Rollercoaster Heart Attack
(Terry Story #9)
I've always loved riding on rollercoasters. There was a time when a wooden rollercoaster was the main thrill-ride at any amusement park—and the most expensive. You could ride the Tilt-A-Whirl or the Octopus for 10 cents, but you had to pay a quarter to go on the Cyclone Racer. (Sometimes I would blow a whole week's worth of selling newspapers on the ride.)
Now, of course, the newer high-tech corkscrew rides named after comic book characters are faster and scarier—and I ride them, too, when I go to Magic Mountain with my grandkids. But I still prefer the vintage wooden rollercoasters.
Sadly, however, when I was a kid none of my friends liked any of the fast carnival rides. So I would consider it a major achievement if I could get one of them to go on the rollercoaster with me.
I had begged Terry for years, assuring him that it was not all that bad and that after the first steep drop it was really lots of fun. So one day he finally agreed to give it a try.
Well, my favorite spot on the ride was the front seat of the first car. And I would sometimes wait through two or three rides to get that front seat. This time it was empty when we arrived at the loading platform.
"Look," I excitedly told Terry, "We can sit in the very front!"
"No way," replied Terry, who looked like he was about to give up on the whole idea.
Well, I quickly claimed the front seat in hopes that he would change his mind, but he reluctantly climbed into the second seat of the second car. Nobody took any of the seats between us, so, by looking over my shoulder I could easily keep an eye on Terry to see how he was doing. He looked very pale. But at least he was on the ride.
As we climbed to the top of the first rise, I kept looking over my shoulder and assuring Terry that he had nothing to be worried about. He did not look convinced.
Anyway, as we crested the top I turned to face forward and raised both hands high over my head (as we courageous and seasoned rollercoaster riders are wont to do). I could hardly wait to reach the bottom so I could look back to see how Terry had survived the first drop.
But what I saw nearly gave me a heart attack.
Terry was nowhere to be seen.
"Omigod!" I thought. "He's fallen out. Whaddo I do now?" I was panic-stricken.
It was about then when I saw a hand come shakily over the back of the front seat in the second car.
It was Terry!
I sat petrified as a second hand came over the seat, and then saw a terror-stricken face coming up between the hands.
By now we were cresting the second rise, so I faced forward again. However, my arms didn't seem to want to go up in the air this time. So I just grabbed my safety bar and looked back to see if Terry was okay.
Well, as we began to careen down the second drop Terry vanished again. But at least I knew where he was. He somehow managed to survive the trip by clinging to the safety bar while alternately sliding off and back onto the seat.
He did not enjoy the ride. Nor did he ever go on a rollercoaster again.
And the self-satisfaction I normally felt after getting someone to go on the ride with me was, not surprisingly, diminished considerably.