7/29/10

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Kids had passed by all day trying to shoot down the small, un-shakable spaceship, their faces glowing with excitement, just knowing they're going to win. Some faces were painted with unicorns or spiders, some with rabbit faces, some with flowers, but all of them were smiling, soft happy noises escaping their lips as the neon-green lights flashed beneath cheap light bulbs and silver foil. With a sneer, the teenager would always take his turn to feel excited when the sad, red-faced children would pass him their one-dollar bills, the spaceship still in-tact.

The teenager wasn't mean in nature; he was just following the flow of his fellow workers. He had seen one-too-many parents drag their crying child away when they failed at knocking the spaceship down with the little foam bullets that shot from the heavy, cheap-plastic guns, and he would smile at every child who glanced behind their shoulders, hopeful that the booth-man- out of the goodness of his heart- would stop them and hand them their desired toy.

But they werent supposed to win: The gorrila glue on the back of the spaceship made sure of that. They were supposed to waste their money trying, because the money is what pays for the stuffed dolls, the hot fair food, the electricity in the fair rides, the toilet paper in the Port-a-Potties, and every quarter went to buy the people's twenty-five-dollar ticket-stub. It's what every fair-worker looked up to at the end of the month; one big paycheck of a joint contributation of other peoples' money.

That was all part of the grand sceme of this, see? It was such a huge waste of money, that parents were always hesitant to go to fairs, since it was all sticky sidewalks and fatty food.

But oh, how the children loved to spent their hard-earned allowances on one ride on a Ferris Wheel, or one big crash in the Bumper Cars; how they laughed and laughed while tossing too-small hoops at too-big bowling pins; how they hopped on their toes, reaching up at sweet-smelling booths, waving dollar bills at the people inside, earning a funnel-cake, cotton-candy, or a deep-fried-oreo in return.

If more people won than lost, then the fair would probably lose a ride or two, which means less people, which means less money; and less money, means less attractions. It's a vicious cyle that bent no rules for anyone.

In the life of the fiar-grounds, the booths had to be rigged, and the prizes had to be cheap. As long as everyone was happy while being at the fair, why did it matter when they arrived home with a doll that fell to pieces in the washing machine, or a few more pounds on the gut to run off the next morning? It was nothing personal; just business.

The teenager waved as a little boy walked off crying, holding the hand of his mother who's face was flustered that she couldn't win the game. Looking away from them, he saw a tall man with a haunted expression walk over, followed by three happy little girls, each younger than the other.

The teenager smiled and got the plastic gun ready, and flicked the switch on the side of the booth to activate the neon lights. He could tell that he was going to make a lot of money from this group.

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