I remember when I was a kid there was an amusement park I would go to. It wasn’t a huge amusement park like Disneyland or anything, it was one of those small, local ones that some cities have near beaches. They had a few rides that were ok, if you were a kid. Sometimes I wonder how those places can get insurance with all the questionable people they have working there. I don’t think I remember ever seeing somebody working there that seemed like a person you see working someplace else, like at the grocery store or your local coffee shop or something. The kind of person that gets to know you and what you buy or order or whatever.
If you’ve ever seen a person like this outside of their your normal meeting place it’s always kind of weird. You either don’t recognize them, and wonder where you know them from, or you recognize them, but you both feel kind of awkward because you are away from your normal comfortable meeting place. Maybe I’m paranoid, but sometimes the thought strikes and makes me wonder if all those times they are being friendly is because of their job or not.
One thing about this amusement park always scared me. It was the haunted house. I had only been inside twice when I was a kid, and both times scared the crap out of me. I only went in because my friends and I all dared each other. Of course I didn’t let on how scared I was, and I suppose my friends were all the same, to some extent. But I can’t forget how scared I was both times. The place was dark, you couldn’t see where you were going, it had this weird smell like an old doctors office that hadn’t been cleaned in a while, and there were these weird sounds that you couldn’t really tell where they were coming from. It seemed like no matter which way you were facing, the sounds seemed like they were behind you and getting closer by the second. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. Probably the thing that terrified me the most was at one point I almost panicked, and had to leave, but I couldn’t find where the exit was. There were no exit lights anywhere, and all I could hear were those sounds like some old lady breathing right behind me, and everywhere I turned seemed to be a dead end. I almost fainted from shock.
One time used to hang out in this bookstore once a week, and it only took the people a couple weeks to realize that I ordered the same thing every week. Pretty soon when they saw me, whoever it was, they would just smile and say “large iced tea?” right away with raised eyebrows just to make sure. I remember seeing one of the girls that worked there in a total different environment, and before any of those uncertain feelings or questions came up, she said “large iced tea!” with a smile, instead of this time, saying it like a question, she said it like a statement of recognition. It took care of all my concerns in one fell swoop.
I visited my friend a couple weeks ago that lived in the town where they had that amusement park. I was sure that it would be torn down and replaced by affordable housing or something, but it was still there. Just for fun my friend and I went to that haunted house, and I’ll admit I was a bit nervous going in, but boy was I surprised. It smelled like some incense you buy at a car wash, and the sound they had piped through was completely laughable. It sounded like some old woman who had been smoking for too long, but it was on this crappy loop that lasted only about four seconds, and kept repeating. There was an obvious gap when the tape repeated itself, which gave it an odd cartoonish feeling. And even though the exits weren’t marked where they normally would, because they had to have them noted by law, they had decided them to write them on the ground. So all you had to do was look down and see where the arrows were pointing to leave. The exit was never more than a few steps away. I couldn’t this pitiful haunted house had caused me so much fear earlier. I guess that’s what happens when you let your imagination run away with you.