HEY, REAL QUICK by Zac Smith

I realized that I could basically live at the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson Township, New Jersey, if I wanted to… So that became the plan… I got there just before nine in the morning… Bought a season pass… The guy at the ticket booth said the season pass meant I could basically come and go as I pleased for the season, which, you know, was several months… So, obviously, yes… Ahh… As I pleased… And I wholly intended to be pleased… Pleased and amused… A whole park dedicated to being amused… Just as I pleased… A Great Adventure… I was excited… But inside the park, it felt strange being around so many people… People laughing… People running… Kids screaming… It was so much… I had basically been alone and living out of my car for a month by then… But it also felt good… Yeah, like, I just decided then that the strange feeling was actually just me feeling good… Heh… And I listened to the kids screaming with joy… It sounded good, you know… I felt like screaming with joy, too, maybe… I couldn’t remember the last time I’d screamed with joy, you know… At some point in my life I stopped screaming with joy… And maybe that was when my life started being shitty… There was no more joy, nothing (good) to scream about… But that was changing… I was surrounded by joy… Adventure… A Great Adventure… So I smiled… :)… I couldn’t help it… It just came out of my face… And I decided to scream… Not, like, right then, but, you know, I decided to let myself scream… If it felt natural… When the time was right… Because, you know, I was a single man just walking around in the middle of the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson Township, New Jersey… It wouldn’t be right… Kids can do that… Men can’t do that… Which is weird, but fine, I get it… So I decided I would ride a roller coaster and then I could scream… You can scream on a roller coaster… I thought maybe that’s what made roller coasters good for adults… I’d never ridden one, you know, so I didn’t know… But I’d be allowed to scream… Finally… Yeah, I was getting excited… I felt more excited about screaming than almost anything else… I got in line for the biggest roller coaster… Packed in with my fellow adventurers… The screamers… The Great Adventurers… They knew how to fuckin’ live… But I had all season to perfect my technique… I’d know how to live, too, soon enough… And I would become king of the park… I would be a Great Adventurer… The Great Adventurer… Oh yeah… I looked at the other people in the line… They looked normal… The adults had jobs… The kids had school… They had budgets… They wouldn’t be sleeping in the back of a car in a parking lot and coming back to the park every day for the entire season… I decided that I would outlast them all… And that made me feel good… I would be the winner… I would acquire a new throne… King of the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson Township, New Jersey… I had discarded my worldly obligations and possessions for all the wrong reasons… It wasn’t money that would make me happy… No… I decided that the park was my calling… I would spend my money on amusement… I would be happy… Finally happy, purely happy, infinitely amused… But I had to learn the ropes first… And I felt patient… I was ready… I was starting to learn… I heard people on the first ride of the day going down the massive drop… The screaming… I felt excited… Tingly… The scream was coming… My scream… Hell yeah… I got on the train… They made me sit next to another man who seemed by himself… It felt good, you know… We were going to no longer be sad, lonely, adult men… We were going to ride a roller coaster and scream… Together… Screaming with joy… Like children… We would feel pure wonderment together… Dropping down together… Free-falling… Facing death and screaming with joy… Meeting our own fears of dying head on and screaming for joy… I was like, yeah man, this is gonna be intimate… I was ready… I was feeling good about the world, about whatever would happen… I wanted to give the guy a high five, or hold his hand, or something… But I didn’t do anything, you know… We all live with this stupid thing called fear in our hearts… So I just gripped the handlebar thing… We ascended the hill… We saw the whole park… The sprawl of adventure… My soon-to-be-kingdom… It was beautiful… The guy next to me started chuckling… It felt good… I was nervous… I had never ridden a roller coaster before and this was apparently one of the tallest roller coasters in the world… So I was starting to feel afraid… But the guy’s chuckling made me feel better… He knew something I didn’t know… But I was going to learn soon enough… I just had to sit there and wait for it… He nudged my hand… I looked at him, but he was staring straight ahead… He was smiling… He said, “Hey man, I was just remembering, the first time I ever rode this bad boy, I shit my pants,”… He looked at me… He was still smiling… He looked insane… Something about his eyes… But I believed him… And it made me think that maybe I was about to shit my pants… “Yup,” he said, “We hit the bottom of the hill and whoooop, it just came sloshing right out,”… He turned back to face the top of the hill… Then he shouted, “But look at me now, I’m king of the fucking park, baby!”… I was like, What the fuck… Everything was ruined… Instead of feeling excited about the roller coaster, feeling like the soon-to-be-king of the park, I was feeling worried and deposed… Kings don’t worry about shitting their pants… And here I was, doing just that… I mean, I had never ridden a roller coaster before… I didn’t know anything about them, really… Maybe shitting your pants is just something that happens on roller coasters, and I just didn’t know… But I didn’t want to shit my pants… I felt pretty confident about that… As anyone would be… And then we went down the hill… I was trapped in my own life, doomed by my own idiocy… The man screamed… He held his arms straight up… Truly carefree… Truly embracing his only life… Feeling the Great Adventure… But I couldn’t scream… I couldn’t move… I was clenching my core… Squeezing my ass shut… I was dropping down a vertical track, completely consumed by the thought of shitting my pants at the bottom… No joy… No fun… Nothing good… Just fear… Fear of shitting… It was embarrassing, to fear something so primal and simple… I was supposed to be the king, but there I was… Obsessed with things like shitting, instead of embracing freedom… Then we hit the bottom of the hill… The churn, the bend in gravity, the warping of reality… It felt horrible… Terrifying, delirious, visceral… But I didn’t shit my pants… !!!… I just felt nauseated… And tired… And, like, as if somehow, by clenching my ass so tight during the free-fall, I had somehow absorbed everyone else’s shit, or something, somehow… I just felt like total shit… Like I was composed of shit… And like I had already been defeated… I thought, dumbly, that I could be the king of the park, but there was already a king, and he had seen me coming… And he knew how to stay atop the throne… I got off the roller coaster and wandered away… Lightheaded… Just a head floating above a walking pile of shit… I felt like I was going to pass out… So I sat down… I put my head between my knees… I breathed… In… Out… Huff… Hoo… But I just felt sicker and sicker… Everything smelled… I was surrounded by stink… The shitty food frying in dirty oil… The vomit piling up in trashcans and toilet stalls… The blue, chemically-treated water in the fountains… It was all too much… I got up and walked to a trash can… I couldn’t stop it… I threw up… I puked right onto some old mashed up hotdogs… A dirty diaper… What looked like a rotten cabbage… What the fuck, you know… And I heaved and wept… I was defeated… Lost… Unamused… Sick, reeling… But eventually I started to feel better… To normal out… To think clearly… And then, of course, I had new worries… Maybe I couldn’t ride the roller coasters… That I had this season pass and nothing to use it on… That I was simply, physically, unable to ride the rollercoasters… I sat on a bench and breathed… In… And out… And I smelled it all again… The smell… The stink… And I felt it all again… My place in the world… And the composition of the world… The garbage… The trash… The decay of it all… It was everywhere… And I was a part of it… Part of the rotting… I was sitting in the sun and going putrid… Stinking… Decaying… I got up… Walked around… I played one of those shitty carnival games… Handed over some money… I threw a ball… I didn’t knock any of the bottles down… I threw a ball… It didn’t knock any of the bottles down… I threw a ball… It didn’t knock any of the bottles down… I did it again… Five more dollars… Three more balls… No bottles… Again and again… I thought maybe I could improve… I thought if I kept practicing, I would knock down a bottle… I spent money… I threw balls… But I never knocked anything down… I spent fifty, sixty, seventy dollars… And nothing seemed to change… My arm was sore… I was sweating… I was angry… Yeah, I was getting pissed off… I wanted to punch something… But there was nothing to punch… I looked at the teenager working the booth… He shook his head, like, You don’t want to be doing this, man… So… I stopped… I gave up… I walked… I wandered… I spent money on bullshit… I ate a giant pretzel… I bought a commemorative popcorn bucket… I drank a lemonade… I felt nothing… It was all garbage, all trash… I was broken, numb, incompatible with life at the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson Township, New Jersey… Well, I thought, you know, maybe I just felt like an adult man alone in an amusement park… And I realized how stupid that was… I was embarrassed, ultimately… Trying to act like a kid… Wishing I could scream, or punch, or fill my fat face with disgusting bullshit to feel good… What was I doing… I wasn’t a kid… I’d never be a kid again… So I decided to do the most adult thing I could do, aside from having sex with someone, you know… I was gonna get drunk… And you might not believe this, but the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson Township, New Jersey had a bar inside it… And, well, long story short, I got pretty drunk… I drank all day, you know… And stuff got a little weird… And to bring it all home, you know, to get to the point, I guess… I have a sorta weird question… Do you know where I could get a gun?


Zac Smith is Zac Smith.

Art based on a design by Steve Anwyll.

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