Magic Mountain

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

“Magic Mountain Pkwy—2 miles,” the green sign jeers.
          There’s barely time to veer far right, and claim
last place in a line of cars that seems stopped
                  dead. Still, slow as a fault, we grind ahead.

“It’s taking years,” our son Ben whines. “Griping
          won’t help,” Trudi reminds. “Do you have
an appointment?” I demand. Trudi’s driving,
                  so I pry off my shoes and read How To Pick Up

Hotties. I’ve changed its cover for one lettered, in gold,
          Holy Bible. Now Trudi will never look inside.
Too late I see Bible’s spelled Bubble. Good thing
                  Trudi’s engrossed by Hayseed Doughie’s singing,

in his Parkinsonian baritone, “China Squirrel.”
          “To pick up a hottie,” I read, “attach handles
when she’s lying down. If she’s not lying, ask her to.”
                  All nearby cars house dioramas—Washington

Crosses the Tupperware. Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Screech—
          or is daylight playing tricks as, sun plunging,
we reach Park Here? My wallet leaves my pocket
                  with a sweaty schwuck. “Fifteen clams

to stow our Dodge Ram while they fleece us,”
          Trudi groans. Ben—hearing roller-coasters roar,
riders shrieking too far off to see—cries,
                  “That’s recorded. I’ll bet there are no rides.”

“How does that speculation help us?” Trudi sighs.
          Ben totters, glassy-eyed, then plops sunny-side-up
on the pavement. I luggage-nudge him forward
                  to a booth where I get dinged $119.85 (coupon-

reduced from $119.97), then have to taekwando our way
          into the park. It’s almost dark as we stagger
toward a line marked Breath of Death. We’ve seen it
                  on TV: riders in coffins keening as they rim

the eye-holes of a skull. Beanied with snow, a mountain
          magically appears. Condors ring its summit,
lit up by a neon sign: MAGIC MOUNTAIN IS NOW
                  CLOSED. HAVE A NICE DAY. “Where

is Ben?!” Trudi screams as, overhead, a small boy
          dangles from a condor’s claws. The mountain,
big as Everest, grows bigger still, blocking—
                  beyond all chance of reunion—our way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015