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Eating Ice Cream
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[Ongoing story of two brothers. Here is Merrill, the one trying to stay sober.]

I can’t begin to say how disappointed I am that Shea’s a pothead. For once I think my choice is right, after all we met in the meditation group. How perfect is that? Not at all, it turns out. Can’t I fucking get one thing right? And maybe this whole church thing with Pastor Bob is a fake too. If I think about it, he could be creepy too. Shea’s not creepy, just a pothead, which for many people isn’t a big deal.

For me it’s a big deal. But I like her. And I don’t want to stop seeing here. Why not? I can hear that little voice in my head hitting me inside my brain. Hey, Merrill, you’re lying to yourself. Hey, Merrill. I can ignore. Will I tell my guy about Shea? Not sure.

The evening’s just beginning with the sun going down, my favorite time to be out walking my neighborhood. My favorite time every day since I moved to the desert. I grab my wallet and I’m down the stairs and on the sidewalk. Instead of passing by the church just in case somebody’s there and sees me, I go the opposite way. Unfamiliar for all the time I’ve lived here, away from the action of the neighborhood, away from my job. The sidewalk is cracked and the houses are burnt and faded from the sun. But the night air is sweet. I walk a few blocks letting myself relax and try to forget about Shea. Maybe I’ll just forget about her. But I’ll probably have to say something.

I take a left turn onto a bigger street, this one that looks like it goes somewhere. Farther down I see signs poking out from one of those everywhere strip malls. I’m hoping it’s more than massage parlors or insurance companies, or empties. I take long strides because there are lights ahead. On the left a used car lot with those flags barely waving in the air. Lots of lights there. But then a Vietnamese restaurant and I can’t believe my eyes. An ice cream shop. And it’s open. Kids trail out the door. Parents are sitting outside on the curb and on some chairs the place has put out to the side of the parking lot. I get in line behind a family of squirming babies and aunties. Chocolate on the bottom scoop and banana fritter flavor on top. Sprinkles. I go sit outside a little ways from a family. They smile and say hi.

I feel good. I love ice cream when it’s warm and it’s warm for months here at night. I don’t manage to keep my thinking from Shea for too long. By the time I’m done with my cone, she’s back in my head. I had being forced to make decisions. It pisses me off. Why did she turn out that way?


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