White Volcano

By Grant McKenzie
First published in Out of the Gutter 2

Fiction between 1,000 and 3,000 words
Guidelines and Submission Instructions
There’s a fantasy in the world that tells of a hooker with a heart of gold.

It’s a lie.

Every whore I’ve ever met would rip that heart out of her own chest in exchange for a tinfoil slash of powder and a vein strong enough to handle the rush.

The fantasy is a lure.

How do I know? I sell ice cream.

I’m not talking fifty-one flavors or frozen goop shaped like cartoons. I sell the real deal: Italian vanilla in scoopsone or two. Smooth and creamy and soft on the tongue, I dress it up for the kids with a spiral squeeze of raspberry puree. For an extra two bits, I add a finger of rich Belgian chocolate in either milk or dark.

Few people can do what I do. It’s not a passion, you see, it’s an art.

***

“What’s your pleasure, honey blue?” I ask the yellow-haired girl with eyes the size of dollar coins and fake contacts that turn them the color of cornflowers.

She hesitates and tilts her head so the streetlamp catches the
corners of her corneas. Her eyes pulse with blood: red, dangerous, desperate.

She smiles. Her mouth is old, worked hard, but if you squint you can almost see the child inside. She looks forty, but is likely fourteen.

“You only got vanilla?” she asks.

“What else you need?” I reply. “Vanilla is ice cream. All those other flavors are things people add in an attempt to improve perfection. But what did they get for their trouble? Confusion. Nobody knows what real ice cream tastes like anymore. They’ve forgotten what it was they fell in love with. I sell the taste of perfection. You want one scoop or two, cone or cup?”

“Fuck, Charlie B., you take this shit seriously.”

“Watch your language, I serve kids here.”

“Kids? It’s two in the morning, I’m freezing my ass off, and it’s fuckin’ raining. No kids here, Charlie.”

“How old are you?” I ask.

“Shit, Charlie, you can’t count that high.”

I laugh, a slow rumble that builds from my gut. The kid’s got spirit.

“OK, forget the kids,” I say. “But for my delicate ears, can we lose the profanity?”

She shrugs. “You’re a weird fuck, Charlie. Give me one scoop on a cone with a drizzle of that raspberry sauce I saw you give Clemila.”

My stainless steel scooper swirls around the chilled holding tank in a clockwise motion, the medium-hard ice cream folding in on itself in layers to form a perfect, yellow-white ball with tiny black flecks of pure vanilla bean.

I crown a crisp cone, add a swirl of sweet raspberry and hand it over.

“Two dollars,” I say.

She hands me a crumpled five and takes a lick. Her pink tongue darts from between teeth the color of cold coffee, its playful tip sinking into the creamy ball and then curling like a tiny fist to snatch a cold morsel. Her tongue returns, tingling, and the look in her eyes tells me the sweet treat is melting in her mouth, coating it with flavor.

She smiles. It’s not a fake ‘My, what a beautiful cock you have’ smile, but more of an ‘I got six valentines at school today, Mom.’ Of course, every whore is an actress.

I hold out three dollars in change.

As she takes it, she says, “That’s the best fuckin’ ice cream I ever tasted, Charlie. Thanks.” Her voice sounds small and even a touch sad.

As the girl turns away from my little white van, an ebony goddess in a blaze orange fur jacket flashes a murderous look and stomps toward me. Her name is Crystalas in metha regular, and tonight she’s wearing a royal blue leather miniskirt that’s too short to hide a red lace thong, and white snakeskin platform boots that reach to mid-thigh.

Crystal usually orders a White Volcano: two scoops with a pinkie-wide funnel poked into the topmost ball and filled to the brim with raspberry puree. Once you take that first bite, the raspberry begins to overflow down the side of the cone like lava.

She likes it messy.

“You flirtin’ wit’ dat young thang?” Crystal asks menacingly. Her accent is a nerve-jangling combination of guttural Russian and rum-smooth Jamaican.

She leans up against the large sliding window, her bronzed breasts bulging so far out of the tight fur jacket that I wonder if she even has nipples. With fashion trends today, she could have had them relocated to another set of tits on her back for those customers who don’t want to see her face while they ride the black camel.

“I just sell ice cream,” I answer.

“You know I don’ buy dat, ice-cream mon.”

I shrug. “Volcano?”

“Whyeett Volcano,” she says. “Say it proper.”

“White Volcano?”

She nods. “Ma mouth taste like someone shat init.”

“Sat?” I ask.

“No, mon. Shat.”

I wrinkle my nose, which makes Crystal laugh. She actually
has a pleasantly infectious laugh with a baritone richness that comes from a hidden cache of happiness.

“What! You t’ink dat worse t’ing hap’n in ma mouth?”

“There are some things I would rather not ponder, Crystal.”

“Hmmmm.” She shrugs. “Gotsa message for ya, too. Don’t know why you t’ink I some damn secretary.”

I add the second scoop of ice cream on top of the first and use a special tool I have for making the funnel-shaped hole.

“Go on,” I say.

“Mercedes an’ Crown. Num’er 202.”

“202?”

“Yeh, rhymes wit’ fuck you.”

I pour the raspberry sauce.

“Dr. Seuss would be proud,” I say, handing over the cone. “Four bucks.”

Crystal snaps her fingers and a five appears in her hand like magic. She smiles as she hands it over. Her teeth look strong and sharp enough to bite through bone.

“Keep da change, ice-cream mon. Maybe one day you afford girl like me for somethin’ more than answerin’ the damn phone.”

“Dare to dream.”

I slide the window closed.

***

At Mercedes and Crown, I roll onto the asphalt driveway of number 202 and park behind a moonless black Lincoln Mark VII.

The front door of the house is unlocked.

I don’t bother knocking.

A man with straight black hair that falls a good six inches past his shoulders stands in the kitchen with his back to me. He’s wearing a thigh-length leather jacket over black jeans and cowboy boots. The jacket and boots are far too shiny to have been made with any quality or pride.

When I clear my throat, the man spins around, a mouthful of greasy corned beef sandwich spewing from his mouth.

“Whothefuckareyou?” he screams as pieces of half-chewed sandwich continue to sputter out of his mouth like shrapnel.

“You order ice cream?”

“Fuckme!” He wipes at his mouth. “I just about shit myself.”

“Your partner should have warned you,” I say. “But maybe he’s too enamored of my ass.”

I glance over my shoulder and wink at the man standing behind me. He’s a heavyset blond with short, spiky hair, big muscles and a Smith & Wesson automatic clutched in his hand. I wonder if he had to get the trigger guard enlarged to allow access for his thick, calloused fingers.

“You the milkman?” he asks.

“Ice cream.”

“Huh?”

“I’m the ice cream man.”

“Yeah, right, that’s what I mean.” He nods in the direction of the kitchen. “Your package is in there.”

I walk down the short hallway and see the dead man on the kitchen floor. He’s six feet, a hundred ninety-five to two hundred pounds, and has three bullet holes in his chest.

I slip on a pair of surgical gloves and roll him on his side. There are two bullet holes in the floor.

I glance around the room and spot the blood spatter on the wall behind the kitchen table. Bullet number three is lodged in a stud behind the drywall.

“Okay,” I say. “Let me get my things.”

I don’t whistle while I work. In fact, I don’t like extraneous noise of any kind. My work is in the details. The simple whistle of an air vent can denote where a stray piece of evidence might be lodged, just as its absence can say something similar.

To that end, I tell both men to wait in the Lincoln until I am
done.

I work quickly, but it still takes forty minutes.

When there’s nothing left to do but give it time to dry, I allow the two men a short peek from the hallway.

“Fuckin’ell!” proclaims Sandwich. “You even fixed the bleedin’ lino.”

I survey the kitchen with them, my trained eye scanning every nook and cranny for any missing detail I might have missed. I find none.

“We’re done here,” I say, escorting the men outside and closing the door behind us.

Outside, the blond walks to his car and pops the trunk. He lifts out a small package wrapped in plain brown paper.

“This for you?” he asks.

When I nod, he tosses it over. By its weight, I know it’s correct.

I climb into the van and start the engine, but as my headlights bloom to life, I see something else in the Lincoln’s trunk: A woman; young, dyed honey-blonde, bound and frightened.

“There a problem?” spiky blond asks.

“Who is she?”

“None of your fuckin’ business, milkman.” His voice registers a growing impatience.

I sigh. “Ice cream. Not milk.”

“You both wear fuckin’ white.”

“And there the similarities end.”

“Whatever!” Impatience turns to frustration. “Now move your fuckin’ van before I lose my temper.”

The blond giant slams the car’s trunk lid closed so quickly, I wince.

Spiky likes that. It makes him laugh. And when Spiky laughs, his partner, Sandwich, laughs, too. Neither laugh is particularly pleasant.
I reverse the van out of the driveway.

***

When I pick up their trail, we’re heading north.

Most people are fortunate to be good at one thing. The men I am following have been hired for their ability to follow orders without the hindrance of independent thought. Along the way they also picked up the ability to use their fists, fire a gun and drive a car, but they aren’t expected to be as good at those things as they are at following orders.

As such, it is a rather simple task to follow them through the city without being seen. And when we leave the city limits and move into the rolling countryside, I only have to switch off my headlights to become a ghost.

The next turn takes us east on a gravel road, their car’s careless dust cloud making stealth unnecessary on my part. When the dust settles, I spot them driving onto a farmer’s field, the harvested crop now little more than dead stubble.

As the car crests a dirt hillock and vanishes from view, brake lights flash brightly. I park the van, listen for a moment and climb out. The cold ground is firm beneath my feet as I stroll up the gentle slope.

The car sits quietly on the other side, its trunk lid open. A short distance from it, a woman struggles with her captors. Her arms are bound behind her back and a band of gray tape is fastened across her mouth.

She is wearing a white dress adorned with large black polka dots. Her feet are bare and I wonder if her missing shoes are black or white. Either color can work, but black is the sexier choice.

“I’ll hold her!” barks Spiky to Sandwich. “You move the fuckin’ hatch.”

“C-can’t we have some fun with her first?” Sandwich asks. “She’s pretty hot.”

“It smells like pig shit and piss out here and you want to fuck some whore?”

“I don’t smell”

“Just get the hatch!”

Sandwich moves off a few feet and squats down. I hear the sound of a heavy chain being rattled.

I walk closer, neither man noticing, until I’m less than a
foot from blond on blonde.

“So what did she do?” I ask casually.

Spiky jumps a foot off the ground and Sandwich spins so fast, he falls on his ass.

In another circumstance, I might have found it humorous.

“Jesusfuckinchrist, whatareyoufuckindoin’?” Spiky blurts as spittle flies from the corners of his mouth.

“Just curious,” I say. “I get paid to clean up the mess. You removed her from my crime scene. Why?”

“Whatthefuck!” Spiky explodes. “You made your money, go home!”

“She’s a loose end.”

Spiky tosses the girl to Sandwich and pulls his gun. There definitely is something unusual about the trigger guard. His fingers are like Ballpark Franks; plump and swollen. He points the gun at my chest.

“Go home and get the fuck out of my face before you join her.”

“That an old mine shaft?” I ask, nodding toward the metal hatch. “I heard this area was littered with them. Coal, I believe. Dead vein. But not a good place to dump a body.”

“Fuck you, milkman.”

“People get curious about these holes,” I continue, ignoring him. “Spelunkers, scientists, environmentalists, horny kids with a death wish, the list goes on. I get paid to make sure the bodies aren’t found. This is sloppy.”

“You’re not being paid for this one,” Spiky says.

“Why not?”

“She’s not dead yet.”

“Same question.”

Spiky grits his teeth. “’Cause she’s the fuckin’ killer, get it? She killed Soggy Brown. That’s the body you were paid to dispose of, not cart around in your van all fuckin’ night.”

“You work for Soggy?” I ask.

“Yeah, but now this whore’s ruined it.”

“Why she kill him?” I ask.

“Why the fuck’d any whore kill anyone?”

I shrug. Good point.

“Who called my service?”

“She did,” Sandwich says with a grin as he licks the woman’s ear. “’Fore we got there. She thought we was you. Let us stroll right in.”

I nod. “That explains it.”

“Explains what?” Spiky asks.

“Why you keep calling me the fucking milkman.”

I shoot him once in the chest to knock him down and center a second shot between his eyes. While Sandwich’s mouth is agape, I shoot him through the right eye. The second shot in the head is unnecessary, but I like to be thorough.

I gently peel the tape off the woman’s mouth.

“How do you know about me?” I ask.

The woman spits and runs a dry tongue across her chapped and swollen lips.

“I was with Soggy a long time. Picked up a few things; a few names.”

“Why kill him?”

“It was either him or me. I picked me.”

“You happy with the service?” I ask.

“I don’t” she stops, squints, thinking. “Your service, you mean?”

I nod. “I get work by referral. I want my customers to be happy.”

The woman shakes her head and begins to laugh.

“Yeah,” she says. “Very happy.”

She turns her back to me and I untie the rope around her wrists.

“You want me to get rid of these two?”

She shakes her head; unnatural blonde curls dancing on narrow shoulders.

“It’s better they’re found,” she says. “Make people think twice about moving in, you know?”

“You taking over Soggy’s turf?”

“Why not,” she says. “If a man can do it, can’t be that fuckin’ hard.”

I can’t argue with that.

“You want ice cream?” I ask.

She narrows her eyes, but then sees something reflected inside my own that makes her relax.

“Sure,” she says. “What flavors you got?”

I sigh. Whores.

Grant McKenzie is a graphic artist, editor, photographer and a nationally distributed computer technology columnist, as well as a best-selling author.

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