When I was a kid I asked my grandma why I had an uncle named Pedro when we were white. I was a kid so it wasn’t racist, I didn’t know that you can’t ask questions like that even about your own family. She didn’t give me an answer. I never did find out anything about Pedro. Was he adopted? Was he a half-brother to my mom? Was that side of the family more diverse than I was led to believe? Maybe I should get on 23andme one of these days.
I haven’t thought about Pedro for a long time, why would I, but he’s been on my mind lately on account of he died and left me an amusement park in Paramus New Jersey. Which is a very weird sentence to write and an even weirder thing to have happen to me.
When a lawyer called to tell me that Pedro had died and left me something in his will that was a little odd but I made my peace with it because I don’t have much in the way of family. I may be the only one around to inherit anything. My family might be mildly cursed. My parents died in a car wreck when I was young. My dad’s parents were both dead before I was born. If I had a grandpa, which I must have based on how human biology works, he was never mentioned, and the cancer got grandma when I was in high school. I never even met uncle Pedro, who may not even be blood related, but I might be all he had for relatives.
So that was a little odd, what was really odd is when the lawyer said amusement park. Come again? (don’t mind if I do) A long lost (never found?) uncle leaves you something in their last will and testament, you think to yourself maybe I’ll get a couple grand, maybe an old muscle car, maybe a storage locker full of mannequins or something freaky like that, what you don’t think, or at least I didn’t anyway, is amusement park.
If there’s anything good about being a freelancer, which there isn’t, it’s that you have the freedom (no lance though) to organize time for a nice fifteen-hour drive to New Jersey. I do okay, but not so okay that I wanted to spend money on a hotel for the trip and while I was out there so it was a straight fifteen.
On the drive I realized that this was the first vacation I had been on in three years. Being the “go to” for affordable back-up vocals and commercial jingles in the entire Midwest is a strange job. I often only work one day a week for a couple hours but I always need to be available. As my college soccer coach told me, the best ability is availability. It’s not true but it was nice of her to say that. I was probably the second worse player on the team but I was always there so I played a lot.
Point being while in theory I have plenty of time to go places and do things, fairly cheap places and cheap things, I never do because I fear that as soon as I get to in the car I’m going to get a call to sing the intro for a sports talk show in Sheboygan. And I can’t pass that up.
My plan was to sleep in my car in the Fun-Time Land parking lot and deal with things the next morning but the caretaker woman lives there in a trailer and she came out to run me off. She’s taller than me, which is something because I’m a tall lady, with overly broad shoulders and one of those Rosie the Riveter bandana things on her head. I didn’t expect the caretaker to be a woman once I saw her that’s the kind of woman I expect to be caretaking an old amusement park.
“You can’t stay here” her voice was surprisingly feminine.
“I’m the new owner” I told her, making note that she had a cattle prod in her hand and a knife in her belt, like a knife-knife not a kitchen knife.
“Oh” she peered at me for a moment “I guess you are. Wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.”
I dipped my head at the shocking device in her hand “What’s that for?”
She held up the long black tube like she had forgotten she was holding it “Local kids are always trying to sneak in here and fuck around.”
I raised an eyebrow “And that requires you to tase them?”
“A taser is something else, but yeah, I have to zap ‘em sometimes. It’s an insurance thing, some moron kid falls off the Spizzler and breaks their neck and the parents sue and it’s a whole thing. Plus we get coyotes around here sometimes.”
“And the knife?”
She glanced down at her belt like she had forgotten that too “Oh, that’s just until I get my guns back from the cops. I shot a guy a couple months ago and the police are real assholes when it comes to giving back your guns, it’s almost like they don’t want private citizens to be armed for some reason. What chaps my ass is that they took my revolver too, which wasn’t even the gun I used. Explain that to me.”
I edged away from her “You shot someone?”
“Yeah, a serial killer grabbed a girl after band practice and brought her here to cut her up and I shot him” she snorted “I’m a real hero. I wish we still had the death penalty, or that I had aimed six inches to the left.”
I shook my head like I was trying to wake up from a dream “You shot a serial killer?”
She frowned slightly “That’s what they said, but he only killed two girls before he came here so I don’t know if that counts. They call him the Twilight Sleeper because he’s a dentist and he injected them with some old dentist drug to get them. Having a name like that seems like a serial killer thing.” She waved towards the trailer with her shock stick “Anyway you better come inside, you don’t want to spend the night out here in your car.”
“Yeah” I said looking her dead in the eye “who knows that kind of weirdo I might run into out here.”
“Exactly” she said as she tromped back towards the rectangle of light that was the open door of the trailer.