THE OLD AMUSEMENT PARK
I always come here to take picture of the beach at night. It was my solace or my escape from my father. I don’t know if it’s because of the sound of the waves rolling in or if it was simply the peaceful cal that the night offered me.
Either way I’d take it to avoid another confrontation with my dad. My pulse quickened as I remembered the last thing he said to me before I ran out the door with my camera…
His face became purple as he slammed his hands down on the table pushing the chair out from under him, “That’s it! You’re going to military school!”
He almost got me too but I was too fast. I was smaller and more nimble than his thick gorilla hands could muster when he tried to collar me at the screen door. That old grouch. Not like military school is gonna put some meat on these bones.
Why did he have such an issue with me taking pictures? It’s not like I’m the athlete type anyways. Nggn. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my hobby was such a bad thing.
For one it kept me from being a constant customer at the hospital and two I had the opportunity to have my pictures score me a good scholarship into an Ivy League school… just like Mom wanted.
Mom understood me. Why can’t Dad? It’s not my fault that I’m not a jock. I shake my head avoiding the sudden throat pain that accompanied my sorrows then take another gaze through the viewfinder.
The beach shone white tonight under the almost full moon. Someone was laying out under the stars. I readjusted the focus to get a better look.
It was her. The mysterious girl who only bathed in the glow of the stars and moonlight on the beach. She had been showing up over the past few nights while I’ve been snapping these photos.
Call me crazy but every time I looked at her I felt a connection. Don’t get me wrong I wanted to go say ‘Hi’ but she’s smoking hot. A girl of her standards wouldn’t want anything to do with a guy like me. I exhale my breath as I tried to zoom in closer to see if I could finally see her gorgeous face.
As my finger lightly touch the outer rim of the focus ring I hear the wood of the pier creak behind me. My heart dropped. Did dad finally find me here? My mouth went dry as my heart continued to beat fast threatening to escape my chest.
“Penny for your thoughts?” The girl laughed.
A cool sensation rushed through my body as I released the breath that I was holding. My pulse was still running fast but nothing like it was before I realized who it was that found me on the old pier. I let my camera dangle from my neck as I turned around crossing my arms leaning up against the railing.
Waves crashed in the backdrop. Before me stood a girl with long blonde hair tied up in a low ponytail. She was cute–if you can call a toothpick cute. She was my annoying next door neighbor Penelope Bauche. Any chance that she had in using the word ‘Penny’ gave her utter glee and it was down right aggravating.
Penelope stood there with her arms behind her back rocking on the heels of her feet while wearing flip-flops and a spaghetti strap summer dress. A grin was plastered over her stupid goofy face obviously waiting for my answer.
I peeked over my shoulder back at the beach. The girl was gone. “Dammit.” I cursed.
Penelope pursed her lips, “You shouldn’t swear.”
“What do you want, Penelope?” I glared at her.
“I was sent to find you,” She said in a small voice tucking her chin downward, “and it’s Penny.”
I pushed my thick black rimmed glasses back up my nose, “Who sent you?”
Depending on her answer determined my choice on if I went back home. If it was my step mom, Casey, or my little brother, Pete, then for sure I would head on back. However, if it was dad? No. He can take a long walk off a short pier for all I cared.
She sighed rubbing her arms gathering them into a hug, “Your Dad.”
Of course. Send ol faithful to come hunt me down. Bastard.
“Well you can tell him that you couldn’t find me.”
Penelope continues to look around the darkened pier as she got closer to me. Her brows widened, “You know that I can’t lie. Beside you shouldn’t be here.”
“Not my problem.” I huffed then turned back towards the beach leaning hard on the rail. My camera swung back and forth. I took it off from around my neck and set it aside.
“Danny, don’t you remember the stories my gramps told us?” Her voice shook.
“Yeah.” I watched a large wave crash hard onto the beach. “But they were only stories… and nothing more.”
“I don’t like it here Danny.” I could hear her walking on the creaky old planks. “That old abandoned amusement park gives me the creeps.”
“Then leave.” I replied. She was starting to get on my nerves. The old amusement park never scared me. It was the only thing that shielded me from people… made them leave me alone.
I could feel her standing behind me before she placed her hand on my shoulder, “Daniel, please.”
I rolled my shoulder away from her while I grabbed my camera taking a few steps further from where she stood. I turned back towards her. My fingers clutched onto the case harder than they needed to as I thought about what everyone else wanted from me.
“What about what I want? Huh?” I shouted at her. “Everyone wants me to do what they want but do they ever ask what I wanted to do?”
“Danny, I just–” Penelope began but I cut her off.
“No,” I shouted back at her. “If you don’t want to be here then leave. Feel free to tell my Dad where I am because I don’t care. But I’m not going anywhere. I will stay here all night if I have to.”
Ah, much better. Finally I could feel the tension release and my fingers loosen on my camera’s body. My shoulders slumped forwards as I looked down momentarily at the old wood. That’s when I heard the sob. I look back up.
Penelope winces as she steps back. Tears stream down her slender face glistening in the glow of the moonlight. Great, now she’s crying. Why’d I have to go and make a girl cry?
Running my fingers through my dirty blonde hair I straightened my shoulders. Penelope stood there hugging herself as muffled sobs escaped her lips every now and then. Tonight wasn’t cold for it was a balmy seventy degrees.
No, she was scared and upset. She was upset at me and scared by the stories her gramps used to tell about the abandoned amusement park that loomed in the dark behind her. A subtle white aura shimmered about her silhouette.
Captivated by her natural beauty brought on by fear and the darkness behind her I snapped a photo. Her mouth gaped open before she stormed over to where I was standing evaporating the magic as she swatted the camera out of my hands.
Penelope’s eyes widened when she realized what she had done. I watched in slow motion and in horror as it landed onto the harsh and unforgiving pier. It tumbled not once, not twice but three times snapping the lense right off in the process.
“Shit!” I rushed to gather the pieces to my camera off of the pier.
“I’m sorry, Danny.” Penelope apologized.
“Shut up.” I snapped while picking up a shattered plastic part to my camera. My hand reached forward to pick up the lone lens on the ground. The glass portion fell out in several pieces. “Shit… shit. shit. Shit.”
Tears were really streaming down Penelope’s face as she crouched down to help pick up the shattered plastic parts of my camera, “I’m so sorry Danny. It was an accident.”
“Go. away.” I said in a slow and calm manner. There might have been a slight growl in my voice but I didn’t care at the moment. For I was crouched over my camera’s remains. My shattered dreams. Good bye Ivy League… Hello Grunts R Us.
She offered another plastic piece as she begged, “Danny, please. I’m sorry. Maybe we can get it fixed?”
I threw the broken piece back at her, “We can’t you idiot. My Dad will never give me the money to fix this camera. You know he hates it…” I sink to my knees then stare up at the stars trying to blink the tears away, “even though it was my Mom’s.”
Penelope’s bottom lip trembled. Her arms were wrapped securely around her slim frame. Her cheeks were still wet from her crying. She stands back up and without another word she turns and runs away leaving me alone. Alone with my broken dreams and sad memories that adorned the old weather worn planks of the pier.
Eventually I got back up and retrieved my camera bag. I emptied the remains into the bag then started to search the floor for more pieces that may have broken off during the tumble. It was getting late for the fog was starting to roll in making the search harder.
Stupid Penelope. Why did she have to go and do that? Now I have to find a way to make some money to get my camera fixed without Dad knowing.
I stood up and stretched my back then worked my arms. I must have been so focused at the task at hand that I didn’t notice until now that I wasn’t alone. Goosebumps rose on my skin. Well that’s a first.
A tall figure was leaning against the railing. He or she was looking out at the sea. Strange that I didn’t hear them approach my part on the pier for my section is exceptionally squeaky and loud. I chose this area so that no one could sneak up on me.
I adjusted the bag on my shoulder getting ready to leave when I heard the shadowy figure ask, “Need a job son?”
I looked at the remains of my camera with the various broken pieces jumbled within the bag. Before I looked back at the person leaning against the railing. The person exhaled as they turned around then strode forward.
My eyes widened as the figure became taller and taller the closer they got. I took a step back as I stared upwards almost falling backwards catching myself at the last minute. The person was freakishly tall.
The person bends over getting nose to nose to me. I notice that it’s a man. He was close enough for me to see his long twisted red mustache under his spindle long nose and shaggy eyebrows above his yellow eyes.
The man had yellow eyes. I tried to swallow between each shallow breath I took as I gazed into the man’s eyes.
He asks again, “I say, young man, do you need a job?”
My knees shook as I tried to unlossen my dry tongue to answer his question. His mustache twitched as he moved his nose during a sniff. Standing straight up he readjusted his sleeves, brushed the imaginary dirt off and straightened his skinny tall top hat.
All the while he kept his strange yellow eyes on me. He then shook his arms and reached into his left sleeve pulling out a card handing it to me. My hand was shaking as I took it from his glove outstretched hand.
Flipping it over I peered at the perfect lettering that said:
The fair. Tarot’s tent. 8pm sharp. Don’t be late.
“What fair?” I asked glancing up from the card but the weird tall man was gone.
The old ferris wheel lit up and moved crooning out its old carney music making my blood go cold. Maybe Penelope’s gramps was right?
For the first time in a long while the pier with the old amusement park gave me the creeps. Zipping up my camera bag, while trying to swallow my nerves back down, I high tailed it out of there heading home. I guess Dad was less scarier than the supposed old amusement park tonight.