Note from Brian:
For November 2017, I’m posting “Ice Cold Dan the Ice Cream Man,” another new story written just this past summer. As always, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d rather share your thoughts about this story privately. Thank you again for all of your support! — BJF
“Ice Cold Dan the Ice Cream Man”
by Brian James Freeman
As the glass panes in the oversized garage door distorted the first fiery hues of another sunrise, Daniel raised his face off the steering wheel of the ice cream truck. His head hurt from the previous night’s drinking, which was the only way he could get to sleep anymore, and maybe he should have been surprised to find himself at the wheel of his truck, but he wasn’t. Not really. This was hardly the first time he had woken here.
He used to wonder what the guys he had served with in Afghanistan would say if they could see what he did now, but those thoughts rarely crossed his mind anymore. They had been brothers in war, that was true, but Dan was a loner and everyone in his unit had known it. They hadn’t given him the nickname Ice Cold Dan just because of the time he stood there cool, calm, and collected firing an M249 into the windshield of a suicide bomber’s out-of-control truck, although he was all of those things in that moment.
In fact, a photo of Dan during the attack, taken by an embedded journalist working for The New York Times, was often mistaken for a promotional still from one of the Rambo movies. He was actually sort of famous after the photo went viral, but the notoriety did nothing for Dan. What he mostly thought about was how no one seemed to care that the suicide bomber had been a twelve-year-old kid forced to drive against his will. In his nightmares, Dan still saw the boy’s terrified face and huge eyes in the moment before the windshield exploded in the hail of bullets. The truck had rolled safely to a stop, Dan was a hero, and the kid was dead. Life in Afghanistan went on as usual. It all came to the same in the end, didn’t it?