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Lothario’s Grand Thrill

He introduced the girl to the ride of a lifetime

By KK Hartmann

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Lothario Fade introduced the girl to the ride, confident she’d be amused and beguiled with his sanguine sway. As they dallied in line, the dazzle of lights and whir of contraptions awakened his joy and roused reckless pulse within, he leaned close to her, inhaling the intoxicating aroma of her perfume, a whiff of lavender and hint of medicinal potent spirits. He slipped his dark hand around her naked waist, his thick fingers dawdling on the band of her polka dot pedal pushers while he eyed the contours of her tank top and pressed his lips to her ear, whispering.

“You’ll feel like you’ve never felt,” said Lothario. “Anticipate it – a grand thrill.”

She jabbed a sharp elbow into his ribs and said, “Will this line move any faster?”

“We’ll be there, momentarily, assuredly,” he said, appreciating her impatience, aroused by her attitude. “Look, they strap you in a cage; the line’s moving.”

“It’s like forever.”

“Well, then savor it like it is forever. Imagine us in the cage at the top, spinning crazy, swiveling insane.”

“And then you come down, it doesn’t last,” she said. “What fun.”

“Listen, it’ll be a thrill, forget sarcasm, be assured, it swivels around and spins upside-down. Look. We’re next.”

Once strapped into the cage spinning at the apex of the colossal wheel, the thrill made the girl exhale in a way Lothario deemed delectable as the cage swiveled around and spun upside-down.

Lothario clenched his jaw and braced his palm against the teeter-totter of the metal cage, secured by the nylon belt strapped around his gut, suspended in a quixotic seesaw above the festival as lightning lit the outlines of dark cumulus clouds on a distant horizon, he whooped a wild, joyous cry.

The cage returned to earth and the operator said, “All right folks, time to disembark.”

“We want to go again,” said the girl. “That was only half the ride; what’d we pay for a partial ride? Half price tickets?”

“That’s the ride,” the operator said. “It’s over.”

“We’ve been standing in line watching,” she said. “Everybody else got to go around twice. We only went once. I’m curious why we had to disembark after only one rotation.”

“Everybody goes once, nobody goes twice,” said the operator, who began to fidget, his gnarled fingers dabbing his bald pate, his dirty boot pivoting on a cigarette butt crushed on the platform. “No exceptions.”

“What are you trying to pull?” said Lothario. “We went once, everybody else twice, that’s crap. I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.”

“I don’t like your attitude. I’m sick of cowboys like you,” said the operator.

‘Cowboys like me? There’s nobody like me. You must be mistaken. Cowboy? Where’d that come from? My great grandfather just rolled over in his grave, just now, this very moment, and it’s your fault with this cowboy talk.”

“Don’t disobey. Do as I say. Get off the ride or I’m calling the cops.”

“Call away.”

The operator called for muscle and attracted an anxious security guard who struggled with his belt and trousers as he fumbled over and escorted the girl out of the cage.

“Who the hell are you supposed to be?” said Lothario, still in the cage. “Hey pops, why don’t you go pound popcorn up your ass? Stick some cotton candy in your ear.”

Security signaled a cop.

A sullen cop arrived and asked to see identification. Lothario suspected the cop could see nothing from the dark prescription glasses covering the hollow sockets between his gaunt cheeks and pale forehead.

‘What’s your name?’ said the cop. “Fades?”

‘What are you blind? Your vision obscured? Why don’t you take your sunglasses off? It’s freaking nighttime. Either that or learn to read. You got my I.D. My name is Fade. Singular. No ‘s’ in Fade.”

“Whatever you say Fade with no ‘s’, we got a Homeland Security alert on your singular ass.”

More cops swarmed to the scene, one cop kicked around the same cigarette butt with polished boots that the operator had kicked around with dirty boots, the cop persisting on stubbing it with his toe, inspecting it from different angles, imagining it to be a half-burned firecracker, uncertain the butt had been properly extinguished in the first place. The authorities gathered, tended business, compared levels of authority like canines sniffing asses, smug in the funk of hierarchy but quite prepared to escalate and summon SWAT if need be.

“Lothario Fade. He’s a known gangster; I’m confidant, no questions,” said an officer assured of his own rectitude. “An active member of a notorious motorcycle club, a gang, nothing but hoodlums, troublemakers.”

Lothario emerged from the cage.

‘The jig’s up, eh?”

The phalanx of cops mingled close to Lothario and discussed strategies on how to dispose of a gangster in their midst, some textbook theories mixed with personal experience ‘like there was that time two years ago three towns over, same thing only different but still, and what about the shit that went down in Waco, what about Laughlin?’

“Yes, yes, some biker shit went down in Laughlin but Waco was a cop fiasco,” said Lothario, “and yes, as long as we’re discussing shit that went down, what about what’s going down at Standing Rock right now? You tell me.”

Lothario counted 30 uniformed enforcers eager for action fondling weapons and batting gloved palms with stiff batons. He contemplated the futility of protesting the peculiar timing of the amusement but continued his quest for justice, regardless of consequence.

“Everyone else got to swivel twice, whereas we only swiveled once,” he said.

“So you’re here seeking some sort of sick-o-swivel thrill,” said the pale cheek cop with the hollow socket sunglasses who sneered like a wild badger.

“Of course, I paid for it, fucking right,” said Lothario. “Bought a ticket. That’s why I’m here. It also spins upside-down.”

“Spins, huh?”

“Yeah. Upside-down.”

Lothario didn’t agonize over their intolerance; this was nothing new, the strange preoccupation with the color of his skin and the cut of his clothes, especially the patches, oh the patches, rockers, biker swag, the number 13, ITCOB, what not.

The civil servants slithered around him like a serpent binds its prey until he could feel the cold heat.

He knew the feeling well; he had mastered the anger management mandated by incarceration, the usual classroom drivel, constricted, exhausted and suffocated to death, pass or fail, live or die as taught by some spiteful Drone Ratchet. Rather than suffocate, he imagined he’d fight for every breath with arms flailing like a windmill slays monsters, scooping a heart from a beating breast, stealing the breath from any foe, corpse after headless corpse strewn about the midway like kewpie dolls hacked with a sickle and trampled into the dirt, stomped upon, the purposeful boot kicking a cigarette butt with no malice or joy as in ‘Vengeance is Mine Sayeth the Lord’ - a line tattooed backwards on the neck of a fellow inmate whose mirrored image offered a memento that there’s nothing to fear.

“You’re deemed to be a danger and a menace,” said an officer.

“Do you hang with Quick Horse?” said a second.

“Why aren’t you flying colors? Where’s your patch?” said a third.

“I’m not in that life any more,” said Lothario, amused that the cops hadn’t frisked him, thrown him to the ground or Tased him. Not that he had done anything to deserve such a fate. It’s just what cops do; they can’t help themselves. It’s part of their training, their DNA.

His extremities simmered and burned like a sparkler, ready to ignite the fuse and let his imagination explode in rampant glory.

“For kicks like, this I could jab a knife in a toaster to get a jolt.”

The cops circled tight, shoulder-to-shoulder and the ones not looking at cell phones exchanged grunts and nods and stupid grins and speculated on the weather report, severe storms forecasted, flash flood warnings, high winds, dangerous velocities and damaging hail possible, maybe shut down the carnival and as a precaution evacuate everyone.

Lothario noticed the girl was nowhere to be seen.

“That’s a shame,” said Lothario dreaming of a lost dalliance. He didn’t know her name, knew nothing about her only that she had vanished into the cacophony of the crowd and convulsions of his heart. He savored the melancholy before the fray, carefree and unconcerned as to outcome.

A cop prodded Lothario’s rib with a truncheon and broke his reverie.

Lothario drew a long breath as if it’d be his last and said, “No more patter.”

Two cops abruptly stepped back from the circle and revealed an open path. Lothario stepped through the opening and departed from the blue cluster - a blue clustered circle jerk, he thought. He hastened around toddling tykes jostling in line at the carousal and cut through crowds of giddy teens cued at the Ferris Wheel and Tilt-O-Whirl, skirted the beer tent where a polka band belted out “Roll Out The Barrel,” scampered past gimcrack shacks manned by shysters and barkers beckoning the rabble hoard of non-believers and believers in luck to try their hand at chance and then scooted behind the Pretzel Man, the Popcorn Stand, the Cotton Candy Dandy, the Hotdog Bus and Falafel Wagon through a thick cloud of greasy smoke to a parking lot, where he was pleased to find the girl in polka dot pedal pushers and tank top applying lipstick and leaning against his chopper.

“So was that your grand thrill?” she said.


“Or was that foreplay?”

The night air began to stir, a few handbills and candy wrappers twisted in the wind, dry leaves drifted capriciously in a sudden gust, the ephemeral turbulence masking the carnival’s festive din with an eerie rustling racket.

“What’d you say?”

“Grand thrill?”

“You know, I don’t even like the word now – grand. I wish I had used a word even more magnificent than grand.”


He mounted his machine and by habit pulled the choke with his left hand and positioned the pedal kicker with his right.

“Yes, quite right. Grander, of course.”

“Is that your ritual?” she said. “Raise havoc at the carnival?”

“It wasn’t me, had to be you.”

“Me? I didn’t do anything.”

“Neither did I.”

He put his boot on the pedal and kicked with routine might. He gunned the throttle with a twist of wrist - flames backfired from the pipes and out spewed fumes; the shaking frame and throbbing pistons soothed him as he eased onto the saddle and let the sound drown his worries.

Lothario wondered at his good fortune.

“So what happened to you?” he said.

“I told the cops I didn’t know you.”

“You don’t.”

“I think I do.”

She straddled the small pillion on the back fender and wrapped her arms tight to his ribs, positioning her heels high on the pegs. The scent of lavender again revealed its fine caress, but Lothario sensed something more, warm and sensual, akin to the peculiar rites of sprinkling lichen from burr oak bark onto an iron skillet atop a hot wood burner in a green house, and for a moment imagined where she might have picked up that scent, maybe a campfire.

“What are doing?” he said. “You’re not ready for this. Not dressed like that.”

“You don’t like polka dots?”

“I do. Polka dots are fine. Fun, I’m sure, like a Dalmatian. I’m just saying. You’re not dressed for a ride. You’ll get wet.”

“So’ll you.”


“Did you just call me a dog?”

“Honestly, I was thinking dots but I was also thinking spots and Dalmatian seemed to be the thing to say in reference to your outfit.”

“So what happened to you?” she said.

“One of those rare situations a cop says, ‘you got three seconds to blow’ and I blew.”

Whirlwinds of dust kicked up at the curb and spun dust devils through the lot; tiny tornadoes appeared and disappeared in a magic dance across asphalt shadows as the bike vibrated at high idle, shaking in rhythmic violence.

“What are we doing?” she said.

“Catching our bearings, you know, restoring the equilibrium. By the way, no jumping off once we start. No matter what happens, be sure to hang on tight.”

“I’m not jumping off,” she said. “I mean, where are we going?”

He tapped gently on the choke with a fingertip and quivered the throttle with his other hand and as the revolutions of the engine slowly settled let the evening air fill his lungs. He nodded his head in the direction of the lightning.

“That way.

“You’ll be more than thrilled, you’ll be electrified; anticipate it, it’ll be wicked, it’ll be fiendish - you’ll feel like you’ve never felt.”

He cracked the throttle and released the clutch, bore full tilt; the back tire fishtailed onto the avenue, the open pipes howled and echoed off neon facades as the bike spun and wheeled under streetlights thundering toward brilliant strikes flashing on a dark, distant horizon.

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Reader Comments

Did they ever get to the Circle K for a PayDay and a YooHoo to wash it down?

Ron Hartmann
Phoenix, AZ
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Editor Response We may never know...

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