It was a warm evening, with the sun starting to set, and a pleasant breeze in the air. A man walked slowly down the street, kicking a pebble as he went along. Suddenly, he stopped walking and looked around; he blinked a few times in confusion. He began to speak to no one in particular.
“Well, this is peculiar. I’m fairly familiar with all the voices in my head, but you seem to be a new one. Allow me to introduce myself; I’m Thatcher, but I’d rather you call me Thatch. What’s your name?”
He paused a moment and continued.
“Since you don’t seem to be speaking too much, I’ll just call you ‘my audience.’ Now, Audience, you have found me on a rather dull night. I had plans earlier, but they sort of fell through the floor; by that, I mean I had intended to raid the safe in a nearby mini mansion, but apparently someone got to it before I did, and they dropped the whole thing through the floor, escaping through a tunnel. So now I am simply in search of one thing: some ice cream.”
Thatch continued walking down the street, listening for the familiar jingle of the neighborhood ice cream truck. As he did so, he decided to get to know The Audience a little better.
“So, I’m just going to address the elephant in the room. Yes, I am what some would call a ‘criminal.’ I don’t see it that way; thievery is my hobby, and it pays the bills. The fact that the authorities disagree with my activities just makes it that much more fun. I like to think of it as a game. I have to do my business without gaining the attention of Johnny Law. Remember that game ‘Don’t Wake Daddy?’ I love that game…it’s a lot like that. Now, I can further explain my comings and goings later, but I believe I have found what I am looking for.”
Up ahead, Thatch spotted his target. A few kids were purchasing their frozen treats as he made his way to the open window. The ice cream man smiled at him, and asked “What can I get for ya today?”
Thatch stroked his chin and studied the menu. “Hmmm…I can’t really decide. I think I’ll take all of them.”
The ice cream man was shocked. “You want to buy one of everything I have?”
Thatch laughed. “No, silly; I want EVERYTHING in the truck. Actually, I want the truck, too. It’s pretty slick, and I’ve always wanted to drive one of these things.”
“W-w-what? I don’t understand…”
Thatch sighed deeply and inspected his fingernails. “Look, pal, you seem to be missing the point here. I’ll break it down for you. I never said I wanted to buy anything, meaning I would be eternally grateful if you simply donated this mode of transportation and all of its contents to me right now.”
The ice cream man shook his head and reached up to close the window. “I…I can’t do that. I need to go. You need some help, mister.”
Thatch furrowed his brow and reached up, holding the service window open. Glancing at the driver’s nametag, he continued. “Listen, Chuck, I don’t need any help. I am perfectly capable of shaking you down by myself. Now, you can do this the easy way, by giving me the keys and writing this off on your taxes as a charitable donation, or we can do this the hard way, which involves lots of name-calling and varying amounts of violence. Here, I’ll make it easier for you still: sir, may I have this vehicle? I am in desperate need of this truck right away.”
Chuck stuttered and began to argue further, and Thatch groaned. “Now you’ve done it. This hurts me; obviously not as much as it will hurt you, but just know that emotionally, I am in pain.”
Thatch grabbed Chuck by his lapels and hauled him out of the truck, slamming him down onto the curb. He slugged the poor man a few times, and then froze, his arm in midswing, as if lost in thought.
“Do you have a family, Chucky?”
“I said DO. YOU. HAVE. A. FAMILY?”
“Ye-yeah, I got a wife and two kids.”
“Damn, just shy of the national average. You should really get to work on having that extra half kid. How does someone go about doing that, anyway? I feel like I know a lot of average people, but I don’t know any with two and a half kids.”
Chuck was shaking like a leaf. “The keys are in the ignition, take the stupid thing. It’s yours; please just leave me alone!”
Thatch smiled and patted Chuck on the cheek lightly. “There, was that so hard?”
Thatch hopped up and dove through the service window of the ice cream truck with a loud “WAH-HOO!” He rushed to the driver’s seat and buckled himself in. Turning to the empty seat next to him, he remarked gleefully, “Always remember, kids: safety first!”
He flipped on the music and the loud speakers, and then reached back to grab an ice cream bar before flooring the accelerator and taking off. He joyfully rode around town, eating his ice cream for a while, and after about twenty minutes, he noticed red and blue flashing lights behind him.
“Uh-oh. I must have been speeding. Better pull over so the nice officer can write me a well-deserved ticket.”
He stopped the truck and the officer walked up to the driver’s side window. Thatch waved emphatically.
“What seems to be the problem, officer?”
The cop took a deep breath. “We have an APB out on a stolen ice cream truck being driven by someone who matches your description. I’m gonna need you to hand me your identification, and then get out of the truck nice and slow.”
“Well, I would, but I don’t have any I.D. on me at the moment.”
The officer took a step back and radioed for back-up, then turned back to Thatch.
“Sir, get out of the vehicle.”
Thatch obliged, and the officer handcuffed him with his hands in front of him. He pushed Thatch face first against the ice cream truck.
“What’s your name?” the cop asked gruffly.
“I am…Floridaman. I’m sure you’ve read about me in all the papers; I’m quite famous.”
The officer sighed. “C’mon, your real name. You’re already going to jail, just give it up.”
“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers; what’s your name?”
“I am Lieutenant Daniels. Now sit down on the curb; my back-up should be here any minute.”
“I can’t do that,” Thatch replied.
“And why not?”
“Well, that requires a short history lesson. Did you know that Billy the Kid had big wrists and small hands?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, I do too.” With that, Thatch slipped his hands from the handcuffs and rabbit punched the officer. He then kicked the man in the groin and ran back to the truck. He reached inside and grabbed a box of Klondike bars and tossed them to the officer.
Laughing like a maniac, he said, “Lieutenant Dan, ice cream!”
He scurried over to the truck and hopped into the driver’s seat once more and began to drive away.
“That should buy me some get-away time,” he sang.
He started whistling as he raced down the street, watching as more and more police cruisers began chasing him, with lights and sirens going full tilt. He leaned his head out the window and yelled at them. “Turn those stinkin’ sirens off; I can’t hear the music in my head anymore! I’m filing a noise complaint as soon as I get home!”
Thatch whipped around a corner and floored the gas pedal once more. Up ahead, he saw a small convenience store. He began to laugh, and pushed the ice cream truck to its limits. Smoke began to creep out from under the hood, and the cab started shaking violently. As he raced towards the store, he screamed at the top of his lungs, “LUCY, I’M HOOOME!”
The ice cream truck crashed through the brick wall, getting lodged halfway in. Dust billowed all around, and Thatch coughed as he unbuckled his seat belt. He reached back and grabbed another ice cream bar and climbed out of the truck. The clerk stood frozen behind the counter with his hands up and a look of terror on his face. A masked man had a shotgun aimed at the clerk, but he was obviously distracted by the entrance of the ice cream truck. Sirens could be heard coming close, and Thatch started giggling.
“Talk about a deus ex, am I right?” he said.
He tossed the truck keys to the masked man. “Keep it running for me.”
He unwrapped his ice cream bar and took a bite as he strolled out the front door, joining the crowd of people who had begun to gather outside. The police arrived, and in the turmoil of the situation, decided to arrest the masked robber, abandoning the search for Thatch. The police eventually left the scene, and the crowd began to dissipate. Thatch turned and started walking home, when suddenly, he remembered something.
“Dammit,” he yelled, “I wanted one with the bubble gum eyes! Now I have to go through this whole process all over again!”
Thatch turned down a residential street, finishing his ice cream bar and tossing the stick into the road as he walked…