LAUGHING IN THE DARKNESS
“Stop laughing at me, YOU big mouthed, red nosed, shiny partially bald headed, orange colored mangled haired, evil eyed creature from the darkest pits of hell! Were you misinformed, you ultimate entertainer of discomfort, YOU were supposed to make one laugh…NOT CRY?
The aluminum façade of the zany architectural structure, advertised a giggling, chubby girl with chipped painted cobalt blue eyes, blonde pigtails and rosy red cheeks, palms held out inviting you in for fun! The red and white stripes of the billboard held a blinking yellow light bulbed old sign that blinked on and off ,
F-U-N-H-O-U-S-E. Only the N O and S E bulbs were lit. I should’ve taken this as a sign. “NO SEE”
My daughter and I entered the Funhouse. Like life-size rats, we scrambled though the labyrinth of hell filled with perceptions to startle us with unstable and unpredictable physical circumstances. Neon colors illuminated with black lights, joy wheels, wildly spinning walls and floors with neon hands and feet reaching out to try and grab us while compressed air jets blew puffs of air in our petrified faces. Caged demented figures peered out at us, screeching, begging for freedom. Hurry up, Run! The forced perception of running down an endless hallway of infinite depth while circus music intermixed with ghostly piano playing, creepy clowns laughing and shattering glass made our hearts race faster and faster. Run run… as fast as you can! The faster the tempo the quicker your steps! Stairs moving sideways, up and down, while walls try to swallow you whole! Mirrors, mirrors everywhere! Go left, no right! Bang into the mirrored, wall head first. Hands up! Protect yourself! Make funny faces! Stick your tongue out! We see ourselves everywhere we look! Convey or Convex? Short and fat, long and skinny! (I prefer the latter!)
Next up…Spinning barrel! Run through, as fast as you can, as it’s spinning. You can’t walk through otherwise you will fall. Exit the barrel, take hold of the hand rails to the right. What’s this now? Built into the floor, spinning disks! Spinning toward the turning barrel! Tricky!
Hold onto the handrail,
While Disk is spinning toward the barrel?
Flip backwards, then…Whoops!
Hit my head on the barrel.
“Mommy are you alright?” Becky cries.
Is she talking to me? She must be. I’m mommy and that’s Beckys voice. But I can’t move. I can’t answer her!
“Help, help. Can someone please help us! Mom stay here. I’m going to get someone.” She said, as she looked down at me lying flat on the spinning disk.
Eventually, (Seemed like an eternity), someone walked us outside. When asked if I was ok, I apparently answered “I’m ok, I tripped over my own feet.” (My demise later in the courtroom)
“Can you tell us your name? Yes.
“Who’s the President? (Who cares?, Really, right now!) I answered correctly.
After a series of questions, which were all answered correctly, Becky asked, “Mommy, do you know who Nibbish is?” I replied no.
Alarmed at my answer, as this is a character I’ve been writing about since I was eight years old, Becky said to the ride operator, “You need to get my Dad.”
I was brought by ambulance (always wanted to know what it was like, but don’t remember the ride!),
to a local hospital. For twelve hours, I repetitively asked my husband “Sammy, what happened?”
He’d reply, “You fell in the funhouse, babe.” I said, “But the funhouse is supposed to be fun.” Five minutes later I asked him again. He was so patient and kind. (He still is with me constantly repeating myself!)
They released me from the hospital, not recognizing a Traumatic Brain Injury. The first thing I was able to retain was twelve hours later when I woke up in our hotel room to the olive and ocean blue décor, wondering if this was my godawful taste, and what was I thinking, and it needed to changed immediately! From this moment I began the struggle of getting to know my new self. Memories were a flicker playing like an old reel to reel movie film projector. Trying to capture fleeting moments of my past, my childhood, my children’s past, my husband(our past), my life as I knew it forever changed. I returned to the hospital the next day where they finally acknowledged a head trauma had occurred along with neck and hip injuries. It would be a long road to recovery but one I was ready to travel. Bags were packed! Ready for battle!
After returning home, walking in my house was like a new beginning. Like Christmas! Picking up objects, opening drawers! Looking at clothes as if for the first time! Oh, this is all mine! Exciting, overwhelming! Getting to know my surroundings! I remembered most people. Funny thing was, I had a hard time remembering who passed away. My brain wouldn’t accept that for some reason. Bits and pieces of my children’s past were there but not all. I’d miss appointments scheduled because I would get in my car and forget where I was going. Scary at times! I’d laugh or cry uncontrollably. Neurolgy, MRI’S CAT-SCANS, all so confusing!
Approximately one and a half years of rehabilitation the neurologist explained, “Think of your brain like a hard drive. You smashed it. Your files are still there. Some you may be able to retrieve. Others you may not. We will give you coping strategies to learn how to retrieve them.” He also explained that at the time of the fall I was answering questions correctly at first then as the brain swelled the more I became disoriented. I don’t remember that vacation or any of the trauma that occurred. (I still can’t recall a lot of memories from my children’s past or my own which bothers me frequently.)
While rummaging through some things in the house I found a letter my husband gracefully hid from a neurologist:
Patience Name: Kelly
Ranking of intelligence: 17%
TBI Due to fall in a Funhouse
Transient Global Amnesia
(Note: I now have an IQ of 102-not bad for having a TBI!)
This was devastating to me and it needed to change! I worked hard to fight my way back. I read everything in sight. Went to bookstores, libraries, read the back of cereal boxes and shampoo labels. The doc said it was because I was trying to fill in all the empty spaces.
Also found, a letter from Disney Hyperion Press: (Mickey Mouse Letterhead)
“Your stories are too sweet and sentimental for our storylines.”
(Of course they are, I didn’t have Bambi’s mother getting shot!)
Note on top in my handwriting; May I resubmit? (Need to resubmit with bad guys…always good vs. evil)
Answer: Yes! With a callback number and name of contact.
A letter…A crystal company in CA.
“Congratulations! Your character Nibbish will appear in our catalog!”
Also found; Local Newspaper clippings and recorded VHS tape of TV stations; “Local author brings her characters to life she’s been drawing/writing about since she was eight yrs. Old.
I watched the tape over and over again.
Also found; A grey journal documenting publishers toy manufacturers, contacts, phone numbers etc.
Last entry Date: June 1992 …Then pages eerily blank
Date of the fall: July 1992
Also found; A huge binder from the Institute Of Children’s Literature.
Hmmmm…Now this is interesting! I asked my husband about it.
“I signed up for a course?”
He said, “Yeah, you did Babe!”
Also found; Six Manuscripts! Early sketches, (documenting the birth of the idea)! Illustrations! Flip books! Game ideas! Tiny note pieces everywhere with snippet ideas written on them! A black portfolio (I found out later my Dad has given me because he believed in me!) Everything that I had been doing since I was eight years old!
Also found; notebooks upon notebooks of other picture book ideas just waiting to be written!
So, I’m a writer! Wow, this is great! I can’t even put a sentence together properly. My word search is off, grammatical errors everywhere, can’t even talk right! Never mind write right! I had a lot of work to do!
I’m trying to remember that which I’d rather forget!
“NOT GUILTY!” Those were the words that ran though the courthouse. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial. Ones fate judged by twelve locals who work or related to someone whose livelihood depend on this amusement park being in operation. Big shot lawyer, only doing his job, “Hey, we all forget things once in awhile. Don’t we?” He said to this uninterested group of twelve who’d rather be anywhere else than deciding my fate. A Marine (the young ride operator at the time of my fall) testified via VHS. Outright lied, stating that he was present when I fell and offered to help me throughout. My daughter, who spoke the truth, disagreed. Any regrets? MR. MARINE, when you swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but? Just wondering?
I left the courtroom after the verdict and was greeted by a soft rain. I recall an African American man appearing from behind one of the cement pillars offering me his trench coat. He must have noted me shivering (cold, nerves, exhaustion, pure anger). I politely shook my head no with a forced smile. He then spoke such soft words of warmth, “Justice will be served in the end.” I bent my head down and the tears began to flow freely. Moments later, when I looked up to respond, he was gone.
I’d like to think of him as my own Morgan Freedman, for I felt a peacefulness swell in my heart and I believed it to be true.
Will justice be served in the end? Redefine/Surrender yourself and you will find your truth, your purpose and search for it in others. Sometimes it may be hidden under years and of wear and tear and bitterness but don’t ever stop believing! I haven’t!
Silver lining in the darkest cloud:
I’m able to read/review/edit my work from another’s perspective…
I have one more assignment to go and I will graduate from The Institute Of Children’s Literature
I’m still writing about my childhood story Nibbish and I’ll never give up!
Tiny treasures like Twinkling Stars
Some may dim…Some shine no more.
As we struggle to find the truth,
Our souls forever store.
Call it a hiatus if you will! My brain may have been on little vacation but my imagination never stopped working!
*Note; Please forgive any mistakes in spelling, grammar, punctuation
I LEFT THEM IN THE FUNHOUSE!
*Fact: Over 30,000 injuries happen each year in amusement parks Nation wide. They are so loosely regulated. A coordinated federal effort to collect data is needed to ensure safety at amusement parks.