Three years ago, I almost died getting ice cream.
My sister lived in an apartment complex located in Phoenix, Arizona when I was 14. It was in the shape of a horseshoe with a parking lot placed in the middle. Arizona skin-meltingly hot in the summer. I’m talking about 100°F or more during the day.
Anyways, we visited her that summer at this apartment complex. My family decided to hit the town for a shopping spree. Of course, my sisters took their time getting ready, leaving my father and I sitting next to my sister’s aquarium, hearing the its water bubble and stir.
I was being baptized with sweat and my sisters were not even close to finishing getting dolled up. I was the kind of hot that makes you tingle. I was so hot I itched and squirm. The heat I felt that day dries my lips when I type about it now. I lick my chapped lips just remembering that day.
Just as I was half melted into my sister’s couch, I heard a jingle. It was the most beautiful music I could have heard at the time. It was such a blessing to hear it, I just about looked out the window and checked to see if rapture had finally come around. ‘Twas the jingle of a bicycle that I heard.
I knew from how much this bell was jingling that only one type of person would be on that bike. I asked my dad for $5 and went out to hunt the ice cream man down.
I was on one side of the horseshoe that was the complex. I had to walk all the way to the other side to finally be able to flag him down. He stopped and I looked at his selection. I decided on two of his lemon flavored Popsicle. The ice cream man bent down into the cart he was pushing with his bike to get them. As he stood back up, we heard gunshot to our left.
I had barely enough time to look over to the black muscle car that was around 30 feet away before I bolted to my right. The ice cream man waved me over to him as he went up the stairs that were nearby. My training in “stranger danger” told me to keep running. I ended up behind a bush behind a wall.
I don’t know why I chose to hide behind a bush. Bushes are not bullet proof. They can’t protect me from a bullet. Regardless, I stayed behind that bush until I heard the gunshots stop. I was there waiting. Behind a bush. Expecting to see a shooter come around the corner. And shoot me despite the bush’s best attempt at protecting me. I accepted my fate if it were to come. There must of been around 8-12 bullets shot in our direction.
I heard the muscle car skid out. Not shortly after, I heard the ice cream man call out to me. He asked if I was okay and I said I was. We made our way back to his bicycle and ice cream cart. For some reason, after having bullets fly by us, after running for our lives, after hiding in fear of being killed, we continued our transaction. I gave that man $5 dollars for his ice cream.
I didn’t run home. I didn’t cry to the ice cream man. All I did was continue buying the ice cream.
To this day, I wonder why my near death didn’t rattle me as much as I would have thought. Everything could have just been taken away from me in that instant, but I didn’t mind it. Death was right there, ready to carry me away, but no. I still had to buy my ice cream. Death wasn’t as persuasive a talker like I thought it would be.
I walked home with some pep in my step. My chest was puffed just a bit. My family was worried sick, and we postponed our shopping trip. The guys who were shooting the guns ended up dying in a car accident minutes later.
Helicopters came roaring from the sky. Police decorated the parking lot. I ate my ice cream, each ice cream pop clenched in each hand.
Some of us are just too busy living to die.