The Worst Thing About Skeletons
The worst thing about skeletons is that they’re heartless. It’s also true that they don’t have an ounce of bile in them, but this hardly makes up for it. I’ve only known one skeleton and he drove the ice cream truck that prowled my neighborhood like a jangling Jaws.
Tinkle tinkle tinkle
I was mowing the lawn one day when I heard the truck coming. The sound make the image of frosty popsicles and drippy ice cream sandwiches rise like mirages in my heat-addled mind. The truck pulled up and stopped next to me.
“Hey Mort,” I said.
“Hot day, isn’t it?” the skeleton said, leaning out, the afternoon sun gleaming on pearly white bone where his heart should have been.
“I’m on a diet,” I said. “You know that.” I’d been off ice cream for over 50 days. Ice Cream Anonymous had even given me a chip.
“For old time’s sake?” Mort said, holding out a Fudgsicle to me.
“You don’t know what it’s like,” I said, then had an idea. “Okay, fine. I’ll have one . . . when you gain one pound. How much do you weigh now?”
“17 pounds,” he said.
“Prove it,” I said. He came into the house and weighed himself: 17 pounds, 2 ounces. “The day you’re 18 pounds, 2 ounces, I’ll have an ice cream,” I said.
“No problem,” he said, grinning with all his teeth.
I saw him later that week, stocking up on calcium pills. Two weeks later, he stopped by. “I’m up 3 ounces,” he declared proudly. A month later, he’d made it up to 17 pounds 7 ounces. I wasn’t very worried.
The next week Mort showed up at my door. He was wearing a coat, which was odd for him. He usually only wore a coat in the fall to keep errant leaves from sticking in his rib cage.
“I’ve gained a pound,” he said quietly. “I’m 18 pounds 2 ounces now.”
“Really?” I looked hard at him. His bones didn’t look any thicker. I wondered vaguely if he’d gotten a brain.
He opened his coat. “I got a heart,” he said. I saw it sitting in his rib cage, pumping idly in a self-conscious way, like a shadow boxer who suddenly finds himself the main event.
“Fine, you won.” I fingered the 100-day chip in my pocket sadly.
“I’m sorry for before,” Mort said. “I didn’t understand.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a peeled apple perched on a cone of wrapped kale. “Snack?”