Saturday, April 5, 2008

Two Please

“Have you completely lost your mind?”

“Oh come on, it’s gonna be a blast.”

“There is no way on earth I’m getting into that death trap.”

“Come on Clair,” begged her boyfriend, “You only live once.”

Un-wavered in her decision, the petite brunette fired back at Rick, “Ya and you only die once too, but today is not going to be that day for me!”

As a young boy, Rick had always been the daredevil type. If the other boys went off the diving board while swimming in the pool, Rick “Danger Boy” Meyers would insist on being the first one to brave the high dive. When it came to bicycles, he would gladly try new tricks or jumps, especially if the possibility of losing some skin was involved.

One particular summer afternoon when he was about ten years old, his buddies decided to climb the backyard fence and see who could balance while standing on the top rail. Not wanting to be outdone, Rick scaled the large oak tree nearby and didn’t stop until he was about sixteen feet off the ground. Looking down at his friends below and then motioning towards the limb in front of him, he called out, “Do ya dare me?”

Two of the three boys started chanting, “Rick, Rick, Rick!” while the third one shouted, “I double dog dare ya!”

With that Danger Boy started his circus like performance inching his way out onto the limb. It was reminiscent of the high wire act he’d seen under the big top a few weeks before.

After making his way out about three feet from the main trunk he stopped and announced triumphantly, “Ta Da…!”

Egging him on, one of the boys asked, “Is that all you’ve got?”

This was all the encouragement the young Evil Knievel protégé needed to hear.

With a twinkle in his eyes he said, “You want to see something else?”

“Come on, what-do-ya got?” another hollered up.

“Watch this!” Rick confidently proclaimed.

With steadfast determination he extended both his arms as far as he could to achieve maximum balance and then slowly started lifting his right foot off the sturdy moss covered limb. The next thing he knew, his arms were flailing wildly and he was free falling, picking up momentum as he sped toward the hard earth below. Miraculously he managed to miss all the other limbs on his descent to the ground and with a THUD he hit…hard!

The other boys came rushing over to see their injured friend who now lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the mighty oak, but instead of crying or screaming out in pain as most kids his age would have, Rick slowly got up laughing. As he regained his footing he took a couple of steps while cradling his left wrist and chuckled saying, “I think I broke my arm.”

Sure enough, that’s exactly what he’d done, but true to form it barely slowed him down as it healed over the following weeks.

*****

Rick looked at Clair and said, “I’ll tell you what. You go on this with me and I’ll go on anything you want to later.”

“Anything…?” she said.

“You wouldn’t dare!”

As much as she dreaded the thought of getting on the ride in front of her, she knew Rick was right where she wanted him…completely at her mercy.

Half asking, half demanding, she quizzed, “Pinky promise?”

“Oh all right,” but he insisted, “We ride this first. I don’t want you chickening out later.”

Getting into this contraption that to her looked like it was held together with bubble gum and bailing wire, would be way out of her comfort zone, not to mention totally out of character. For as every bit of an adventurer Rick was, Clair was as equally opposite and reserved.

The biggest risk she could remember taking during her sixteen years on the planet was to make a couple of prank phone calls from the house of one of her girlfriends during a slumber party. Living on the edge or even taking small chances was simply not a part of her growing up.

Even while standing at the entrance to the ride with all the loud music in the background, the flashing lights and the ever present yammering of the greasy haired carnies, all she could think about was her fathers voice in the back of her head.

He was a safety inspector for the state who coincidentally just happened to be the one in charge of overseeing safety protocol of the county fair she and Rick were attending that evening.

Every year he would come home with horror stories about how one of the ride operators would forget to assemble something properly creating the opportunity for disaster to strike an unsuspecting rider. If that weren’t bad enough, he would also tell his wife and daughter about any major accidents that had happened at other fairs during the course of the year.

“You’re not going to believe what happened at such and such a place,” he would lecture.

Every year she had heard nothing but the dangers of these traveling carnivals so needless to say Clair’s exposure to this type of venue was considerably more skewed than the average attendee. In fact, the only other time she had set foot inside the fair grounds was during the annual Forth of July fireworks celebration, and then it was only because her father would never dream of lighting those “dangerous fireballs” (as he called them) off in their front yard.

“Do you know how many people get injured each year because of those things?” he would always say.

It was no wonder the young girl stood there in a daze contemplating what she was about to do.

*****



“Clair…yoo-hoo…Claaair…” Rick said as he waved his hand in front of her face, “We’re next.”

“Hold on, I think this is the one my dad was talking about.”

“You mean Mr. Safety”

With a raspy growl the ride operator grumbled, “You two going or what?”

Clair continued her stall tactics, “Are you sure it’s ok?”

Rick knew if he didn’t get her on the ride this time around it would be all over. She would dig in her heels and wuss out for sure. He decided to take charge. He grabbed her hand, gave the man twelve tickets and pulled his girlfriend up onto the platform.

“We’re going!” he said.

The red metallic car, more like a cage, they were getting into was a tattered looking one that auspiciously had the number 13 in a black on white circle just above the door.

“Perfect!” she thought.

As the attendant closed and secured the door he gave the top of the car a little shove causing it to pivot back and forth on its central axis. This in turn caused Clair to let out a shriek.

Rick managed an evil laugh and said, “We haven’t even got started yet.”

No sooner had he said that and the car shot backwards and up the track so the attendant could load the next one in line. Clair’s heart was pounding so hard and fast she thought it was going to explode at any second. The Zipper was typically a ride one worked up to, but for Clair Daniels this would be her very first carnival ride.

“So help me Rick, if you make this thing spin upside down I will throw up all over you!” she exclaimed.

With a devilish grin he said, “Who me?”

Even with his “caution to the wind” personality, Rick was thoroughly convinced tumbling the car would be his final act of bravado on this earth. Still, he did feel compelled to test the waters by causing it to rock just a little bit, each time receiving a glare or a threat to his longevity.

Every time they bolted backwards to allow the next couple of people to climb into an unoccupied car, Clair would let go another squeal. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of stopping and starting all the passengers were loaded and the ride officially got under way.

The cars, aka cages, began their backwards travel along the track while the entire group of them started rotating forward in a motion similar to a Ferris Wheel. If this weren’t unnerving enough for the queasy stomached Clair, each individual car had its own pivot point too.

After the first twenty or thirty seconds of the ride, Rick was sure he'd be deaf in his right ear by the end of it. It seemed Clair was able to reach an octave with her screams that was sure to make a few canines three counties away perk up their ears.

Surprisingly though, after the initial panic had loosened its grip on Clair, she actually started smiling…a lot! The exhilaration she felt surging through her body was almost euphoric. It was the perfect combination of fear and excitement. Something she had never experienced before.

The next words that she shouted shocked Rick as much as they did her own ears.

“One spin…all the way around!” she yelled.

“Seriously?” Rick asked.

“If you make me think about it I might not do it.” She told him.

“Ok, lean back and when we get to the top of the circle push forward with all you’ve got!”

Rick was thinking to himself, “Is this the same quite and demure girl that he had to drag onto the ride just a couple of minutes earlier?”

“Wait…not yet, wait…NOW!”

They both threw their weight forward at that precise moment causing the car to go into a series of summersaults. When lucky number thirteen finally righted itself the two of them turned to look at each other and burst out into laughter.

About a half a minute later they came staggering and slightly disoriented, out of the red metallic cage that had brought them so much amusement. As they made their way down the platform to the steady ground below, they continued to laugh and carry on about how Clair had conquered the Zipper.

Walking down the midway they barely noticed the carnies trying to entice them to try their luck at the various games. They were too busy enjoying each other’s company to give any of them a second look.

“All right,” Rick said, “Time to hold up my end of the bargain. What ride do you want to go on?”

Looking at her boyfriend for his reaction, she said, “Well, I was really wanting to go on the carousel.”

Without skipping a beat, Rick said, “The carousel it is then.”

After her willingness to let her hair down on the last ride he wouldn’t have cared if she’d had said the choo-choo ride in Kiddy-Land.

“But…” Clair continued, “Now I’m thinking about the Scrambler instead.”

“Cool, I love that one,” he said, “but first we ride the carousel.”

He may have been one of the most reckless boys she knew, but he had just shown her a softer, more compassionate side of himself that very few others knew about.

With her arm around his waist and her head on his shoulder they continued their way to the ornately decorated Merry Go Round. Rick reached into his pocket then handed the operator the tickets and said, “Two please.”

*****

The End

37 comments:

R.E.H. said...

Great story... I liked the characters you built up. Quickly made me root for them both.

Gotta love carousels too - especially the "scary" ones!

Lady in red said...

you write so well hat I was really thee and I could picture all the news stories I have read/heard over the years about safety issues on these rides. I was one of those who would never go on any but the mildest of rides until I got my kisk reminding me that life is for living. Now I don't often get the oportunity but when I do I will go on far more rides because I belieive we have to experience as much in our lives as we can otherwise what is the point in living.

great story

Akelamalu said...

I so enjoyed that! Was it based on something that really happened Jeff?

I don't do 'BIG' rides (I'm a scaredy cat) but MWM loves them, I stand and watch and hold the coats! :(

Mel said...

Awwwwwwwww.....now I thought it was a lovely story to have coffee to this morning!

I'm likin' the daredevil fella, lots!
And I so relate to the 'don't do that or I'll throw up'.....LOL

Thank you, sir.
Well done!

Anndi said...

I loved this story!

And we safety people are not all like that you know... sheesh! (fireballs.. yup)

My daughter has revealed her love of rollercoasters, and crazy rides... except the one where you get shot up in the air and fall back down just as quickly... she hates that one.

Dana said...

Being the adrenaline junkie that I am, I could really identify with this story! I really do enjoy your writing Jeff!

buffalodickdy said...

I'll go on any roller coaster in the country, but I actually do hate big Ferris Wheels...

CrystalChick said...

I can do coasters most of the time but the ZIPPER was way too much! I think hubby and I rode it on a date to the Jersey shore a long long long time ago. I never could do the 'Hell Hole' either. I don't know what that is called now but it was a cylinder you stood in and it spun really fast sucking you to the wall and then the floor dropped a little bit. I'm dizzy just thinking about that. I might have tried it once, never again!
Loved your story, as always! Have a good weekend.

katherine. said...

I enjoyed your story very much...especially where you teased us with the dad being the saftey inspector...you had me worried.

well done.

Jeni said...

Of my three kids, both my girls tended to be more daring when it came to rides, my son -not so much. His older sister tricked him one time at Cedar Point in Ohio into getting on the Blue Streak Roller Coaster there -flat out lied to him telling him it was not a roller coaster. As soon as they crested the very first grade and it whipped them around, he started screaming "You lied to me, you lied to me. It IS a Rolley Coaster." (He always said "rolley" instead of "roller." Meanwhile the youngest one stood with me, glaring with anger because she couldn't go on that ride as she was about 1/2 inch too short.

Jeff B said...

REH- I thought of the opposites attract cliche for the characters. Thanks.

Red- Sounds like your kids helped give you a new perspective. Good for you to live it to its fullest.

Akelamalu- This was all fiction. When my kids say. "That's not fair." I reply with, "The fair's in August." That was the inspiration for this one.

Mel- Now wipe the rim of that cup. There are goobers on it again.

Anndi- I've seen your HNT pictures. I know some of you safety people like to be a bit daring!

Dana- I'll bet you're a blast to go to the amusement parks with.

Buffalo- We all have our limitations. I can't do the ones that spin around and around. Look out, he's gonna blow!

Crystalchick- Me no likee to spin. I know exacty which ride you're talking about, but can't remember the name either.

Katherine- No teenagers were killed or mamed in the making of this story.

Jeff B said...

Jeni- That sounds like something my older brothers would have done to me too.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

I thought she was a goner and he was going to break his arm again. Just saying. What a great post Jeff. On the edge of my seat kind of post. Loved the ending. Have a great day. :)

the teach said...

Great story, Jeff! I'm afraid of those big rides esp. the rollercoaster - Yikes! You write really well. :D

Real Live Lesbian said...

Ahhh....I've just been to the carnival with a crazy boy...or at least that's how I feel!

Great job!!!!

Sandi McBride said...

Oh, Jeff too cool...it took me back to my first roller coaster ride where I screamed bloody murder for what seemed like 1/2 an hour but more logically was only 2 1/2 minutes...after the first ride, I rode the twin coasters at Euclid Park the rest of the day before getting on OVER THE FALLS in a rickey thing that looked like a plastic log...I loved that story, you need to submit it a magazine...it's worthy of publication!
Sandi

Jeff B said...

Sandee- That misdirection was completely intentional. Glad it worked.

Teach- There is something about the ricketiness of the carnival rides that adds a certain amout of fear to getting on them.

Real LL- Don't forget to have some cotton candy before you leave.

Sandi- You're right, the first time on one of those rides seems like it lasts forever.

Odat said...

I only stopped in for a sec and then you got me hooked! I was also awaiting disaster...phew...I'm glad it turned out sweet!
Peace

Ron said...

BRAVO, my buddy friend!!!!

Like I've told you so many times before...you have the most awesome talent for painting the most VIVID pictures!

I LOVED the way you added the little "past glimpses" into the characters lives. It was a GREAT "setup"! It was almost like watching a film!

And the "ride description" was brilliant! You already KNOW how "I" feel about amusement park rides...and your description, actually made me feel like I was ON the Zipper!!

(I felt like I was going to throw up!)

Great ending too!

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful gift, Jeff!

It's such a pleasure to read your words!

Travis said...

Great job. I liked the interplay between the two of them, the bargain, and then the idea of overcoming fear. And of course, the gentlemanly behavior at the end.

Now if you really wanted to twist it, you could write another chapter and have them get stuck at the top of the carousel during a sudden tornado. LOL!

CrazyCath said...

Wow! What an excellent story writer you are! I'll be back over to read more.

Thanks to David I have found another great blogger! (And thanks to you for your visits and comments at mine - much appreciated).

The Mountain Cat said...

Great story writing Jeff. I stay away from those rides.

Matt-Man said...

And then the Carousel spun off of its axis killing six and maiming twelve, right? Good Job Jeff. Cheers!!

Jeff B said...

Odat- glad you stuck around for the end.

Ron- Thank you so much. I always like it when my writing makes someone want to throw up.

Bwahahaha

Travis- I could give a description of the trailer park that is next to the fairgrounds Too, cauese you know where there's a mobile home there's gonna be a tornado.

Crazycath- Great to have you on board, and you're right about David being so good at pointing us in the direction of cool posts. I've found some great friends through his site too.

Mountain Cat- Coasters I can do, but the spinning ones are definitely out.

Matt- Between you and Travis i think I have a good lead on the sequel.

CrazyCath said...

Jeff - I've been visiting San. Congratulations on your award. A very worthy awardee even though I just met you! And thanks for the welcome.

Rhea said...

I finally had time to sit and read your story. It was sweet.

You created good tension with the girl's worry about the safety and the warning from her dad. The reader is on the edge of his seat waiting to see if something's going to go wrong.

The characers are both very likable, and I got a good sense of them from the boy's flashback and the girl's interaction with her father. They make a great oppositdes attract relationship.

It was short, sweet, to the point, and fun to read, thanks for sharing!!

Rhea said...

I used to critiquing short stories (in my online writing course) so I wanted to add a few more things. You could make this story even richer with stronger sensory detail. Show us the colors around them, the smells, how things feel. You do a good job with noise and have great descriptions, I just think some color and smell would add a little more. :o)

Most creative writing teachers told me to "engage the senses."

Jeff B said...

Crazycath- Thanks

Rhea- Hey, thank you for the input. I love when my friends can offer suggestions for better or more rich writing. I haven't been doing this for too long and I'm glad to have the help. I'll keep that tip in the arsenal for future use.

jennifer said...

It was a REALLY good story. I like the backgorung info on Rick. It held my interest!

Jen

Roger said...

Good stuff my man!!

Jules~ said...

Awe what a sweet and fun story. Good job Jeff!

Bond said...

Cool story Jeff... Well done

kelly ann said...

Some how I think we caught a glimps into your past. I bet you were a handful. It would have been funny if they got off the ride and her dad Mr Safety was standing there. Great Story

Patti said...

This is a great story! I'm not a daring type and never want to go on rides. No Ferris wheels, no rollercoasters, nothing that spins.
A simple carousel is my speed.

I was truly scared that something awful was going to happen to these two teens. This is well written.

P.S. Jeff, thanks for visiting my cheesy blog...just saw your March 28 comment today.


;-)

Crazy in Alabama said...

Thanks for visiting my page. I really enjoyed your story. Do you write them often? I love to read!

Jeff B said...

Jennifer- Glad you enjoyed it.

Roger- Thanks.

Jules- And they both walked into the sunset happily ever after.

Bond- Appreciate that.

Kelly Ann- Who me...a handful? Naaaaa. I actually considered that angle too. Thanks for coming by.

Patti- We'll just call that a well aged comment. Ha!

Crazy N A- Welcome to the blogging world. I generally put a story together every couple of weeks or so. The next one that I know of will be posted on April 16. It's part of a group writting challange. Check out http://madmanramble.blogspot.com for the details.

Nicole P said...

Wow, that was great!! I really enjoyed that, but I was sort of afraid that something bad was going to happen. I must be a Claire.