by Peter Aguero
When I was 21 years old, I drove an Italian Ice Truck. I was sort of attending Rutgers University and needed some summer work to supplement my nighttime bouncer job. A buddy hooked me up with SuperKool Italian Ice and I went over to meet the boss. Mohammed’s business was located in an industrial park just outside of New Brunswick, NJ behind a sign that read “Jacoby Appliance Parts.” In the back, there was a fleet of trucks. More to the point, they were white Chevy vans, with caps on the roof and a window cut into the side. Mohammed, or Mark as he introduced himself to me, pretty much just gave me a truck and a route on sight. He walked me through the prep process which was simple: hose out the truck, which was chock full of bees every morning, check the big steel cooler for dry ice levels, fill the scoop reservoirs with hose water, and go on your way. That the scoops and hose water lived right under a county sanitation certificate was of no consequence.
On the 4th day of July, in the year of our Lord 1999, while you were at a barbecue, I headed over to the yard. Day business would be slow as most people were celebrating the holiday. The real action would come at Piscataway High School that evening. Around 5pm, I arrived and staked out a spot. I was only there for about 30 minutes when a saw another SuperKool truck pull into the lot. Aziz. His route was South Plainfield. He was a short, squat man in his early 40s, with crazy eyes and a barrel chest.
I approached his truck and he tried to shake my hand. I refused it and said, “Hey man, I stay out of South Plainfield. This is Piscataway.” As I motioned to the lot, he punched me right in the face from the driver’s seat. My first reaction was surprise. I’d never been punched in the face before. My second reaction was blind animal rage. I grabbed the door handle to pull him out in order to beat him to death. He began to reach under the seat, which I took as an indication that he had a gun. I backed off and the cops moved in, having seen the incident. They removed Aziz and I went back to my truck. Within minutes a county official came over and cited a sanitary violation in order to remove me from the premises. I left and immediately found a spot on the grass at an adjacent park. A police officer came by and asked if I was the guy who just got kicked out of the High School. I said yes and handed him a free cherry lemon ice. I was good to go.
The next few hours are a painful blur. I stood, hunched over the cooler, scooping for a line that never ended. When night fell, I had the very odd experience of hearing the fireworks while seeing the reflection of them off the ground from the rear windows. The enormous drift of singles at my feet grew as I worked, sweating into the ice – Sanitary Certificate be damned. At the end of the night, I had close to $900, 30% of which was mine. I headed back to the yard.
Markhommed counted me out and told me that I had the highest total of the day. I told him about the incident with Aziz. I went right to the top, as SuperKool didn’t have an HR department. Mark replied, “You can’t let a man get away with that. Next time, punch him back.” This was my BOSS, telling me to punch another employee. As we parted, Aziz pulled in. He jumped out and we were in each other’s faces immediately, yelling and screaming. I made inferences to sexual acts that I claimed to have with his wife and daughter, he called me fat. A few guys separated us and I got into my car and drove away. 200 yards away, something inside of me snapped.
I turned the car around, pulled into the lot, threw the transmission into park, jumped out, and said, “That’s it, old man. One way or another, we finish this.” Apparently, I am some sort of Samurai. Aziz began to dig around in the back of his truck while two guys came over to calm us both down. Aziz spun and shoved the two men into me and came at me like the hand of God. I felt a hit on my forehead, then on the back of my head, then on the forehead again. I looked up, and silhouetted against the sodium arc light in the parking lot, I saw that Aziz had a hammer. He was trying to kill me. With a hammer. I immediately reached my arm under his crotch and picked him up over my head like I was “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and slammed him to the asphalt. From his back, he continued to try to smash my balls with the hammer. MY BALLS. I tried to grab the hammer, but I missed and my thumb got caught in his mouth. He bit through my thumbnail and clamped onto my thumb. I took my left hand grabbed his throat. I laid my weight on his neck and started choking him. I was choking him and choking him until he passed out. Then I kept choking him. I felt hands pulling me off. Four guys pulled me off while two more picked Aziz up under the armpits and dragged him off into the darkness, his heels making two tracks in the dirt of the back yard. Mark brought me a baggie filled with lemon ice for my forehead, which now looked like someone had sewn a beeper under the skin. I went home and never came back.
Peter Aguero is a storyteller and teacher living in NYC. He was the winner of The Moth Stories GrandSLAM Championship in March 2009. He’s also the lead singer of The BTK Band. Listen to his music and watch his videos online.