First and always the smell, grease and heat and sugar. If the wind catches it right, the refuse in the dumpster. The long aisle of carnival food, people queued for fried cheese and barbecue ribs, ice cream and lemon shakeups. Elephant ears. Fried Kool-Aid.
The rippling murmur of conversations, laughter, a child crying. Somewhere a rumbling truck idling. From the big tent, the band tuning up, guitar riffs and half-familiar snatches of melody. A drumbeat.
Playing the waiting game to get a picnic table, 'can we sit here?'s and 'is this taken?' Supping with strangers we see once a year.
What a rare and wonderful mix of Hoosiers, the black-clad goth kids crossing the street next to the Amish family in pastel shirts and dresses, the preppy and the NASCAR families standing in the same line for ride tickets. Kids of every color jumping like pistons in the bounce house.
The carnies in the park, tanned women with rough voices and snappy eyes, slack young men lounging in chairs taking tickets. 'comeonwineraprizeprizeeverytimecomeonnowgiveitatry'
The whipping roar of the helicopter, giving the twenty-five dollar tour every five minutes, best view of downtown you can buy. View of the TinCaps game at no extra charge. "Can we ride, Daddy?" "Let's just watch it take off."
The fading light. Tired kids, damp from their run in the fountain. Parents fresh out of money. Time to head home.