There was a carnival.
And every year we went.
We would take the special bus.
And I got to ride the rides.
The ferris wheel.
The bumper cars.
Until I started feeling dizzy.
Then I would ride some more.
And every year we ate.
The cotten candy.
The caramel corn.
The rootbeer float.
Until I started feeling sick.
Then I would eat some more.
And every year we played the games.
The coin toss.
The free throw game.
The ring toss.
The milk bottle game.
Until I lost all my money.
Then my mom would say "No more!"
And we would take the special bus home.
Just a great night of decadance for a little kid.
One to be repeated year after year.
Until one year.
The carnival was down by the Missouri River.
We took the special bus.
I rode the ferris wheel.
I rode the bumper cars.
I rode the merry-go-round.
I rode the tilt-a-whirl.
I felt dizzy.
Then I rode some more.
I ate the cotten candy.
I ate the hotdogs.
I ate the caramel corn.
I had a rootbeer float.
I felt sick.
Then I ate some more.
I lost at the coin toss.
I lost at the free throw game.
I lost at the ring toss game.
I lost at the milk bottle game.
I lost all my money.
Then the Carney said that he would give me a free game.
And my mom said yes.
And I threw that ball hard
And I knocked all the bottles down.
And I asked for my prize.
And the Carney said free games are just practice.
The Carney asked me how much I had lost at his booth.
I said a buck.
He said if I paid him another buck for three games
and I just won one game he would give me five bucks.
In those days my allowance was a quarter a week
So I could win twenty weeks allowance just by knocking down
three milk bottles.
My mom fronted me the buck.
I threw the ball hard.
I knocked one bottle down.
The next time I missed everything.
The Carney said he thought I could do it on the last throw.
I took careful aim.
I threw hard.
Well the Carney started to like me.
And kept giving me free practice games.
And I was getting in some solid throws.
And he kept offering me special deals.
And my mom kept fronting me money.
And I kept missing.
And then my mom said "No more!"
We took the special bus home.
We did not talk on the bus.
My friend, the Carney had my eight bucks.
One buck that was mine.
And seven bucks my mom had fronted me.
Thirtytwo weeks allowance.
I don't know if I ever paid it all back.
But I think the Carney liked me.
We did not go to the carnival the next year.
I did not ride the rides.
I did not eat the food.
I did not play the games.
We did not ride the special bus.
We did not not talk about it.
But I think the Carney missed me.