By Dreich

Land of the bad clothes

Extra land of the bad facial surgery

On with the story...

He turned to the left and crossed the road, the sea churned grey onto unwelcoming pebbles, they hissed their displeasure. He looked up at the nearest lamppost where an enormous red and yellow face looked down, its plastic face stuck in a permanent rictus of mirth. Its colleagues stretched away in ghoulish perspective down the promenade in various modes of suspended hilarity. He walked onwards braving the wind laden with brine, stale chip fat and thick spun sugar ignoring the walls of suggestive postcards, seedy outcrops of rock emporia and other purveyors of glossy tat. To his right families were playing crazy golf, one with an enormous wife in a red and white spotty dress and her tiny stick like husband resembled the couples on the aforementioned smutty postcards. On the other side of the street a girl squealed as her enormous bearded boyfriend lifted her up and held her under his arm for no good reason he could see. Far enough from the Coral island and as invisible as he could realistically be he took a seat next to a young boy on a bench inside a cubicle looking out to sea.
“You that kid wasting your money at the Island ?” he forced out. “Where’s yer parents?”
“At the dogs” the boy replied a crisp halfway to his mouth.
Walter grunted and looked away, then after a small thoughtful pause, unprompted proceeded to recite his party trick from the “Wonders of the world”.
“I grew up with traveller parents and we owned and ran a Waltzer ride”
“ What, like Gypsies” the boy interrupted
Walter was used to interruptions and this particular misconception and had learned how to weave it into the story
 “No, they are a totally different community. We used to travel from place to place meeting up with other rides and..
The boy interrupted again “ I thought you all just went around together like a circus”
Walter sighed. Another common fallacy
“No we were all independent but we met up the funfairs then went our separate ways to set up fairs in other towns”
 He paused checking out of the corner of his eye to see if the boy was still there. He was, if not rapt, curious.
“Anyway we did this for years until we were offered a permanent spot in the Pleasure Beach”
He tossed his head back in the direction of the fair, its massive roller coaster overlooking the town like a giant rusty spider.
“The other travellers called us “Sand Scratchers but we didn’t mind. We settled next to a freak show...
The boy looked blank
“They don’t really exist now but think of a circus with funny humans not animals. We had some real’ freaks: me, a dwarf, an obese lady, a double amputee and ‘normal’ people made up to look like freaks: a mermaid, bearded woman, wolf man and the like”
The boy remained though looked slightly worried.Walter sped up the story aware that his audience was not, like in the show, captive
“I got to know them well and I used to help on the door, run about giving out flyers, stick up posters and so on. On my eighteenth birthday I told my family that I had fallen in love with the mermaid but... BIG PROBLEM...”  he emphasised
“she was not from a traveller family! My dad disapproved marrying out of the community and all that so to cut a long story short we eloped”
The boy looked blank again.
“Ran away” he adjusted. Jesus kids of today!
“For a few years we were very happy living in a caravan by the Dorset coast, until one day there was a terrible accident and irony of irony she died slipping on rocks in the sea, knocking herself out and drowning”
He held his head in mock agony stifling fake sobs. He turned to look at the boy. He was gripped.
“Anyway that wasn’t the worst of it of course, I had to tell her old man. He went mad on the spot, I recorded it listen...
Holding up a garishly coloured box, he let go of the key on its side. Crackly hysterical laughter emanated from it. The boys face registered surprise, confusion then irritation.
“You’re sick “he said and ran off
Walter sighed.
“True” he thought”

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