The other night was sultry, with gray clouds rolling over the sky and a mid-August feel despite the fact that it was only April. The magnolia in the backyard rollicked in the breeze, its pink petals just beginning to bloom at the top of the tree, and I ate my spaghtetti and arrabiata tomato sauce outside, with a napkin tucked into my collar. Aakash was busy working, moving back and forth from his apartment to the backyard patio.
Aakash had neon orange cutouts that he had measured to fit over the wheels of Guillermo’s truck. I sat on my stoop, eight steps high, drinking a bottle of San Pelligrino, listening to the Spanish conversations of the men who worked at the auto shop next door, as Aakash set the neon cubic structures. Guillermo came home and was kind enough to sit in the car and model. We chatted and saw an ice cream truck sing past us with its characteristic carnival jingle. I had long wondered why the trucks flocked to our street, and assumed the existence of a depot, while telling my friends that really they sold ice cream during the day, but after 8 o clock, they sold drugs. We decided to place the neon cubes over the wheels of the ice cream truck.
When we walked over, an older man walked back and forth from the truck to the shop carrying big bags, and a young girl spoke on her cell phone. We asked if we could use the truck, and then the owner appeared saying that he wasn’t sure, he didn’t want his truck to end up in the New York Times and not get anything for it. Aakash reassured him that it was nothing like that, and I decided to buy some ice cream to assuage the situation.
The girl, who was about my age and would have been pretty except for an overbite that made her lisp, sold me an ice cream bar, and I eagerly ate the chocolate on vanilla. Aakash wanted us to act natural and so we started to chat.
She was ecstatic and said that we were so cool to be taking pictures of her truck, that she was so happy, that all she ever does is work, and this kind of thing is so much better. I asked her about her family’s drug cartel and she said yes, they sold weed and coke, primarily, but they were willing to submit special requests.
When we said our goodbyes and thank yous and got home, we decided to look at the avant garde art pictures for which one to put on display. Out of the 127, we chose one, featured above. This one we chose over the one with me and the girl interacting – she leaning out of the window with her hands over the glass like a puppy dog hopefully waiting on my reactions, me standing, ice cream bar in hand, gesticulating widely over some forgotten aspect of conversation.