The jester, chained to stocks, mocks me once more. “Is that the best you can do??” he squawks. “You’ll never be the man your mother is!”
Pretty much the agreement is he throws insults at us while we throw tomatoes at him. I pelt him on his stupid face with another ripe one, drawing the cheers of a half dozen onlookers, one of which whom is a busty wench who wields a big sign that says KISSES and asks me if I would like to kiss her for a dollar. Her smile reveals an odd crease right below her nose – perhaps remnants of a sloppy harelip surgery? I’m on my third drink and don’t care.
But the only thing in my wallet is a twenty. I shrug. “Would milady instead fancy a sip of my piña colada with very little Spanish fly in it?”
She rolls her eyes and leaves me for a family of three across the way. The family consists of a father, a mother, and a son, and just by looking at them I see it all. The father is a Packers-worshipper with a Ditka mustache who hates Obama, rush-hour traffic, and his fucking micro-managing boss. The mother is a hoarder who spends too much time and money at Target. The underachieving son juggles all of those endless pre-reqs at the local community college with euchre nights and Starcraft 2.
The father motions the wench over, asks how much, nods, hands her a dollar, and requests that she kiss his blushing son. His son says noooo, he doesn’t want to cheat on Danielle, his online girlfriend from New Zealand. Danielle is an FBI agent who goes by the screen name BellaSwan93. The father insists, widening his eyes, and the son, pretending to be more reluctant than he really is, relents.
The wench gives the son his first ever real actual physical kiss. The father and mother look at each other lovingly and hold hands. I glance at my phone and see only one bar.
I keep walking deeper and deeper into the faire.
A trio of drunk midgets get in my way, chasing each other, cutting through the traffic of people. ’Scuse me, pardon me, coming through, they all say in sequence.
I keep walking.
Someone who looks a lot like Chris Kattan sits on a log and eats a sandwich using only his feet. The woman next to him models chainmail lingerie. The Kattan doppelganger swallows a bite, looks up at the sky, sighs, says to the woman next to him: “You know, on beautiful summer days like this, when the sun sings Talking Heads songs and the tree branches smile at me, I’m glad my mom did all that LSD while she was pregnant.”
I continue on.
A little girl, she can’t be older than five, pleads with me to enter her tarot card reading tent. I look inside.
“Where’s your mom?” I ask her.
“Mommy is dead. Step into my office.” She grabs me by the forearm, leads me to a stool, and then takes a seat behind a little plastic desk for pre-schoolers. Then she pulls out a deck of Sesame Street-themed playing cards and starts shuffling them very slowly.
I smirk a little. “Oh. Well now. Are you going to tell me my future, little girl?”
“Shh. Be quiet.”
Ten minutes later she’s done shuffling. She lays down the first card and it’s Oscar the Grouch.
“Not good,” she says, shaking her head.
“What. What is it—“
She lays down the second card, and her face turns white. It’s Big Bird.
“Oh, God…” she says.
“What is it? What does that mean??”
She stands up and points at the tent’s exit. “Get out of here,” she says. “Run!”
I’m tripping over trash cans on my way out of there, sloppily pushing one foot past the other. My heart pounding in my head, I can still hear the little girl in the distance yelling: RUN!
I look at my cell phone. No bars. No signal. This place, all twenty-five acres, it’s a dead zone. It’s a trap. I run past lonely biker dudes and heavyset women and blue-haired grannies. This place is crawling with them, and then some. I can barely breathe. I don’t know where to look. Everyone, from society’s rejects to out-of-work vaudevillians to bored housewives looking to escape the malaise of the Midwest, everyone seems to be here all at once. These people are everywhere and I am in the middle of nowhere at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, running from I do not know what. Help me.