Ice-Cream Pirate


Thou shalt not steal (Ex. 20:15).

Sweat trickled down Jake’s brow; he wiped it off with his hand. “Wow! A guy sure gets hot playing pirates!” “Yeah,” agreed Zack as he laid his homemade sword on the ground. “Hey! Let’s go get ice-cream bars down at the market! We have some money left from the aluminum cans that we turned in.”

The store’s freezer felt cool and soothing to the boys as they leaned against it to view the tasty confections through the glass. While Zack was deciding which flavor he wanted, he glanced at a display of Super Squirt Guns. His squirt gun wasn’t a very good one, and he always lost the shoot-out when he and Jake played cowboys. Maybe with a Super Squirt Gun he could beat Jake next time.

As Zack looked back at the mouth-watering ice-cream bars, he remembered how hot he was. He looked at the squirt guns again, knowing that he had only enough money for one or the other. Then he had an idea. I’ll buy the squirt gun and slip the ice-cream bar into my sock. No one will ever know. I’ll pay for it the next time I come here for Mom.

Jake opened the freezer and removed a frozen fudge bar. “What flavor do you want?” Jake asked.

“I don’t know yet. I’ll meet you at the counter,” Zack replied.

“OK,” Jake said as he walked toward the checkout counter.

As Zack watched Jake go, he didn’t see his Primary teacher, Brother Griffin, stacking shelves at the other end of the aisle.

Brother Griffin watched Zack take a fudge bar, slip it into his sock, close the freezer, grab a Super Squirt Gun from the rack, then hurry to join Jake at the counter. Sighing with disappointment, the grocer went to the counter to ring up the boys’ purchases. He was concerned for his young friend. He had never thought that Zack would be a shoplifter. How can I help Zack understand that stealing even a small item isn’t what Heavenly Father wants us to do? As he stepped up to the cash register, he noticed the boys’ swords, and they gave him an idea. “Good afternoon, boys. Why, you look like two fearsome pirates!”

“Hot ones, too,” Jake declared, digging his money out of his pocket.

As Zack placed the squirt gun on the counter, chocolate ice cream trickled into his shoe. He wished that Brother Griffin would hurry and ring up his purchase, but the grocer picked up Jake’s sword for a closer look, instead.

With admiration in his voice, he asked, “Did you boys make these fine swords yourself?”

“Yes,” Jake replied as he started to lick his ice cream.

Zack’s mouth watered as he watched Jake. Then his attention switched to his foot. It was getting stickier every minute that they stood there!

But Brother Griffin started talking to him. “You know, Zack, when I was a boy, I used to play pirates, too, and my friends and I made hats out of newspaper.” He fumbled under the counter. “Hey! I have some newspapers right here! Would you like me to show you how to make one?”

“Well, we really need to be going,” Zack said.

Jake shook his head. “No we don’t!” he countered, taking a bite of his ice cream. “That’d be neat, Brother Griffin.”

Zack wriggled his toes, and melted ice cream oozed between them. He looked at the squirt gun, still sitting on the counter, and rubbed the coins in his pocket with his fingers. Then he looked up at Brother Griffin happily folding a pirate hat out of newspaper for them. Zack didn’t feel good inside. In fact, he felt like his foot, cold and icky.

“There!” Brother Griffin announced as he completed the hat and placed it on Zack’s head.

“Can I try making my own?” asked Jake, finishing the last of his ice cream.

“Sure,” Brother Griffin responded. “Zack, too, if he wants to make another one.”

Zack shook his head, knowing what he had to do, instead. While Brother Griffin coached Jake on how to make his pirate hat, Zack put the squirt gun back on the rack. Returning to the counter, he took a deep breath and blurted, “Brother Griffin, I’d like to pay for my ice cream too.”

“But you didn’t get any ice cream,” Jake said.

“Yes I did—it’s in my sock,” Zack removed the dripping ice-cream wrapper from his soggy stocking, placed his coins on the counter for payment, and added, “I’m sorry that I was going to take the ice cream without paying for it. I was going to pay you later, but that still doesn’t make it right.”

“I’m glad that you chose to be honest, Zack,” Brother Griffin said as he rang up the sale. “You’re a fine young man.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Susan Schmuhl