Take a couple of three-year-olds to the fair, and see what happens.
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Darrin slammed against the cheap sheet-metal wall of the kiddie dragon ride. The twins were squealing beside him, but nauseous and bruised were the predominate sensations he felt as the cars made their final run and clattered to a stop at the platform.
He watched as the carny made his way down the row of cars, releasing squealing kids and queazy adults from the ride. As he popped the release on their car, Darrin dimly noted the snake tattoo circling his throat. Wow, that had to hurt. A lot.
But he was shaken from his wool gathering by two kids who were crawling over him in their effort to get out of their latest ride and onto the next. Darrin let them escape into the hands of their dads. But then he heard the operator’s gravely voice. “Need some help, gramps?”
Darrin’s gaze snapped to the carny’s face and he frowned. Gramps? This twenty-something punk thinks I’m a grandfather. As he stared into the young/old eyes before him, he realized this kid might have experienced more of the bad side of life than Darrin ever had. But then Trent’s life to a similar age was no bag of cookies.
Then he heard the squeal of the kids and realized he was a grandfather, at least in their little family. The reality of how their ages meshed was enough to make Darrin smile as he made his way down the steps from the latest ride the kids had picked.
He gripped the handrail and started down the steps, only to see Mitch smiling at him. “What are you grinning about?”
“Oh, nothing. Come on Gramps and we’ll see if we can’t find you a walker.”
Darrin leaned close to Mitch’s ear. “Fuck you.”
“Not recently, but maybe that’s a sign of old age too.”
Darrin swung his boot at Mitch’s ass as he danced out of range, laughing the whole time.
The group settled down as the kids picked another ride. This time Trent and Josh rode with the children. Darrin watched the ride swing back and forth with the youngsters as excited as ever. Mitch moved closer and put his arm around Darrin’s waist. “Stop obsessing over that kid. He doesn’t know shit.”
“But Gramps. I’m not ready for people to think of me as a grandfather.”
Mitch shrugged. “Don’t sweat it. You don’t act like a grandpa in bed. Not unless grandpa has the sex drive of an eighteen-year-old.”
Darrin chuckled and shook his head. “I’m glad you think so, but I walked around with a constant hardon when I was eighteen. I’m just as glad that I don’t have do deal with that any more.”
Mitch chuckled. “I could live with getting hard that easy again. But it was a little like walking around with a loaded gun, everything and anything could make it fire off.”
Darrin chuckled. “Yeah, there are days when that would be good. Be ready to go again in a few minutes. Ah, the good old days.”
They turned their attention to the ride as it came to a stop and it started to empty. Darrin couldn’t help but feel comforted when Trent leaned over and kissed Josh as they exited the ride. It was good to see them still so much in love after their rocky beginnings.
“That’s disgusting. Those people shouldn’t be allowed in public.”
Darrin could feel Mitch stiffen beside him and they both turned to see who had spewed the homophobic mouth diarrhea. But for better, or worse, neither of them could identify the person who said it.
“I swear if someone ever says that around the twins I’ll knock their fuckin’ heads into next week.”
“Calm down or they’ll know something’s wrong. There’s nothing we can do about it now. Don’t let it ruin the whole trip,” Darrin said.
“Fucking homophobic assholes.”
As the kids made their way through the crowd, Darrin realized the young guy with the colorful hair they’d seen in the goat barns was standing beside them. Mitch and Darrin both turned to him as his cleared his throat.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help but hear what the guy said. I just wanted to say that you guys are cool. I hope you don’t let one ignorant redneck ruin your evening.”
Darrin started to relax and nod at the kid when he heard a squeal and the twins ran straight to the stranger and each grabbed a leg.
“You have great hair! I think it’ll be cool with my hat. Whatda you think?” Danny said.
“I like it too. I think I’ll look good with hair like yours. What’s your name? We don’t know your name.”
The kid lowered himself until he squatted in front of the twins. “My names Benji. I’m glad you like my hair. I like it too. What’s your names?”
“I’m Sammy and this is my brother, Danny. We’re riding stuff. You wanna go with us? We like you.”
Benji smiled and shook his head. “I think you guys have enough company. But thanks.”
Darrin detected a note of melancholy in Benji’s voice. He glanced at Mitch and got the slight nod that he expected. Looking back at the youngster he smiled. “You’re welcome to join us, Benji. You can ride all the ride these hellions want to ride.”
“Yay! Benji’s ridin’ with us!” Danny squealed.
A smile slowly crept across the young man’s face. “You sure?”
Darrin nodded and gave him a warm smile. “Sure! It’ll be fun.”
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