It was our first Easter together. Rebecca is a beauty with blue hair and a kick ass poet and the two of us have been burning down the poetry scene in dirty Jersey for the last five months. I’m not good with the whole plans thing— sometimes I’ll be chic as fuck and surprise her with some roses or a poem but most times I’m barely aware of what is going on outside of my cauldron brain of awash chemicals and twisted thoughts. I figured we would go to the Keansburg Boardwalk and walk around for a couple of hours maybe hit the arcades, maybe hit a game stand or maybe check out the new haunted house spot
We weren’t aware of the disastrous cluster fuck that was presiding along the murky waters of the Raritan Bay.
Keansburg gets a bad rap and most folks around here think it’s a heroin infused trap of poverty and broken American dreams a half step or two from Detroit.
It isn’t like that on most blocks.
My great grandparents bought a summer bungalow in the burg in the summer of 1939 back when the town was like a Seaside Heights save for the influx of primates fist bumping to shitty music. They shut down the mental institution in Marlboro and shipped a good deal of their patients to Keansburg after the feds cracked down on the joint for beating, raping, and other far worse acts of macabre. My grandma remembers seeing some of the poor folks on the front porches of the bungalows doped out on anti-psychotics drooling onto their gowns when the full moon would be hanging in the sky.
And that’s not saying that all of them are descendants of lunatics from the mental asylum but sometimes you just have to call it as it is and the shit we saw at the boardwalk last Sunday was madness.
We rolled up and parked in the lot, went to the machine to pay for our parking where I already knew I was in for a trip. Eight people stood around the new machines scratching their balls wondering how to use the touch screen. As I pushed through the four beer-gutted techno-tards, I navigated past a mother and her three pregnant daughters who were talking about Justin Bieber or something.
I typed in my time, took my ticket and hit the boardwalk where thousands of the areas brightest had gathered bumping into each other with baby strollers filled to the brim with cheep stuffed animals that were suffocating their poor kids who swam in the rolling dungeons of fuzz. The masses bumped into one another shaking back and forth like a horde of the walking dead but worse— as they moved forward their hands clenching paper cups of Coca-Cola and bags full of quarters. Each time a ride let out, the children would sprint from their seats laughing maniacally like packs of hyenas slobbering all over their just ironed polo-shirts.
The parents faired no better— their eyes glued to their smartphones spilling their Coca Cola all over the poor sap in front of them in a rhythmic precession that unfolded like Dominos. We fought our way through the madness one foot by each foot, Rebecca’s tiny hands clenching onto my flannel for dear life terrified to be sucked into the abhorrent typhoon of boardwalk going mouth breathers. We waded our way through to the arcades but they were stuffed from top to bottom by thousands of unruly child creatures with chocolate stained on their faces. The ones who could break through the doorways ran around the arcade throwing skee balls at the poor staff who tried to beat them back with inflatable swords and hammers but with no avail!
We broke into a run and headed for the only place I could imagine there would be safety: the French fry stand! The boardwalk had been known for its artery cloggers for years and I figured a bucket of them bad boys would make this hell on Earth a worthwhile endeavor— it was Easter after all. In front of the French fry stand, the horde had already arrived before us and they clawed at the painted counter top scaring the counter girls back into the corner. The fat French fry cook waived a spatula warding off the hungry maniacs with grease flying from the tip of his metal tool.
All at once, the rest of the unruly crowd surged toward us entrapping us in a human mass of stench and bad hair-cuts, they ran their hands over us as they clawed for the counter. We tore away tumbling over drooling mo-mos as we charged for the go-carts which sat at the border of the boarwalk. We reached the cars and there atop the top of the go-carts announcer stands , Matt Gullstrand, an artist friend with sunglasses and a denim jacket, waived us forward.
Before we made our way to the car I looked into the mirror. My face was blotchy and red, my beard was messy, and in my hand was a cup of Coca Cola and in the other a Ziploc bag full of quarters.
I was one of them. I smiled into the mirror and turned on my heel and headed back into the horde of boardwalk goers, ready to join them at the French fry counter.