Then there was May Day. It very nearly ruined any chance I had at becoming friends with Veronica. I’d say it was my mother’s fault. But I wasn’t ever going to let her take the blame for it.

The May Day Fair took place at the Polk County Fairgrounds. It was typically a dusty old lot, but in spring the fields around it were bursting with green from all the rain in April. A wooden pole was stuck into the ground in the center of the events, ribbons tied to the top. At some point people would dance around the Maypole, weaving ribbons into an intricate pattern.

My parents gave me a ride as they were going anyway, but I ditched them pretty quickly in order to find Frank.

“Frank, yo,” I said walking up. He was in line for cotton candy with his younger sister, Jasmine.

“Tuck, can you believe this shit?” he asked.

Jasmine was only twelve, she looked up to Frank and all his friends with wide glittering eyes. When he swore she smiled, about to laugh.

“Yeah, I know,” I said.

“The same every year. It’s ridiculous. You’d think they’d give the kids of The Dallas something more interesting to do.”

I shrugged.

“You come with the parental units?” he asked.

“Yeah, but their off–I don’t know.”

“Same,” he said, handing money to the girl at the booth and receiving a bag of cotton candy.

Behind us a band played corny banjo music on a stage with benches that resembled pews in front of it.

“Here,” Frank said to his sister, after taking a handful of the pink insulation candy. “Go back to Mom and Dad and tell them I’ve met up with friends.”

Jasmine reached for the candy, but Frank held it out of her reach. “What are you going to tell Mom and Dad?”

“You’re hanging out with friends.”

“Right,” he gave her the candy. “I saw Ricky around,” he said, stuffing some of the pink cotton into his mouth.

“With his Mom or Dad?”

“Mom,” said Frank.

“Should we rescue him?” I asked.


Away from the stage and the food and candy vendors were striped tents and the unmistakable smell of carnies. It was a third sweat, a third pot, and a third sweet kettle corn. There were three rows of striped tents with games and challenges. Carnies called to us asking us to brave their fixed games. You could win a ringed tall tophat by shooting three pins down with an airgun that shot large balls. I wondered how heavy the balls were and how much air pressure would be needed to propel them. If it was a lot it would be difficult to aim. There was the darts you could throw and pop a balloon. All you won for that was a small cardboard poster. But at least there wasn’t anything fixed about it.

“Man, just one more month and we’ll be seniors,” said Frank.

“Yeah,” I said. “You doing football over the summer?”

“Thinking about it.”