Scum of the Earth

The funfair is in town! It comes over from God knows where (the number plates on the trucks suggest England, but the people operating the rides suggest a pit in Middle-Earth) for a couple of weeks, for the Battle of Flowers which happens on the second Thursday of August.

The Battle of Flowers is a parade of tractors covered in flowers which are decorated to depict scenes from Disney films. Pretty sure it infringes all manner of copyrights but I don’t really care, I don’t go to it. I do go to the funfair though.

Last night I went to the funfair with Enrique because my kids are too small and annoying to take. Also the funfair isn’t really the place for children. Just walking around and seeing all the people who operate the rides, well, it’s impossible to not think about the disgusting things they must get up to when the fair closes. When they’re not being watched.

We Parked by the hospital and I got £30 out of the cashpoint. I got £30 because I watched Enrique get £20 and I wanted him to run out of money first. “You ready for this?” I asked him and he nodded.

The funfair is in People’s Park and what hits you first is the noise. It’s too fucking noisy really, and Enrique and I were soon forced to communicate with hand signals and facial expressions. The first hobbit we encountered was a female one and she beckoned us to ride on her teacups. Enrique looked at me hopefully but I shook my head. I’d been before and I had a plan, we were going to do a circuit first, to check out what was on offer instead of spunking away our money on the first ride we saw. I then shook my head at the woman who was beckoning us. The saddest thing about her was she looked quite normal. Looking at her she could have worked in an office or a shop. She must get terribly violated when the fair closes, I thought. Her spirit looked broken and I felt guilty for not going on her ride.

We walked around, past the haunted house where it was hard to tell the difference between the deformed mannequins that decorated the fold out articulated trailer and the people taking the money. The thumping bass from the giant speakers and the rumble of generators jiggled my kidneys. I pointed at a coconut shy then looked at Enrique. He was eating candyfloss from a clear bag. I looked behind and thought, where the fuck did he get that from? We hadn’t stopped walking. He offered me some but I don’t eat that shit. I again pointed at the coconut shy and he nodded. He bought three balls and I bought nine. I nearly hit a coconut, he didn’t. We laughed and walked off several pounds worse off.

Next up were the ducks and spurred on by my failure I was definitely going to give the ducks a go and try my best. It was good because it was a guaranteed win. You just had to select the size of duck you wanted to hook and then hook it. If you had arms there was no way of failing. There was a number on the bottom of each duck which denoted the size of prize you were allowed to pick. I didn’t even ask Enrique if he wanted to do it, I just walked over and handed over my money and rubbed my hands and took the pole and hooked a big duck. It had a number 1 on the bottom which meant I’d won any prize I desired from the display, including stinky balls.

“Stinky balls?” I shouted at the stall holder, unsure I’d heard her correctly. This one was a total mess, unlike the woman on the teacups this one belonged here. Although her age was impossible to determine she was probably quite young but she was missing a front tooth. Probably punched out during some kind of sexual mud-wrestling game that got out of hand when the fairground closed for the night. She looked like she needed a bath or a few minutes with me and my pressure-washer.

She confirmed she was offering stinky balls and so I asked what one was and she told me in as few words as she could that it was a rubber ball that smelled of fruit. I picked a strawberry one because after grilling her about them I felt compelled to take one although I felt sure that if they stunk half as badly as their name suggested they would give me a headache in the car on the way home.

The woman with the smelly fanny gave me my stinky ball which also, to my surprise, had an elastic tether and handle so I could bounce it without letting go of it. It was a surprisingly well made toy for the £5 it cost me to win. I was expecting it to be rubbish. I bounced it a couple of times and it didn’t fall apart. I was happy even though fake scents give me a headache. Madly, when I sniffed my prize the faint strawberry odour was somehow much worse than the diesel fumes, cigarette smoke and sugar which seemed to hang low over the People’s Park like the mood in a crematorium.

I looked at Enrique and bounced my ball again. Enrique was eating a toffee apple rather like a horse would, from the side. He was moving his head rather than the apple. I looked around. “Where did you get that from?” I shouted but instead of answering he handed it to me, wiped his hands on the hanky from his breast pocket and gave the woman some money. I didn’t know if there was a better prize than the one I had won. Number 1? It was doubtful. “Get a small one,” I shouted into his ear. The toffee apple touched his back as I leant over and I grimaced. It didn’t really leave a mark on his white suit but I feared he might stick to the passenger seat in my wife’s C-Max that we’d driven in in.

I held the toffee apple away from him and repeated what I’d said. He nodded but from his body language and head movements it was clear he was going to hook a duck of his own determination. I looked around again. We hadn’t even seen a food stall yet. I looked at Enrique’s pockets, looking for a bulge that would suggest he’d brought the food with him. “Hurry up!” I shouted because he was taking an age picking a duck. He’d need X-ray eyes to know which one was best, you couldn’t guess, and clearly size was no indication or nobody would ever hook a small one. Unless that’s what they wanted you to think.

Enrique was behaving like there was a prize that was worth winning and so nervously I scanned the prizes to see if I’d fucked up with my choice of a stinky ball. I’d been rushed into it but I was reasonably content. I didn’t think I had fucked up by choosing it… although, who was that guy? There was a pile of them. Was it… it was! fucking hell, a bunch of cuddly Batfinks! Batfink. I didn’t even know I remembered that guy. I was thinking Dangermouse when I first saw them.

How could a stall end up with a load of cuddly Batfinks in this day and age? How could that even happen? Who placed that order? Who were still making… what factory was still producing Batfinks? If I’d noticed the Batfinks first I still wouldn’t have picked one, I don’t think. Inflatable mallets? They could be fun, nah. Hello! There was a survival kit cellophaned to a flat piece of cardboard. That was more my thing. It contained a gun, Rambo knife, compass, handcuffs with keys and a single radio/ walkie talkie – all plastic and none operational, of course. The cellophane was probably holding each item together. You open that and you’re going to be left with a pile of tiny green pieces of plastic. Probably toxic. I doubted even the compass worked. “Vamoose, eh!” I shouted at Enrique.

I was really fucking bored of holding his toffee apple.

I hate holding other people’s food because you can’t put it down, even for a second. That’s the worst thing. Somebody gives you a hammer or a dog to hold you could at least put it on the floor if you needed to, if only for a few seconds. You can’t put somebody’s food on the floor. I’d already put my ball on the floor but I stood on the leash so that no stinking fair person could steal it. This at least meant I could swap hands. The toffee apple was awkward. Top heavy. My left hand had grown incredibly tired holding Enrique’s toffee apple, not just because of it’s lack of balance, also the fact it had to be held carefully and out, so as not to touch my clothing or Enrique’s again.

“Any duck!” I shouted at Enrique’s back. Why do they play thumping rap music? I wondered. Each big ride was blasting out a different rap song. I doubted these people, these incredibly simple white people, liked that music. I imagined, given the choice, they’d listen to either medieval harp shit or fiddle-de-dee stuff. And accordions. It must be the result of market research. Rap music makes people want to get on rides in a funfair. “What the fuck are you-” but Enrique shushed me by lifting his right hand. He then stepped forward and with an Errol Flynn flourish hooked a medium sized duck.

I could see from the bend in the pole that it was his intention to proudly lift the duck out of the water, across the walkway between pool and outer-stall edge, and into my face. Sucker! The ducks were impossible to lift due to the fact they were water-logged and the pole was weak. It was ‘hook and duck’, not ‘hook then lift out a duck’. The ducks were better than any of the prizes. I guess that’s why they couldn’t be lifted – pretty clever. Still, Enrique turned to me and smiled smugly. He stood there holding the pole that held a duck. The woman in charge was taking money from other people further around the round stall. We stood for a bit longer before I went and caught her attention and told her my friend had finally hooked a duck but since she’d already got our money, and now it was time for her to pay the piper, the tiny bit of charm she had shown – and it had been small, hardly there, it had been a small veneer of charm coating her waxy face like ill sweat – was no longer there. She could have congratulated us, you know? Made a bit of a thing of it. Instead she marched expressionlessly to the end of Enrique’s pole, the end with the duck on it, and lifted the duck and looked at the bottom of it with the dispassionate approach of a Vietnamese vet.

Heh! Vietnam vet! I didn’t even mean that! I meant one of those people with wide pointy hats from Asia who keep animals in cages for eating. Vietnam vet! That’s fucking brilliant.

“One,” she said showing us the base of the duck. I didn’t actually see a number on the base of the duck as it was pretty scuffed up, but I nodded. “Any prize,” she said staring off into the distance.

“Oooh, what are you going to get?” I asked into Enrique’s ear, again touching his back with his toffee apple. Fuck! I know it’s stupid but I hoped he didn’t get the survival kit simply because as a child that’s what I would have picked. Although I’m now fully grown there still would have been some weird lingering jealously. And the compass might work for all I knew. Enrique looked at me and moved his mouth across his face. He looked down at my stinky ball. And back to my face. “Get a Batfink!” I shouted. “Might be worth something on Ebay!” I looked at the woman, concerned she was growing impatient but she was still staring off towards the dodgems. “Come on!”

Enrique leant over and spoke to the woman who nodded, still looking off past us, she was squinting. I turned and tried to look at what had captivated her so but, with the onset of nightfall, I just saw seizure inducing flashing lights and silhouettes. She put her hand out and felt for the balls. Her hand alighted upon a red one and without looking at it she released it.

“Don’t get a red one,” I shouted to Enrique as quietly as I could. “Don’t get a red one! Mine’s red, get a yellow one, we won’t know whose is who!” Enrique looked at the woman and I thought he was going to ask for a yellow one instead but he lost his nerve and looked at me and shook his head slightly and I countered with my own slow, disappointed blink. The woman, without looking at us at all – she was now mouthing words while squinting at the dodgems – had picked a ball and was holding it out to Enrique who took it while grinning widely. He bounced it a couple of times, just like I had, the copycat.

“Come on,” I said. This duck shit had taken much longer than I thought it would. “Hey!” I shouted, holding out Enrique’s toffee apple to him like a reporter. The flesh exposed from the bites he’d taken was already pretty brown.

“No thanks!” He said. I looked at the toffee apple and then for a bin.

Immediately leaving the stall I was sorry to have chosen the prize I did. It had seemed like it would be a lot of fun, and even something I could present to one of my children in the morning, but I hadn’t taken into account the logistics. I’d neglected the god-damn logistics. The stinky ball was a pain to carry. I perhaps haven’t yet described the size of the thing. It was football sized, on an elastic lead, with a handle. When I just held the handle the ball banged my ankle and when I held it like a football I was holding it like a football. I thought about going back to the car and stashing it but I wasn’t going to do that, the car was a kilometre away.

Fucking stinky ball, ruining my life.

“What next?!” I shouted at Enrique as we walked and I tried all manner of different methods of holding my strawberry flavoured stinky ball. We still hadn’t completed a whole lap of the funfair and I’d already spent a third of my money. “Bumper cars?” I don’t like those big rides that spin you upside down and around and around. I wasn’t going on any of those but I would go on the bumper cars and perhaps one other thing.

“Bumper cars?” I shouted again but Enrique was walking with his finger of his free hand pointing forward. His stinky ball didn’t seem to be bothering him. “Do you want to go on the bumper cars or not?!”

“Stan!” Said Enrique. I looked over, he was heading towards Stan. We got to Stan.

“Alright Stan!” I said. Stan was at a stall that seemed to be some kind of hardcore gambling game. He was wearing the shirt with the hole in the sleeve that revealed his large sparkling watch.

“Alright lads!” Stan replied looking at us in turn. He looked happy or he was laughing at us. “What are you doing here?” Stan looked at our balls.

“Erm,” I replied. What kind of a question was that? What were we doing at the funfair? We were being at a fucking funfair. “Just… you know?” I said. Stan nodded.

“‘Ow’s the Spar?” He asked.

“It’s…” What kind of a question was that? How’s the Spar? Square and made of brick. “You know?” I said. Enrique nodded in agreement and also Stan nodded. He did know. “You not… what are you doing these days?” I asked. A proper question although I thought he still worked at head-office.

“This an’ that, I’ve made a nap,” He replied. Then, as if it explained everything he added, “kerching!” Proper question, incomprehensible answer. Brilliant conversation. I’d had enough.

“Oh, wow, that’s brilliant!” I said and luckily the guy next to Stan who had been engrossed in the gambling game tapped Stan and gestured to the board with its pictures and dice.

“Great seeing you, boys, take it easy, yeah?” Said Stan turning back to his game.

“Yeah,” I replied. Stan nodded and went back to his game. “Bumper cars?” I said to Enrique and without waiting for his reply I walked over to the dodgems. I stood staring at them for a while, getting a handle on how the system worked so I would be confident getting in one. “Shall we do this?” I asked. It looked like getting in a bumper car would be a bit of a saga.

First you had to get a token and then you had to get in a car. Now was the time to do it as the next session hadn’t yet begun although the available cars were filling up rapidly. Could you take the balls on? That’s a question. Would the man moan? That would be the worst thing, the man moaning. I didn’t want to make the bumper car man moan. I didn’t want to get in a car and be asked for my token, only for him to then see the ball and say, ‘oh my God, you can’t bring that on here, what the hell are you thinking?’ and I’d have to get off and all the kids would be looking at me. Even worse would be getting a token, walking to the cars but all of them filling up as I approached. Every time I went to get in a car some other ill-mannered person would jump in it first. Like musical chairs and eventually I’d be stood there. All the cars full. The man would tell me to get off the… the bumper car bit and wait for the next session and everybody would feel sorry for me. I came to a decision. “I’ll hold the balls, you get on first, yeah? I’ll go next,” I told him sounding a bit like Stan, what with my ‘yeah?’

“Chu sure?” Shouted Enrique. He thought I was being nice whereas I was being horrible. I was sending him across a minefield of fairground rules and regulations.

“Yeah, go for it, quick though!” I shouted. There were only four spare cars left. Enrique’s an idiot. He’d run for a bus not bothered about the possible shame of not getting it. “Go!” Enrique threw the ball at me and ran to the kiosk to purchase his token. “Go!” I shouted after him, convinced he was just about to make a massive fool of himself in front of a load of children and fairground human dogshits.

I’d already decided I wasn’t going on one next, it wasn’t worth it. Enrique returned and got in an empty car in front of me. There were still loads empty, I could have done that easy, got in a bumper car but there were still hurdles in the form of straps on the seat. It wasn’t obvious how they should be worn. Enrique held the loose end out to me. “Dunno!” I shouted. I was sure when the man took his token he would check his seatbelt like an air-hostess and be angry. He didn’t. He just took the token. Enrique bounced in the chair to make himself comfortable and gripped the wheel. I gave him a thumbs up. “Don’t crash head on!” I shouted. From somewhere in my file labelled ‘fairground etiquette’ I remembered men who operate bumper cars don’t like it when you bump their cars head on. I’d probably been moaned at by one for bumping head on when I was too young to know any better. I looked around and saw there was a big sign that said No Bumping Head On, right in front of me. That’s how I knew. I must’ve read it without realising. I knew I hadn’t made it up.

Rising squeals of excitement from the other cars was the cue that power to the cars had been activated and then they were mostly all slowly moving off. As Enrique had been one of the last to get into the queue of cars that lined the edge he was near the front. But he wasn’t moving and I remembered I hadn’t completed teaching Enrique how to drive. “Press the pedal!” I shouted. The person behind him still couldn’t move although most in the queue had found their way out into the open of the – I don’t even know what you’d call it – dance floor? Enrique was ruining everything! It was horrible and I thought about running away with a ball bouncing off each ankle. “The pedal! The fucking pedal!” I shouted and then looked around to make sure there wasn’t a child standing next to me. There wasn’t.

“I yam!” He replied looking down into the foot-well. His car started moving backwards very slowly jamming the person behind even more. The token man was coming over. Enrique was done for. I didn’t want to watch but had to. The man wordlessly and manfully turned Enrique’s steering wheel through perhaps as much as 1080 degrees and then walked off. He was obviously an Alpha-Fairman. He no doubt sat there when the fair closed, on a throne made of human bones and candy canes, at first just watching the depraved activities all the other sub-humans got up to before deciding on a woman he was going to go to town on.

Enrique, touching the pedal that only moments before been as useful as Paula, flew forward and had to grab for his hat to stop it flying off. It didn’t fall off and he grabbed for the wheel so he could make the turn. He did pretty well considering he hadn’t taken his test yet. They were all well behaved. all going around anti-clockwise. When he came past me again I shouted for him to bump other people, because that was the point, but he didn’t hear me. His face was a mixture of terror and delight. He got T-boned a couple of times but enjoyed it. He even smashed into a couple of other cars and a fight didn’t break out, they just laughed and I began to relax.

“How much is it?” A person asked me, startling me. It was an Asian.

“Three pounds,” I replied smiling but my smile killed itself when the Asian produced a five pound note from its bumbag and handed it to me.

“Oh no, I don’t work here!” I said aghast. “The kiosk,” I pointed at the kiosk

“Ah, okay,” said the Asian without a hint of apology. I looked down at my torso. I was wearing a Hilfiger T-shirt and cargo shorts. Fucking bitch. I couldn’t believe it. All the confidence I’d pumped myself with by deciding not to get on the bumper cars drained away. Stupid fucking Asian. As if I looked like I worked in a fair! I was dressed like Wellington. Cool as fuck. I suddenly felt that a thousand people were staring at me. I stood there, lost in thought and then Enrique was bouncing down the steps.

“Heh-heh,” he said.

“Come on,” I said. I wanted to be away from any rides.

“Chu no go on?”

“Nah. Come on.”

“Ah, I go on again?”

“Later, maybe,” I told him. I could feel my face was red. I handed him his ball.

“Dis my one?” He asked looking it over suspiciously.

“Fuck off, dick,” I replied.

“Fucking girl thought I worked here!” I shouted at Enrique. “Can you believe that?” Enrique, still buzzing from the dodgems, laughed. I wanted him to shout, ‘preposterous!’

“It would be cool,” he said.

“What? Nah, look at them!” I said gesturing to the disgusting goblins that operated the rides. “Hey! Imagine what they get up to when the fair closes?!” At this Enrique turned to me and made his eyebrows go up and down. It was my turn to laugh. “I know!” I shouted. “Not that many women though.”

“Enough,” he replied and we walked on. It was full dark and the music being pumped out from the rides seemed even louder, as if the lack of daylight meant the air carried the sound better, as if the darkness was the fabric covering on the front of a speaker and I really could feel each mixed-up beat punching my poor kidneys in the face. The far-end of the fair didn’t seem to have too much going for it. A big slide, another big spinny thing and these large balls you could get in and roll around in.

“What do you reckon?” I asked him as I looked around. I didn’t fancy going on anything else. I felt a bit seasick. “Shall we split?” He didn’t reply and so I turned to him. He was looking into a paper bag. “What’s that?”

“Nuts, chu want one?” He asked holding the white paper bag out. I looked into it but it was too dark to really see what was in there. “Candeeeeed.”

“Where the fuck did you get them from?” I asked.

“I bring them, chu wan’ one?”

“No.” I did actually want one, I was just being polite. “How did you bring them?”

“In my hat.”

“In your hat?”

“Si, in my hat.”

“And the candy-floss? The toffee apple?”

“Si.”

“All that stuff fit in your hat?”

“Si.”

“That hat?” I asked pointing at the hat sat on top of his head.

“Si.”

“No fucking way.”

“Si!” Each Si he’d uttered had been higher and longer than the one it followed. Enrique then exchanged the bag, rather clumsily I might add – I felt sure his nuts were going to spill out – over to the hand that was holding the handle of the ball. It was a struggle but when he had a free hand he lifted up his hat revealing a bottle which – after a Japanese bowing motion that slid it from his head and into his hat which he used as a catcher’s mitt – turned out to be red Oasis. He held the hat out to me and I took the bottle. It was cold.

“Nah,” I said. I mean… nah. Enrique put his hat on and we were off again. I drank some of his drink without asking if I could. I then offered some to him. I had to hold the nuts while he took a swig. He didn’t wipe the mouthpiece before drinking which struck me as a little bit gay although had he wiped it I would have been offended and denied having some illness you can catch from bottles, most probably hepatitis. He didn’t offer me the bottle back but I wanted the bottle and so I held the bag out to him and he gave me the bottle and then that was all sorted.

We were heading towards the exit which earlier had been the entrance when I made eye-contact with one of the people under the stairs who was actually on top of some stairs. The three steps that led to the Waltzers. Those stairs. He was on there and he was beckoning us. I’ve been on Waltzers before, many moons ago, and for me they hold no fear so without thinking any deeper than, fuck it, I thought, fuck it. Fuck it, I thought, we were going on the Waltzers. Enrique followed obediently. Each Waltzer could hold three or four people so I felt fine taking our balls with us although I put the bottle in my pocket in case a man told me off. You can’t just take food and drink anywhere. Clothes shops, for example, they don’t like it if you take food and drink in. The man was smoking a cigarette and led us to a car and took lots and lots of money from us.

Getting in was harder than it looked as the curved couches wanted to spin on the angled banks of the ride. It was like climbing into a boat and we both collapsed into the seating position as the thing spun so we were sat at the bottom looking up. I immediately felt the change begin falling from my pockets. I tried to lift my bottom to stop this, to level my pockets, and I tried to get my hands down there but the man had put the safety bar over us and with each tiny movement I could feel more change trying to fall out and it just wasn’t happening. Contorting like a hit and run victim I put my hand down behind me, into the crack at the back of the seat and felt something wet so I violently withdrew my hand, smacking it on the bar. I tried wiping my hand on different parts of the cart but it was all too shiny.

“‘Spins?” Asked Enrique making the gesture you would if you wanted a helicopter to start its rotar blades on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

“Yeah.” And then we were off. Except we weren’t, the ride slowly went through a few degrees, about 180 actually, and we were at the opposite side to where we got on. They had just moved it around so it would be easier to get more passengers on. From what I could tell there was only one empty carriage left. Good enough, let’s go! But no, we sat there. I felt more change escape my pockets. Luckily my phone, wallet and car key were all in the large pockets on the front of my cargo shorts. I’d buttoned those pockets because of thieves.

The noise was immense. Really far too loud and all the people standing on the ride, the operators, were smoking. I fucking love smoking but other people smoking makes me ill and it didn’t really seem legal. Sure, there were no walls but we were still in an enclosed space of sorts. One for the legal beagles, that. And there were kids around and they really shouldn’t be exposed to smoke but having said that, in terms of being offensive, the smoking had nothing on the blaring music.

I know there are explicit versions of rap songs but I didn’t really expect to be hearing them at a funfair. It was all motherfucker this, cocksucker that, seriously, really dirty stuff about sex.

Pussy.

I could well imagine it fitted in with their sexual Olympics that they all took part in when the fair closed but it wasn’t right for the fairground proper. I looked around. Craning my neck I looked into the car behind. In it was a woman and three children. I thought as much. I caught the woman’s attention and smiled to show how wrong the music selection was and I pointed to the speaker just as, “Imma stick it in yo’ ass!” came blasting out. The woman looked horrified and I nodded and turned back. “Hear this music?” I asked Enrique who looked bored but before he could answer we were finally off for real. Gently at first but after about three revolutions we were up to full speed. And then the man started spinning us. I held the bar tight and laughed. I looked at Enrique and he was smiling, the sides of his face and his neck straining to stop his head from hitting the back or the bar. I even tried to add more spin by pulling sideways on the bar but my input had little effect. The spin was being generated by the man with the cigarette in his mouth who would loom out of the spinning, flashing darkness every so often. I guess he was just standing still and we came around to him, I don’t know, but when I saw him I smiled and watched as he heaved us around. So it was great fun for the first few minutes. The next five minutes it wasn’t so much fun. The last three minutes were hell. My neck had grown very tired and I’d tried to rest it on the back of the chair but couldn’t because of the spinning and there was the noise and the smell of the cigarette smoke.

Somewhere, I don’t know the exact point, Enrique and I had become crushed together, he bolt upright but my spine had given up and so for that last three minutes – which seemed like years – my face was pressed into his sort of armpit. And the ride was never stopping. Just spinning and all my internal organs changed place. My stomach was where my lungs had been. My liver was in my mouth. “Hhhhnnnnnnngggghhhh!!” Was all I could manage with each spin. Couldn’t even tell the man to stop. To fucking stop. The rhythmic nature of the attraction was in no way soothing and although it was the best value for money ride I’ve ever been on I wished death on all those involved in its conception and execution. Then, sure it was never going to stop, that I’d slipped through the Event Horizon, I wished for my own death.

Enrique was tapping me. “S’over, man, s’over!” He was saying and I extracted my face from his armpit and looked around like a cute nocturnal animal in night vision.

“Has it stopped?” I asked as the man swung the safety bar out. Enrique got out first and had stand with his hands on his knees for a while. I scrambled out with the last of my strength not caring that when my front leg hit the terra-firmish of the decking the one still in the car was being twisted by the car spinning, I just fucking yanked it. Didn’t care if it broke. Enrique stood straight and shook his head. “I didn’t like that,” I told him.

“I no like dat,” he replied. I looked in the car. There was probably thousands down the back of those seats, fuck it, they can have it. Enrique got our balls. My neck was sore and if I wanted to I could’ve probably vomited. We shambled down the stairs onto the grass as all the fluid in my body spun gently like a flushed toilet.

“Done, yeah?” I said swallowing repeatedly and then we headed to the car. Just before we got to the exit Enrique started walking with his finger out again, like he had when we saw Stan, but this time he looked at me excitedly. He was pointing at a slimy looking fair person.

“Carol!” Said Enrique. I looked again. It was, it was Carol. Carol from the jungle gym and she saw me, otherwise I would probably just ignored her and headed out. She waved and started towards us.

“Carol!” I said and held my arms out and we embraced. As we did so the ball smacked off her meaty calf muscle. “How have you been? It’s been ages… wow, you look great!” I do that, I say to people I haven’t seen for a while, ‘you look great.’ Seems to be what they want to hear. Enrique was doing keepy-ups with the ball that was attached to his hand via a tether. When he kicked the ball he did it with a straight leg. Carol and I watched him without talking for a few moments. His record was two.

“Is that a bottle of red Oasis in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?” Laughed Carol as we broke off our embrace.

“Both actually!” I said looking down at the two lumps in my cargo shorts. “That’s the Oasis,” I said pointing at the lump off to the right. “That’s my erection,” I said pointing at the middle lump. Enrique was still doing his skills. He was just holding the stinky ball out like a reverse helium balloon and he still could not manage more than two. “So, what are you doing here?” I asked even though that question had struck me as monumentally stupid when Stan had fired it at me.

“I’ve got the bouncy castle, over there,” she replied pointing off into the distance.

“Cool!”

“Yeah, it’s going well.”

“Brilliant, that’s brilliant,” I told her. That was over-egging it a bit really, it wasn’t brilliant at all, it was just cool. It was cool I knew a filthy Carny. I would go to the ball!

“So?” I said. “I thought maybe you died.”

“No, that didn’t happen.”

“Clearly,” I said, nodding. “I’m glad!”

“Thanks.”

Oh my God, dreaded silence seemed even worse in the cacophony. We were both smiling and looking at Enrique. Hmmm, needed to shout something.

“So-“

“Why didn’t you call me?” She asked. She was smiling but the question was as loaded as a Chilean donkey.

“Do you want me to be honest?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“I thought I could do better.”

“Oh.”

“Don’t take it personally. I can’t.”

“Oh, I’m flattered,” she said not understanding how flattering my honesty actually was.

“You should be, seriously.” I took the Oasis from my pocket and then remembered Enrique had last drunk out of it. He might have AIDS and so I put it back in my pocket. “So I guess we’re going out with each other again?” I said and flashed her a winning smile. I then turned back to Enrique and did some facial exercise.

The camera circled us and then – I guess it was on a crane – it lifted off, at first pointing at Enrique and then levelling out to give a beautiful aerial shot of the funfair, from a height, in the darkness, the disgusting field of noise and scum looked beautiful. The thumping rap music was replaced by a song sung buy, I dunno, Coldplay.

“I don’t think so,” said Carol and the camera was instantly back on us.

“What?” I chuckled. “What do you mean?” Enrique had given up trying to beat two keepy-ups and had joined us.

“Well, I’m seeing somebody,” she said as if it was obvious.

“You?”

“Yes, is that so surprising?”

“Yeah. Who?”

“Nobody you know,” she said. She was smiling, I was smiling, Enrique was leaning in and looked puzzled as he tried to tie together the threads of our conversation, none of us were happy smiling.

“I might know him, what does he do?” I asked.

“He’s got the Waltzers,” she said, smugly.

“No fucking way,” I replied looking over at the Waltzers. “We just went on them,” I said. Carol made a knowing noise. The same noise she would have made if the guy was a lawyer and had just helped me win a big legal battle.

“We’re going out, when the fair closes, you should come. Both of you,” she said and once again I had two lumps in my shorts. Enrique had one.

“Hmmm,” I said, pretending to think. “It’s not really my scene,” I said although I’d never been to a big disgusting sex-fest and so couldn’t really be sure if it was my scene or not.

“Come on,” she said. It was probably her intention for us to come to make me jealous whereas I was more concerned about the lack of females. I looked around the fair. There were only seven or eight woman operating rides. There could be more backstage, I thought but with those odds it was highly probable I’d see a knob.

“No,” I said and Enrique whined. “You come with us, we’ll go and…” what could we do? “We’ll go and get fucked up in Enrique’s. Bring some of the girls.”

“Are you serious?” She asked, stunned at the graciousness of my offer.

“Seriously, you up for that, Enrique?”

“Ho yes,” he replied.

After a few moments thought, and I didn’t want to rush her, she came to a decision and said, “I’ll see you later.” She looked disturbed. I put that down to her reading my mind. Seeing what I had planned for her. Oh man!

“Brilliant! We’ll wait for you here,” I said and I high-fived Enrique.

“No, I mean, later, some other time,” she said and she was walking away. When I’d lost her in the crowd I turned to Enrique. He was rubbing his hands together and his eyebrows were going mental.

“She’s not coming,” I told him. Enrique whined again. “Yeah, I don’t get it.” I tried to pick her out in the crowd but couldn’t. I suddenly didn’t want to go home just yet, I wanted to give her a chance to come to her senses. We spent all of our remaining money trying to win a Pikachu with those crane things and then we sat on a bench outside the exit until the fair closed. What a relief when the music was switched off! And then I was waiting for the moans and screams and drumming to begin but what I heard was an awesome vehicle stop on the road behind us. It was a G-Wagen.

“Changed your mind?” Came the question from the passenger window. I went over. It was Carol.

“No, we’re just…” I said.

“So we’re going over to The Grand. There’s a jazz night, are you coming?”

“No. What about the party?”

“That’s the party.”

“No.”

“Okay, this is Ben,” Said Carol leaning backwards as Ben leant forward, revealing himself in silhouette.

“Hey, I saw you earlier,” laughed Ben. His voice was much more normal than I expected.

“Yeah,” I laughed. Enrique waved at him.

“Okay then,” said Carol. Ben waved and they drove off, probably laughing. Enrique was looking at me with a face that said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on.’

“We’re going home,” I told him.

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