By Matthew Wallenstein
My cars were always breaking down and when they weren’t breaking down I still had to be careful where I parked them. I owed close to a grand in parking tickets and they were looking to boot me. I was always finding spots behind stores or in alleys. But when my cars wouldn’t work I’d take the bus.
She rode with me late after work leaning her head on my shoulder. We sat in the back. We turned our heads from the drunk vomiting on the floor and the other drunk yelling at him. My house didn’t have electricity or gas. We listened to music in the dark, had sex in the living room. The lights of passing cars moving rectangles of white up her body. I carried her to the other room and we kept going on the table till one of its legs snapped and we both fell over. Then we finished on the floor with all the splinters on the oriental rug.
That was when my hand was still broken. She did a lot of little things to help me, helping with my shirt, opening cans of beans, pulling my boots on for me, tying them. She was the first person I dated who was good to me just to be good to me. Once, my dog was about to throw up and she put her hands out like a bowl and caught it, I didn’t know people did things like that.
We would walk the railroad tracks, listen to each other, break into buildings. I was remembering what living was. On the 4th of July we shot fireworks off the fire escape. She liked the fire escape, watching the lights of the amusement park across the river. Some nights we would sit out there in the heat, watch the flame at the factory, my dog panting next to us.
She made me laugh a lot. There was the time she was applying to a new job and was worried about the drug test so she bought this drink that was supposed to clear your system. It worked, she passed, got the new job. But it also acted as a wild diuretic. That week we went out to a pond to swim and she couldn’t hold back any more and had to run into the water to shit. She kept singing Do, doop, do and laughing and she was so embarrassed. She pushed the water all around. We spent the next few hours laying on a weathered picnic table, her red-faced, me laughing and giving her kisses.
In the dead heat of the summer, driving back from the mountains in upstate New York we saw a billboard claiming we weren’t far from the country’s largest free amusement park, maybe it said it was the worlds largest. We were curious and went. We parked the car in a big field. It was blond with dry grass. She was ducking between parked cars taking hits from a joint. Her voice always got this funny nasal sound to it when she smoked weed. When we got to the entrance we realized free referred to the admission to the park, you paid for the individual rides. I bought us each a ticket to the ferris wheel. She was scared of heights, but liked being scared.
“I’m very nervous,” she said.
“Oh you gotta’ kiss me on the ferris wheel. Damn, you really want to break a man’s heart?” I said.
We got in and sat. It started moving and she covered her eyes with both hands. She screamed. We went around once.
“We’re at the bottom, you have to open your eyes.”
“No. No, no, no, no, no.”
“We’re coming up to the top again you have to open them, you can see the tops of the trees.”
“No, no, no. Okay.”
She did. She screamed again. She said she was nervous again. I said it was okay, she would be fine. I stood up, jumped a few times.
“See?” I said.
“Ahhh.” She reached out her hand.
I kissed her. I sat back down. We watched each other, watched the tops of the trees, the people walking below us, the parking lot, the road past the gate.
When it was all done we got off and walked back to the field where the car was parked. It took us a while to find it, she smoked some more weed and her voice got nasal again. We found it, got in, drove with the windows down back towards the town we lived in.