, October 2021

The annual block party was always the most exciting day of the summer, even better than the Fourth of July. They would put barricades at each end of the block and everyone carried their picnic tables into the street and covered them with fruit salad and egg salad and potato salad until the hamburgers and hot dogs were ready. There would be a Carvel ice cream truck with a soft-serve machine that had vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, and you could mix and match and have as much as you want and not have to pay for it. There would be a dunk tank where the fathers would be dunked by kids and wives, and a clown for the little kids, then, when it got dark, fireworks. One of the men on the block, during a trip to Pennsylvania, had filled his trunk with Roman candles, firecrackers, four gross of bottle rockets, and a dozen M-80 blockbusters.

This year it was brutally hot, and the ice cream truck was late. The adults were drinking beer from a keg, including Angus’s father, seated at a table full of other men from the block, all talking and laughing loudly. Some of the kids were drinking cans of flavored generic soda retrieved from trash buckets filled with melting ice, while others helped themselves to the fruit punch and orange drink machine like the ones they had at the pizza place and McDonald’s.

Angus had three cups of orange drink and had to pee. His house was at the other end of the block, but he was right in front of his friend Mikey’s house, where he usually visited at least once a day anyway, so he ran up the walk and went inside.

After he was done in the bathroom, he was on his way back outside when he encountered his mother coming down the stairs, followed by Mikey’s father.

“Angus,” his mother said, slowing her descent and glancing back at Mikey’s father.

“Hi Mom! Do you know when the ice cream truck is gonna get here?”

“It should be here in a few minutes, honey.”

“Yes!” Angus exclaimed, then ran out the door. ▪