Ice House – If Walls Could Talk – Fiction Friday

How many of you know that the common 7  eleven stores began as ice houses whose owners began selling general merchandise along with ice?

I am an ice house. Not like those of the past, where ice was broken away from lakes, hauled in, packed with straw and sawdust and stored till summer.

I am more like an ice half way house. I am insulated and squarish. I have refrigeration units to keep me cold enough to keep the ice as it should be.

My ice is made somewhere else and brought here.

Men in big trucks and small ones come in. Some drop off ice and others pick it up.

The ones who pick it up are much like the snack food delivery guys.

They pick up a load, then go out to restaurants, bars, carnivals, events and retail stores. Including 7 elevens and they leave clean ice, chopped, cubed, shaved, dry, or in big chunks at these places.

I don’t know who thought of it, but the advice sign over the ice machine dispenser at a local department store asks “Is One Bag Enough?”

The fellows who work here at the ice house are friendly enough. They keep good records and good spirits. They know all of the pick-up and delivery guys by name.

The oldest guy, who isn’t all that old, if you ask me, claims the regular work-a-day people needed ice on a regular basis in their kitchens. The ice man had to standardize the size of the ice chunk so they could fit the ice into boxes.

There really was a good use for an ice pick besides, climbing mountains and murder.

I heard the phrase “keeping him on ice.”

The guys when they are working a slow day, waiting, for more ice, I imagine, tell stories of keeping people on ice.

Seems a body, newly murdered, can keep a long time on ice. Then there was the story a fellow told after seeing a movie where the guys on ice were criminals that were being rehabilitated while serving time as actual block of ice.

I was trying to imagine a future where this building housed criminals and just couldn’t make it work.

There doesn’t really seem to be a slow time here at the ice house. My uses at bars and parties seems to be a year round thing. The demand stays the same.

I heard though, that one day a shipment of ice came in and in one of the larger blocks a huge fish was imprisoned.

It isn’t uncommon to have strange things in the bigger blocks.

That ice goes for a whole different purpose, not to the diners or the local grocery store. But this fish was uncommon. It looked like the fish was flash frozen in mid swim.

The owners kept it for the longest time. It was a conversation piece. They’d say hey to the pick-up and delivery guys, “come have a look at this.”

Men would oooo and ahhh and talk about the chances of that happening to the poor fish on display.

One day, the owners came to open the doors for the incoming trucks.

Brought their thermoses and gloves, ready for the day and the door was open off it’s hinges.

The only real reason they kept the place locked up was because there were some little kids in the area and they didn’t want anyone going in there and getting hurt.

So breaking in was not a difficult thing at all.

The owner waited until his partner showed up. They didn’t think the ordeal was anything to get over worked about.

It was probably kids.

Then the older one suggested they go ahead and report the incident. Then go inside and check to see if the worst had happened and someone had finally put a body “on ice.”

The men did a determined walk though, looking into the darker corners straining to spot a booted foot that would lead to an unfortunate dead guy.

They took two passes together and one more pass going in opposite directions meeting at the front at the same time a police cruiser showed up without lights and siren.

The officer walked through with both the men. He at last came back to the front where it was a bit warmer and asked the men if anything was missing.

This surprised both men who were looking for something to be added to the stock, not taken away.

They both turned at the same time to look at the prized fish that wasn’t.

I could have told them in the very beginning that the fish had been taken but we all know an ice house like any other house, seldom finds permission to talk.

I know who took the fish, too. But like I said, I can’t tell.

By Sally

Sally Franklin Christie Blogger and Author of If I Should Die and Milk Carton People.