We peered through the rain cascading down the windshield; there still wasn’t any parking visible. We circled the block again.
“I’ll tell you what,” I said to Jen on the third loop. “I can hop out and get it and you and your grandma can circle around Duvall Street again and pick me up.”
I jumped out of the car. The water flowing down the street was at ankle level. “Pouring” was exactly what the rain was doing: lukewarm water was falling from the sky in thicker streams than it did in my shower that morning. And it had been for hours. I ran up the sidewalk and into the store.
The kid working behind the counter looked startled as I entered, as if he didn’t expect to see a customer.
“A banana split please,” I requested.
“Uh, we don’t have banana splits,” he said.
I looked back at the street. The windows in the ice cream store where fogged over but I could hear the rain on the ceiling. I sighed.
“Do you have sundaes?” I asked.
“Sure, hot fudge and you’ll get two types of ice-cream.”
“Okay,” I said. “Make it chocolate, and, uh…” I quickly scanned the flavors, “cookie dough.”
The kid filled up a cup with the ice cream and hot fudge and handed it to me. “That will be $7.23.”
I paid the kid, took the ice cream, and went back outside. I could see Jen’s grandmother’s car – a Ford Taurus with stuffed animals in the back window – creeping around the corner. I ran down the sidewalk and jumped in the backseat.
“Here’s your ice cream, Edith.” I said to Jen’s grandmother who recently turned 90.
“Look at him, he’s soaked, you should have taken an umbrella, I have an umbrella in the trunk. Why didn’t you take the umbrella?”
“I don’t mind the rain, Edith. It’s warm,” I said for the at least the eighth time that day. I handed her the ice cream.
“Okay, okay let’s go home. We need to get gas, they’ll be lines at the station. There’s only one road in and one road out and we’ll be safer at home.”
“Grandma, were staying another night here. We’ve already paid for the hotel. All our stuff is at the hotel,” Jen stated again, “This isn’t a hurricane, just some rain.”
“It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow and it’ll be safer to drive when it’s not raining,” I added, trying to put enthusiasm into my voice.
Edith pauses and takes a bite of the ice cream. She eyes the round cup it’s in suspiciously. “This is a funny shaped container for a banana split.”
“Um, they didn’t have banana splits.” I said. “I got you an ice cream sundae.”
“No bananas?” Jen asked.
“No bananas?” Jen’s grandmother asked.
“That was going to be the only healthy part of her dinner,” Jen said.
“Oh,” I say.
“Is it chocolate ice cream? That’s what Grandma wanted.” Jen asked.
“Sure.” I replied, deciding to keep quiet about the cookie dough.
We drove back to the hotel mostly in silence - Jen and I not talking and Edith continuing her ongoing conversation with us. Edith's room was up a small flight of two stairs and she had to leave her walker at the bottom and hold on to both Jen and my arms as she climbed the steps. I held the sundae in my other hand.
“Look at me,” Edith said while we help her up the steps. “I never thought I’d need help walking. I’m sorry you have to be slowed down by an old lady. I used to climb mountains.”
“Don’t be silly, Grandma,” Jen replied as she did every time we helped her up and down the steps.
The next morning, we stopped by Edith’s room to help her to breakfast. The bed was made and her one suitcase was packed. Edith turned to me.
“That was the strangest sundae. The chocolate had something chewy in it.”
I didn’t say anything.