SHORT STORY: Boysie and Crapaud at Coney Island – By Geoff Burrowes

 By Geoff Burrowes

Boysie was tall and thin. He still managed to be very attractive to the girls he met, in spite of having a stumbling knock knee and a pronounced parrot toe. He was also freakishly good at sports, always captaining and winning the games of cricket and football that broke out on nearby Bourda Green. There was no one his equal on the  ping pong table at St Barnabas Church and as far as the tawa game they played under the tall owra tree, with owra seeds he had no match.

UYANESE oNLINEHis good buddy Crapaud was as short as Boysie was tall. and instead of being thin he was corpulent. He had “short foot” so he had to almost skip to keep up with Boysie when they were out walking. He was an absolute klutz when it came to sport of any kind but Boysie and the”gang” loved having him around because he was clever, side-splittingly funny and it didn’t pay to tan’lize him as by the time your shot hit home he would “pelt a shot” twice as insulting and four times as funny.         

He also always had a string of jokes which would entertain his friends unti”dey belly buss” with laughter. Being with him kept them on their toes too as, one day they were passing the alleyway alongside Mr Holder’s Bakery on Camp Street when Crapaud called out a fond name in the direction of the alley and a wild looking old man burst out of the alley brandishing a stick and rushed towards the gang, cursing and swearing with spit flying from his lips. Needless to say they scatered for their lives, while Crapaud laughed fit to bust from up Camp Street.

Coney Island

It’s a Friday evening in August and the gang is excited as they stroll up Camp St. They are finely dressed, brightly coloured sports shirts, the new ankle high yottin shoes that were all the rage! They’ve been saving for this for the last couple of weeks and Crapaud, as he skips to keep up with Boysie’s long strides, is cracking jokes and pelting shots. As they come over the train line on Lamaha Street they could see the bright lights in the sky ahead.

An American travelling Carnival had set up shop on the East Indian Cricket Club grounds and as the gang lined up to cross the long wooden bridge they could hear the bright, lively calliope music and see the colourfully dressed crowds enjoying the rides. The rides were like nothing they’d ever seen before. In addition to the normal merry go rounds, there were seats at the end of long chains that flew out as the high pole at the centre spun faster and faster.  There was a Sputnik-like contraption that hung at both ends of a tall arm that people were climbing into even as they watched . All the rides were colourful, freshly painted and gleaming. There were many booths around the field selling intriguing drinks and eats and others offering chances to win stuffed animals. The people serving these booths had lots of tatoos, which in an age where only sailors and criminals displayed them, made them look shifty.

Boysie had one hand wrapped around an obscenely big cardboard cup of Coke while the other held a newspaper cone of channa. Grease anointed his cheeks, while satisfaction was written across his face. Crapaud was enjoying a cone of salted nuts and a large Icee Tonic while Desmond’s choice was Coke and sticky pink candy floss which covered his lips and cheeks. The other boys were all enjoying their choice of goodies as they waited in line to ride the satellite .

What no one knew was that a bolt connecting the seats to the chains on the spinning seat ride had a flaw in the metal which was slowly spreading across the width of the bolt. More of that later!

The satellite ride was as exciting as they’d hoped as they climbed into the leather seats and were buckled in place by a lean man with a “Suzie” tatoo on his right shoulder and a tshirt , which was too funkie as he leaned across them to fasten the seat belt! With a creak and a clunk the long arm rolled up into the air and stopped way above the ground, while the riders, looking small from the height, climbed into the car at the other end and were buckled into place. The same creak and clunk signalled the beginning of the ride and the arm swung faster and faster and the satellite car swayed alarmingly as the satellite plunged towards the earth swishing past the ground at a speed that seemed doomed to smash them into the grass below, but then they were swooping up and over and diving down again! It seemed all too soon when the ride slowed and stopped. When they stepped out on the grass they were panting from the thrill of the ride and their knees took a second or too to support them, but they were glowing with the excitement of the ride. Even Crapaud was shocked into silence.

After that walking on the ground was an anticlimax and Boysie thought it was time to leave, but Crapaud said “Boysie I must try the swinging seats!” and Boysie replied “Wha wrang wid you Crapaud – that will just make you sick!”

Crapaud not only talked Boysie round to letting him take the extra ride, but also got Boysie to ride in the chair behind.

Boysie was right. As the swing seats flew higher and higher and faster and faster all the treats that Crapaud had enjoyed rose up in his throat and he was sick as a dog. Boysie tried to wriggle out of the way and in doing so his seat belt opened.

Just at that moment there was a popping sound from the faulty bolt and the bolt broke and the chain slipped free. The added pressure caused one of the other bolts to break and the chair swayed wildly causing Boysie to slip out of his seat. His desperately outstretched arm caught the flailing chain and he hung on, legs sticking straight out.

At that moment the carny man at the controls switched off the howling engine and it started to slow. The chain that Boysie was clinging to began to slow and drop but it was too little, too late and Boysie pitched into the darkness beyond, right at the edge of the boundary trench and lay motionless.

People came running and gathered around him and a St John’s ambulance man stationed in the middle of the ground rushed over and examined Boysie. He declared that the boy only had some bumps and bruises. No broken bones! But he insisted that he take Boysie over to Mercy Hospital to be checked out. The nuns at Mercy Hospital confirmed that Boysie had no serious injuries, dressed his bruises and let them go.

On the way home Boysie wore his dressings proudly, like a gladiator, while Crapaud was uncharacteristically quiet, taking the whole accident as his fault.

The next day Boysie was sore all over but he took Crapaud aside and assured him that he held no ill will and that they were all right!

They all agreed that that was the best Friday night ever.

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