The Water Boatman

Much cold water has flowed under the bridge since I last saw Alec. He was once important in my life – first encountered as the ice cream salesman who ever seemed to park his open-sided van outside my house with the ding dong tune relentlessly driving out the sound of my daytime TV.

If no other customer came out to purchase his speciality Melon Mivvi, I would venture out simply to buy a Melon Mivvi to encourage his departure – him and his damned ding dong.

But, eventually, we got talking and later I actually looked forward to his van’s arrival by switching off my daytime TV so that I could hear his distant ding dong echoing more and more loudly around each corner of the streets.

One day, Alec said he was right out of Melon Mivvis.

“Business must be good,” I said.

He looked at me.

“Yes, business is good, but Winter is always coming…” He smiled sadly. “Anyway, I have a new special ice to replace the Melon Mivvi. It’s called the Water Boatman.”

He held out what seemed to be a complex icicle in the shape of a large insect with feelers like oars. It was so fine you could hardly see most of it. The edges bore thin hairs of shimmering coldness but these soon began to drip to the pavement in the sun’s heat.

“Has it got a taste?” I asked.

“No, it’s too pure to have any flavour. Sort of melon without the melon. You need to eat it quick. Have it now. Pay me tomorrow.”

I took it from Alec before he drove off but my fingers began to sting as they made contact. It began actually to shiver as if with a gentle vibration almost as audible as a dragonfly’s sigh.

I was treated for frostbite at the local A & E. They couldn’t understand it with the day being so hot.

I never saw Alec again. I often cried when I heard the distant ding dong across the roof-tops but never growing louder, always fading into Winter, a Winter that never quite seemed to arrive but once it did arrive never quite seemed to depart.

The teardrops froze on my cheeks in incredibly fragile patterns.


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