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The Night Ice Cream Truck

the night ice cream truck
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Estimated reading time — 8 minutes

It was late one evening, and I was sat at my kitchen table, just typing away on my laptop, working on my latest screenplay. You see, I am a horror writer. I write stories of the dark and macabre, with the express purpose of selling them to major studios with the hopes of getting them turned into major motion picture. At least, that’s how it would ideally go. It’s been especially tough recently, because for the last two weeks I have had the most serious case of writer’s block I have ever had. Like, all the pieces are there, but I just can’t seem to put it all together. It’s frustrating, really. Anyway, back to that evening. I was sitting at my table, staring blankly at my computer screen, at a total loss, when suddenly I got a spark of inspiration in the most peculiar way.

As I was mulling over what to name the main antagonist of my story, off in the distance, I could have sworn I heard an ice cream truck. How weird? It was approaching midnight. What would an ice cream truck be doing out at this time of night? Not long after hearing those first distinct notes of ice cream truck music, it occurred to me that the sound was getting closer. I just had to see this for myself. So, I got up from my chair, walked over to my front door, opened it, stepped out onto my front porch, and not ten seconds later, I saw it. It was your standard ice cream truck, with pictures of all sorts of ice cream treats posted on the side, and it whizzed right by, a lot faster than I had ever seen an ice cream truck go, heck, I thought those things topped out around six miles an hour, and blaring its music much louder than I had ever heard an ice cream truck play its music. I thought the whole thing was unusual, and rather creepy. Normally the song “Turkey in the Straw” is a pleasant, jaunty tune, but something about hearing it when it’s dark out, just made it super eerie. A couple things bothered me about that ice cream truck. Firstly, his music was loud enough the wake the dead. Now, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if I was the only person who heard it, given that as a writer I tend to keep odd, and usually pretty late hours, but come on, man, be considerate, people are trying to sleep. Also, how fast he was going. Why was he driving so fast? Where did he have to get with that degree of urgency at this hour? Whatever, I thought, and went back inside. I sat back down at the table, and just sat there in silence for a few minutes with my head in my hands, before it hit me. That’s what I would write about!

I hit the keys ferociously, that night. I had finally found my story. I would write about an ice cream truck that would only go out at night, the driver of which would be a deranged old man, who used his truck to rundown townspeople who he deemed to be in violation of some sort of curfew, or something. Kinda like a boogeyman, who preyed on his community to rid it of the people he viewed as being insubordinate. It was perfect. What a bit of serendipity I had stumbled upon. The more I thought about that ice cream truck, the more innocuous I figured it was. The driver was probably just in a rush to get home, and left the music on, and just didn’t notice. I imagine after spending hours on end in one of those trucks, you probably just learn to tune the music out, in an effort to maintain one’s sanity. Anyway, I ended up writing straight up until 3:30 AM, when my body gave out, and I just couldn’t stay up any longer.

Over the next so many weeks my script really began to take shape. I was on to something good, I thought. I had a compelling antagonist, some decent plot points, and some thorough character development. I had no idea what I would do for an ending, but whatever, I figured I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.

It would be about a month before I saw the ice cream truck, again. Just as before I was at my computer working away at my script, when out of the blue, I heard it. This time it was around 9:30 PM. He shaved some time off his previous record, I joked to myself. So, I went outside to see this strange ice cream man. I recognized it as the same truck as last time, as it zoomed on by, just as before. This time, playing the song “The Entertainer” on full blast. Generally, a nice song, but, pretty creepy after sundown. Now, I couldn’t deny how weird the whole situation was, like, I get that with it being summer and all, kids are out of school, and likely don’t have as strictly enforced of a bedtime, but still, who was this guy looking to sell ice cream to at this hour? I shrugged it off, and went back inside, not thinking anymore about it. As I sat back down to work on my screenplay, I had one final thought. What if this script does get picked up, and goes on to be made into a movie? Would this guy realize that he was the main influence of the story? I don’t know, but then I figured that any ice cream man who had to work that late into the night, likely didn’t have much time to go to the movies, anyway.

In the following days, I got an immense amount of work done on the script. I was feeling pretty darn proud of myself, for getting so much work done, as well as feeling thankful that something like this just fell into my lap. However, it wasn’t just this late-night mystery ice cream vendor that influenced my story. I also garnered influence from other sources. For instance, on the local news one morning I saw that the body of a local streetwalker had been found in a ditch. Poor girl, I thought, but it gave me an idea for my story for the sadistic ice cream man, who stalked the night, to collect the bodies of those he ran down, and take them to his own secluded personal dumping ground, in the woods. Macabre, I know, but things were coming along so nicely, and I was on a roll.

It would be nearly three weeks before I saw the ice cream truck for a third time, but this time was markedly different than the previous two encounters. As I went outside for my customary 1:00 AM cigarette, I saw it, in the dim lighting of the streetlights that illuminated my sleepy suburban street. This time there was no music, and the driver was driving at a reasonably average pace, if not slower than an ice cream truck would normally go. So, I figured I would do a little independent experiment, if you will, and I went to the side of the road to see if he would stop for me. I approached the curb, fished a couple of crumpled one dollar bills out of my pocket, and waited for him to drive by. He drove by at a snail’s pace, not stopping, or even seeming to notice me. This encounter was notable however, as this would mark the first time I got a look at this mystery ice cream truck driver’s face. He was younger that I thought he would be, and much younger than the character in my story that he inspired. He looked to be in his late 20’s, with thinning, dirty blonde hair, and a soul patch. He was wide-eyed and appeared to be pretty out of it. The strangest thing about him, though, was that as he drove by, it looked as though he was fervently looking for something. He looked somewhat nervous and sweaty as he moved his head side to side, intently surveying the area. I thought he could have possibly been on drugs, or, maybe it had just been the really long day he had had, no telling, really. I watched him drive away, still just muddling along into the night. After he disappeared from my line of vision, I dropped my cigarette in my driveway, stomped it out, and headed back inside to close out for the night.

About a month went by, and my script was in great shape. I had submitted it to several studios, getting mostly positive feedback, and several requests for a rewrite. Still no formal offers to get it picked up, and produced, as of yet, but things were certainly trending in the right direction. I was on the phone one night, with a studio head from California. We were talking about my script, a couple of things that he wanted shored up, and the like. He told me that the studio liked my story, and that they thought my idea of a psychotic ice cream man, terrorizing his community under the cover of night, and reigning judgment down upon the innocent was an inventive wrinkle, and would make for a solid slasher flick. After that, he told me that they wanted a rewrite, but with a couple of additions, specifically, a little more in way of an origin story of the old man. “No problem”, I said enthusiastically. What the studio head said next nearly made me fall out of my chair. He said that if I could do all that, then they were prepared to make me a hefty, high five-figure offer for the script. I was awestruck. I thanked him profusely and told him I would get on it first thing tomorrow morning. We said our goodbyes and hung up. I could not believe how this had all transpired. Right after the call with the studio head I called my mother to tell her the good news. I told her about how I had just gotten off the phone with the head of a major film studio, and how the script had been coming along great, that all they wanted were a couple of small changes, and that if I could do that to their liking, they would likely offer me a substantial amount of money for it. I then went on to tell her about my main inspiration for the story, to which she echoed my sentiments about it being weird, but likely nothing. I told her I loved her, she told me she loved me, too, and we hung up for the night.

I sat there on my couch for about ten minutes when I heard music off in the distance, and not just any music, but ice cream truck music. A small smile grew across my face. I didn’t go outside this time. Instead opting to just stay inside and look out my front bay window. Yep, there he was, driving way too fast, and blasting “Camptown Races” way too loud. I didn’t care, however. This odd recurring phenomenon may end up making me a small fortune. So, I just stood there in the window, and as he drove by, gave him a small salute, as if to say, “thank you for your unending inspiration, these past couple of months, I couldn’t have done it without you,” and on that note I closed up shop for the night, got ready for bed, and laid down to go to sleep. Sleep came easily for me that night, and I went to bed feeling great.

I got up early the next morning, feeling energized. I went into my living room and turned on the TV to watch the morning news, and the breaking story of the morning made my blood go sub-zero. There, on my TV screen, was the ice cream man I had seen in my neighborhood at all those odd hours. I recognized the pasty white complexion, messy dirty blonde hair, and soul patch. I learned that his name was Eric Douglas Glenman. He had been taken into police custody last night on suspicion of the abduction, torture, and murder of several local children. I just about threw up when I saw this. When in police custody, and asked for his confession, he sang like a bird, and the resulting statement answered all of my questions. He said that he would go out in the evenings in his ice cream truck, looking for kids who were all alone, to abduct. When he came upon one, he would drive up to them, and offer them free ice cream under the guise of it being late in the day, and not wanting the ice cream to go bad. From there he would grab them and pull them into the back of his truck. That’s when he would turn his music on as loud as it could go, so that no one could hear the kids screaming in the back of his truck. He would also drive away as fast as he could to make a quick getaway. He was asked to disclose his methods of torture and murder, to which he declined. That was probably for the best. I honestly don’t think I would have wanted to know, anyway. When asked if he ever saw anyone who may have witnessed his crimes, he said, for the most part no, except for this one time when he was out skulking through a neighborhood, and he saw this one guy standing by the side of the road, smoking a cigarette, and holding a couple of dollar bills in his hand. I turned off the TV after that, as I was in a state of shock. I went over to my laptop, opened up my script, and promptly deleted it.

I guess it’s true what they say, fact is stranger than fiction, because this was by far and away scarier than anything I could have ever written.

Credit : Steven Allen

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