Keep Your Eyes On The Ice Cream

Here’s an actual short story that I drafted last night. It’s fiction.

Jack, Ronald, and I waited outside the ice cream shop with our milkshakes in our hands. Ronald held his against his forehead. His pit-stains showed. Jack stood with his milkshake tilted in his hand and against jeans. I held mine in front of me drank it too fast. I looked up at the clock on top of the courthouse down the street. It was getting dark. I couldn’t tell what time it was.

“Is he coming?” Ronald asked.

“He’ll be here,” I said. Ronald held up his receipt.

“We got these at two minutes ‘til. We’ve been out here for ages,” Ronald said.

I rubbed the back of my head.

“He’s not used to coming here. He probably didn’t know how long it would take,” I said. Ronald nodded his head, tilted it, and nodded again.

“What’s he got?” Ronald asked.

“I don’t know. I think it’s blue,” I said.

It got dark. The clerk inside Magic Milkshakes locked the front door. They moved away from the door and down the concrete ramp. They all sat down with their backs against the wall. Jack’s long legs stretched to the railing across from him. He propped his feet up.

“Where we going?” Jack asked.

There were so many more places I wanted to be besides in front of Magic Milkshakes. A few months ago, I’d have said I wanted to be back with my friends at my old school, but Jay was on his way here in his new blue car. And now I had Jack and Ronald. I didn’t have any particular places in mind. I had fifty bucks in my wallet.

“Anywhere we want,” I said.

“Some place where there’s music,” Jack said.

“A strip club that’s out of this world,” Ronald said.

“They have 3D movies in Lexington,” I said.

“Can you see 3D movies?” Jack asked. He and Ronald turned to me.

“I don’t know,” I said.

We sat. Jack adjusted his feet and bent his knees a few different ways. He scratched his ear and placed his hand down on the concrete. I left my hand on the concrete close to his. Ronald sipped his milkshake until the straw made gargling noises. I had already finished mine but held onto the cup. Jack took a sip. His hand moved away. I put my straw in my mouth and chewed.

One pair of headlights slowed down in the street. I couldn’t tell if the car in front of me was blue. It pulled in next to the trashcan. The lid fell off. A horn honked.

I ran to the passenger side. Jay was in the car checking out Jack and Ronald against the wall. I raised my arms and they walked over.

“Hey bro,” Jay said. He smiled as the overhead light came on. His hair was buzzed. He had fuzz between his lip and mouth, and a little goatee that matched. Jack tapped my back as he squeezed between me and the trashcan. Ronald got in the back on the driver’s side. Jay pulled out.

The interior was black. The roof was hard. The seats were soft. The air was cool. I adjusted the tilt of my seat.

“Ford,” Jack said. He rubbed his hand along the seat. He reached in front of him and found a set of cupholders attached to the back of the armrest. Ronald felt along the door. Jay flipped the overhead light off. I put my empty cup into the holder between Jay and me. There was resistance. I pushed until it was locked in place. Jay drove past the courthouse clock and on through the square. When we got to the straight stretch, he accelerated.

“Where are we going? Lexington?” Jay asked.

“I’m okay with that,” I said. Everyone agreed.

Jay sped up on the straight stretch. I grabbed the handle above the passenger-side door. The green grass was black everywhere except for where they glowed green through Jay’s headlights. The grass in the light got darker the further Jay drove. The trees shook in the wind.

“So you’re Eric’s friend?” Ronald asked.

“Since fifth grade. I don’t like that he moved way,” Jay said.

“You hear that?” I asked. The wind was whistling.

“Don’t make fun of me,” Jay said.

“Jay, the trees,” I said. I pointed out the window. “They’re pink.”

“They’re just those, um, what do you call them? Cherry Blossoms?” Jay said.

“Prunus serrulate,” Ronald said.

Something didn’t feel right. I looked around the car.

“It feels good in here,” Jack said. He took off his shirt.

“The air’s not on,” I said.

“Yeah it is. Feels great,” Jay said.

“No. It’s hot as hell outside and the air isn’t on,” I said. I pointed at the controls on the console. Jay tapped the temperature knob. I put my hands in front of the vents. Air was coming through. The wind outside picked up. The sky turned purple.

“It’s on vent, not air,” Ronald said. He pointed.

“This doesn’t seem right,” I said.

“It’s right. Everything’s right,” Jay said. He accelerated. The road turned into ice cream. We were riding down the cosmopolitan express. I sunk down into the seat and watched out the windows. A flatbed pickup truck pulled an orchestra behind us. They hummed. Jay hit the brakes, but we slid on down the ice cream. Jay closed the vents. He looked at me with his big blue yes.

“Watch the ice cream,” I said.

The ice cream road ended. We slid to a stop outside of a strip club called Out Of This World. Beings of all shapes and sizes came and went. Square bodies held onto other square bodies. Inside, circles danced. A long sock bought us drinks. We lived a whole life in there. When we got back outside, the car was gone. I don’t remember how any of us got home. We never talked about it.

Short Story Notes

Thanks for reading. As always, comment below. Typo hunters are most certainly welcome. Or just comment about whatever is on your mind. Over time, if I still like this one after a while, I’ll fix it up. It might even one day get promoted to my short stories section of my website.

Eric Shay Howard author of Crushes selfie
I should really sit down and finish editing the paperback of my fiction collection, Crushes.
Continue Reading Keep Your Eyes On The Ice Cream

On Football Video Games

I never played physical football. The only thing I know about football is that they wear tight clothes. I did pretend to like football once with a high school crush.

On Football Video Games

I walked down the steps, through the den, and into Jack’s bedroom behind him. He offered me a corner to put my backpack.

“So, this is it,” Jack said. His bed was on the left side of the room. There were folded clothes next to his pillows. Above his bed had an Evanescence and a Lacuna Coil poster. Rob Zombie was behind the television on his dresser. There was a blue bean bag chair at the foot of his bed. His brother’s bed was bigger and on the right side of the room. His brother’s dresser was against the opposite wall, and he had a larger television.

Jack took off his shirt and sprayed some cologne. “You want anything to drink?” There was a small refrigerator just outside his room. It held an assortment of cheap department store branded sodas. Red cream and strawberry flavors dominated the few cans of grape. There was one diet Coke.

“I’m okay for now,” I said. Jack took a red cream soda and chugged it. His elbow extended and his chest stretched. There was hair under his arms, but no hair on his chest. “You can get comfortable,” he said. He changed into a pair of athletic shorts. His legs were skinny and were as tan as his chest. I brought a pair of sweatpants in my backpack, but I left my jeans and thin black sweater on. I took off my shoes.

He laid out some video games over the blue and white quilt on his bed. He switched on the PlayStation 2 as I checked out his collection. The title screen of Madden 2002 loaded. Footsteps walked across the floor above us. He closed his bedroom door.

“Do you play Madden?” He asked.

“I have before,” I said. It was a lie. He handed me a controller. He sat on the edge of his bed with his legs spread apart. I pulled the bean bag chair away from his bed a ways and sat down in it. I picked the 49ers. He was the Broncos. Plays were presented along the bottom of the screen. I mostly lost yards and failed at blocking Jack. When I meant to sprint, I passed. I preferred playing defense, that way I could look up and over my shoulder more. I scored a touchdown accidentally once. He got down off his bed and grappled me at my shoulders.

“You’re getting it!” He said. I blushed when he touched me. I realized this, so I laughed.

We played Madden all evening until we got tired. The only thing I learned about football that night was that they wore tight clothes.

“You can sleep in my brother’s bed if you want. He won’t be here. Or the couch out in the den. Wherever you want,” Jack said. He went upstairs to the bathroom. His brother’s bed had Guns and Roses and Black Sabbath posters, and their records hung above it. They were all symmetrically separated. The records were placed like bricks in masonry work. When Jack returned, I walked all the way up the stairs to the bathroom to change into my sweatpants. When I got back to his brother’s bed, I took off my sweater. I slept in my white shirt. I knew I was gay.

I’ve been blogging about my childhood and high school a lot lately. I wrote this post about the first time I cooked mac and cheese. I wrote this post about one of the times I came out as gay to a friend.

Have you ever pretended to like something because of a crush?

I don’t think I’ve played a football video game since then. Someone will have to actually teach me how football works one day. Have you ever pretended to like something for a crush?

Comment below! You can also follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook.

Also, the edits for the paperback of my book, Crushes, are coming along. I promise it’ll be out and available for purchase soon. It’s a short fiction collection.

Selfie me of with my fiction collection Crushes, and coffee.
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Writing A Friend In Prison After 13 Years

One of my best friends in high school is in prison for doing something awful. He was on the run for 2 years and has been in prison for 7 years. I haven’t spoken to him for longer than that – maybe 10 or 12 years? Let’s just say 13 years. I have been wanting to write him a letter but I don’t really know what to say. I’m not even sure if he wants to hear from me at all. We weren’t exactly on the best terms after high school. Here’s the story on why I’m writing a friend in prison.

I had a crush on my best friend in high school.

We met freshman year. I had just moved to a new school. He let me sit with him in math class. He was nice. We talked a little every day. We loved the Resident Evil video games. Eventually we started hanging out after school and at each others’ houses playing video games. We were really good friends for a few years. About a year or so into our friendship, I was crushing on him. Eventually I told him and it was not cool. Being gay in 2001 was sort of like awful. He stopped talking to me.

Here’s the thing: up until the point that he dropped me, he was really nice and cool. He was nice to other people, at least from what I remember. He wasn’t a bully. He liked X-Men and Super Smash Bros. He liked wrestling. He had a dog. He had values. His older brother was really important to him. If I needed him he was there. He fended off other bullies for me from time-to-time.

He bought me this X-Men 2 dvd for my birthday once:

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After high school we made up and talked a few times, then he did something awful and went to prison.

I want to write my friend in prison a letter.

I want to write him a letter, but I don’t know why. Here’s the other thing: our friendship was very short compared to other friendships I’ve had. I had friends in high school after he dropped me that were my friend much longer. I’m not entirely sure why I still think about the short friendship as if it was the best thing ever I had. I don’t have any romantic feelings for him anymore. To be completely honest I’ve seen his prison photos and I’m not attracted to him at all anymore either. But, I miss having his friendship. Or, maybe I miss feeling like one day we will be good friends again. I used to feel like that before he got charged for the awful thing.

So yeah, anyway, I’ve decided to write him a letter.

What do you say to an ex-best-friend in prison?

I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. I can’t bring up the old crush because what if someone finds the letter and gives him a hard time about it? We haven’t spoken in like 13 years so I don’t even know if he’ll want to read the letter in the first place. I also don’t know anything about him anymore. I doubt he still enjoys playing Resident Evil. From what I can tell, this limits our conversation to something like:

“Hey, what’s up? Remember me? You’re in prison and that sucks. I’m not in prison and I’m in grad school. Okay ttyl.”

Yeah that’s pretty much all I’ve got. Writing a friend in prison you haven’t talked to in 13 years is hard.

I could just talk about what’s been going with me, but why would he care really? I could talk about some of the good unique and interesting times we had, but I really can’t think of anything crazy that happened. There were no super funny stories or anything. There’s just us playing Resident Evil 2 and Super Smash Bros.

I don’t know. I don’t know why I want to write him and I don’t know what I want to say. I don’t know why I’m blogging about this and I don’t know if best friends are even real anymore anyway.

Have you ever written a friend in prison?

Have you? What about an ex-friend who you sort of made up with before they went to prison, but not really and you’re not super sure about it and it’s awkward? I suppose I could ask him that in the letter. So far that’s:

“Hey, what’s up? Remember me? You’re in prison and that sucks. I’m not in prison and I’m in grad school. I remember we weren’t speaking for a long time in high school and then I remember we talked after high school and sort of made up. Did we? Are we friends again or not? Okay ttyl.”

Well, at least I’ve got somewhat of a paragraph. Writing a friend in prison who you’re not sure is a friend anymore is awkward.

Have you ever written a stranger in prison?

Don’t they have things like pen-pal services for prisoners? Aren’t there people who write prisoners because it’s nice and it helps them feel less lonely? Are those real or am I just making them up? Maybe I heard about them in a movie or something. If they are real, maybe I should start with writing strangers first?

I used this app called Slowly a few times to write people from other countries. I was kind of cool because it simulated real mail. It took days for the mail to arrive to their inbox and more days for you to get your response back. But like most things in my life I didn’t keep up with it and I haven’t used it since like May. I guess I should respond to some letters on there.

Anyway, I can’t write him like I don’t know him at all because that would be really weird. I know him, or at least used to, and we have a history.

What he was charged for doing was really awful.

I’ve said this a few times, but it is a factor in how I approach my letter. What he did (at least according to the system) was super bad. Like, really bad. I know that there are secretive groups of people in prisons who watch the mail and watch for people who write certain people. These people have people who check up on these people to try to figure out how they’re associated with them. I’ve heard of them causing trouble for some of these people. I definitely don’t want that. I also don’t want someone giving him a hard time when they find out a gay dude is writing him.

I just want to write him because I used to know him and I miss having a friend like him. Well, the cool him. He really was very nice before.

At some point after he dropped me, he joined the military and got really buff which was nice, but then he got into drugs and stuff. I didn’t know him during those times. I only knew him when he was skinny and played video games and watched X-Men. We shared Nintendo Power and Game Informer magazines. We called each other all the time to help each other get through sections in video games because you couldn’t just look up a let’s-play on YouTube back then.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I should bring up what he did or not in the letter. Probably not.

So I’m writing a friend in prison a letter but I don’t know what I’ll say.

I’m going to write him because if I don’t I’ll always feel like I should have. The letter will probably be short and awful and stupid, but I’m going to do it anyway. It might cause trouble, it might not. I hope it doesn’t. Seriously, have any of you ever written a letter to a friend in prison after a long time? How did you approach it? Why did you write them after so long? Please comment below and let me know because I’m kind of needlessly stressing about it. Am I crazy for writing a friend in prison after 13 years? I mean ex-friend or a maybe friend?

Me having my coffee this morning. When I’m done with my coffee I’ll get started on the letter.

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Update: I wrote the letter. Now I just have to figure out how to address it. I doubt he’ll actually write back, but at least I got this out of my system.

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