The excitement built as we heard the sound of the Humpty Dumpty truck on those warm summer evenings. When Herbie arrived, we were standing by the curb with money in hand, thinking of what delicious treat we might have this night.
Herbie was a serious, little guy always in a hurry, kind of like the “Mad Hatter.” He had a large hook shaped nose and owl like eyes set back in his small face, and he sold the ice cream from an armored freezer that was sitting on the rear of his panel truck.
Across the front of the truck, from the top of the windshield to the freezer, was a buttoned down, soft canvas cover that shielded Herbie from the sun. There were no doors.
Dan came out of his house, having just finished his supper. He was eating an apple. As soon as he saw Herbie’s truck pull to the curb, he tossed the half eaten apple straight up in the air and at the truck. It came to a halt on the canvas cover. “What an interesting landing site,” I thought.
I strolled to the truck to punch the canvas with my powerful right and launch the apple into the air. My timing was perfect. As I approached the passenger side and launched the punch, Herbie had turned in his seat, was hunched over and just exiting from that same side. I hit something soft but much firmer than canvas. I backed away looking up for the apple, but it was nowhere in sight. Rather, I saw Herbie exiting the truck with his hand over his eye. I realized then what had happened. I punched him! I backed away. “He’s coming after me.” He did not. He paused, stunned and surprised.
“What the heck did you do that for?”
Scared to death and unprepared to acknowledge the obvious, I replied, “I didn’t punch you!” I turned around to an audience of friends squirming, trying not to laugh. “I was trying to hit the apple on the canvas. How did I know you would come out at the same time as my punch? I’m sorry.”
“Oh baloney,” he moaned.
By now, the kids were rolling with laughter. I was done, no more Creamsicles for me, I thought. I would be lucky to live, never mind eat. With his hand over his eye, Herbie walked to the rear of the truck, opened the freezer door and took out a Creamsicle which he put on his eye. He glared at me. “What the hell do you want?”
“Uh, uh, uh… I’ll have a Creamsicle… p…p…please.” I backed away.
“Sure, what else! Sonofabitch. Dam you. Man this hurts.”