A bead of sweat dripped down Tim’s neck as he thumbed through a battered book of recipes.
‘Celery… Onions… Carrots, diced in quarters…’
The tip of his ballpoint pen furiously scritched and scratched on the inside of a popsicle wrapper. He trailed a finger through the book and absently stuck the end of the pen in his mouth. He bit down and it burst in a gush of black ink.
A woman the size of a small sailboat, with loafers and a cheery striped shirt waddled towards him. Her equally chubby son toddled beside her.
Tim scrambled to find his place in the book of recipes, while also trying to spit out the black ink. A small jaunty hat, which rested precariously on his head tilted forward at a crazed angle and managed to block his eyes. He cursed again.
‘We’ll have a red rocket popsicle and a dinosaur chocolate swirl.’
The woman glared at him as her son pulled on her shirt.
‘Momma, momma, he said a bad word.’
‘Sshhh…’ She looked back at Tim in his jaunty hat, ‘You know you really shouldn’t swear… especially in your profession.’
Tim sighed. Black ink stained his lips. He closed his book of recipes with a snap.
‘That’ll be $5.75 please.’
The woman handed him exact change and he reached into the freezer next to him, chock full of icy treats. He pulled out a slightly lopsided popsicle shaped like a space racer and a pterodactyl ice cream sandwich. They looked particularly pathetic.
‘Have a nice day now!’ He said, wiping his hands on his apron in distaste.
The woman waddled away with a sniff, and he reopened his book of recipes and looked around for his popsicle wrapper list.
It was gone.
The inside of his truck was small and there weren’t many places a popsicle wrapper could hide. He dropped to his knees and checked along the floor, crawling amidst the cold, metal doors and running his fingers along the knobby ground. Nothing under the fridge. He poked along the counter, checking behind the till and around the blender. He even checked inside the freezer. He pushed aside towers of icy treats. They collapsed in a puddle of rainbows and squashed joy.
He popped up in a panic. ‘Where is it?’
Movement caught his eye. A wrapper twisted in the parking lot and bounced towards the beach. His eyes widened. There!
Tim raced towards the back door of the truck. He reached for the handle, but the door swung outwards with a whoosh. A sweating, burly man pulled his great bulk through the door and into the tight space. An elephant in a matchbox. Tim took a surprised step back.
‘And where do you think you’re going?’