Monday, April 5, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl Excerpt: Chapter Six - Laughing Sal

(From the unpublished novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)

(the image of Laughing Sal (TM) The Euclid Beach Boys: Used by permission)
Chapter Six:
“Laughing Sal”

The Euclid Beach Amusement Park became the center of their world. Almost every day, Joseph and Janet walked to the corner and rode the city bus to the end of the line, leaving them at the parking lot outside the main entrance.
Before venturing through the stone gateway arch, the aroma of freshly made popcorn balls and cotton candy wafted through the air to greet them. They strolled passed the Kiddie Park where young children rode the carousel or tamer rides under the watchful eye of their parents. Then they came to the thrill rides. They screamed with delight after riding the Flying Scooters or the twin wooden roller coasters named Gemini.
Some days they’d pack a lunch and eat on the sprawling picnic grounds, or munch down hot dogs and root beer served from wooden kegs. They’d mischievously toss jellybeans at the huge, grotesquely painted plaster statue of a hag-like woman dubbed “Laughing Sal,” positioned above the funhouse entrance. Loud music and shrill, recorded laughter blared from hidden speakers, annoying adults and frightening little children.
Twilight time found them walking out onto the fishing pier They leaned over the wooden railing to drop crumbs into the water, feeding large fish schooled against the pilings below. They’d stay long past sundown when the amusement park became a wonderland by night.
Janet loved listening to Joseph. He painted wonderful word pictures of New York City, his family, and his plans for the future. He confided in her his dreams about making a career in the music business.
“You mean you want to be a dreamy singer like Eddie Fisher?” she asked.
“Me? I couldn’t carry a tune in a suitcase.”
“But, you told me your dad was a concert pianist. Talent runs in the family, right?” He was quick to dismiss her compliment. “No, I could never hope to play music the way my father does. But there is something I think I can do. I hear all this stuff going on in my head. I’d like to put all that together, arrange it in some way, the instruments, the voices...”

...On an afternoon jaunt at the amusement park, they ducked into a large indoor arcade to get out of the late summer sun. Joseph won her a cuddly stuffed teddy bear playing Skee Ball. They giggled as they squeezed into a photo booth that took a strip of six photographs in less than a minute. They made funny faces for the first five poses but Joseph put his arm around Janet before the sixth flash of the camera.
“C’mon, Janet, make this a good one so I have a nice picture to remember you by.”
Janet stiffened as the camera clicked for the final time. The strip of snapshots were processed inside the cabinet and dropped into a metal slot on the side of the machine. Janet picked it up to look at them and Joseph pressed close behind to peek over her shoulder. They laughed at the first five shots but the sixth made them quiet. In that photo Joseph smiled but Janet wore a serious look on her face. They didn’t speak much on the ride home and it wasn’t until the bus deposited them at their stop that Joseph felt the need to explain.
“I don’t know what made me say that back at the arcade, about wanting a picture to remember you by? It was an awful thing to say.”
“That’s okay, Joseph, really. It’s just that until then I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that you’d be going home soon. It made me kinda’ sad, that’s all.”
“Janet, I love you, and I never want to be away from you, but I’ve been here almost two weeks. Eventually I have to go back to New York and you have school here.”
“Don’t back up Joseph. You just told me something wonderful, that you loved me. And I love you too. But if you back up now, apologize for it…”
“I’m not apologizing for anything Janet.”
Her eyes widening like a Cheshire cat. “I want ice cream.”
Joseph knew this was her way of saying that there had been enough serious talk. He took her by the arm and led her off in the direction of the nearest ice cream parlor.

Rock and Roll quote of the day: "We ate and ate at a hot dog stand...we danced around to a rockin' band. And when we quit, I gave that girl a the tunnel of love." From: Palisades Park - By: Freddy Cannon.


  1. That picture scares the shit out of me. Why did I land here so close to bedtime?

  2. Sorry Linda. I think that's what she was supposed to do. At least I didn't post a sound clip of her cackling laugh. That really would have kept you up. (wink)