My old Levi's scrunch up tightly by my thighs. They are way too small, but I haven’t been able to afford a new pair this summer. Working at the “Buck's Burger and Fries” hasn’t helped me much at all.
At least I have this moment to enjoy myself.
“Hey, Justin, do you want to go on the Ferris wheel with me?” I ask, too desperately.
I grab his arm and yank on it. Hard.
“Sure, babe.” He says, laughing.
My jacket makes a crunchy sound as it hits his bare arm. I don’t understand how he isn’t freezing, but I’m not going to ask.
“So, uh, how long have you been doing this?” Third date in my mind is where all the bad things come out. I just hope he doesn’t have any.
“Oh, just a couple of weeks. It’s really just to get money for college. My parents won’t pay for mine, how ‘bout you?” Phew. Not a total weirdo.
“Aw yeah, they won’t do that for me either. But I think I can manage. At least hopefully,” I laugh loudly. “You never know these days.” I laugh again.
Okay, I get it. Dating a part time clown is weird. Really weird to some. But, I mean, it’s not that weird.
He’s nice, smart, and funny. He also gets free passes to all of the carnivals he participates in, so that’s a bonus.
I breathe in, and out. “I haven’t been to one of these in ages.” I say.
“I know right? When I first thought of the job I thought it was totally the weirdest thing ever, but no other jobs were open.” Good, he agrees with me.
I look around at my surroundings again. This whole carnival is set like the 1960’s, with all the rides looking old and rusted. I mean, there are even clowns. Who has clowns at a carnival in the year 1986? Not me.
They're creepy too. I’ve seen Justin with his mask on, and it looks like something you would see in a cheap haunted house you go to with your friends.
The classic carnival music stirs around every corner, and you can hear people winning, and losing, games. Lights shine everywhere, so bright they nearly blind you. There’s even a fun house in the corner, 1$ per person. Cheapskates.
I look around more and see a food stand. It makes my stomach growl when I see it.
“Hey look! Corn Dogs! Let’s go get some!” I yell, pulling at his arm once again.
“Yeah, and don’t forget the funnel cake!” He says, coming along with me.
“Yes!” I say, giggling my best giggle.
He pays for my food, just like a proper gentleman should, and we eat by the Ferris wheel, preparing to get on. We both bought only two tickets, understanding our money issues, so we only have two rides to go on.
The Ferris wheel is a classic, and I hope to get that “on top of Ferris wheel kiss,” just like all of my favorite movies.
After eating the food with far too many calories and dollar signs in front of it, we hop into one of the carts. The ride operator makes sure to say “stay in,” and not be “like the other teenagers around here.”
We both laugh after that. Quietly though, so he doesn’t hear.
The ride starts, and once it does we both jerk back and laugh harder.
The ride is fast at first, then soon slows down.
“Holy crap, was he for real?” He says, after we are far enough from the ground.
“Haha, I know right?” I say.
We sit in silence for a minute.
“So, when did your mom say to bring you home?” He asks, brushing back his hair.
“From now to eleven PM.” I say, breathing in the cool and refreshing air.
“Well, the carnival ends at nine, so we could do something afterwards if you wanted.” He says.
“Yeah, sure.” I say, calm.
“Great.” Is all he says.
We reach the top, and start to go back down. No kiss then.
Once the ride is over, we talk for a moment. His life, my life. The usual.
After that, he says “Hey, let’s go into the fun house! Once you reach the end there is a secret door that leads to the woods. Only employees know about it.”
I was hoping to avoid the fun house, but he’s done a lot for me, so I might as well.
“That sounds fun!” I say, faking a smile.
We head there, give the girl at the front our ticket, and go in.
Neon spray paint is the first thing you see. Then a painting of a lion, balancing on a ball. Wearing a too-too.
Then there are a lot of rotating floors and foam balls everywhere. The thing that really gave me a headache was the music that was playing during the entire thing, and the moving stairs.
There was a part where we had to go through a devil’s mouth, and the paint of it was chipped up and really needed a new paint job.
And that was it.
A freaking dollar wasted on that.
We then found the “secret door,” and there was a sign on it that said “employees only” on it.
There really was the woods out there. With lots, and lots of trees. I’m talking lots.
“Hey, Justin, I'm kinda scared. I think we should go back.” I say, goosebumps all over my arms, even with my jacket. The wind whistling, the leaves falling all around us.
It was far from romantic. It was horrifying.
“But, babe. The fun is just starting.”
I turn around to see Justin, but instead I see that awful clown mask. And a knife in his hand.
My blood boils and I shiver from head to toe. I stay there, frozen.
I manage to get what feels like a scream out, but I’m sure no one could hear it.
He comes closer, and so does his hand, which just brings the knife closer to me.
I finally realize what is happening and run. Not into the forest, but through the fun house.
And he chases after me.
The music and obstacles in my way only make it harder. I don’t dare turn around, too scared to see what is there.
My breath slows and I start to sweat. I was never one for exercise and it isn’t helping me know.
Once I finally get out, I scream. Louder than I ever have.
People from all around start to stare at me, and a person working at the popcorn stand quickly comes to my need.
I look back, but Justin doesn’t come out of the fun house.
I run over to the woman before she can reach me.
“There is a man in there with a knife! He’s chasing me!” I yell, not loud enough for everyone at the fair to hear, but people within eye view.
“Ma’am, calm down. We’ll call the police right away. Where did the man go?” She asks, taking and holding my hand.
I shiver slightly. “I’m not sure. He was chasing me, but then he didn’t come out. Maybe you know where he went. He works here.”
The woman's face is startled. “Really? We always do a background check on all of our workers. I would never think..” Her eyes wander off into the distance and she looks back at me. “...What is his job position?” She asks, patting my back and looking around.
“He’s-he’s a clown.” I stutter.
The woman looks at me.
“What? We don’t have any clowns at this carnival.”