I meant it when I said it. I still mean it. And that smart-ass kid twists it and thinks itâ€™s funny. What the hell would he know, the punk. Iâ€™ll show himâ€“Iâ€™ll push so much ice through the chute tonight the sweat will freeze on his ass. Heâ€™ll see. Him and his smart-ass friends coming round here wantinâ€™ free ice for their beer coolers. I could fix their wagons so they wonâ€™t roll around no more. One call to the Chief of Police and those kids would lose their licenseâ€“thatâ€™s all it would take.
She only comes up here once a week, around five oâ€™clock on Saturday night. I know what she needs the ice for. Sheâ€™s got that grocery store with one of them little ice machines with the polar bear on the front. She buys twenty-five bags here and Iâ€™ll bet she sells them out real quick Saturday night.
I could let that kid load â€˜em in her trunk but he donâ€™t do it right. Hell, he can barely bring himself to be polite. Sheâ€™s a customer, I told him. You got to treat her right-thatâ€™s just good business, common sense. He says the fewer customers the better, as far as heâ€™s concerned. Means he doesnâ€™t have to work so hard. I told him, you take Mr. Cunninghamâ€™s money, you owe him an honest nightâ€™s work. He donâ€™t care, that kid. None of â€˜em do, as far as I can tell.
Anyway, whenever she comes in I load them ice bags in her trunk myself. If I left it to the kid heâ€™d just line â€˜em up on the loading dock and let her do it. Thatâ€™s no way to treat a lady, I told him. Let me do it, I says and I bring â€˜em out on a pallet truck to where I load â€˜em in her trunk easy. She stands there watching. She donâ€™t tip but I donâ€™t expect it and sheâ€™s not supposed to. I know itâ€™s hard running a grocery store. Hard to make money at it. She gives me a smile every week now. She appreciates it, she says.
She ainâ€™t married, I know. She owns that store with her momma. The father died, and they run it all by themselves now. Thatâ€™d be a nice businessâ€“it would. Sure would beat pullinâ€™ ice on the two-to-ten shift Saturday night.
Iâ€™m gonna say somethinâ€™ to her tonight, if that damn kid isnâ€™t hanging around where he can hear me. Iâ€™ll tell her straight out. I wonâ€™t say I want to get her alone-thatâ€™s not the way to start things. And Iâ€™ll wear a shirt so my tattoo donâ€™t show. She donâ€™t look like the type that would like them. It ainâ€™t a girlâ€™s name, but it says â€œBorn to Loseâ€. I donâ€™t want her to think Iâ€™m a loser.
Maybe Iâ€™ll strike up a conversationâ€“Iâ€™ll say â€œYou sure buy a lot of iceâ€ or something like that. Maybe if we ever start dating I can say I used that line as an â€œice breaker.â€ Then when she tells me, maybe I could offer to deliver her 25 bags at the beginning of my shift. That way she wouldnâ€™t have to drive clear over here from South 65. Sheâ€™d appreciate that. Iâ€™d have to tell old man Cunningham he didnâ€™t have to pay me for the half hour itâ€™d take. That would make him happy-him with silver dollars in his front walkway, too.
Or maybe Iâ€™ll just drop in there, casual-like some night. Say, well hello! Fancy meeting you here! Iâ€™d tell her my name. The kid wouldnâ€™t be around to laugh at me then. Thatâ€™d be good.
Hell, I ainâ€™t gonna do that. Thereâ€™s got to be people in and out of the store all the time. Maybe Iâ€™ll become a regular-just say hi every time I go in, get to know her that way. Just mention my name at some point so sheâ€™d know who I was. Not just the guy down at the ice plant.
I could mention something technical, like about her freezer cabinets, or the produce section. Give her a money-saving tip, like â€œDid you know you lose a ton of refrigeration for every hour those doors are open?â€ Or something like that. She could probably save a lot on electricity just by putting in night covers.
Then I could say something like â€œI know a lot about refrigeration, but Iâ€™m hot for you.â€ Naw, thatâ€™s no good. â€œI know a lot about keeping things cool-would you like to have a cold beer with me some night.â€ Maybe she donâ€™t like beer. Probably drinks wine. I could buy a bottle of pink wine for her in case she ever came over. Iâ€™d hate for anyone to find it in my fridge if she didnâ€™t.
I know what-Iâ€™ll call out there some Saturday night around eight and ask her if sheâ€™s running out of ice. Thatâ€™s just good customer service. I can pull the last load of ice out of the floor at ten and take off early if that damn kid will cover for me. Maybe if I offer to buy beer for him and his friends so they donâ€™t have to go over to colored town to get it. I wonder how much extra they have to pay. Maybe five bucks-Iâ€™ll tell him Iâ€™ll do it for free. He just has to close up, drop the key in the slot and keep his mouth shut. That ainâ€™t too much to ask, is it?
Aw, what am I talkinâ€™ about. That kid ainâ€™t gonna do me any favors. Heâ€™d probably tell on me, then where would I be? Iâ€™d be fired is where. Helluva marriage prospect Iâ€™d be then. No job, beat-up car, no money. Shit.
Maybe she goes to church. I could pull that off. I can be just as holy as the next guy. Although thereâ€™s probably plenty of church-goinâ€™ guys whoâ€™ve already got their eyes on her. Or women who want to introduce their kin to her. Thatâ€™s the problemâ€“church is always crowded.
Maybe I could slip when Iâ€™m puttinâ€™ the bags in her trunk one night and ask her to take me to the hospital. Then once I got in her car and we had drove away a bit I could tell her I just faked it so that I could get to know her better â€™cause I think sheâ€™s so pretty. She might appreciate that-think itâ€™s funny and all.
Or maybe not. Itâ€™d probably startle her when I told her. And Cunningham would want to know why we didnâ€™t have enough ice for the chicken plant in the morning. Naw, thatâ€™s no good. Iâ€™ll just have to tell that kid to take off some Saturday and Iâ€™ll cover for him. That way itâ€™ll be just me and her when she drives up. And then Iâ€™ll tell her what I want to say. What I told that kid that he thought was so funny.
Iâ€™d give my right arm for five minutes alone with her.