Last week’s story took a few days to come up with what I was going to do with that odd couple of cards. But it’s done and posted over here.
This week I asked will to give me a 2-1 split on Storymatic cards and this is what he pulled out of the box:
I already have ideas bouncing around in my head for this one, so it should be a fun week as I figure out exactly where to go with this.
As always, I invite you to play along. If you write a story, please leave a comment with a URL so I can go read it. My version of this story will be up next Friday.
[h3]December 12 Story[/h3]
It wasn’t easy coming up with the ultimate idea for this, but once it gelled the story just poured out.
In Search of… by Jeff Adams
It never occurred to me that I’d end up at a carnival again. I shot a movie when I was ten, a period piece that took place in the 30s with a traveling carnival. I thought it was the best thing ever because in the mid-80s there was no such thing as a true traveling carnival any more. I loved the animals, the weird rides and the side shows. It was great until the jerk that played my older brother conned three clowns to scare the crap out of me. After that, I never wanted to go near anything resembling a carnival or a clown again.
Now I was in New Orleans trying to track down a man who might be my father, who works a carnival around the area during mardi gras. I’d been looking for him for five years and I’d finally gotten a good lead from the half a love letter I’d found when I was cleaning out my mom’s house. I’d kept it safe all this time. It was torn length-wise down the middle in a very ragged way. The paper yellowed over time. I’d love to know why she only had half, and to know where the other half was.
I had the right half of the paper, so I could see it was written November 27, 1975, which was Thanksgiving Day. It started “Dear Maryanne” and there was reference to missing her on the holiday. From the piece of the letter I had, it looked like he planned to be home in time for the birth and that he missed her a lot. There was a signature, “Marty.” My birth certificate said Martin Kronberg on it. According to the new detective who finally found the lead. This was the person I’d find at the New Moon Carnival just outside of New Orleans. Apparently he’d worked this carnival for the past four years and he was working on the crew when it opened last week.
I parked in the gravel filled lot and took in what was sprawled out before me. It could’ve been the carnival in that film. Some of the taller rides, like the ferris wheel were visible as I approached. There were plenty of tents and trailers around and out by the ticket booths there were well-worn posters for the attractions that lie within. It was early so mine was the only car in the parking lot, but beyond the ticket booths people were bustling to get things ready for the evening.
I stopped before I got to the ticketing area. Now that I was here, I wasn’t really sure what I was after. My dad would be in his early sixties at this point. It’d just be great to know him, know what his life’s been like. Maybe find out why he didn’t come home after I was two. And, maybe we get to have a few years as father and son, too.
I got my courage together and strode purposefully through the entry space between the ticket booths. With the turnstiles out of the way, it was easy to walk right in. Initially no one paid any attention to me. Men were on the move, carting crates of food on dollies, hauling bins of trash, a couple people were getting around via a golf cart with a trailer on the back hauling what looked like pieces from some ride. Most everyone was wearing blue jeans and some kind of t-shirt.
“Can I help you?”
I turned to my left and had to keep my mouth from falling open. The man approaching was gorgeous. Buzzed blonde haircut, pale blue eyes, very muscled arms. He was tall, easily six-two or six-three since I was just under six myself and he had some height on me. He wore a lose fitting, sleeveless white t-shirt and blue jeans that were so faded that they looked like he might have worn them every day for a decade. Brown work boots kept his feet covered. I guessed he was in his thirties. He still looked young, but not fresh out of college either.
I must have looked very out of place since I wore a blue button down and khakis. I was trying to meet my dad after all, so I thought I should look nice. I didn’t think through where I was going though.
“Um, hi,” I said, brilliantly stumbling over my words. “I’m looking for Marty Kronberg.”
The man’s look hardened. “What’s it to you?”
My mind flashed back to being terrified at carnivals as the man looked and sounded harsh.
“I think… well, you see… he’s my father. I think.”
“Oh.” His tone shifted again to something less intimidating and he took a pause before continuing. “I’m afraid he passed away two days ago.”
The world spun before my eyes. Dizziness overtook me and I stumbled. The big, blonde man caught me so I didn’t hit the ground. The detective confirmed just a few days ago that he’d been here so to find out that he was dead was a huge blow.
“Your dad was a good man. A friend to a lot of people here. My dad worked with him for over twenty years. Would you like to talk to him?”
“Yeah. I’d like that.” I took my weight off this stranger and stood on my own, the wave of disorientation passed. Falling into this guy’s arms was awesome. I hadn’t had a boyfriend in over a year and while I messed around a little in that time, there was nothing consistent and feeling this man’s touch woke my body up in ways that it hand’t been in months.
He pulled his phone from the back pocket of his jeans and zipped his thumb across the screen before putting it to his ear. “Hey, dad. Can you come up front? Got a guy here looking for Marty. Says he’s his son.” I heard a muffled voice on the other side of the phone. “Yeah, I told him.” He listened some more before he hung up without saying anything else.
“He’ll be here in a couple minutes. Come on,” he said, as he started walking, “we can sit over by the food carts. I’m Zed, by the way.”
“I’m Tom.” I extended a hand as we walked towards picnic tables. He gripped me with one of the firmest, yet most comfortable handshakes I’d ever experienced. “Sorry about back there.”
“Not a problem. I didn’t exactly give you good news. Let me ask you, you said you think he’s your father?”
I nodded as we sat down.
“A lot of evidence points to it. I haven’t seen him since I was two. I’ve been looking for him for some time now and only found out he was here last week. I’ve got half of a letter he wrote to her and some other evidence from over the years. Did you know him well?”
“No where near as well as my father. I knew him when I was little and when my mom left my dad I didn’t see him for years because I went to live with her. I started working here a couple years ago cause I got burnt out on corporate life, so I met him all over again. Marty taught me what to do here and I love it. Working with my hands, entertaining people, traveling. We travel through Europe part of the year. I figure I’ll do it for a couple more years before I get serious about wanting a family of my own.”
“What all do you do here,” I asked, suddenly fascinated.
“Lot of maintenance work, making sure we’re safe for the rides and the electrical that’s everywhere. I studied electrical engineering, so I understand a lot of the equipment, but now I really know the ins and outs of maintaining it, too. Sometimes at night I’ll dress up and be a barker at one of the side show tents too, depending on how big the crowd is.”
I smiled. It did sound fun. Far more than my desk job.
“So you’re Tom? Marty’s boy?” asked a voice from behind.
I turned to find a man that was the older version of Zed. Same features, except this man was bald and wore glasses. It was easy to see what Zed was going to look like later. The fact he called me by name proved even more that the man who was now dead was my father.
“Yes, sir,” I said, standing up to shake his hand. “At least I think I am. I never knew him, but I believe he’s the Martin Kronberg on my birth certificate. I don’t know if you’d recognize his hand writing, but I’ve got a sample of it.”
I got the letter out of my shirt pocket and carefully unfolded it. He took it as I handed it to him and studied it for a few moments before he refolded it as delicately as I’d handled it.
“It’s his handwriting all right.” I nodded as he sat down next to me. “I’m Carl Niven. Marty passed in his sleep two nights ago. When he didn’t show up for breakfast, I went lookin’ for him and found him in his bed. I’m not sure you want to know this, but he talked sometimes about trying to find you, but he didn’t know how to. You’re mom cut him off because he wouldn’t come home. She even stopped taking the money he sent along.”
Oh my God. She never told me any of that. All she’d ever said was that he was gone. I was defeated. If only I’d found him sooner.
“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you all this,” Carl said. “I know there’s a letter for you in his papers along with his will and other things. I think he expected that a court might find you when it was time to settle his affairs. We haven’t cleaned out his space yet because we’re all still in a state of shock. You’re welcome to collect anything you may want.”
“I’d like to see what there is,” I said, quietly. “What about his body?”
“That went to one of the local funeral homes,” Carl said. “We were planning to have a cremation. That’s what we tend to do if there’s no one to claim the body. That’s not due to happen for another couple days so we can change that plan depending on what you want.”
“Dad, I think he needs some time to process all this,” Zed said. “Tom, what can we do to help?”
I looked at Zed, into those blue eyes were I knew I could get lost. My mind spun with what I’d just heard.
“Can I go to his room? See his things?”
Carl nodded. “Of course. Zed, why don’t you take Tom there. I’ll make sure the merry-go-round is tended to so that you can take care of our guest.”
“I don’t want to be any trouble,” I said. “You can just…”
“Nonsense. Your Marty’s boy and that makes you family. We’ll do whatever we can for you.”
Zed and Carl stood and I followed suit.
“Thank you,” I said and shook Carl’s hand again.
“I’ll catch up with you later. Tell you some stories.”
“I’d like that.”
“Come on,” Zed said. We walked through the carnival. Despite looking very out of place, no one seemed to pay attention to Zed and me walking through the bustle of people getting things done.
At least I was going to know my father to some degree between looking at his stuff, the letter he left and the stories I could get from these people. It wasn’t lost on me what Zed had said about giving up corporate life. Maybe I should, too, and get to know my dad by working with the people he did. It was certainly something to think about as I came to grips with the fact that I’d been too late.