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Amusement

Patricia Q. Bidar

They met over White Russians at Mister Bixby’s Cocktail Emporium. Fay didn’t mind the seedy Nu Pike Amusement Park. She grew up spending afternoons at the Let's Shoot shooting gallery, obliterating targets with a real .22. She’d collect spent cartridges and bring them home. She’d shoot marbles at whiskey bottles with a slingshot. There was Laff in the Dark Skee-Ball. Dimes to pitch into crystal cups. It was Fay’s second date with Mr. Fessler–that is, Derrick. She wanted something. She pointed to a mirrored jewelry box. That’s a trinket for an ingenue, Derrick murmured into her neck. When he pulled away, she felt the dampness of his lips. Already, he was steering her to something on a low shelf. Some sort of glider. Wingspan 12 inches, he said with his high-pitched giggle. Says here it’s faster’n last year’s. Fay’s mother said it was time to try for men at Fay’s level or lower. She suggested Mr. Fessler. This way, no one will leave disappointed. He was no looker with that mussed hair and too-big smile. He worked as head bellman at the Breakers Hotel. In lieu of ambition, he had a zest for life. Instead of Hooray or Swell, he said ’ray, which was sort of cute. Sure, he lived with his mother, but so did she. Fay knew to run from a guy who was not simpatico with his mom. She was well-liked on the community theatre scene. She could understand French, if it was spoken slowly. She could cook Thanksgiving food. She could walk on her hands. What she couldn’t do was defy her mother. We’ll take it, she said to the girl behind the counter. ray! Derrick said. The girl’s eyes met Fay’s before she dipped for the toy. Derrick gave a swooping whistle, his eyes on the flyer.

Patricia Quintana Bidar is a third-generation Californian and working-class writer from the Port of Los Angeles area. Her work appears in Wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Pinch, Monkeybicycle, and Atticus Review, among other places, including numerous anthologies. Patricia’s story, "Over There," appears in Flash Fiction America (WW Norton, 2023). She holds a Bachelor's degree in filmmaking and a Masters in English. Patricia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and works as a professional writer for nonprofit organizations.