Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nice Ice Cream

by Victor Sullivan
A story of crime, rewards, greed, retribution and unforgiving.

"Something's come in over the wall at the end of the garden," my wife, Jane, reported after a trip to the clothesline one fine summer evening. The possibilities were many so I waited.
"It looks like some sort of satchel," she added.
(That eliminated dead dogs, builder's rubble, underwear and live ammunition, all of which we had   experienced). 
I went to investigate and picked up a fairly worn looking canvas satchel with a shoulder-strap and bearing a well-known logo. It contained only one item, a thick notebook. The printed heading declared it to be the property of the largest ice cream manufacturing and distribution operation in the country. It was one of their order books, a very full order book and the most recent entries had been made on that same day. Our local corner shop was the last entry. What I was holding in my hand represented a major loss for many shops, supermarkets and restaurants and a crisis for the ice cream company. It was just a few days before the annual August Holiday week-end, the weather was hot and the heat-wave was forecast to last... peak sales week for ice cream... chaos and disaster if those orders from the many affected shops didn't get through. 

My wife had already lifted the phone to call the police.
"No. Wait! We'll tell them about it later. Call that phone number on the Order Book."  
I asked to be put through to the Financial Director and met an unfortunate reluctance on the part of an over-protective switchboard operator. 
My frustrated: "Whose side are you on, your company's or the criminals?" seemed to clarify the situation and I was instantly put through to the Financial Director and informed him that his company's satchel had been found in our garden. He replied that one of their drivers had reported that his satchel containing a considerable sum of money had been snatched from his truck.

"No money in the satchel," I reported, "Just the order book."
"Order Book? Did you say you have the order book?"
His shout across the office that the satchel with the missing order book had been found produced some cheering.
"There's no money in it," I repeated,  "just the order book."
"To hell with the money! Please, please hang on to that order book. I will send someone to your house to collect it within the hour. Don't give it to anyone else but our Rep. We have reported the theft so if the cops come to you, only give them the empty bag and don't mention the order book. They'd call it evidence and keep it for months. Tell them you have found the bag."

I gave my address and telephone number and within thirty minutes a man arrived in a car who insisted in proving his identity in several ways and he took away the precious order book.
His car had barely vanished at the end of the road when blue flashing lights arrived to amaze our neighbours, two uniformed men entered our house, asked questions, made notes, were escorted to the end of the garden to see where the satchel was found and finally departed contentedly with the empty satchel as official evidence of crime.
Result: Everyone in and around the city had plenty ice cream during that hot August Holiday Week.

We had almost forgotten the incident when, about two weeks later, the telephone rang and a voice asked if we had a freezer and if it had some empty space. Yes we had, it had plenty empty space and yes, we would be at home that afternoon.
The large, refrigerated, logo-adorned truck stopped at our gate. Neighbours appeared at doors and windows. The driver began to carry armfuls of cartons and trays from the vehicle into our house. There had been quite a lot of empty space in the big chest freezer when he started and no space whatever when he finished. The gratitude of the ice cream company was bounteous. Our three school-going children were ecstatic, their excited public announcements ensured they were the envy of all children on the street. They invited their many friends in for ice cream, initiating complaints from many parents, including their own. 

Rules had to be made. Strict rationing regulations were instituted and enforced and eventually life in our house returned to normal, almost.

There was a sequel worthy of record.
I was engineer at a large milk bottling plant on the outskirts of the city and the job sometimes involved unpredictable call-outs to deal with technical problems in the small hours of the morning. Returning from one such trip at around 3:00 am I noticed lights on in the kitchen area of our house. A little spying on my part established that my eldest son had been on a covert, culinary expedition to the freezer. On going upstairs, I pushed his bedroom door open and the dim landing light was reflected in awesome brilliance from a glacial creation beneath his bed; a frozen wonder in a cut-glass dish worthy of a five-star hotel dining room in Antarctica. The occupier of the bed appeared to be sound asleep. Well, I couldn't let it just sit there melting onto the bedroom carpet overnight, could I? Even a spoon and serviette had been provided. So thoughtful. So kind! Much planning, time and care had been invested in its preparation. It would be sinful to waste it. So, leaning against the door frame, I devoured every bit while the dear boy 'slept' peacefully. It was utterly delicious.

That was one parental intrusion into his life-style for which my eldest son will NEVER, EVER forgive me.   

1 comment:

  1. Ice Cream come between an eldest son and his father? I'm sure he still loves you. *wink*

    Your anecdotes are delightfully written and thoroughly entertaining.