The sun bakes my black hair and stirs up powerful smells.

Prompt: Write a scene with an unwanted guest.

It starts with metal sliding on metal, Grre-che-che! the mechanical hook latches to the belly of the car. Thed-th-thd-thth-thththd-thththth, as it ascends the track. Then a thin squeal and gasp, the car is released … Wawp-wawp-wawpawpawp—the car is loose! sliding down a perpetual curve. The passenger’s torsos jerk and snap in a stiff turn. A thousand armed spider holds the blue track aloft on its thin metal arms, quivering with anticipation. The riders groan and sputter as the brakes engage and their lap bars drive into their stomachs. Finally the car hisses and spits to a stop and the riders tremble out of the cars.

“That can’t be safe,” I say.

“Oh shut up,” Megan says, not at all smiling.

“Don’t trust the carnival crowd.”

“Hah, they’re like, intrinsically evil or something?” Cory says.

“Something like that.”

Stacy hops in front of the three of us. “You guys are being waaay too serious about this whole adventure.” Megan laughs. “So what if these contraptions are centuries old? Who cares if we find a rat or two in our cotton candy!” Cory wraps his orangutan arms around Stacy’s fragile middle. They kiss.

“Nice staring creep-o.”

“Ha, I’m not.”

“Where did you say your brother was? I do some painting, I was excited to meet another artist.”

“You paint? I do some ske-”

“I’m sorry,” Megan says, “I guess I didn’t ask you anything.” She flips her liquid hair and pushes her glasses up her flat nose.

“So where do you want to tell ’em the plan babe?”

“Oh!” Stacy squeaks. “Cory, thought we could try to win us some stuffed tigers.”

Megan giggles and holds her chest. “Oh, my god, I would like, love that.”

The sun bakes my black hair and stirs up powerful smells. The rich rot of overstuffed trash bins is most obvious; deep breath, find the briny burn of sour under pants; deeper, the unstable lawn will not be ignored; it sends dust motes to tickle my nose. “I’m down for whatever,” I say.

A group of young girls pass, tearing the meat from red turkey legs, brown tendons poking out from their perfect teeth. The booths on the opposite of the games were hurriedly fastened wooden cages built around metal food carts and stoves. At the game aisle, the crowd is too thick for decency and several sweat soaked carnival goers thwack into me as we weave our way to the ring toss. A thousand white and red bulbs pimpled every game box and were hung with six foot tall bananas in Rastafarian hats and sunglasses, shining black gorillas, and countless malformed cartoon plushes lined every wall.

Stacy claps. “Win me that one!” It is a small Bengal tiger with rainbow paws. “Cory! You have to get it for me!”

Cory pays the Rings’O’Fun master and takes his three plastic rings in hand. The first toss! he misses. The next! bounces against three bottles and disappears. The third! yes! “Oh, I love you so much!” Stacy says. “No one’s ever won one me one fo these.” They kiss.

“Austin taught me the trick,” Cory says. “If he were here, we would wipe this place out.”

“Really?” Megan looks up from her phone. “What the heck happened with him?”

I grind my heel into the mud. “Work.”


“It’s okay Megan! We’ve got Mickey, he’s a fun kid.”

“Austin could have won me a tiger.”

“I can win these stupid things,” I say.

Cory laughs and holds his arm out to me, “See? Mickey’s got it, don’t you Mickey?”

“Naw, the ring toss is all luck. I’m better at the water balloon squirter anyway.”

“Is that the professional name?” Megan snorts and shakes her head.

At the water balloon booth, I sit on blue bar stools, shoulder to shoulder with kids half my size. The game master recites the rules: keep the gun straight, squirt the clown in the mouth, fill up the balloon, first one to pop wins. Got it.

A sharp bell chatters and we all squeeze our triggers. “Shoot em up, shoot em in—who’s it gonna be?” Damn my brother for sending me here alone, “lets wait and see; they’re head to head and toe to toe;” go without me, you said, Megan is a hottie, you said, “fill em to pop! without wasting a single drop!” Come on you damn gun, “It’s gonna be a close race, but it’s—it’s—It’s number three! Lucky number three!”

I was not lucky number three.

Megan crosses her arms. “Awesome. Sooo glad you made it.”






3 responses to “The sun bakes my black hair and stirs up powerful smells.”

  1. Deborah Avatar

    hmmm… that was a very interesting story on county fairs.

    1. admin Avatar

      I’m glad it interested you Deborah; thank you for reading!

      1. Deborah Avatar

        Most welcome. I’m interested to read more.

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