Ice Pick ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp
“Go get the ice,” Reggie Stole said, “and be quick about it. We’ll leave as soon as you get back.”
Reggie’s wife, Fur Stole, had been anxious and nervous all day, getting ready to go on the camping trip. She had to see to all the arrangements, prepare all the food, pack the clothes, make sure the tent didn’t have any holes, and the car had enough gas and oil to make the long trip. She had already taken three nerve pills and was planning on taking the fourth one just as soon as she could get a moment alone. She had also been taking nips of whiskey straight from the bottle, finding that whiskey comforted her even more than pills.
Fur’s son and daughter, Biffy Stole and Shultzie Stole, were excited at the prospect of living out in the woods beside a lake for four days. They jumped up and down and screamed, making Fur believe she could easily strangle them without guilt if only it would give her some peace. She corralled them into the back of the station wagon, along with the old blue ice chest, and set out for the ice house two miles away in a neighboring town.
Fur was relieved to see there wasn’t a line at the ice house. “Let’s make this quick,” she said. “You know how daddy hates being kept waiting.”
Biffy and Shultzie went to get the ice chest out of the back of the car while Fur stepped up to the place in the side of the old brick building where you put in coins, and a block of ice, roughly one foot square, comes out.
She put in two quarters, the going price for one block of ice, and waited to hear the rumble of the ice coming down the chute inside, but, alas, there was no rumble and no ice.
“What’s the matter with it?” Biffy asked, standing beside Fur with the ice chest.
“Maybe it’s just moving slow today,” Fur said.
“Maybe they’re out of ice,” Shultzie said.
“There’d be a sign,” Fur said, “so dumbbells like me wouldn’t keep putting quarters in.”
She banged her fist against the place where the money goes in and stamped her feet, but still nothing happened.
“Go around to the office and see if there’s anybody there,” Fur said to Biffy.
An old blue pickup truck pulled into the tiny lot and parked next to Fur’s car. When she saw a man getting out, she thought he was somebody who knew the ice wasn’t working and was there to fix it.
The man, a burly Dutchman with a flattop haircut, ignored Fur as he stepped up to the coin deposit and started to put in his money.
“It’s not working!” Fur said. “I put my money in and nothing happened. I sent my son Biffy around to the office to see if there’s anybody there.”
Still ignoring her, the burly Dutchman dropped in his quarters, and in a few seconds he had his block of ice. He began to lift it with his fat fingers.
“That’s my ice!” Fur said. “Didn’t you just hear me tell you I put my money in and nothing happened?”
“What?” the burly Dutchman said.
“I said I just put in my money to get a block of ice and none came out, so that’s my block of ice.”
“I don’t think so!” he said. “I just paid for it. I think that makes it mine.”
“You don’t understand,” she said. “Before you came along, I put in two quarters to get a block of ice and nothing happened. That means you have the ice I paid for!”
“Where’s the ice I paid for, then?” he asked.
“It didn’t come out.”
“Yours didn’t come out,” he said. “Mine did.”
“I’m not going to let you take my ice!” Fur said. “My husband is waiting!”
He held the ice against his stomach and said with a sort of sneer, “It’s a tough world, though, ain’t it, lady?”
He turned to walk away and she, realizing she held the ice pick in her right hand, stabbed him in the back. The ice pick went in several inches to the right of the backbone and stuck there.
The burly Dutchman gave a sort of roar, dropped the ice and whirled around. “You crazy bitch!” he said. “You ought to be locked up!”
He was reaching around to try to pull the ice pick out of his back but, of course, couldn’t get his hands on it. When Fur saw the burly Dutchman go to his knees and saw how much blood was pouring out, she pulled Biffy and Shultzie to the car and shoved them in. Running around to the driver’s side, she started the engine and narrowly missed being hit by a beer truck as she pulled back out onto the road.
When she got home, Reggie was waiting on the back porch, smoking a cigarette and picking at his nails. “Thought maybe you had to wait while they made more ice,” he said.
“No ice,” she said.
Biffy and Shultzie avoided looking at Reggie because they knew he wasn’t going to be happy.
“I wasn’t able to get any ice,” she said, “but we can get some on the way. We’ll also need to get a new ice pick.”
“What happened to the ice pick?” he asked. “You lost it?”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “We can get another one on the way. Right now we just need to all get into the car and get away as fast as we can!”
“I think you need to take another nerve pill,” Reggie said as he loaded the rest of his fishing tackle into the back of the car.
Copyright © 2016 by Allen Kopp