A long time ago I worked as a carny throughout the south. I worked the booths sometimes, but one night a new kid got sick who ran the big ferris wheel. It was a giant of a thing, and the line was always two miles long. Easy ride to work though, except people sometimes get restless. Two and a half times around, and then you start letting them out, odd numbered cars and then even numbered cars. Fill them up the same way. Make sure the gate latches, don’t let two fat people on in one seat. Simple stuff. But anyway this one girl came up after I’d been there for about an hour and she just let people go by while she talked to me.
She talked about the weather and about the bit of rain we’d had earlier, and all of that. Then she told me about her boyfriend who was coming to ride the wheel with her but he was still hanging out with his buddies at the games. I guess they were pitching balls in the wicker buckets and pitching dimes on plates. But as the time passed I kept loading and unloading people, and they just kept coming, moving right by. But the girl stayed right in there the whole time. She just kept talking and gradually as time passed I realized that the boyfriend was never coming and that she wasn’t going to ride that damn thing by herself.
It was getting late by then, I think we must’ve been in Tennessee because they make you close up by midnight during the week. So when there was only about ten folks in line I let a bunch of people off the ride at one time and I looked at this one kid who had come off who looked pretty bright. He was a big soft kid with a pudgy stomach but glasses and bright eyes.
I told him I was going to take the girl for a ride and he seemed to understand. I gave him a fiver and showed him the two buttons that ran the ride. I told him hit the green once everyone’s loaded, and then after three or four spins, hit the red when I came around the bottom the last time. He seemed to get it okay, and bellied right up to the machine. I loaded the last people and then I went and got the girl. Well by then she was crying, saying she was so grateful to me for taking her up in the wheel, but that she was awful afraid all the same. So I let her in first and then I got in and locked the door. I winked at the fat kid and he hit the go button.
Around we went and the girl was petrified. But I kept talking to her, saying, “Look over here, honey, that’s the city hall over there. And look at all the cars in the parking lot.” Things like that. By the third time she was in heaven and loving every minute of it. She was leaning out the side, pointing at things, her face absolutely flushed and filled with something that she never had before.
Anyway on the fourth turn I checked out my door for the fat kid and all I see is an old guy standing there in line, waiting to get on. The fat kid was nowhere in sight. We were just spinning, and there was no one to stop us.
The girl didn’t notice anything, besides she was having too much fun. The other goofs on the ride wouldn’t know if we’d gone around once or fifty times. I was thinking the whole time I’m going to lose my job if anyone ever comes over and stops us. But who cares, right? The girl was loving it, and there was not a damn thing to do. Finally, after what seemed about ten complete revolutions I saw the guy from the Dive-Bomber come running over, waving his hands like a crazy person. He hit the stop button and started letting people off. By now, the fucking park was just about empty. When the wheel stopped, me and the girl were right near the top, and the little evening breeze that felt so cool when we were moving, now just sort of rocked us there real pretty. Well I couldn’t stand it another minute, you know, the moon, and all that. So, I leaned over to the girl and I kissed her right there on the wheel. It was a pretty kiss, a soft one. I know a few things about women. And she just smiled up at me like I hung the moon.
When we got off the guy from the Dive-Bomber was yelling at me, and the girl’s boyfriend was standing there with his hands in his pockets, seventeen years of bad attitude and too much sugar. Just for good measure I leaned over and gave the girl another kiss, just so that no one was mistaken. She looked back at me one more time and then she was gone.
Anyway, I was sent packing with a shiner and half a week’s pay. I headed to Houston. Knew a guy who had a fishing boat down there. You know of course what happened next.