Ice Cream Truck
© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch
So, when the ice cream truck rumbled down the road from the busy street, the Old Lady took immediate interest. It did not appear to be the type of truck which dispensed ice cream to children, but rather a panel delivery truck which offloaded pallets of the dessert to grocery stores. It had been painted white and adorned with pictures of ice cream cones, bars, sandwiches, milk shakes and a variety of flavors in the carton.
The driver had to be lost, she thought, for there were not yet any houses, and certainly no businesses, on the road. After she purchased her land, she had moved an old motor home into the trees. She was the only one around.
To her surprise the truck stopped by the edge of her property. Two men emerged from the vehicle and walked in a northerly direction until they disappeared into the forest across the way. They had not seen her, nor did she let them know she was there watching them.
One of the reasons that the Old Lady's land had been such a bargain was that it lay on the southern border of a maximum security prison which housed the worst offenders that California had managed to produce. There were 3,800 men housed in cement buildings with narrow windows. Most spent their time locked in tiny cells for 23 out of every 24 hours. They did not leave their cement castles except to go to Court or to the hospital if they had suffered a major illness or accident.
No fence surrounded the perimeter of the prison. To access prison property from the Old Lady's land, one had simply to walk through a narrow stand of redwoods until he reached a clearing. The presence of the big trees made it easy to forget what lay close by.
Almost an hour had passed when the two men came back through the trees, climbed into the ice cream truck and drove off in the direction of the busy street. The Old Lady pondered what the men had been doing. She would probably never know but she was sure it was illegal. She was glad that they didn't know she had seen them.
She was inside her motor home 10 days later when the ice cream truck returned. This time the truck backed into the driveway on her property. As the sun was setting, the men left the truck and disappeared into the forest in the direction of the prison. The Old Lady was certain now that they believed her land was unoccupied. She did not turn on any lights until she heard the truck leave around 10 p.m..
That night the Old Lady did not sleep long. A loud siren began to wail through the trees. Bright lights illuminated the prison grounds as if it were day time, spilling over her land, making it easier for her to move about. At the same time, a prison loudspeaker repeated over and over, "Do not move. If you move, you will be shot!"
The road was filled with police vehicles, lights blazing, the sounds of a dozen different sirens penetrating the night. Floodlights swept back and forth on both sides of the road. As they patrolled, the Old Lady could see the barrels of shotguns hanging out passenger windows, waiting to discharge. She could hear the sounds of dogs straining for release from their back seat confines.
As she watched from a window, the Old Lady knew that a prisoner had escaped. She was certain that the men in the ice cream truck had taken him out of the area. Fearful that she would be shot or accused of being involved if she went outside to approach the police, she waited for them to knock on the door of her motor home. Then she would tell them what she knew.
To her complete amazement, they never came. As dawn approached, the police presence began to dwindle. By 6 a.m. they were gone. The Old Lady concluded that, like the men in the ice cream truck, the police did not know that she was now living on the land.
The local news reported the escape. His name was Brian Wayne Trainor, a multiple murderer who was so vicious he had been transferred to the cement prison until his execution date. The police were not releasing any details about how Trainor got out of the concrete building for "security reasons". The Old Lady suspected that someone in the building, probably a corrections officer, had been involved.
Now she had a problem. If she went to the police and told them what she knew, there was a risk that not all who were involved would be captured. She would be a sitting duck for anyone who wanted to get revenge because she had told. Instead, she printed out Trainor's picture from the internet and wrote the phone number for the Secret Witness Program on the back, tucking the document into her wallet. For the time being she would do nothing.
Three weeks later on the way to the grocery store, the Old Lady saw the ice cream truck again parked in front of the hardware store. Strolling the aisles, she spotted Trainor shopping, absorbed in the merchandise. Slipping outside to her car she made a quick call to the number she had written down. "If you want Trainor", she said, "get someone over to the hardware store quick!"
It took about five minutes for the lot to be filled with police vehicles. She took advantage of the action to slip onto the road and drive away.
The news that evening related that Trainor had been captured and returned to his cement mansion.
Now the Old Lady was home, thinking about the ice cream truck. Taking with her a pair of rubber cleaning gloves, she returned to the hardware store parking lot. The truck sat alone and unattended, keys in the ignition. Using gloved hands she looked in the back. The truck was cold and full of ice cream.
Leaving her car behind, the Old Lady drove the truck back to her driveway. It took a good part of the night to offload the crates of ice cream into every available freezer she had, freezers she had purchased to take advantage of meat sales.
The truck was still about half full. The Old Lady drove to the Senior Center and left the vehicle parked in front. A cab returned her to the lot at the hardware store, where she phoned in a message to the Senior Center answering machine informing them that the truck and all its contents, was for them.
Not a bad outcome, the Old Lady thought. She had more than 200 half gallons of expensive ice cream. The bad guy was back in jail. The information she had provided had nothing to do with her land or the ice cream truck. It was over.
She was wrong.
Two weeks later when she picked up her mail, the Old Lady's attention was drawn to an envelope from the Secret Witness Program. Damn! It was supposed to be anonymous, but she was caught! Reporters would be sneaking around. The police would be asking questions. The two bad guys who hadn't been apprehended would know where she lived. How would she explain all that ice cream in her freezers? Panic gripped the Old Lady. Her hands shook as she opened the envelope.
Inside, the letter indicated that she had been tracked through the phone call that she had made to the Program. Because Trainor had been so dangerous, they had offered the maximum reward for his capture. A $50,000.00 check made out to her was enclosed. She would remain anonymous.
Epilogue: The Seniors always looked forward to the ice cream which was served with their lunches, courtesy of an anonymous donor.
An attorney for the Center managed to obtain a title for the truck. It was repainted and became a refrigerated service vehicle for the Center, where it remains to this day.
The ice cream truck was never connected to Trainor's escape. The two men who drove the truck to the boundary of the prison are still free. Brian Wayne Trainor was executed by lethal injection after all of his appeals were exhausted.
Old Lady purchased a new manufactured home with the reward money. Every
evening she ate and relished at least one, sometimes two, big
bowls of ice cream. She did not lose weight.