October 3, 2012

That’ll be five dollars for you and three for each o’ the kids.

Filed under: 35 Minutes from Home — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

“That’ll be five dollars for you and three for each o’ the kids.” James took the twenty dollar bill from the ski jacket and watched him stuff the three dollars in change into a wallet full of twenty dollar bills. Never in his life had James had that many twenty dollars bills in his own wallet. He cringed with envy, trying to imagine the man saving every penny for this trip instead of the privilege that he assumed the man experienced.

It was twilight and the sky was a hazy orange from the pollution Up North. James watched the ski jacket and his four expensively clad children enter his Haunted Corn Maze and waited for the inevitable screams of surprise as the youth of Merriton popped out around corners to scare them. Left alone in the booth, James shivered at the snow.

Teardrop trailers. It was all he could think about whenever there was a free moment. He had looked online on John’s computer for them, printing out every plan and schematic, but he couldn’t work on one when he was manning the booth for the Haunted Corn Maze. James had tried to go back to the Wildwood Campground to get another look at Joey’s trailer, but the guy had left already. Samson said he was on his way to Quartzsite, Arizona. Where the heck was that?

It made no sense. James didn’t want to camp. In his mind, living in Merriton was as close to camping as he could be. Why would he want to go up in his own mountain and sleep in a bed on wheels when he already lived in the mountain?

But still! A teardrop trailer! Something about the efficiency of the little things made him want to hole up in the barn with a welder and build one. He had an image for the trailer he wanted to create and it was better than any of the others he had seen plans for.

“HELLO!” The rude voice of a woman snapped James’ attention off his obsession and back into the ticket booth. She waved her hand in front of his face and he noticed the huge diamond on her thin fingers. Her nails were long and expertly manicured and James imagined her sitting in the nail salon in Emigration frowning at the nice Vietnamese lady who does nails there.

“That’ll be five dollars for you and three dollars for each o’ your kids.” The lady plopped a twenty dollar bill in front of him and he handed back nine dollars in change. She made a “hmpf” noise when she took her tickets and James picked up the two-way radio. “We gotta Privileged Princess comin’ up. Make sure ya don’t scare ‘er too bad or I’ll be gettin’ my ear bent after.”

The dependable voice of Lucy Sus came over the radio, “Got it.” James breathed a sigh of relief. Lucy was only seventeen years old, but she had quickly become the most reliable and scary member of his Haunted Corn Maze team. He seriously considered keeping her on in the lavender store, but before he could do anything about that thought, he became distracted by the image of teardrop trailers again.

He couldn’t figure out that fancy program that John was showing him on the computer, but he could look at the models that other people had made using it. He worried that John had spent a lot of money on that computer program, but his brother had insisted that it was free. How could something like that be free?

“That’ll be five dollars for adults and three dollars for each o’ your kids.” The father counted out a ten and six ones and the idyllic family headed into the rows of corn. James pulled up the the two-way again, “There’s a family with a tiny one comin’ through. Go easy on ‘em.” Lucy Sus replied again, “Got it. By the way, Miss Privileged Princess is probably going to complain. I swear we went easy on ‘er.” James nodded, “I know ya did. I could tell she was gonna be trouble.” He could hear the teens under Lucy’s command readying themselves for the small family and hoped that three-year old was going to be okay.

Visions of aluminum framing and a sleek design for his teardrop trailer entered his mind and all he could think about was how to make his trailer lighter, stronger and better shelter from the elements. Most home-brew teardrops are made with an aluminum shell over a wood frame, but James envisioned an entirely aluminum frame, which would be lighter and resistant to rot. With foam insulation between the walls, it would be just as warm as a stick trailer, but wouldn’t fall apart if water leaked in.

Of course, those old wooden teardrops were lasting fifty years at least, despite being abandoned in garages and fields all over The States. And wood was cheaper than aluminum. Still his welding arc called to him and all James could think of was spending the long winter months in the barn making the best teardrop trailer ever made.

“That’s be five dollars for you and three dollars for each o’ the kids.” The weekend dad handed James a twenty dollar bill and James gave him back the six dollars in change and picked up the two-way radio. “We got teenagers comin’. Kick it up a notch.” Lucy Sus replied, “Got it.”


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