One of the scariest experiences I had as a military brat involved the ice cream man, my bicycle, and a nickel.
The seductive serenade of the ice cream man’s music blasted over a public address system mounted on his truck’s roof. One large speaker pointed forward with the music mystically announcing, “Here I come, get your parents to give you some money.” The second positioned to trumpet to the homes and people he had just driven past letting them know, “Hurry, it’s not too late.”
Like the moth drawn to the flame, I started dancing and crying out, “Oh please, mother. It’s the ice cream man. Can I have a nickel?”
Ice cream bars on a stick were only five cents.
“Jim, a nickel’s a lot of money,” mother said.
“He’s passing our house! I’ll take out the trash,” I pleaded and bargained at the same time. “Can I? Please?”
She quickly pulled a quarter from her purse. “Get four of the fudge ones,” mom said as she tossed me a quarter. “Bring me back the nickel he will give you in change.”
I raced out the front door, jumped on my bicycle and pedaled fast to catch up with the white truck carrying the sweet treats.
I quickly made the purchase, clutched my four ice cream bars in one hand and my nickel change in the other. That is when I realized I had a problem. I was two blocks from home with my ice cream in one hand, a coin in the other and a bicycle to ride back home.
I knew I had to get back fast as the temperature was 110 degrees at Luke Air Force Base where I lived. I thought fast and had what I believed was a solution.
I put the nickel in my mouth, climbed on the bicycle, and clutched two ice creams in each hand holding their wooden sticks tightly. Somehow I made it home okay. I tossed down the bike, ran into the house carrying my four prizes.
Then it happened. As I started to speak, I gagged on the nickel. Well, I started choking on it before I swallowed it.
Mother yelled at dad and my little brother. She grabbed me and next thing I knew I was in the emergency room at the Luke Air Force Base Dispensary. As she arrives explaining what had happened, I was taken for x-rays. I still vividly remember the picture where it looked like the nickel was sitting on my rib.
The doctor explained the nickel may pass through my system during routine bowel movements in the next one to three days. He explained how I would need to squat over a newspaper when I had a BM. That way I could use a stick (he handed me a handful of tongue depressors) to check the feces for the nickel.
If I hadn’t passed the nickel in four days, they would do surgery! Yikes.
For the next three days, every time I went to the bathroom my then five-year-old little brother would come with me looking at my bottom as I did my deed. On the third day, he started screaming, “There it is, there it is!” as he could see the nickel.
I was relieved as were my parents that I wouldn’t have to face surgery.
What about the fudge bars? They melted on the kitchen counter. In my parents’ haste to get me to the ER, no one thought of putting them in the freezer.
Whenever I see an ice cream bar, I frequently remember the ice cream man, my bicycle, and a nickel. And I never put coins in my mouth. I know where they have been!
Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His books Charlie’s Bells: A Short Story Anthology and Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming religious science fiction novel “The Rebuilder.”