I thought I'd write something that wasn't fun or fantastical. I was reading an article today about job satisfaction, and how amusement park workers are among the lowest tier. It made me think about what it would really be like to be one them, and I found myself writing a short story. So here it is. Warning: there are some relatively adult subjects and language.
Seth rubbed his hands together against the cold wind. His knuckles were chapped, and small cracks were beginning to open up. His skin itched horribly, but he couldn't afford the gloves or even moisturizer to solve the problem. He blew on his numb fingers and wiped his running nose as he squinted his eyes against the wind. Red and brown leaves skittered across the asphalt and the skeletal trees creaked back and forth. It was well into November already, and even without snow, it was freezing. Raging Funland had decided to stay open through the fall this year, trying to squeeze the last few dollars out of the amusement park-going public. Seth was one of the few employees that had somehow ended up with a double shift this weekend, and he hadn't had the nerve to refuse. He was currently on hour four of his shift minding the Funhouse, pressing the cold button to advance the rail cars as people climbed in and out.
Seth knew he couldn't complain. His mother didn't work, so it was up to him to support the two of them. The extra shift would be just enough to keep the heat on for another month. Not to mention when he tried to get out of extra shifts, she yelled at him. He wasn't exactly afraid of her, she was too heavy to get off the couch, but he hated when she was mad. It was too loud. All he wanted was to be left alone when he got home, so he could go to his room without talking to her. He spent all his time in there, drawing or sitting on the bed. At least he could keep that much of the apartment clean.
A group of teenagers a couple of years younger than him walked past, laughing loudly as they waited in line outside the Funhouse. Seth watched them bitterly. They were all happy and warm, most of them attractive and probably popular. One of the girls in a pink parka was wearing tight jeans, and Seth absently watched her behind as she walked past. One of her friends glanced back and saw him, so he jerked his eyes away and scratched at a paint fleck on the black metal button stand. He felt his cheeks heat up as their laughter pummeled him. They were probably cheerleaders, and he hated cheerleaders, even if he couldn't help but watch them.
He pressed the car button again, not caring to give the mandatory safety speech. If anyone was stupid enough to stick their arm out while the cars turned a corner, it served them right. More people crowded past, their inane babble obnoxious to his ears. It was better than the Funhouse music though. Sometimes when there was no one in line, Seth could hear every off-pitch note from the metal clarion, repeated over and over. He wanted to curl up in a ball and scream. He tried his best not to.
How could all these people be happy? Seth watched the group of girls get into a car, hating himself for how much he wanted to look at them. He couldn't help it; it felt good to imagine the bodies under their clothes, and he almost never felt good. He rubbed the scars on his wrist, feeling the raised, bumpy skin. That was another thing he couldn't seem to help. His mother never noticed what he did, not even when he left the blood on the sink overnight.
"Miller!" an angry voice said suddenly from behind him, and Seth jumped. He turned around and cringed at the sight of his supervisor's bulk advancing quickly toward him. Bill Masterson had a gut that hung far over his belt, so large he couldn't zip up the ugly brown windbreaker he was wearing. He had a thick black beard like a wire brush and chew-stained teeth. The man stopped so close to Seth that his rancid breath washed over him. "Are you reviewing the safety guidelines for every group?" he demanded.
"Yes," Seth lied.
"You little shit," Bill gritted, and Seth looked at the ground quickly. "I know you aren't, I was just listening! I can't believe you just lied to me! Do you ever say it?"
"Bullshit," his supervisor spat. "I warned you about this last time didn't I? My ass is on the line when you lazy piss-offs don't follow the rules! Do you want me to lose my job?"
Seth wanted very badly to say yes. He hated Bill Masterson more than anyone else, and listening to him yell was worse than his mother ever was. The man losing his job would make Seth genuinely happy for once. Instead he shook his head. "No," he whispered.
"Well it doesn't matter," Bill said, "You're fired Miller. Get your ass out of here."
Seth looked up in shock. "What?"
"You're done, dude."
"You can't, I need this job!" Seth sputtered, knowing from the stinging in his eyes that he was about to start crying.
"Not my problem," his supervisor said, raising a hand dismissively as he turned to walk away, "I'll send Rita to take over, and I want you to leave as soon as she gets here."
Seth stared at the man's retreating back, a fire flowing through his veins. He had never wanted to hurt anyone so badly as he did now. He clenched his fists until they started to shake. Bill got into a golf cart and sped off before taking a turn behind a building, where he disappeared from sight. Seth let his shoulders slump. What was he going to do? Fight Bill Masterson? He let out a gasp as impotent tears of anger fell down his cheeks.
He waited until Rita came, not even looking at the girls as they exited the Funhouse noisily, then he walked slowly back to the main office where he would turn in his Raging Funland polo shirt. What was he going to tell his mother?