RIDIN' THE FIVE
Life moves differently in the claws of a small town. People are less private, the town moves slower, and what people view as important is scaled down to the world around them. Johnny Davisís entire life has been one long, desperate attempt at being a part of something bigger than his childhood town of Nowheresville. It isnít until his ten-year high school reunion that he realizes all his efforts have been for nothing. Because no one ever really leaves a small town. Thatís when he finds Dandy Dís Carnival Funland.
Thereís something about the Funland that he canít escape, something that lures him through the gigantic marquee. Maybe itís the smell of the corndogs, or the laughter surrounding him, but Johnny feels uneasy about what lies underneath all of lights, and games, and cheer. A darkness has taken over the Funland, and itís reaching for Johnny. Its sharp claws dig into him while around him, people of all ages are having the time of their lives.
Ridiní The Five is a horror novel that weaves childhood nostalgia into a terrifying story of purpose in a small town. The whimsy of the carnival will usher in all new terrors from the deep South.
Welcome to Rose Colline
Long way from home, arenít ya?
Oh yeah, I can tell. Town like this, like Rose Colline? Townís only got a few thousand people. Easy to remember a face. Even easier to spot one that ainít a regular. Passing through or here to stay?
Yeah, thatís usually the case.
Oh, Iíve been here forever. I love it here. Thereís something about a small town, you know? You become a bigger part of the life than in a city. Whether you want to or not. Thatís just the way it pans out. For instance, this bar? This ainít no chain. Someone from Rose Colline has one hundred percent ownership. His name is Chip Anderson. His sonís name is too, but everyone just calls him Junior.
Next door, the mechanic is Al Windham. His wife runs the books for him. There are two other mechanics in town, but heís the best, honestly.
All the stores are local like that. Most of them have the ownerís name right there in the title. Carlisle Flower Shoppe, Randyís Quick Stop, even Aunt Missyís restaurant is run by Mayor LeBoixís aunt, Missy.
Everything youíll wanna do while youíre here is gonna be right there on Beacon: the two-screen movie theater, the bowling alley, they even put the high school down there on the end. Thereís always something going on in the cafeteria. Since the community center burnt down in Ď41 they use it for everything. Parties, meetings, live music, I mean everything. They even have lessons where you can learn how to dance. Youngsters teach adults, adults teach youngsters. Youíd be hard-pressed to find someone around town that cainít lindy hop.
Thatís how small town life is, friend. Everybody knows everybody.
Mrs. Jameson and the Michaels family work together with their stores. The Michaels provide discounts to the Jameson Funeral Parlor, so she has nice flowers for those who are bereaved. And sheóIím sureódoes something nice for them when theyíve gone cold.
The Peterson and Moss families run the school. Most of the adults in town learned from the Petersons, but the government got involved and added funds. Now they have a full staff. Basketball team plays every weekend from December to February. I hope youíll come see one while youíre here. Even the townspeople without kids in the game show up. And theyíre good. State champs. Those games will keep you young and make you old all in one quarter. Itís like they know theyíre going to win, but they keep it close for the crowd. Isnít that funny? I know itís crazy to think, but they do. They have a knack for showmanship.
Even further down from the school, just far enough to drown out the cheers on Friday nights, youíll see the houses of the wealthyóDaniel Busby, whoís the owner at the car dealership, and Ethan Maxwell, who owns the bank, just to name a coupleóand just beyond the edge of our fine little communityís reach, thereís the Nelson House. I doubt youíll find yourself down there though.
Fair warning, friend. I ainít the only one gonna notice a new face in the crowd.
Whereíre you from now?
Well, Dallas is a big city. Here youíre not gonna blend in so well. Probably never had a body come into your business the way you may experience here. Part of knowing each other the way this town does is completely losing all sense of boundaries. Youíll find it strange, Iím sure.
At first people here will even find you strange. Youíre like the one brick house on the block painted black in a line of white wooden houses. Itís not that it doesnít belong, itís just different. Different ainít always bad. Youíll find that most small towns have very little more to offer than an exit door, especially if you trying to stray from the norm. And weíre no different.
But as long as you here, they gonna see you. A small town is an always-watching eye, just out of your periphery. If youíre minding your Ps and Qs, wonít nobody say a word. Youíll be just fine.
Iím so sorry, friend. Iím imposing our town on a passerby. I didnít mean toó
Oh, alright then. Nothing better to do. I like that. You see, time moves slower in a small town. Donít be surprised if I talk you to the end of it. Everybody does. Something you may just have to get used to.
Which way did you come from, friend?
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Texas.
Ah, so you rode the five, didnít you?
Sorry. I donít mean to laugh at you. Thatís just what we call it.
Thatís part of our lingo. Just means taking that road you took that brought you here. Donít worry. The longer you stay, the easier itíll be to pick up on that kind of stuff. Just like youíll understand what turns heads and what doesnít.
Soon enough theyíll hardly notice you.
Unless you do something out of the ordinary, of course.
So, what brings you here to Rose Colline?
You wanna open a theater?
You think a town like Rose Colline can support a Broadway theater?
Well, very good luck to you my friend.
Iím actually in the entertainment business myself.
Oh, yes. And not some slapdash naked lady show neither. Iím in the business of thrills!
If you keep going down the road you were on when you came into town, youíll see my handiwork. Owner/operator of Johnny Dís Carnival Funland, at your service. We werenít always Johnny Dísóstrategic marketing and face-of-the-franchise moves and allóbut one thing never changed, and thatís our motto: ďYouíll never go home unhappy!Ē
Oh, weíve got it all, friend. Lights, bells, whistles, games, prizes, food, and of course, all the rides youíve ever heard of.
The carny folk are welcoming, and the foodís so good youíll wanna eat it twice.
Between you and me, the rides are so good youíll have to. Ha!
We gotím all, too. Oneís for the kiddies that go in slow circles, the pirate ship that swings back and forth, and we even have the upside-down rollercoaster. Oh, lot of messes made on the upside-down roller coaster. Thatís why we keep an extra set of funnel cake and corndog stands nearby.
Itís all marketing. Thatís why I chose this spot. Less than an hour and a half between the Red Stick and New Orleans. So many folks passing through see a little fun in the middle of nowhere, everyone gonna pull into Johnny Dís. You cainít help it. It just sucks you in. You come inside and stare down the midway, youíll see everything you ever dreamed of right inside. Everything you ever thought was fun.
There is one thing we donít have though.
Iím sorry, I got caught daydreaming again. Forgive me. What was your question?
Oh, no. No, no, no. Iím not Johnny D. Like I said, marketing and all. We werenít always called Johnny Dís. There was a time, for years and years, when Johnny wasnít even around. But since you got a minute, I can tell you how we acquired our prized sideshow barker.
Iím still trying to get a good read on you, friend.
Maybe after, I can tell you about the one thing we still donít have at Johnny Dís Carnival Funland. I think youíll get a kick out of it.
But for now, weíll talk about how I found Johnny.
You see, itís only the most travelled souls that can really tell you a story, that can really command your attention. Thatís the kind of soul we needed for the Funland. You canít just have someone who doesnít know anything about the world. You gotta have someone whoís seen the best and worst in people, understands how people think. Someone powerful. Someone you can feel in your presence. Thatís who Johnny Davis was. Not many people get to hear about the recruiting process. But you. Well thereís something about you I donít mind opening up to.
Let me get you another beer.
No, no, no. I insist. Iím paying for your company. Call it a business meeting.
Tax write-off, yeah.
Gary, mind setting up the out-of-towner with another oat soda? Thanks, Gar.
See, small town. Everybody knows everybody.
Whether you like it or not.
Oh, my lord. How rude of me! You stroll into town from across the border, and the first face you see just talks your ears to pieces. Let me be the first to invite you into our quiet Southern town, friend.
Welcome to Rose Colline.
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