight into startling stark starlight streaking through an ashy tasting layer of Los
“God damn it,” rolling with the words into a seated position. Even in the limited illumination, the cause of the vehicles burst tire is easy to see.
“A spike strip!?” kicking the metal claws. “How, how long you been waiting?”
The Soundtrack swipes left with a swift shuffle of small animals who scurry in the darkness a split moment before the heavy dog bounds back into the headlight spotlight, only to stop into a squat
like a canine gargoyle.
“Aruff-grrawll,” barked loud and proud. “Aruff-roodth!”
“Huh?” added after a short shuffle into a leaning pose against the cartoon-character-covered crippled ice cream van. “What’s that?”
“Oh, this,” eyes on the ruined rim and tire. “This Rusty, this is why I hate leaving the Property!”
The unheard conversation inside the man’s head turns toward violence, and soon a flesh pounding rhythm of his knuckles on steel begins to bleed. Nearby shadows slide over shadows, and the
growling dog slowly motivates the slightly sobering drunk driver’s wavering steps into leaving the wounded vehicle,
“Aruff-chad, aruff-chad,” barked before drifting closer, but beyond easy reach. “Aruff.”
“What?” watching the scratching animal closely. “I’m pissed off. I love this van.”Then without a backward glance, the man steps on towards the last hour of darkness before the
Dust and disturbed debris follow the duo of dog and drunkard. His stride slides along behind a Soundtrack of insects, swift scurries of small animals, and the occasional vicious hissing
cat. The landscape is battlefield broken, with heaps of rubble now made into overgrown offbeat ecosystems, complete with hidden traps and old terrors.
Easily a few football fields farther from the facts of failure, the abandoned ice cream truck, his big black suspect-thumping flashlight un-shadows a near intact bullet chipped broken wall.
The concrete reinforced cinderblock runs about eight car lengths before breaking off and leaving the blackness behind to conceal a gigantic ‘Network 23’ news van tilted baldy on crippled wheels.
“I’m not this lucky,” said with a smile that starts in his eyes that removes the tired, stressed, bloodshot vibe with an tortured artist’s attention for emotion.
“Well, crap. l take it back.”
“Grawll-rrudth, rrudth,” barked before angling closer to the soot stained white and green striped motorhome shaped Broadcast Command Vehicle.
“Grrawll-rrudth!” again before marking the last intact tire.
The man’s experienced eyes notethe BCV’s armor glass windows are spider webbed with cracks, but otherwise appear intact, as does the antenna array extending from the roof rack of enclosed
A smile, just like the one spray painted over the jumpsuit’s original logo, cracks his dirty narrow face and lends an inner relief to each giggle tinted word.
“Ok Universe, I get it. Oh yeah,” kicked debris accenting the vowels. “Had to lose one to get one.”
“Aruff-rrudth,” commented by the strutting canine before pushing into the gore and grime stained denim covered legs.
“Aruff-rrudth!” the volume of the devil-dog bark hesitates the man’s swollen hand.
“What you thinking?” finally reaching the beast’s flank. His face reacts to the feel of the animal’s ready-to-spring tension.
“Easy Rusty,” letting go to step over a broken section of wall. “I’ll… I’ll see what I can do.”
Once moved inside scratching distance, his flashlight highlights bullet dings dotting the door like Dalmatian spots. Framed within weathered black blood stains, hundreds of fist and forehead
sized dents detail the vehicles tilted side with a gruesome ground gore color that somehow moves as the nearby phantoms do.
A found ‘Rebel Ruble’ designed iron pry bar finds the man’s hands, and the rear door lock assembly rips free.
The hissing snake sounds that quickly escape the bio-hazard seal sing a stench of sterile silence and death.An orange glow-stick ambiance slowly highlights the sophisticated stylish mobile
broadcasting studio, and the dead woman.
“God damn,” grunted between coughs of air perfumed by bowel and blood.
The corpse sits silent and still.
The chemical light reveals narrow thick shoulders barely supporting a ripped frilly blue and white blouse that reveals surprisingly preserved, almost mummified, dark raspberry tinted flesh.
The long brittle appearing black hair frames an inverted teardrop shaped face. Wide spaced light brown eyes with extended eyelashes are separated by a straight narrow tapered nose, above
still luscious colored lips.
The workstation interior invites. A dozen small monitors flank the narrow isle and a sophisticated computer interface, using a keyboard with three times as many extra keys, sits below a
crowning vast array of colored wires.
But dominating the space is the suicide note scrawled in a shaky feminine hand.
“Pray for me. Please,” the man starts. “I’m going mad.”
Putting the note aside, his finger presses play, and the closest screen blinks static images of color before settling still on a view of the woman. It’s the same face as the mummified poised
corpse, but with a ‘Terror & Tears’ vibe behind the eyes. The Network 23 bottom broadcast banner reads ‘The Ishta Smith Show Live & Direct.’
A flash of confusion realizes the image was recorded inside the BCV, from the same occupied seat Miss Smith now holds.
“Hell walks the earth now,” the video starts. “They can’t get in. I sealed the door. But…but that means I can’t get out.”
Sobbing soon dominates the Soundtrack, so another button gets another recording. This one made much later judging by the skin pallor and dehydrated tone.
“…then I saw Rick outside today. Still holding…holding, that damn camera. He has that black blood all the walking ones now have, and he…he was gnawing on a leg bone. Oh my
Intrigued by the new voice, Rusty joins, and picks the next button with friendly pawing.
“…dead like all the rest. Nobody on-air. Anywhere. I set the automatic.It’s all in the manual. If anyone finds this, please, please forgive me. I didn’t see what was
happening. None of us did.”
“Aruff,” sounding like a scoff. “Aruff-graw.”The big beast shifts interest back to sniffing and scratching.
“Good idea Rusty. Now what manual is she talking about?”
The search is short, but understanding the geek-speak takes a while before the man stabs the last button, and according to the flashing screen, a link is established to a satellite 426 miles above
“Going live,” fingering the transmit key.
“Hello, hello, is there anybody out there? This is, um,” unexpectedly pausing on the thought. “This is your local Ice Cream Man and his dog Rusty. We are broadcasting from what
once was Los Angeles. Local Aftermath time is 5:32 AM. And the request lines are open.”
Just then, outside the broadcast van, the cooling pre-dawn breeze picks up speed and some sounds similar to gust of ghosts gliding over a graveyard. Lights blink from the Network 23 vehicle’s
roof mounted satellite dish, confirming a positive track on the signal sent straight up the line into space.
The satellite signal aims wide covering an area of deserted desert dominated landscape, dead cities between charred remains of forests, and the dark empty waters of the Pacific Ocean before finally
finding an audience.
The last of night’s moonlight shimmers along the sea, and reflects off the hundreds of human skulls twisted in a razor wire maze over the Russian Cyrillic name painted on the sail of the nuclear
powered submarine, as it continues to cruise against the current.
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