In The Queue

wildwatercoveThe park is packed with old men in high-waisted trunks, harried mothers chasing wee ones, and artificially tanned teenagers enjoying a last hurrah before school returns like a drunken sailor getting home at dawn. Water rides loom far overhead as far as the eye can see, behemoths that curve and twist into pretzel shapes, and spit out screaming riders at alternating intervals. Over the PA system Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” booms loud and proud as groups of people relax on beach towels and folding benches, reading books, sunning themselves, or eating late lunches.

At the park’s signature ride — the highest enclosed water slide on the premises — the line appears to be a quarter mile long, as excited riders grab their tubes and latch onto the end of the writhing queue. Somewhere near the middle of the line Kara stands impatiently with her single tube in hand, her face red in spots where she has forgotten to apply sunscreen. She keeps looking behind her as if something will appear if she turns around enough times. Nothing appears.

Ben is two spaces ahead of Kara in line. He also carries a single tube, and it is at first unclear if the two even know each other. Ben stands listless as he stares straight ahead. In front of him in line are two girls, probably 16 or 17 years old, the one blonde and the other brunette. When she’s not looking behind her, Kara is looking ahead, scowling at the two girls. The brunette wears a stylish swimsuit cover-up, but the blonde has on a barely there bikini that reveals more than half of her tanned posterior.

“Stare a little harder, Ben,” Kara says under her breath, punctuating the comment with a drawn out sigh.

From behind a short, squat girl, who also has red spots on her face, shows up carrying a double tube and breathing heavily. Kara doesn’t take her eye off the blonde as she acknowledges her friend by taking one of the tube’s handles. When the other girl spots Ben ahead of them in line she smiles, an ingrained reaction that quickly changes when she too notices the blonde. Continue reading “In The Queue”