Ice Cream Dream
Ice Cream Dream
The old Royal Crown thermometer hung on the wall. It read 68 degrees, but it was by far the hottest day of the year. If this was going to happen for Gus, today was the day. He had sunk every last dollar he had into this, and if it failed, Gus didn’t know what he was going to do. He couldn’t think about it. Wondering what would happen if it failed was a recipe for failure. His grandmother taught him that. When you believe in something, in yourself, you do it. You don’t wait, she’d say.
Gus wiped down the counter and checked the glass case for fingerprints and smudges. Not a mark. He had spent all night cleaning. Hell, he had spent the last three months cleaning and getting ready. Mary, of course, helped, along with the three boys. He really couldn’t have asked for a more supportive family. They cleaned and hung decorations and arranged the benches and even helped set the tile on the bathroom floor. Mary was nervous, naturally, but so was Gus. Though, he was more excited than anything.
The phone rang.
“Are you ready?”
“I am ready. What time will you be here?”
“We’ll be there soon. I have to stop at the pharmacy for Mom, but then we are on our way.”
“Are you bringing her?”
“Of course! What are you crazy.”
“I didn’t know how she was feeling today.”
“She could be dead, and you’d never hear the end of it if I didn’t wheel her casket in.”
“Okay, I’ll see you when you get here.”
“You’re going to be great. It’s going to be great.”
“I love you, Mare.”
“Love you too, hun.”
Gus hung up. Knowing his Mother, she’d probably insist on putting on an apron and going to work. Maybe he’d have so many customers that he’d let her. Wouldn’t that be funny? He’d hire the first person whoever hired him when he was a freshman. Everything is a circle in this life.
It was almost 11 am. The second hand on the clock was playing tricks on Gus’s eyes. It kept speeding up and slowing down. The wave of anticipation was real. He dropped the cleaning rag on the counter and went into the back room. He took to his knees and bowed his head. Out loud he said:
“God, I don’t know if you’re up there, or if you’re all around, or if you even exist. But I like to believe that you are. Because I can’t do this on my own. None of this. If it were up to me, I would have been a goner long ago. If life were fair, I’d be dead. Instead, I kneel here on the floor with an incredible opportunity to support this beautiful family and to make the people in my life proud of me. Please, God, please bless me and this place and help me accept whatever happens. Please bless Mary, and Gerald, Gregory, and Georgie. Please bless my crazy mother, and send my love to Dad. I am so grateful for this life. I’m grateful because I get to, not because I have to. Whatever happens. Whatever is meant to be. I trust you. Thank you for everything. In your name, I pray.”
Gus stood up. He looked around the back room and smiled.
The clock chimed at 11 am.
He pushed through the back door and walked around the front counter to the entrance. He flipped the sign from “Closed” to “Open,” and took a deep breath. He walked back to the bench.
All the anguish, and all the hard work, all the fear, no longer mattered. All Gus could do was wait.
The door chimed. It was Mary and his Mother and the boys. The three boys came running up to him, simultaneously hugging him.
“Where are all the customers,” asked his Mother?
“Mom, I just opened less than 5 minutes ago.”
“Well, I figured the store would be a flood of people by now. Don’t they know what they’re missing?”
“Mom. 5 minutes. Give it time.”
“Okay, well is there anything—“
The bell of the entrance chimed. Gus, Mary, the boys, and his Mother all looked at the door. A young couple, fair skinned and beach haired walked in. The looked around.
“Are you open,” asked the young man?
“We sure are,” said Gus’s Mother.
The young couple walked to the counter and looked into the glass case.
Their eyes lit up.
“Welcome to ‘Gustav’s Ice Cream Parlor,” said Gus.
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