August Bloom: “Sensible Scoops for Just Cents”

Many thanks to Kaiser’s Grateful Bean Café in Oklahoma City for inspiring this month’s Blooming Good flash fiction story, titled Sensible Scoops for Just Cents. I applaud owner Pete Schaffer for making it possible for people to enjoy ice cream cones without breaking the bank.

"Sensible Scoops for Just Cents"

ice cream cones

“Ice cream cones, daddy, please?,” Tony’s son pleaded, squeezing his father’s hand on a hot Sunday afternoon in a Central, Pennsylvania town. “Oh Daddy, please, please?” said Tony’s daughter, echoing her eight-year-old twin brother. “I’m sorry, not today, kids.” “Then next week, Daddy, when times get better?” they asked, the same as they did every week. “Maybe we’ll see,” Tony said, as he had done each week before.

He hugged them tight as a growing line of customers easily shelled out five and ten-dollar bills for single and double scoop orders for the day’s flavors- lavender, pistachio, lemon custard, chocolate, or vanilla. Katy’s Ice Cream Shop attracted tourists from big Pennsylvania cities and beyond. The shop sat six blocks from Tony’s home, and miles away from his salary.

The family retreated to the local park for duck pond watching. Tony pulled out a bag of stale breadcrumbs, ignored the ‘no feeding’ sign, and they tossed morsels to the mallards, making sure each duck got a fair share. They returned home and got ready for another week.

Monday night, Tony settled into his reading chair after putting the twins to bed. He read mysteries or magazines until precisely 10:58PM before the big reveal. Two years ago, when Tony’s wife took ill, he’d started buying one lottery ticket a week as a private way to dream. After the colon cancer stole her life, he clung to the habit half-heartedly, hoping to pay off old medical and new mounting bills.

So this night, as usual, he wrote out the winning numbers at 11:59PM. Then he shook, sobbed, and steadied himself after triple-confirming that all six numbers on his ticket matched all six on the screen.

Tony claimed his winnings that Friday and purchased Katy’s Ice Cream shop the following week. He renamed it Tony and Twins and added the slogan “Sensible Scoops for Just Cents.” Every day, the shop sold single scoop cones at 16 cents from noon to closing. Local families lined up daily by the dozens, alongside the tourists on weekends. Within months, Tony advertised franchise opportunities across Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. He offered full financing to each franchisee who implemented the rollback pricing policy and used the “Sensible Scoops for Just Cents” slogan. Within two years, press and profits helped Tony’s business grow nationwide.