The Carnival Comes to Wobbly Knob
By Mike Stevens
A Jimmy Tilford Tale
I barely sleep; I’m too excited. Today is the day when the carnival comes to town. It should be just about THE most exciting thing that will happen, in my entire life! 10 whole years I’ve been around, and I can’t think of anything close to the excitement I’m feeling now. I can’t stand it one second longer. I pull back the covers and leap out of bed. Down the stairs I stomp, moving at practically the speed of light. My mother looks up from the couch, where she’s reading the Saturday morning paper and drinking coffee, and says,
“Jimmy, what did I tell you about running on the stairs?”
“Oh, Mom, I just got carried away; the carnival’s opens this morning, and I want to be there as one of the first to enter!” I answer.
“Well, before you rush off, how about some breakfast?”
I am much too excited to eat, but I figure I’d better not say that. “Sure Mom.”
I’d wolfed down something, but what? I can’t even remember, but at least now I’m free to go. This is Saturday and there is no school. I run from the table, until I hear Mom say,
“Now Jimmy, there you go again. Knock off the running!”
“Sorry, Mom.” I walk to where my coat is hanging up, and even though it was a sunny spring day and I doubt I’ll be needing it, I take it because I know if I don ’t, mother will freak. Then I take off running once the front door closes behind me.
After a quick stop at the garage, so I can ditch the coat, I run the rest of the way to the city park, which is the site of the carnival. They had pulled into town in the middle of the night and set up. What the day before had been an empty field, was now transformed into a magical place, with rides galore, and the smell of fried tantalizing treats wafting through the air.
I walk through the carnival; and what I’ve seen so far had been very disappointing. The rides are rusty and old, with grease running down the sides in streaks of dirty brownish-black. Oh well, I’ll skip those and play a game.
“Hey kid, how would you like to try The Ring Toss? Just throw one of these three rings and get it to stay on the peg, and win a prize!” says the loser-looking guy running the game.
“Ah, no thanks,” I answer, and glance at the cheap-looking ‘prizes’ hanging on a hook on the black-painted wall behind the man, who looks to be in desperate need of some soap and water.
As I walk away, I hear the man mumble, “Little jerk!” under his breath.
Walking on, I overhear a conversation between two carnival workers, who don’t know I’m there.
“Hey, Dave, what say you and me hit the tavern in this scummy little town tonight; that is, if there is one?”
Dave, evidently, replies, “Ah, that sounds good, but I’d better not; my parole officer said to stay out of trouble, and you know how I get after I’ve had a few.”
His friend replies, “A few; try two! After the last time, when I wasn’t sure that old guy was going to wake up, I realized you might have a problem!”
“Well, give me a break, Steve, just because of the cane, that doesn’t mean the dude wasn’t a loud-mouthed pecker!”
“Hey, I hear ya; you’re probably right.”
From there, I listen as the conversation fades away, as the two men move further away. I glance at the haunted house. It’s facade makes me think of a castle, on a long ago and far away day:
I’m Prince Jimmy, and I’m going to save the damsel in distress, who’s being held captive by the evil Count Darkwater. First, I use my handy hook on the end of this rope, throw it over the rampart, and scale the wall, hand-over-hand, until I’m now standing on top. Then, I throw the rope over the inside wall, and repel down, until I’m standing on the ground. Suddenly, before me stands Count Darkwater himself, who says,
“Gee, could you make anymore noise? I could be deaf, and I still would have heard you!” and he pulls his sword, as do I.
“I’ve come to run you through and save the damsel in distress!” I reply.
“You mean you have more than one?”
“Shoot; well then, I’ll save them all!”
And then Count Darkwater attacks, and the sound of clashing swords fills the air. Back and forth, back and forth, we battle. I can feel the strength ebbing from my tired arms. I won’t be able to hold out much longer. My desperate eyes seek something, anything, to reverse my fortunes. Then I see a big unfinished cage for birds hanging from a rope, just above my head. It has no bottom. Suddenly, the path to victory becomes clear. I take a couple of steps back, and let the Count advance, until... now he’s standing directly below the unfinished cage. My sword slashes through the air, slicing through the rope holding the cage aloft, and it falls right over the Count.
“Hey, this cage has me trapped!” yells Count Darkwater. I run to the castle, and quickly find the cells where he is holding the damsels in distress. I see a key hanging on a hook, and unlock all the cages.
“Oh, Prince Jimmy, you’ve saved us!” says a blond-haired damsel.
“Think nothing of it, ladies; it’s all in a day’s work for a handsome, brave prince!”
“Well, you’re certainly both of those things.”
“Follow me, ladies,” and I lead them right by a livid, imprisoned Count Darkwater.
“Darn you, Prince Jimmy; I’ll get you for this!”
I look straight at him, and reply, “Talk to the hand, cause my ears aren’t listening!”
A chorus of, “Oh, Prince Jimmy!” rises from amidst the damsels.”
Then, the castle becomes just the Haunted House again, and I figure it’s time to head home on this April day. Once home, I slouch through the front door. My mother, upon hearing my return, asks,
“What’s the matter, Jimmy, did you spend all of the $25 dollars I gave you already?”
“No Mom, in fact here’s all of it. The carnival wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be,” and I take the waded-up money out of my pants and drop it on the table. “Thanks anyway, Mom. I’ll be up in my room doing homework.”
Jimmy’s mom thinks, Boy, for Jimmy not having spent any of my money; I wonder why? Then she wonders, Where’s his coat?