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80_ym_carnivaldays1969_kjhannah.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2020

Carnival Days 1969

 

by Bob Kokan

 

 

Summer carnival again in this dead-horse town. A dinky-assed Ferris wheel no higher than a henhouse creaks and groans like every bolt is bent, with one-arm Willie back again, drunk, at the control.

The Tilt-a-Whirl, a paint-chipped and rusting dinosaur, is surrounded by sick-yellow lights, some that work, others just random flashing, off and on. The canopied cars smell of emptied stomachs and sour beer, and the real excitement is hoping that it all holds together long enough to get off.

Over in the beer tent, the Lions Club is drinking up the profits, and corpulent cops with big bellies and rusty guns keep watch for under-agers, while the grocery store is being robbed.

Wild little kids, their lips stained Snow-cone cherry-red, chase each other, sugar-high on too much cotton candy, and the freedom of no school, and early-to-bed mothers.

In the games yard, they have cheesy can’t-win ring toss, darts with dull points, concrete milk bottles that won’t tip in a tornado; and all the lousy prizes are recognizable leftovers from last year.

At the dunk tank, the town’s favorite floozy, dressed in her finest halter top,

cut-off short shorts, and Marlboro cap, taunts the boys, her nipples hard as marbles.

At the food pavilion, salmonella stew brews thick, and menacingly dark. People chew on butter-drenched ears of corn, ketchup their corndogs, and have used napkins stuck to their shoes.

But the parking lot is where the fun really is. First beers in the dizzy darkness result in ugly teenage groping and panties on the car’s antennae, banners flown to risen kings and fallen virtues.

Sunday comes the dumpy parade in Hicksville: fire engines and farm implements.

Boy scouts will march, picking their noses in perfect unison; hillbillies on wagons will throw stale candy to scrawny children with bad teeth, and vagrant dogs with mangy coats will snarl and fight for lost pieces.

There’ll be fake Indians on horseback; cowboys wearing extra-large hats and dinner platter belt buckles; the local VFW marching apoplectic, pot-bellied and hung over, will sweat through their too-tight uniforms. And some dumb-dick politician perched on the back of a convertible Cadillac always makes me think of Dallas schoolbook depositories and high-powered rifles.

Next comes the high school band of goobers, oompahing out of tune; all previous pie-eating champions; nerds with buck teeth, taped-up glasses, and hand-me-down uniforms.

Lastly, the hometown beauty queen, scrubbed Osmond-clean, will ride by, smiling and waving at the inbreds. Don’t question the scrapes on her knees, or why she’s cross-eyed from trying to focus on things that are a little too close.

All this horrible hoopla that passes for entertainment is really just an excuse for the rednecks to get drunk and stupid in public, like they’ve ever needed an excuse, before.

When it’s all passed by, you’ll find yourself standing, red-faced, like a schmuck, with all the other red-faced schmucks looking idiotic in shorts, socks and sandals, the street smelling of horse shit.

 

 

Robert Kokan has had poetry accepted by Windy Hill Review and the upcoming 42-word anthology.

KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).

Recently, Hannah’s seventh short story collection was published by Bards and Sages Publishing.

The publisher writes: "Bards and Sages Publishing is pleased to bring readers Walnut Street, our seventh short story collection by KJ Hannah Greenberg. Greenberg’s flair for the peculiar and eclectic shines through in this collection of over fifty flash and short fiction works featuring anthropomorphic starship pilots, angsty authors, strange neighbors, and more."

Walnut Street is available on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Walnut-Street-KJ-Hannah-Greenberg-ebook/dp/B07T4HB9S9/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=kjhannah+greenberg+walnut+street&qid=1561063957&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Volumes One through Five of the KJ Hannah Greenberg Short Story Collection at 50% off the list in an exclusive bundle only at 

https://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/156488/Greenberg-BUNDLE?affiliate_id=51852

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020