The sky was scattered with clouds that looked like rain cells. The wind blew them to the west and off in the distance I had seen the misty haze that signaled rain. But it must had been our good fortune that day because none had swept in to spoil May Fair.
The crowed bustled, some people dancing in front of the stage where a cheesy banjo plucking trio stood. One of them had a washboard hanging from his neck and they bounced in rhythm to the fast twang of their instruments. The smell of kettle corn a cotton candy and frying hot dogs and sweat hung about the fairgrounds. In the middle of all the striped carny tents was the maypole. Not yet weaved with colors, the ribbons were tied to a hook in the wood.
I could see Mom and Dad through a break in the cloud. They were holding hands sitting on the benches that were more like pews in front of the stage. It’d been a long time since I’d seen that.They bobbed in time with the music along with the dancers, but they didn’t seem to be conscious of it.
“What?” I asked, turning back to my friends.
Ricky was looking at Frank and shaking his head. “Can you believe this guy sometimes?” he said with his best De Niro. That was one of Ricky’s skills. He could impersonate anybody.
“Sorry,” I said. “What were you saying?”
“You want to–you know?” asked Ricky, and held his index finger and thumb together and to his mouth.
Now, I’ve never been much of a smoker but May Day was always one of the special occasions. It was like everybody else was having so much fun acting like kids I could smoke a couple hits and not feel like I was about to be discovered by somebody sober because everybody was acting high.
“Where? I got a little sketched out last time,” I said.
“I got my mom’s car.”
Ricky was always smoking in his mom’s car. It had leather seats so the stink didn’t stick to the upholstery.
Behind us the banjo trio ended and the MC got on the mic and announced to everyone that it was time for the maypole dance. Perfect timing for us to disappear. Most people who were coming would be there already and so very few people in the parking lot, if any.
In the parking lot we Ricky rolled a joint in his lap. I’d never learned how. It was fat one. He lit it up and puffed. I stood outside the car. the doors were open and Frank was in the passenger seat. There wasn’t anyone around that I could see. So when Frank handed me the joint I pulled in hard. It’s always been funny to me that filling your lungs with smoke always feels more like contracting them with cords. It’s like something wrapped around them so the volume of air they can hold is reduced to a fraction of their normal intake. Despite this when I coughed I released a cloud of smoke.