The Dead Man and the Drop Tower / Tristan Foster

They skip one by one off the bus, telling jokes and almost breathless for fun as they shuffle to the gates, but a storm which is flickering on the horizon when they arrive rumbles overhead on their first revolution in the ferris wheel and as they are tipped upside down by the pirate ship, coins falling from pockets and rattling on the ground, and they have a brief discussion about it, about the thunder and the lightning, and how the rain will be next but there is no rain yet nor wind which spurs them on to cut short the conversation and hurry, to ride the ferris wheel at least once more and wear their glowstick necklaces, as if they are charms which will ward off bolts of lightning, and to eat their ice creams quickly, taking them even on the carousel, as the music winds up and it turns more and more quickly, matching the pulsing of their hearts or, no, matching their desire for amusement, a desire which, as the rain begins to spatter, is rapidly turning into a demand, to immerse themselves, full-bodied, in the toy-box melodies and neon lights like holy water and they talk, quickly, like conspirators, about riding the dodge ’em cars but the dodge ’ems are undercover and can wait, it’s the breakdance and the swing ride they need to hurry to before the rain gets too heavy, but there is also the drop tower, someone says, the Dead Man says, the drop tower line is short. He stands in the rain and points. And it’s true, there is barely anyone waiting to ride the drop tower, which maybe they have left too late because the storm is right above them now, straight over their heads, lightning crackling across the sky and thunder rumbling the earth below their feet and the drop tower will crank them up there into the heavens, closer to the lightning and the thunder before the drop, letting them free-fall back to earth and this is the thing: is all the fun really worth it, the rides and the ice cream cones and the glowsticks which they wield like alien good luck amulets, when the weather is like this and one of them has gone missing, so a group of six is now a group of five, and searchlights streak across the clouds, through the rain, and—the crowds are clearing now, well and truly—two of them want to win oversized bears at the shooting gallery or let someone try to guess their weight, anything to lose more of their money, yet the rest of them want to buy bags of baby blue and pink fairy floss then get on some more rides, they want to scream in faux-fear and it’s really raining, there is a heavy shower which none of them have come prepared for and will likely cause the carnival to shut early for the night and the wind is in their ears, and it’s fine to get wet, it’s fine to get drenched, maybe they will each catch a cold, but it’s fine, they are having fun, but what about the thunder and what about the lightning.

Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.

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  1. On ‘The Dead Man and the Drop Tower’ – No Follow

    […] pandemic continues, the Dead Man wanders on. My piece The Dead Man and the Drop Tower has been published in the April 2021 edition of the ineffable RIC […]


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