They were in line buying ingredients for their new ice cream business. They had inherited an ice cream truck that their father had brought home from the junkyard that he ran. He had gotten it fixed up in no time at all and insisted that they sell ice cream out of it, because otherwise they were only two useless-tits-on-a-board. This is what he called them on a regular basis. With a phrase as absurd as this, it was never clear to the sisters whether he meant it or not.
Apparently he did, because there they were, buying the ingredients for another half-hazard batch of ice cream to sell to the poor unsuspecting children of Spinner Valley.
"Look," Margaret hissed, elbowing Louise in the hip. "Isn't that the boy you like? Patrick?"
"Shh!" Louise hissed. "As if I'm going to answer you now that you've told the entire store."
But it was. Louise had been watching him for quite some time. She could have told you everything that had been packed by the cashier into the white plastic bag. There was Moroccan oil - most likely used to make his beard so glossy, she suspected - and a tin of Folger's coffee and a package of light bulbs and a chocolate bar. She was pretty sure it had been a Mars bar, which wasn't her favourite, but given that he was the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on, she was willing to let this slide.
Margaret did not find him so attractive. Rather, she thought he had the expression of a cat having it's whiskers pulled. It was like he was always sneering.
"Well it must be him," said Margaret. "Your cheeks are glowing bright red. Why don't you just tell him how you feel? It's been years."
"I can't and I won't!" cried Louise.
"Because if I asked him how he felt about me and he said he wasn't interested, I'd forever try to find reasons to hate him. I'd never be an honest woman for the rest of my life," Louise said, putting one hand to her chest and blinking her eyes with conviction.
The line was moving very slowly and Margaret was anxious for something interesting to happen in her day. "I think you should just go talk to him," she said. "Just say hi. I'll put the salt down and hold the basket."
And so Louise was pushed forward and Margaret stayed with the groceries.
He was almost to the door by the time that Louise caught up.
"Patrick!" she called.
He turned and said hello and that he hadn't seen her and asked what she needed.
"Oh, I just wanted to say hi," she said.
"Okay," he said. "Hello."
"Are you having a nice day?"
"It's fine," he said.
"How is your mother?"
"She's good," he said.
"Any exciting plans today?"
"No," he said.
"I see," she said.
And then there was a bit of silence and finally Louise told him that she'd best return to her sister to help with the ingredients for their new ice cream business because they had to drive the truck around again the following day and maybe he would see them and if he did, he could have a free cone.
And then he was gone.
She made her way back to the cash register to help Margaret with the bags. The cashier was in the middle of telling a horrific story. Her eyes were as wide as moons and her hands were gesturing wildly. "I saw him! I'm sure I did. He reached right out and grabbed the donation can for the WAR AMPs."
"Who did?" asked Louise.
"That man that you were just talking to,"
"Patrick? Oh. No. He wouldn't do a thing like that. Why would anyone?"
"Did he say anything odd to you?" asked Margaret.
"No. He didn't really say that much at all."
"Oh," said Margaret.
The sisters were both disappointed in the entire turn of events.
"You should both follow him," suggested the cashier. "I bet you a million bucks he goes straight to the bank to deposit all of that money!"
"That's an excellent idea," Margaret said.
Louise wasn't so sure, but it was Margaret who drove the truck and not her so she didn't get much of a choice in the matter.
"Do you know how we can turn off the music?" Margaret asked once inside the truck.
Louise shook her head.
"There must be some way. We need to be incognito if we're going to be cruising around spying on someone."
"Don't say spying," said Louise.
"Well, we are. And it's for a good cause. We're getting that money back for the War Amps."
Louise flicked a switch that had a music symbol above it and hoped this would do the trick. It did.
They were slowly cruising towards the bank. Both sisters had the feeling of impending doom inside their chests but they crept onward through the town, the school zones, and the playgrounds. The entire ordeal had the weight of having cheated on a test. They each tried to reconcile themselves with the feeling of being in the middle of doing something wrong. After-all, it wasn't them who had stolen the can.
Perhaps, thought Louise, if it turns out that he actually did steal the money, I can feel better about that conversation. It was so obvious he wasn't interested in me. But if he's a thief, I'll know that he's not the right man for me anyway and so I can be on my way.
I wonder, thought Margaret, if he really did steal the money. And if he did, what are we supposed to do when we find him? Maybe if we draw enough attention to the situation, they'll write about us in the paper. Dad will be so proud that he'll say that we don't have to sell ice cream anymore because we've already proven our worth.
And so they continued onward in the truck, both anxiously looking out the windows and scrutinizing every man they passed. With every bump, a slight jingle would chime and a few chords from the song, "Do Your Ears Hang Low" would be heard.
The RBC bank was on the horizon. "There he is!" shouted Louise. "Stop the truck!"
Margaret tried to pull over to the side of the road smoothly, but it didn't quite work that well. The tires hit the curb and the full jingle from the truck started up. She searched frantically for the switch to turn it off, but Louise had already slammed the door behind her and was running up to a very dismayed looking Patrick.
Margaret decided to just leave the song going and climbed out of the driver's seat just in time to hear Louise ask, "Are you interested in me or not?"
Patrick was slowly backing away. His hands were up in front of him as if to fend both of them off. "I don't know what would have ever given you that idea."
"Well that's just as well," snorted Margaret. "I'd rather die right now than see my sister with the likes of a thief. Did you steal that can?"
He stared at her guilelessly, the cat's sneer ever on his face. "I'd like it if both of you left me alone from now on."
And he walked away with the soft melody of "Do Your Ears Hang Low" escorting him down the street and outside of their view.
Margaret secretly thought he looked quite princely, but comforted herself with the thought that he'd make a terrible prince, because all he cared about was his beard. Inside her heart, she did not believe this at all though.
Louise was upset that more people hadn't seen the show down between the three of them, because she would now be stuck selling ice cream forever with nobody to send the story in to the paper. It was somehow his entire fault for not confessing to stealing the can. She wondered what other stories would make for a good newspaper article and if she should just write for the paper herself.
So they climbed back into their truck and drove home and both felt bitter and relieved at the same time, because nothing had changed and yet everything had.