The early morning fog blanketed the ground as though a giant had laid a vast feather bed across the midway. The ground-hugging cloud gave the impression that the ferris wheel was anchored to the sky, rather than to the ground. It hung improbably from the first rays of the sun to cross the sky.
Stan strode towards the darkened booths without a care for where his feet touched down. The path was a familiar one, born of years of maintenance work on the rides and amusements that made up the fun park.
But lately, the pranks had been getting out of hand.
At first, it had been simple things, like overturned trash cans, or all the toilet paper spooled off the roll and onto the floor, in the bathroom stalls. Pranks committed by bored kids, let loose in an amusement park that required a coin for everything, coin that had run out earlier in the day. These were the kind of prank pulled by penniless youth not yet rounded up by parents, parked in the beer garden, guzzling tankards of ale.
The pranksters had escalated the scope of their activities to include vandalism and breakdown of the park equipment.
Dammed if he knew how they were doing it, though. He was still scratching his head over yesterday’s disaster, where all the cabling on the suspended swings had become tangled. Heavy metal cabling, twisted and tied in knots like a pretzel. It really did look like the handiwork of giants.
And these pranks were being carried on after hours, as far as he could determine. He had taken to closing down the maintenance himself, in an attempt to catch the pranksters red-handed, staying until one or even two in the morning, and still, he had found no one on the grounds after close.
Yet every morning it is the same. Impossible stunts accomplished in the wee hours.
This time he had prepared. He set up hidden cameras throughout the park, to catch the pranksters in the act. Not only that, he had packed an overnight bag, and was planning to camp overnight in the park.
First stop, the midway. It was where the main power grid was housed, and always his first stop on arrival at work.
As he rounded the main ticket booths and strolled down the wide, mist shrouded boulevard, his eyes picked up the sound of music playing. He quickened his steps in excitement. Finally, he was going to get a break and catch them in the act! The tricksters were still in the park! He thumbed his cell phone, on the verge of calling 911, but decided to wait and see what was going on, so that he could call in a solid description of the culprits.
He slowed to a stop at the corner and peeked around it. The Midway game trailers were open and light and music streamed from every game, but not a soul could be seen. He waited a moment to see if anything moved in the area, but other than the flashing lights of the displays, nothing else moved in the area.
The closest game was the Wild West Shoot Out and tinny saloon music blared from the speakers while the game ran though its cycles. The arcade guns were primed and the targets popped up at random intervals, in a background of a farm scene. A bear, a fox, a sheep, a gunslinger’s cowboy hat, a Mexican sombrero. Everything seemed to be operating correctly except for the line of ducks that normally paraded across the top of the scenery.
Strangely, these targets were twisted so that only the edge of the target could be seen, where they were present at all. Some were down as if they had been shot and others gone.
Grumbling, he went around the back of the display and unlocked the maintenance access doors, swinging them open wide. Great, now I will have to get all these ducks in a row before I can go after the pranksters.
English idiom: “Get one’s ducks in a row” – meaning to complete one’s preparations, become efficient and well organized…This synonym for “Get one’s act together” probably alludes to lining up target ducks in a shooting gallery. (Slang, 1970’s)
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