“Hey, Skeet, the carnival’s settin’ up over at the old Giant Tiger parking lot. Me, Tom, and Richard are gonna go after supper tonight. Wanna come?”
“I heard about it. My Daddy says I cain’t go on over there because it’s nothin’ but a Flim Flam Fair.”
“Flim Flam Fair. “
“He says they’s confidence men in them games. They’ll tell you lies same as look at you. Anything to get at your pocket.”
“ If you promise him you won’t be playin’ the games, maybe he’ll change his mind and let you go.”
“Go on. Ask him.”
I dug the toe of my Redball Jets in the dirt and waited. I was hopin’ his Daddy would give in and let him come along because Skeet’s got the funniest jokes of us boys. He’s a dad-burned ol’ ham.
The screen door squealed open and banged shut. Skeet come out on the porch.
“What’d he say?”
“He told me I better not be spendin’ my money at no place like that. But I promised I’d only go to the tents and rides and I won’t go anywheres near them stupid games. He said OK then but be home by 9:00.”
“Whoo-hoo! Let’s go!”
We run to Tom’s house and after we got him, we tore off to find Richard and then headed on over to the carnival.
The lights was strung up across the entrance, and the music from the merry-go-round was pumpin’ somethin’ fierce. It ‘bout made my head bust, that stinkin’ racket. We took off runnin’ toward the rides for bigger kids and piled on to the Scrambler first thing. Then we rode the Tilt-a-whirl and the Witch’s Wheel.
We must’a rode that thing fifty million times before Richard started sayin’ he might puke, so we looked for a tent to sit in until his stomach stopped heavin’. We wanted to find somethin’ free. We walked up and down that there midway, but all we saw was men callin’ out and tryin’ to sell us this-n-that. It was pitiful.
Skeet said he’d like to try knockin’ the milk jugs down with a baseball, but he was afraid somebody’d tell his Daddy, and hoo-boy, he’d be in for it. We finally wandered into a tent down at the end. It had some music comin’ out, but it weren’t no way as bad as that merry-go-round noise.
“Hello, boys. Y’all ready for a story?”
This man was standin’ there with a guitar strapped on over his shoulder. He pointed us to some seats, and we set down while he tuned up.
“Any of you boys know the story of Jesus?” he asked.
We had no idea who in the world he was talkin’ about. He smiled and started plunkin’ away on his guitar. He told a story about a man who come down from heaven so he could save people from the pits of hell. This Jesus had all the power in the world and coulda’ kept hisself from dyin’, but he didn’t. Then he rose up to heaven again. It was sad and happy all at once.
After the man was done singin’, Skeet looked at him and asked, “Are you a dad-burned confidence man?”
“Now, son, why would you ask me that?”
“’Well, my Daddy said they’s confidence men all over this here fair, and they tell some whoppin’ big stories to get at our money. I think you just told us the biggest tale ever was ‘cause they ain’t no man goin’ to let hisself get killed for somebody who ain’t no good to start with.”
“Boys, most folks won’t take punishment for someone else, but Jesus isn’t like that. He loves each of you so much, he gave his life so you could be saved. And it’s free for the asking. No charge.”
He give us some tiny books called “The New Testament.” He said them books had a whole mess of stories about Jesus in ‘em. We put ‘em in our pockets and took off to find the Giant Ferris Wheel.
Later in bed, I got to thinkin’ about that Jesus fella. I decided I’d give it a try, and if it was a flim flam, well, so what. It didn’t cost me nothin’ but a prayer. But I had a feelin’. Jesus wasn’t no confidence man. My heart was tellin’ me he was true blue. Tomorrow, I’d read that tiny little book to find out more.
WORD COUNT: 748
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