Roland was a geek. A gentle and aged geek that loved his family. He had
devices all over his home and vehicle. Electronic doodads that he’d talk to and
ask how old Dolly Parton was now or what kinda dive the stock market took
today. His wife and 4 adult kids all thought he was a little cheezy most days,
but Roland was a happy senior citizen.
He had renamed most of his electronic friends to Ziggy and assigned them a
male voice. Mostly because the default Alexa reminded him of all the women that
bossed him around all of his life, all the way from his mother up. This one
place in his life he could have a buddy and not a woman instructing him.
He listened to music from his life as he did his life.
Roland’s mornings woke to ambient music and coffee. His gym went from the 80s
dance hits for rhythmic cardio to heavy metal for banging weights. If the sun
was out he’d play happy music while he drove. If it was rainy he listened to
classical. Sometimes he would just listen to a podcast of people talking and
sharing their opinions and life hacks.
Roland’s life was dictated by the music and sounds that emanated from
On this day, Roland woke in a typical and predictable manner. He felt happy
this morning. No particular reason just happy. The shower was running and he
opened his mouth to say ‘Ziggy, play ‘Happy’ but before a word came out, Ziggy
sang ‘Because I’m happpyyyy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof’. He smiled because he figured that his
gadget had figured out his routine. I
mean, the future is AI, right? He was a step ahead of the game.
‘Roland, here is your reminder to make sure your life insurance is paid’. He
loved the reminders as he was forgetful now. He had asked Ziggy to remind him
of his bills to be paid.
Roland was one of the last to hustle ice cream in the small Pennsylvania
town of XXX where he was raised. Pulling away from the curb in his white van on
this sunny and happy morning, the Ziggy on his phone began playing ‘Penny lane
is in my ears and in my eyes’. He braked the truck in the street and looked
down to see why his phone was playing music. He hadn’t told it to. And as hard
as he tried to make it stop, his phone continued the music from one of his
favorite songs. Giving up on the tech error, he decided to roll with it and
took his foot off the brake and gave it gas. Thus, the white ice cream van made
it’s way to the ice cream plant with Roland singing along with his phone ‘there
beneath the blue suburban skies’.
Along his route on that day he listened to a podcast on growing hot peppers.
He wasn’t necessarily fond of them but
found the science of them intriguing. Oozing his van down Pinnacle Avenue on
his normal route he was fumbling on his phone to adjust the sound. The pepper
instructions from his phone were suddenly fractured by the sound of his now
deceased mother yelling ‘Roland Mitchell! Watch what you’re doing, you idiot!’.
All at the same time, he slammed the brakes on such that the ice cream sandwich
boxes tumbled in the freezer in the back, he literally felt his eyes dilate at
the sound of his dead mother yelling at him again.
Catching his breath he put the phone down and shook his head. His
imagination is running wild today. Getting ready to give the van gas again, he
stopped cold and shivers ran up his arms and the back of his neck when he saw
Trevor, the Lindsey family’s 4-year-old kid standing directly in front of his ice
cream truck staring up at him with a look of horror that no parent would ever
want their child to own.
He had not seen Trevor wander into the street in front of him because he was
adjusting his phone.
The sound of his dead mother’s screech saved Roland from making the
worst mistake of his life: running over a child.
His mother came running down the drive and picked Trevor up and stared
bullets at him as Roland apologized and pulled away in silence. Nothing but the
sound of the tires crunching along the street could be heard
Nothing except the Alexa app piping up her 2 cents worth and playing ‘there’s
a kind of hush, all over the world tonight.’.
Finishing his route, Roland was exhausted and ready to get home to some
peace and hopefully quiet. The silence from his phone was nice. Whatever this
crazy glitch could be it apparently was over.
The dark phone screen lit up with excitement at being thought about. Josh
Turner’s sang ‘watch out brother for that long black train’. He’d only heard
that song once, why did it just suddenly play a line and then stop?.
And what were the chances that line would play as he approached the only
railroad track on his route? Roland’s
heart rate sped as he approached the tracks. He had to stop letting Ziggy’s
songs rule his day. As soon as he got home, he was removing the app and throwing
all of his devices away. Today was proof that what his wife and kids had said,
he had too much AI involvement in his life.
About the time he’d reached a resolution to detach from this electronic world
as he was crossing the 4 tracks, his phone lit up in the console, but this time
it connected to his ice cream speakers outside.
And instead of playing songs to make kids come to buy ice cream, the tinny
speakers blared out a backbeat of 1960s drums and bass guitars to Elvis’s melodic
and passionate voice crooning…oh yeah…uh huh….I’m gonna stick like glue,
because I’m stuck on you’.
And Roland stared in confusion at the crossing gates still in the up position
and the lights of the train heading toward him.
Train lights were the last thing that Roland Mitchell, the happily mundane
ice cream man with 1970s chops, ever saw.
Maggie was the town homeless woman that
everyone donated to when they saw her on the streets pushing her buggy full of
her life’s stuff. She was a sweet and meager soul they all loved and wanted
better for but Maggie lacked sufficient direction to live like other people
in XXX town.
Maggie was pushing her life stuff down by the tracks picking up bottles and
cans and the occasional half-burnt cigarette butt.
Maggie’s aged eyes brightened on this sunny day when she saw a shiny object
next to the tracks where the ice cream man had recently lost his life.
Picking up the phone, she smiled at her new possession, it would be worth
something at Daniel’s pawn shop.
She smiled even bigger when the screen lit itself up and began playing a
song for sweet Maggie.
‘Because I’m Happppyyyy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.’
Happy Halloween 2022!
That’s the best that I can tell about it,
Awesome! I loved it. Spooky!