“Hey, Sis,” Bert smiled. “What’s up?”
“Hang-up the phone right now and get over here right away,” Sis said. “And no questions. Just get gone.”
She was too jovial to be serious so Bert’s drive to his sister’s home was not with a sense of urgency.
Bert’s sister was 8 years older. She was the one who looked after him as an infant, a toddler, an until he started school. At times she was the scolding disciplinarian and at other times a doting aunt. It all seemed like the perfect balance.
Bert mused about the time Sis gave him the beating of his life. They never had a harsh word. “I had it coming,” Bert mumbled. Bert was so wrapped up into memories and the mystery behind the invitation he didn’t bother to knock at Sis’s door. He walked in. Sis gave him a hug and pulled out a chair at the kitchen table.
“I’ve got a surprise,” Sis said and placed a huge bowl of ice cream in front of him.
“Is this it?” Bert said.
Sis raised her eyebrows and said gleefully, “This is it.”
“The color is perfect,” Bert said. “Beyond pink, but not quite red.”
“Do you remember how we relished it as kids?” Sis said.
“Oh yes,” Bert said.
“And you even got the small chunks of cherries in it,” Bert said.
“Taste,” Sis said eagerly.
Bert dislodged a sliver of ice cream from the mound in the bowl. He brought it to his mouth and enveloped it like a snake. He allowed it to melt slightly and the flavor burst in his mouth and raised like incense into his nostrils.
Bert swallowed and smacked his lips. “It’s perfect.”
“I found the owner of the Red Rooster and threatened him with bodily injury if he did not give me the recipe,” Sis joked.
“Did you get it from him?” Bert said.
“No way,” Sis said. “I looked up former employees and they didn’t know what the recipe was. They said the only guy who knew was the owner. You won’t believe how I’ve experimented over the years and now we have it. We can enjoy our own Redheads.”
Bert chuckled. “Remember Saturday afternoons Mom and Dad packed us kids in the car and we drove out to the Red Rooster for ice cream. Me, you, and Mom we got the Redheads and Dad and Lucy got the Brown Cows.”
“We always got the Redheads,” Sis smiled and reminisced. “Those were the days.”
“Sit down here, Sis,” Bert said patting the chair next to him. “Get a bowl and let’s live the moment together.”
Bert and Sis savored the ice cream and the moment. They spoke cheerfully of old times.
“What is the secret ingredient?” Bert ask.
Sis leaned close. “Cinnamon oil.”
“You’re kidding me. How did you come up with that?” Bert said. “Did you tap somebody’s wire?”
“One of his old employees told me he bought supplies from a local candy maker,” Sis said. “I found the candy maker at a nursing home. He was reluctant to tell me, but I pretended to be his wife and he told me everything; even some things I didn‘t want to here, if you know what I mean.”
“You’re a conniver,” Bert said and smiled. “And evil.”
“All for the taste of a Redhead,” Sis said. “No one would do this for vanilla or chocolate.”
“I think it’s deeper than that,” Bert said. “It’s guilt for the beating you gave me.”
“What!” Sis said. “You were a monster.”
“Yes I was,” Bert affirmed. “And you did a good job of taming me.”
“You have two choices with a monster,” Sis said. “You either beat him or feed him.”
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