By Mickie Turk
Hypnotized by so many flavors of ice cream, they pressed their bodies to the front of the counter. The taller, more buxom of the two, removed her sunglasses and began twirling them like pompoms. A muscle in the boy’s jaw strained like whipcord. She twirled harder.
They walked out with their selections into a bleached sweltering world. Hot wet air dissolved and partitioned. Beneath faded patio umbrellas, the soaring heat made peace with the inhabitants, allowing their body temperatures a few degrees of détente. Everywhere else, it wrapped and sealed the skin like cellophane.
The boy slid into a white plastic chair next to an umbrella table and began spooning the melting confection into his mouth. Mercifully, she had perched the sunglasses back on top of her head. A leopard-framed, jewel encrusted, cat-like tiara, now reigned above a poofy Julie Newmar do. A desperate awareness hung between them and teetered like a block of lead. Readying to plunge through the table, through the ground, all the way to the center of the planet.
“I already told you. No.” She was striking, even at her age. Unlined tanned face, leggy. A body that only punishing hours at the gym could forge.
“But I really do love them. And . . . sorry for poking fun earlier. I was a little jealous, that’s all.”
“Tough, you still can’t have them. You can’t wear them. Mother of god, find something else.”
His glare made her want to scream. Some days she just couldn’t stand looking at her son’s face. Sharp featured, straight nose, pouty mouth. And those sleepy, mascarred china blue eyes beneath dark-arched brows. The same damned face she saw each time she looked in a mirror.
A sharp gust of wind swept across the patio bringing with it scorched earth that sprinkled and settled on every surface. Dust particles cankered their pink and green treats. Without another word, she got up and threw her cone into a trash bin. He followed close behind her, happy just to watch sunlight play with the tiny crystals on the side of her head.
That night downstairs, the house band played the usual standards. Upstairs, 70’s pop icon impersonators sat on folding chairs. Onlookers watched while stylists ratted, shaped, and streaked their hair, and make-up artists painted glam and polish onto their faces.
They came to study one boy. The one with penetrating china blue eyes. Who wore his pompadour the way the king used to. And poured his body into a red, white, and blue striped leotard. With ripped gold lamé tights molded to buttocks and legs. A shimmering lightening bolt shot through the right eye completed the graven image.
The boy jumped up on stage and grabbed the microphone. An enormous disco ball suspended from the ceiling and spinning like a top, weaved its magic spell over the tiny crystals on the side of his head.