The chase started because Milo was deaf.
Teddy and Milo were listening to music in Teddy’s bedroom on his MP3 player, and they were in the middle of an argument over the volume level. Milo wanted to turn it up to eleven, and Teddy kept trying to convince him that if they didn’t turn it down his mom would come in and take it away.
As predicted, Teddy’s mom opened his door and pointed to the player in Teddy’s hand.
“Too loud boys,” she yelled. “You couldn’t even hear me knocking on the door!”
Teddy hit stop on his player, and in the silence, he heard the most magical sound of summer. A tiny bell jingled the notes of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
“ICE CREAM!” Teddy and Milo shouted in unison.
Teddy lunged for his dresser and pulled out his top drawer, scrounging for cash among his socks.
Milo, wasting no time, pushed past Teddy’s mother with a mumbled: “Sorry Mrs. Granger,” and raced down the stairs.
“Wait for me!” Teddy yelled after him. “You don’t have any money!”
“Gotta get some!” Milo yelled, sprinting next door to his house and crashing through the front door. To Milo’s devastation, the ice cream money jar was empty.
“Mom!” he yelled. “I need ice cream!” He charged up the stairs, hoping to find her in her room reading a book as usual.
“There is money in the jar by the door,” he heard her calmly say.
“No, it’s empty,” he whined, coming to a stop in her doorway, panting for breath.
“Ok,” she answered slowly, never taking her eyes from her book and turning another page. “Then check the lunch money cup on the kitchen desk.”
Milo quickly turned and barreled down the stairs, leaping over the last three and landing with a hard thud. Using the banister to tighten his turn, he swung around and ran down the hallway to the kitchen. To his dismay, only two wrinkled dollar bills lay at the bottom of the lunch money cup.
“MOM!” he screamed in frustration, running back to the stairs. “There is only two dollars here!”
“That’s plenty,” she said back, so quietly he wasn’t even sure if he’d heard her actual voice or just a recurring memory in his head.
“MILO! Come on!” Teddy yelled through the open door. “The truck is already rounding the curve onto Donner Street!”
Mio groaned and stuffed the bills in his pocket. Maybe Teddy would help him out with the extra fifty cents to get an Oreo cookie sandwich. He slammed the front door hard behind him and saw Teddy headed between their houses to the back yard.
“Where are you going?” Milo called.
“Short cut,” Teddy yelled back, not stopping to explain.
Teddy ran through his backyard, heading towards Reagan’s house and Donner Street beyond. He was glad the truck went in a circle around his block. It meant he had a second chance to catch the truck before it got away.
Reaching Reagan’s yard, the boys had to cross over Reagan’s sandbox before cutting around her house. He saw Reagan diligently working with several small shovels, a pail of water, and a variety of Tupperware containers. Teddy grimaced knowing what he had to do, but through was faster than around, and he could hear the tinkle of the bell growing softer.
As Teddy leaped over Reagan’s sandcastle, he thought: I hope I make this jump. She’s really onto something this time, and I’d hate to squash it. Landing safely on the other side, Teddy sped ahead, ignoring Reagan’s surprised cries.
“Can’t stop Reagan,” he called over his shoulder. Turning around to run backward a few steps and wave his five-dollar bill in the air, Teddy shouted “Ice cream truck!”
Still running backwards, he saw that Milo, who was close on his heels, had not in fact made it safely over Reagan’s castle.
“Sorry, Rey,” Milo said without stopping, causing sand to fly out of the box onto the grass. “But… you know… ice cream!”
Reagan jumped to her feet and sped along behind Milo, trying to catch up to him. “You owe me a strawberry crunch bar for that!” she called.
“Can’t!” Milo called back. “Mom only had two bucks.”
“Then you are getting grape popsicles and splitting them with me,” Reagan said, punching Milo in the shoulder as she raced past.
“You’re pretty fast, for a girl,” Teddy said with a laugh, running even faster to stay in the lead.
“I’m fast, period,” Reagan said, grabbing the back of his shirt.
“Hey!” Teddy complained. “Don’t slow me down, or we’ll miss that truck.”
The three kids burst between the houses and looked down the street. No truck. Looking up the street, they spied its bumper going around the turn towards the main road.
“Quick,” Reagan said, running up the street. “If we keep going, he may see us in his rearview mirror.” Agreeing with her suggestion, Teddy and Milo started to run too. Teddy quickly caught up, but Milo lagged behind.
“Oh, man,” Teddy said when they reached the corner. “He’s turning onto Highland Road already. Now we’ll never catch him.”
“May… be… if… he… st…ops…” Milo gasped, hanging his head down and putting his hands on his knees.
“He’s not going to stop on a busy street, Milo,” Reagan said, giving him the stink eye.
“Maybe not,” Teddy said. “But, I bet he’ll turn in the neighborhood behind us. We can just cut through the yards to get there ahead of him.” Teddy took off running again.
“Excellent idea!” Reagan said, sprinting off too. Milo groaned but then jogged behind, not wanting to miss out.
Teddy ran across the street and cut through two houses, headed to the development directly north of his, but he quickly came to a stop, causing Reagan to smash into him.
“Fence,” he told her, switching direction and running back to the street.
Passing Milo, Teddy said “This way, slowpoke.”
In between the next set of houses, they also found a fence. Another set stood tall in the third yard and the fourth.
“Doesn’t anyone like their neighbors anymore?” Reagan asked, finally pausing to catch her breath.
Just then Leo and Lauren, twins who lived at the end of their street, came barreling down the street towards them.
“This way guys,” Leo said, motioning Teddy, Reagan and Milo to follow him between the fifth set of houses. Reaching the tall fence, Leo pushed one of the slats and it swung through. Quickly all four kids squeezed into the next neighborhood and sprinted out to the road.
Reagan reached the street first. Looking right she did not see the truck down in the development. Teddy reached the street next and looked left towards the main road.
“Look!” he called out. “It didn’t turn in!” All the kids saw the bumper of the ice cream truck headed further down the road, neglecting to turn into the development.
“This way!” yelled Lauren, racing out into the street and down the block. Since Leo quickly sped after her, Reagan and Teddy followed without argument. When Milo finally reached the street, he sat down on the curb in exhaustion.
“Wait! Reagan, here,” he called out, waving his two dollars in the air, but the kids were already too far ahead of him to hear his pleas.
At about the tenth house down, Lauren and Leo raced into another backyard and a cluster of trees. Teddy and Reagan followed trustingly behind.
“An office park,” Teddy groaned when they pushed through the last tree into a parking lot.
“No, look,” Leo said, pointing across Highland Road to another neighborhood beyond. All the kids could hear the soft tinkle of the ice cream bell, and down the block a bit, they could see the purple bumper of the truck.
“I’m not supposed to cross the main road,” Reagan said with a sigh.
“Come on, Rey,” Lauren said, gabbing her arm and pulling her forward. “We’ve come this far. We can’t stop now.”
“We lost Milo,” Teddy said, looking back and squinting at the trees.
“That means I don’t have any money anyway,” Reagan said, dropping down to her knees in the grass between the parking lot and the road.
“I’ll get it for you,” Lauren said with a smile. “Come on Leo.”
The twins headed for the road, looking left and right. Teddy looked down at Reagan, who was now sprawled out, face down in the grass.
“I really need ice cream,” he told her.
“Jwuft gwo,” Reagan mumbled into the ground and waved her hands in the air.
By the time Teddy reached the curb, Leo and Lauren had already crossed and were jogging up the street to the stopped truck, which was surrounded by anxious kids. Teddy looked left and saw a long line of cars speeding down the street. Teddy waited and watched the truck.
Still three kids left before Leo and Lauren. More cars. A black car, two red, a white.
Only one more kid before the twins. A cement truck followed by a minivan pulling a large camper.
Now Lauren’s turn. Another minivan, this time a blue one. A red sports car and a string of white cars all the same.
Leo’s turn. More cars.
Teddy groaned. The truck was going to pull away, and he would have missed it. He looked to his left again.
“Oooh!” he said, tensing his muscles to run. After the black SUV, there was going to be a space, and there wasn’t any traffic on the other side. Teddy crouched low. “Five…four…three…two…”
On one, Teddy raced across the street as fast as he could, but when he reached the other side, the twins were waiting with ice cream in hand.
“I missed it,” Teddy said, hanging his head sadly.
“Sorry we didn’t get you one,” Leo said. “We thought you were right behind us.”
Teddy looking longingly down the street, but there was no ice cream truck in sight. He could not even hear the faint tinkle of bells anymore, only the rush of traffic behind him. He sat down sadly on the curb to mope.
“I gotta get this ice cream to Reagan,” Lauren said, showing Teddy a strawberry crunch bar. Then the twins, finding a gap in the traffic, crossed the street and awoke the devastated sand princess from the grass. Teddy watched as Reagan gave Lauren a huge hug and then ripped the paper off her treat. With one last wave, the three kids pushed back through the trees.
Teddy kicked some gravel by the curb. It isn’t fair, he thought. Standing up, his race lost, Teddy watched the cars in the street, waiting for a gap in the traffic to cross back over. It was a long wait. Ten cars, eleven, went by and still no gap. Teddy was going to sit down again when…
Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.
Turning slowly around, Teddy saw the best sight of summer. The ice cream truck was making its way out of the development by the same street it entered. It could not leave the neighborhood without running him over. Teddy jumped up and down in victory.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” he called out, punching his fist in the air.
When the truck came to a stop, Teddy walked over to the side and held up his money. The ice cream man left his seat and opened the service window.
“What can I get you son,” the ice cream man asked.
“A fudge bar,” Teddy said, letting out a huge sigh of relief.
“Here you go,” the man said, handing him the treat and taking his money.
“Oh, and an Oreo cookie sandwich,” Teddy said before the man could hand him his change.
He knew he didn’t have to get the slowpoke anything, but Teddy still liked his friend. Milo might have been deaf, but his taste buds worked just fine.