I’m impressed by the responses I received to the Fun at the Fair writing prompt. Read the stories in the round up below. Want to take a shot at another writing challenge? There’s still time to respond to the repetition writing prompt.
Now take a moment, clear your mind, and let’s go to the fair…
Jumbo by The Plagued Parent
Block it all out, Jack said to himself. Block out the lights, the crowd, the Ferris wheel slowly turning in the background and that god-awful racket from the Music Express and Tilt-a-Whirl. He turned the baseball over in his hand and scuffed his feet against the asphalt of the strip mall parking lot. He needed a fourth cat to win Jumbo the Elephant.
You can do this, he said to himself. Jack looked over at his wife and granddaughter; the little girl had her hands folded in in prayer while his wife just smirked at his ritual. The carny kid running the booth slouched on his stool, fiddled with the cigarette in his ear, and fished in his apron for a match; his was the confident posture of man who understood the eventual outcome of a rigged game.
However, Jack knew something the carny didn’t. He knew how to pitch. As a teenager he played in the Negro League and left the sport only because of the war in Korea. After that baseball was just something on the radio or the occasional company picnic at General Electric. Not only did he know how to throw, but he also knew how to beat a hustle of any kind especially one held together with spit and cardboard and wire like this one here.
He tossed the ball in the air, turned his back on the booth and walked several paces back. That’s where rookies make their mistake, Jack thought. You need some distance. He turned the ball between his hands then spit in one palm. His granddaughter wrinkled her nose; she didn’t like that. He rubbed the ball tight between his palms. His wife just shook her head. Jack stared that cat down like he was staring down Ike Brown in Kansas City on a dusty July afternoon. For a moment he was eighteen, wiry, strong and un-defeatable. He scuffed the asphalt with his shoe, squared off, released the pitch and that was that.
“Can we buy him some cotton candy,” his granddaughter begged.
“I didn’t know elephants ate cotton candy?”
Jack scratched his head, considering. “Well I suppose,” he fished out some bills. “But only if you help him.” He handed her a five and she ran in the direction of the cotton candy machine. His wife tucked her arm in his. This slapdash midway would vanish tomorrow, he realized, but he would always have his victories: playing ball in Kansas, this woman and the life they’ve made, as well as Jumbo the giant blue elephant with his crooked trunk, offset eyes and coat sticky with cotton candy.
A short story by Geoff Le Pard
I call it the circle of life. We’ve had all sorts. First dates, grubby fumbles, one couple who said they’d conceived at the apex. Could be; you never really know what the spillages are.
Fights, too. The bloke with the knife who said he accidentally skewered his mate. The one who climbed up to get at the next bubble – he just used his fists. Loads more blood than the knife. Them two girls were the worst. I’ll never forget seeing her nail – acrylic someone said – in the other one’s lip, like a tooth.
Loads of stuff people forget. Phones of course. Bags, books. Divorce papers. Six cans of Bud. No idea how they got them on board. I mean I check, don’t I? Company policy. And the prosthetic foot. Still in lost property that one. I always said it were a fake.
The poet who wrote on the doors. Loads of graffiti, phone numbers, cards for prozzies. There was the bloke who filmed that girl singing that went viral – nearly threw him off, didn’t I? Thought he was making a porno.
Then there’s the deaths. You kind of expect some old boy having a seizure or coronary, don’t you? Too much excitement. But that lass with the blue streak. Goes in happy as Larry with her mates. By the time the bubble comes back to the ground she’s blue faced – swallowed a gummy bear.
Geez, imagine. The poor kids with her, completely freaked.
Worst of course was the suicide. He had to be about thirty, smart. You know, creases and ironed shirt. Jumper. Right there, by the exit. I’m gratefully I never saw him hit. They put catches on the doors after that but they’re not tight, not really.
Same girl who did the song got proposed to, didn’t she? Same boy, too. That was neat. Had me in their pictures. Said they’d invite me to the wedding. Never did, of course. I mean I sees them all, the whole of life, but no one sees me in my little booth, do they? No one.
A short story by Rachel Poli
Jackie folded her hands together as though she were about to pray. She stuck out her lower bottom lip, trying not to smirk. I finally sighed, giving in.
I remembered how much fun it was when I was her age. I knew how disgusting and how much of a rip off it was now, but I wasn’t about to tell my 13-year-old cousin that. So, I decided to take her and her friend… to the carnival.
It was small, set up in the parking lot of our local movie theater. It took us about three minutes to get from one end of the carnival to the other. Five minutes, if you calculated in the crowd constantly getting in your way, bumping into you. I growled under my breath each time a person crashed into me or walked too slowly in front of me. Seriously, these people thought they were the only ones here and they were all that mattered.
Jackie and her friend hopped in the ticket line before me. I scanned the area already knowing that I wasn’t going on any of the rides. I knew they were only just safe enough for the carnival people to not get sued–but you could never be too careful.
I decided I’d buy some tickets for myself only to play some games. Why not try to get a few more stuffed animals for my collection at home?
“10 dollars, please.” I told the lady in the booth. She smiled and nodded as I handed her my 20-dollar bill. It was all that I had.
She reached her hand through the small hole and I counted 16 tickets… 20 dollars worth of tickets. Of course. She either couldn’t hear me in that booth or she sure was pretending not to.
Jackie and her friend went off on their own as I wandered aimlessly around annoyed that I just wasted 20 dollars. Well, maybe I could win a couple of games.
I walked over to a ring-tossing game and noticed a big sign saying, “cash only.” I looked around at some other games and even the rides trying to figure this place out. The tickets were for the rides, not the games. The games were money. Not only did I waste 20 dollars, but I wasted it on tickets I couldn’t even use. A woman bumped into me while texting and then glared at me as she walked away as though I was in her way because she wasn’t watching where she was going.
And my response:
“Oh, daddy, cotton candy. Cotton candy.”
“A balloon, a balloon. I want a red one.”
“Not today, honey.”
“How about the Ferris wheel? Look at that Ferris wheel. It is magical.”
“Yes, Lena, that we can do,” Larry smiled to himself. He loved how excited and relentless his daughter got about everything. Granted, it got annoying at times, but he figured being annoyed with your kid came with the territory.
“Thank you, thank you, daddy,” Lena said showering him with kisses.
“This really is magical,” Larry squealed when they were at the top.
“See, I told you. Maybe after this you’ll get me that balloon,” Lena smiled sheepishly.