When his neighbour left with a one-way ticket to Madagascar, he rang Robert’s doorbell and told him he had sold his house.
‘Sorry,’ Robert asked.
‘I’m leaving the key with you. The new landlords will be moving in next week. In the meantime, have a look and take anything you like.’ That said the neighbour climbed into the cab that was waiting outside.
To his eternal surprise, Robert found himself in front of his neighbour’s front door soon after. The door swung open lightly and he stepped inside the unknown and into a heavy coat stand. He cursed and started to explore. In the kitchen there were more teapots than a single man needed. The living room was a collection of cushions in various states of degradation. It was a house of pointless excesses, a waste of his time, until finally his feet led him into the garage, where a large van was displaying an impressive collection of spider webs. Robert felt immediately drawn to it. He ran his hand on the side, the words ‘happy van’ appeared in bright pink letters under the drawing of an ice cream. Trembling with emotion, he opened the front door. He couldn’t believe his luck!
‘Hello. I’m the happy van,’ a voice said in his head. ‘Do you want to take me for a ride?’ Mesmerized, Robert reversed onto the drive. ‘I hope you like Greensleeves,’ the voice continued. The music started to play, bringing back a most cherished childhood memory. Then Robert realised with horror he didn’t have any ice creams. ‘Don’t worry. I have everything you need,’ the van comforted him.
‘What a friendly van,’ Robert thought to himself.
‘Thank you,’ the van replied.
As soon as he had turned round the corner, people came running out. He stopped the van and moved into position, dutifully following the instructions of the voice. Together they could put a smile on any face.
‘A 99 please, ‘ a little girl asked. Robert produced the desired item, instinctively adding thick, red syrup. He considered the van warmly. They were a match made in heaven.
Later the van suggested they move. That’s when it got weird. First a junkie with blond dreadlocks requested waffles. Robert found himself handing a hard, brown little disk that didn’t look like ice cream. Then he heard his voice say ‘It’s good smoke.’ The other nodded. ’What is happening to me,’ Robert thought as a cold sweat ran down his back.
‘I’m a happy van. You and me make people happy,’ the van replied. Robert wasn’t sure he agreed with this sort of happiness but had to ignore the point for now. They had a customer.
‘Can I have an ice-lolly,’ a woman in tight clothes enquired.
Robert sighed, happily thinking naughty thoughts before noticing too late he was pressing a gun into the woman’s hand. ‘Men are pigs,’ he said in a voice that he knew wasn’t his. The barrel pressed against his forehead.
‘Happy day,’ the van said.