Travel Thursday: County Fair Redhead part 2

The next day I was back at the fair bright and early, unable to resist her magnetic presence. Luckily I found her right away, within thirty seconds of entering the fair; good thing I’d bought the weekly pass. I couldn’t accuse her of waiting for me, of course, since it figured the entrance was the best place to hand out fliers for her bucket o’ buttered corn biz.
She quickly maneuvered me down an aisle. “Hot fudge sundaes, banana splits, chocolate sodas, trust me. This is going to be the best part of the fair. What you had in town, those were too rich and sweet to be enjoyed; you practically have to wear protective gear.”
“Specialty sweets whose sticky composition is beyond the capabilities of most humans?”
“Damn, you are good.”
“Wasn’t alliterative, though. I tried.”
“Forgiven, for now. This ice cream is made the traditional way, without overdoing it.”
“Give me the vanilla and I’ll make my own decision.”
Her face fell.
“I’ve never seen you with protective gear.”
“I’m used to it,” she replied haughtily.
“Whereas corn is just about as sweet as I get. Unless I bit your neck, of course.”
“Are you calling me sweet?” she gazed into my eyes in false wonder.
“If that’s what you need to feel better!” Always use a chick’s excuses against her.
“Exactly!” she whooped, but was prevented from adding to that by their arrival at the ice cream stand. I did a good job of concentrating on his ice cream as she talked to her friend who’d sold it to me, a beautiful blonde. Said girl grinned when she saw how thoroughly she was being ignored and mentioned something about redheads having all the luck.
Josi knew when a smirk would do, and so kept quiet. Turning back to me, she stared into my face as she enjoyed her own gelato. She ate ice cream like a child: her tongue flicked, sucked, and licked like she didn’t care what anyone else thought, or more likely she never thought about it. Her eyes were bright and alert, cheeks flushed and grinning between licks.
Not used to being out of the loop, the blonde caught her buddy’s attention with, “Hey, a tourist just told me this wacky joke. Wanna hear it?”
Josi was still looking at me. “Looks like he’s thoroughly afraid of brain freeze, so I’m sure I’ve got plenty of time. Go for it, Rapunzel.”
As she always did on hearing that name, the blonde stroked her hair. I briefly wondered if she might fall asleep if she’d been called Sleeping Beauty, then concentrated on the story.
“Guy meets a girl at a nightclub, and she invites him back to her place for the night. When they arrive at her house, they go right into her bedroom.”
No doubt Josi was glad she’d at least served dinner before dragging me to bed last night, otherwise she might feel like a cliché right now. Luckily the sunglasses hid any possible embarrassment.
“So the guy sees that the room is filled with stuffed animals.”
“At least they’re not Barbies,” I shuddered, causing the girls to turn to me. “Tell ya later,” I promised.
Figuring she’d hear it eventually, the blonde went on. “There were hundreds of them all over the place. Giant stuffed animals were on top of the wardrobe. Large stuffed animals were on the bookshelf and on the window sill, and a lot of smaller stuffed animals were on the bottom shelf.”
That sounded familiar, Josi thought, but decided not to think about it so she could be surprised by the joke’s ending, if indeed it was a good one.
“Much later, after they’d had sex, the guy turns to her and asks, ‘So. . . how was I?’
“‘Well,’ she says, ‘You can take anything from the bottom shelf.’”
I almost dropped my hugely-enjoyed ice cream, a testament to my surprise at the joke’s ending.
“I’ll e-mail that one to my brother,” the redhead promised around her giggles, then turned to me.
“Don’t even think about it,” I beat her to the punch.
Annoyed that she hadn’t been able to get that one out, she harrumphed, “I’m not going to laugh the rest of the day.”
“That just inspires me to tell you all the corny jokes I know–”
“You thought I would laugh at such a bad pun?” She almost did, though in disgust.
I reviewed. “Actually, I didn’t mean that one. But I’ll save them until you’re not expecting them. . .”
“You’re devious enough to be a redhead!”
“You wish!”
She almost laughed then and there, and it was made that much more of a struggle when her blonde friend burst into her famous rapid-fire giggles. “I’ll laugh at all your jokes,” the blonde cooed, batting her eyelashes and then squealing when she saw Josi’s claws heading for her facial orbs. She laughed and knew deep inside Josi was laughing too, but was too stubborn to give in.
“If she doesn’t laugh by closing time,” I promised, “I’ll come back for more ice cream and more.”
Josi took enough time to make her friend squeal again with a poke to the ribs, then pushed me onward. Not for just a few steps either, but with two hands on his back and legs churning she led me down the aisle–I pictured a shotgun wedding–and even managed to turn me around a corner in time to hear a female voice yelling, “Fresh-roasted penis. . . peanuts!”
But it was too late; all the customers were hightailing it at a fast rate.
“I warned you about letting go,” the redhead told yet another friend. “Now go see a psychiatrist before you bankrupt yourself.”
“That’ll probably bankrupt her too,” I whispered, but knew it was for naught. And she hadn’t laughed; this might be tougher than I’d thought, so at times like these, go for the groaner: “Two cannibals were eating a clown. One turns to the other and says, ‘This tastes funny.’”
She stared at me intently, but her lips did not turn upward. I reached for her sunglasses, but she ducked and blocked my hand, so I figured she was laughing behind them.
Okay, if that’s the way you want to play it. . .
“This seems the perfect venue, considering what your psychotic friend just said, for this joke. A man and a woman are in a car arguing. She gets mad and cuts off his dick and throws it out the car, where it lands on the windshield of a man driving with his 8-year-old daughter.”
Her jowls had a quick convulsion, but she gathered herself nicely.
“‘What was that?’ the girl screams.
“‘Um, just a bug,’ Daddy stammers.
“The girl looks at him, confused, then says, ‘It sure had a big dick!’”
After about ten seconds of internal struggle and strife, she managed to say, “Notice this is not a smile, and that’s only because I heard it before. And yes, I did laugh that first time.”
“Actually, I assumed you were the girl in the story.”
She held on to her non-laughing face by the slimmest of margins, the width of a hair on a frog’s back, by–
Never mind.
“The little girl or the cutter?” she finally managed to croak, when her cheeks were under control, but it was far too late to matter.
We turned another corner between tents and were immediately hit by a wall of smells. The air was sweetly redolent of hot grease, fried dough, grilled meats, and spun sugar, and one whiff was all it took to send her straight back to childhood, holding her mother’s hand, riding on daddy’s shoulder or clinging to his pant leg, a little farm girl so dazzled by the bright lights that she thought she’d stumbled into Oz.
I let her talk about that as long as she wanted to, actually spurred her on a few times, so she wouldn’t notice my wandering eye. Not that I was checking out chicks, of course, but I didn’t want to tell her what I was really doing. In this way we wandered through the fair for a while, and somehow she managed to speak, walk, and hand out fliers all at the same time, while remembering not to smile.
“Oh no!” she suddenly moaned, and I looked down to make sure I hadn’t stepped on her toes, though I was sure my ankle woulda noticed. “Quick, take this corner!”
Being trained in not being noticed, as well as having fantastic reflexes, I did just that, but despite her knowing what it was about, she wasn’t as quick.
“Yoo-hoo, Josi!”
“Wow, I hate her just from the voice,” I told her from the safety of the back side of the tent as she plastered on a fake smile–so it wouldn’t be held against her–and turned around to face the voice. “I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays, Doreen!”
“Smooth,” I muttered, but figured it was too late to make a graceful exit. At least I was able to tune out the blathering after introductions, and luckily wasn’t included in the conversation as the newcomer proceeded to update a not-very-willing redhead on what had happened over the last half year or more, if I interpreted the month of Sundays thing correctly.
But even my highly-trained mind couldn’t keep one part of the conversation from seeping through. . .
“He rented one of those ‘Chucky’ films,” Doreen informed Josi, “but I adamantly told him under no way was I going to watch a chick flick. So I–”
“Whew, this heat!” I tried not to grin. “I need some more ice cream.”
Coward, she told me telepathically as I practically ran away. And don’t give that Rapunzel even an iota of come-on!
Backtracking to where I hoped I remembered where the ice cream was, I stopped and looked over at the area with the rides, then called myself a dummy and took out the map I’d been handed on entering. Yeah, that was easier.
Then, realizing that any extra time it took me to return with my ice cream would be construed as flirting with a certain blonde, at least to the redhead mindset, I got in gear and luckily caught Rapunzel at a moment without any customers. I gave her a smile, noticed she really was beautiful, and somehow managed to send her a telepathic message, somewhere along of the lines of “If I hadn’t run into Josi first. . .”
She nodded and smiled back, telling me via the same communications wavelength that she wouldn’t like me nearly as much if I cheated, and maybe next time. Maybe some other time, when I wasn’t in danger from red talons, I’d drop her my photographer’s business card: if you’re ever in El Lay. . .
I found Josi in the exact same place I’d left her, unfortunately for her; I’d been sure she would have maneuvered her way out of this one already.
“Mmmmm,” I mmmmmed when I rejoined, coming up behind her and licking ice cream, “have you tried the pork?”
Josi almost gagged at the thought, but it did have the intended effect of getting Horror-movie-lover to leave in a big fat hurry.
“Even though I know it was a joke, I still feel sorry for the piggies. That was mean.”
“You forgot to say goodbye to your friend.”
Not having seen the action, she turned around and caught sight of the woman rounding the corner. “Quick, let’s get outta here!”
“That’s what I thought. Don’t worry, I’ve got more if she comes back.”
“I doubt I can take anything worse than that!” She almost asked me what Rapunzel had said when I’d bought the ice cream, but she could already imagine. No way the blonde would believe I wanted more ice cream, good as it was.
“Ditch the redhead so soon?”
No, she couldn’t chance asking.
“Hey, Darla,” she said instead, though not to me; we’d arrived at another stand. “Howz biz?”
I wondered if there was only one high school in the county, the way she seemed to know everyone.
Darla assured her ol’ buddy that everything was peachy-keen, then asked if I was hungry. “Cornbread’s hot.”
“Anything with corn, right?” the redhead laughed.
“Not corndogs, but just about everything else.” I leaned forward, kissed her on the nose, and informed her, “You laughed!”
She’d completely missed that one. “Well, at least I won’t have to worry about it the rest of the day.” Sigh.
“Oh, you’ll pay for your lie.”
“Yes, master.” Now that it didn’t matter, she giggled some more, seemingly making up for lost time. “Are ya gonna punish me like my parents did?”
I managed to look puzzled. “Leave you at the mall?”
She tried not to let her exasperation show.
“No, that wouldn’t be a punishment for you,” I reasoned. “Keeping you from a mall would be punishment.”
“There’s no mall around here!” she screamed.
“Yeah, I suppose with the internet you can get everything you want and a lot of things you don’t.”
“Tell me about it,” she sighed, always ready to roll with the changes of topics. “It’s very hard to figure out how some colors look on a redhead until I actually put them on in front of a mirror. A mall would be in handy this way.”
“Some sites must not want to sell to you anymore, considering all the browns and oranges you must have returned.”
“They still sell to me,” she assured me. “Especially in green and lavender. Anything else I manage to sell to all my buddies around here. I usually tell them shit like their skin is a winter so they should wear this or that color and such.”
“I can see why they’re all so friendly towards you. Ever try NOT to buy something?”
Bigger sigh this time. “I always TRY. At least I’m not spending all my money gambling, where someone might come break my leg if I don’t pay. And my vices don’t include smoking or alcohol or drugs, and–”
“You’re not allowed to look on the bright side until you thoroughly answer the question.”
“Okay, okay. Yes, I try to not buy something I see on my computer. And I have learned. Now if I can hold out for a week, then it means I didn’t really want it anyway.”
“I guess that’s progress.” I remembered to take a bite out of the cornbread, which had the same fresh taste as the corn itself. “What happened the first time you tried to keep from buying something?”
Another sigh. “You would have to ask that. All my resolve about fidelity didn’t amount to a hill of beans. I saw, I wanted, I took.”
Wait, can you use the word fidelity to describe clothes? She knew she could be loyal to me as long as I was here, and thoroughly expected me to feel the same way. . .
Wait, she told herself again, that sounds like bragging. I didn’t mean because I’m so hot he’s not going to find anyone better around here, even if I’ve got more going for me than someone like Rapunzel. No, I meant because he’s a good guy who isn’t so sex starved he has to go after every chick in the place, in the hopes of landing just one. Of course, he’s already landed me, so. . .
So, what the fuck was my point?
She saw me enjoying the cornbread, or else I was able to read her mind and wallow in her confusion. Best to change the subject.
Her eyes made sure mine were watching her, then she wormed her tongue around her own dessert, looking down to see if she’d gotten me hard yet again. Not yet. Well, it could keep. “Food is one of the very few sensual expressions for Midwesterners.”
“Along with sex and shopping?”
“No, that’s just me.”
“Ah. I must be damn lucky, then. I might even buy you something I’d like to see you wear.” I didn’t add that I’d probably be gone before it arrived; she’d probably order me to use next day shipping. Maybe a local T-shirt with a nasty logo. Yeah. . .
My thoughts were interrupted when I heard music in the air, but it was the music of warming up, not playing yet. It took an experienced audiophile to know that. Really.
“Recognize it?” she asked.
“Strings, high-pitched. Gotta go with violins. Why?”
“Actually, my biceps are like this because I usta play,” she admitted.
“Want to go watch that flock of fellow fiddlers?”
She laughed as she remembered telling me alliteration got her hot. “Actually, I do, but I’m keeping score, and I’ll give you credit for that phrase later.”
“Not even a quickie in the back of the booth? They’re still warming up.”
She gave me a quick kiss. “If we go there now Jessica will thank me for showing up early and take off. I don’t want to be cooped up just yet, nice as it might be. I don’t fancy interruptions, or having to keep my shirt on.”
“Like the girl who was so poor growing up she wasn’t allowed to look out the window for fear someone passing by might see her naked.”
“Poor baby, speaking of clothes! What happened?”
“When she was fifteen they bought her a hat.”
She frowned, not getting it.
“So she could look out the window,” I tried to explain, but when you didn’t get that kind of joke, it was doomed.
She made an effort, though; she was a nice person, I decided, underneath all those redheaded neuroses.
We walked on a little more, and she suddenly remembered she had a job, as I had to reach into her backpack twice to get more fliers. Eventually we came to a stage, where everyone was ripe pickings for fliers in their laps, but she told me she would never in no way interrupt the performance or the enjoyment of it. So we sat in the rear and waited for it to be over so she could hand out the papers as the people walked away.
I couldn’t tell what the girls were doing on the stage. It didn’t look like Riverdance, or its Scottish equivalent with the crossed swords on the ground. It looked kinda like a cheerleading routine, though not the pompom type, either, more like a professional dance team at halftime. But that wasn’t it either. I thought about asking her, but she was watching with such rapt attention I didn’t want to interrupt.
“Damn, I wish I could dance that well,” she sighed when it was over and she’d stood up in the aisle to hand out more fliers.
“As long as you can still dance around the fire naked, I’m satisfied.”
“Do you remember everything you’re told?”
“When it comes to you, I’d better.”
“Huh.” She went back to concentrating on her job, smiling at everyone but especially old people, and not so much at guys with babes hanging on their arms.
Speaking of memory, I coulda told her there were some people who’d already received fliers from her hands, but were being nice sports and taking another. They musta recognized the curvy redhead, but to my amazement, not one person said, “Got one already.”
So that’s what being a babe can do for you, I mused with a grin.
And then one of the dancers hello’ed her by name and told her she should try out for next year’s performance. Luckily there was no roof over us for me to scrape her off of. On the other hand, I did hold onto her arm, lest she fly away.
“You had to have been a cheerleader,” I mused once I’d informed her she was fresh out of fliers in her bag. After telling me her job was theoretically done till it was time for her stall duty, and announcing she was instead going to pick up more fliers, she assured me she could still fit into her uniform and had it in the closet at home.
“I won’t wear the panties,” she mused. “I’ll pretend I’m fundraising and have come over to your house to get a donation. You invite me in and I sit on the couch while you go look for some money.”
“Do I offer you candy?”
“Nice touch. Anyway, in case I haven’t answered your question yet, yes, I was a cheerleader. But only because I liked dance and they kicked me off the basketball team for throwing too many elbows under the boards.”
“You threw an elbow at me when you woke up this morning, but other than that I’ll save this interesting tidbit of information until I can use it against you. So were you at the top of the pyramid, or did they use your powerful body as a base?”
She wrinkled her nose. “Yeah, I was right in the middle of the bottom, but they made it up to me by putting me in the front during the dance routines. They knew who brought in the big money.”
“So you were always Little Miss Popular and Perky?”
She made her legs go jelly-like just as she replied that there was nothing little about his redhead, mister; luckily I caught it. Luckily I caught her, just as she was about to let herself tumble.
“So alliteration makes you bigger in all the important parts?” I grinned down into her face from where it hung past my arms, able to see all those important parts in the same glance. “Sweet!”
It wasn’t just the alliteration, she almost told me; the cheerleader fantasy helped. But no need to say that, especially if she was really gonna dress up tonight and surprise me, like she thought I couldn’t figure it out from the twinkle in her eyes.
“As sweet as the corn?”
“You’re always pushing it,” I sighed.
A wisp of tawny red hair fell over her eyes and she blew it back in place. “But not beyond the boundaries of good taste, right?”
“Beyond the boundaries of where clichés can go without having anything to do with the conversation.”
“You always this long-winded, hunky-hunk?”
“Hey, yet another accent!” I pretended to drop her.
“Eeek! If you’re going to have me this long in a tango hold, you’d better kiss me, or something!”
“You forgot to wear a rose in your mouth.”
“That would hurt.”
“Not if you do it right.”
“And what’s the right way?”
“Did you know that in Indiana it’s illegal for a liquor store to sell cold soft drinks?”
She didn’t know, and didn’t much care right now, so she settled for a non-rosy kiss.
“Eeek again! You made me forget I need more fliers! C’mon!”
And my day at the fair continued as it had started, with her behind me, shoving me in the back and trying to force me in the right direction. I played her a little, pretended to push back, and when she dug in and let ‘er rip, danced out of the way so she could do a face plant in the ground.
She didn’t have time for an “eeek!” here.
I paused long enough for a photo, let my hand linger down her denim-covered ass, and finally reached around to pull her up, my hands seemingly accidentally tourqeing on the part of her body that was easiest to grab a hold of.
And thusly saw her face was bright with embarrassment.
“See what happens when you’re a pushy broad?”
“I’m gonna be the talk of the town,” she murmured, trying to make the best of it. Then all was forgiven with a huge kiss that made some people who’d stopped to gawk break into spontaneous applause. “Yeah, that’s more like it! But now I’m on fire from your not-so-subtle caressing. We need to find a place!”
“Tunnel of love, or haunted house?”
“Both!” she squealed.
She tried to keep her pace at something less than redhead-furious, wondering if I was lollygagging at the end of her hand on purpose. She tried to think of other things, especially wondering how we were going to “get together” while on those little cars in the tunnel of love, or if we might make their own display as people marched through the Haunted House.
And it didn’t help that people kept bumping into her, seemingly catching every elbow on her chest. She told me later she felt like they’d swelled to twice their already considerable size, she was so hot. She thought she wouldn’t make it to one of the buildings before accidentally finishing, and all these probably accidental nudges were not helping her patience one bit.
She knew that the midway was kept on the narrow side so that people would have to brush up against the stores and games. Nothing was worse than a wide path and sparse crowds. When that happened, the marks hewed to the middle of the walkways and resisted the impulse to lay their money down.
She blushed to realize the term she’d used. “I always wondered why the customers are called marks,” she said with amused wonder.
“Back in the old days, when a customer took out a full wallet and one of the carnies saw it, he would chalk up his hand and slap him on the back like an ol’ buddy so that all the other gamers could see this guy was loaded and ripe for plucking.”
“Damn, you does know everything!”
“Your brother didn’t tell ya?”
“You’re right, he didn’t! Bastard!”
“Ah, your mother finally admit it?”
It took her a moment, but then the smack on the shoulder was half-hearted at best.
“Did you just mark me?”
“Ha! Nice one!”
I stopped when we came to the line for the tunnel of love. Off on the side I could see just as impressive a queue for the ghost palace. “Hate to bring this up, but you’re on duty in ten minutes.”
With a groan she glanced at her own chronometer, barely refraining from loosening a loud “Shit!” that would have just ruined the mood of all those around them. . .

{More to come next week}



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