Theme Parks and Obstacle Courses – a Novel



“Hi,” said the last one. “My name’s Eileen. I’m the new girl.”

“This is true. But the rest of us are only a little used,” said Monique.

“I’m twenty, and I do most things. I’m open to discussion.”

“Please come in,” said Stevie, leading her past Monique, who crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. “Can you stand up, please?”

Eileen climbed up onto the table. That close to the actual light fitting, the light on her hair ignited a brilliant, burnished auburn. Stevie sat down again, beside his Dad, and they flipped through the karaoke menu.

Commotion; Johnny sat ready with the remote and Stevie retrieved the microphone. ‘Come on Eileen,’ began and Stevie serenaded her, not allowing a lack of tune to impede his efforts. Johnny and Wally joined in.

“You mean everything!” proclaimed Stevie, going down on one knee as the song concluded. The girls applauded, while Monique smacked her ruler against her leg.

“But my name’s not really Eileen!” she said, laughing.

“Tonight, you are my Eileen,” said Stevie. He reached for her hand and she led him from the room. Pat gripped his coffee cup like a elderly person grips the rail on a skyscraper observation deck in a high wind.

The hostess appeared in the doorway. “Gentlemen, have you made your choice?”

“Monica looks good for me,” said Johnny, patting the couch beside him. She sat down and curled her legs under her.

“I need some remedial work,” said Wally.

“I can tell,” said Monique. “Perhaps we should get started. You are getting worse, I can see it, while you are sitting in front of me.” When Wally stood, he looked to be six or seven inches shorter. She took him by the hand. “I can take off the heels if you’d like.”

“No, no,” he said. “Keep them on!”

“And you?” asked the hostess, addressing Pat.

“Nothing for me,” he said, feeling like he’d swallowed a hockey puck.

“Really?” she asked, sounding disappointed. “You don’t like any of the other girls?”

“I’m just… not in the mood.” A cooing went up from the others; Wanda put her fingers on his neck. Her nails trailing across his skin felt like dry ice. His shoulders went straight up to his ears and she withdrew her hand. His face was burning.

“Okay,” said the hostess. “Any other drinks?”

“Water?” asked Pat. The hostess waited until the other girls had left the room before she pulled the paper screen door behind her as she left. Monica had poured herself a scotch and dry and was making her way onto Johnny’s lap.

Pat reached for the whisky bottle. Johnny reached out and grabbed it just as Pat was lifting it off the table. He levelled a long, straight look.

No accusation, just refusal.


Johnny and Monica sat on the couch and giggled, their noses about three centimetres apart. Pat flicked through the channels on the T.V. and found an old Jim Carrey movie.

He tried to submerge his attention in it, but there is nothing like being in a room with a canoodling couple to make a person realise how dysfunctionally alone they are.

Public displays of affection are no big deal for bouncers; odds-on, if you’ve done security for any period of time, you’ve had to interrupt many an amorous exchange and move the participants on to a less ‘indecent’ setting.

As with most varieties of human contact for bouncers, however, it’s not acts themselves that are disturbing – it’s the emotion that drives them.

Monica stood and led Johnny to the door. With his free hand, Johnny hooked the whisky bottle by the neck and took it with him. The sliding door rustled shut behind them. Pat looked at his phone; it was now 4:30am.

Jim Carrey’s voice and rubber face were even more punishing than usual; he turned off the T.V. and looked at the door.

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