“Americana”

by

Joe Ciano

            “I think I might puke my funnel cake,” Tommy said as he posted up on the guardrail fence.

            It was a chilly September night. Summer was on its last legs. The evening was getting late. The carnival was begging to thin out. The bright eyes of children began to dull as sleep crept in.  

            “Easy there,” Billy grabbed Tommy’s arm and pulled him up on to his to feet.  Billy’s eyes marveled at the Farris Wheel. They would have been in its shadow if it wasn’t lighting up the entire parking lot.  It was the biggest attraction at the Mercy Church carnival.

            “You’re an asshole. You know that right?” Tommy asked Billy.

            “Hey, you’re the one who agreed to go on the tilt-a-whirl, when you know you throw up after it every year.”

            “You said it would be different this time.”

            “I want an ice cream,” a soft voice said.

            Billy and Tommy turned to see Lily standing. She had Billy’s jacket draped over her shoulders. She was no longer shivering.

            “You just said you were cold,” Billy laughed.

            “Now I’m not,” Lily smiled. “Which means I can have Ice Cream.” 

            “You’re lucky I love you.“ Billy and her had been dating for six months. He recalled wondering if he should go for her, and remembered how Tommy told him to stop being a pussy and grow a pair. It was the best advice he had ever gotten.

            “You two go,” Tommy said.

            “You sure?” Lily seemed concerned. She was unaware that this was a yearly tradition between the two friends.

            Tommy gave his best “are you kidding me?” face. “Where am I going to go?”

            “Can we at least get you anything?” Billy asked.

            “Cherry Coke?” Tommy said.

            “No one ever has Cherry Coke,” Billy reminded him.

            “Wrong. The Asian fusion place in the mall food court has it. On tap.”

            “Name another place.”

            Tommy’s mind blanked. “Look, would you just check for me?”

            “Anything for you buddy.”

            Tommy watched longingly as Lily and Billy walked away holding hands. His knees where screaming at him, but pulling eight hours at a dead end job had made him suck it up and try and pull together for an evening. He chuckled to himself. It was the first time he realized that that Lilly and Billy rhymed. “Fuck,” He said to himself as he laughed again.

            “Yeah, I don’t know where he is.”

            Tommy’s eyes drifted to the leggy blonde. She was like something out of Bruce Springsteen song; catchy guitar and sax at all the right moments.  She was there walking about with her phone up to her ear and cotton candy in her other hand.

            “Ugh. This is seriously the last time I let myself get set up on a blind date,” she took a bite out of her cotton candy. Tommy had never been so jealous of food before. “I mean, he’s already fifteen minutes late.”

            A hot streak shot down Tommy’s spin. He realized he had two choices. Continue to sit there, vomit and let a very nice looking girl walk away forever. Or do something really, really stupid. The fact that he knew his plan was dumb told him that this probably wasn’t going to go too well. He pulled himself up off the ground anyways.

            “I’d say this was the worst date ever, but at least guys have to show up for dates to count. I mean, is it really a date if the guy never shows up?”

            “Can it still count if the guy shows up late?” Tommy asked as he approached the blonde.

            The blonde took one look at him. “Sarah, I’ll call you back,” She placed the phone in her jeans pocket. “Why didn’t you meet me at the cotton candy stand?”

            “Was that where we were supposed to meet”” Tommy flashed a smile. Every once in a while he remembered he could be charming. “I thought it was funnel cake.”

            “It was,” The blonde smiled coyly. “Just needed to make sure it was you.”

            Tommy shivered. “Oh of course. Why wouldn’t it be?” For a moment he though he was in over his head. “So what do you want to do?” He figured that changing subject would be best for business.

            “Oh I thought the tilt-a-whirl would be a good start.”

            Tommy’s stomach did a flip. “Are you sure? I mean, aren’t you a fan over oversized stuffed animals?”

            “Well, there was a unicorn that I had my eye on…”

            “Unicorn?”

            “I like mythology. Things like that.”

            “Oh.”

            “That a problem?”

            “Not at all. So where was this beast?”

            “At the water gun race.”

            “Well you’re in luck.”

            “Why is that?”

            “I’m have not been defeated in that since I was eleven.”

            “Impressive.”

            “Fastest draw this side of the Mississippi.”

            “Did you really just say that?”

            “I didn’t think I stuttered. Did you?”

            The blonde cocked her head. “Alright champ, let’s see what you got.”

            “Lead the way.”

            The blonde walked a few paces in front of him, into the crowd of people swirling about the flashing lights of the games district.

            Tommy felt something rising from his stomach.

            “Oh crap.”

            Tommy dashed to the garbage can by the tilt-a-whirl, where had pervious been disposed of. He vomited for what felt like fifteen seconds before he regained his composure. On a date with a pretty girl, whose name he did not know, with funnel cake vomit on his breath. Now, he though, he was in over his head. 

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