Synopsis: Told from the view of Earl, a redneck who makes a living of unsuspecting fair goers who aren't so bright typically. Most of the customers he has fall into 3 categories:
1. Hapless idiots that want to impress their girlfriends or girlfriends to be with an oversized plushy
2. Moronic fathers who want to win a prize for their kid/kids.
3. Hunters or ex-hunters getting some giggles or challenging their 'skills'.
Chapter 1--My Name is Earl
If you haven't figured out by now, ya'll, my name's Earl. I live the life of a Carnie. Sure, many people find my type disreputable, unsavory and downright shifty but I could care less about what the world thinks of me. I do my job to keep food on the table for my loving wife, Beulah and put my smart-ass son, Bubba through school. He's going through that irritating teenage stage where he feels everything he says and does is right. He don't get himself into trouble and he minds his mother and I, but he's none too happy about his little sister Emma comin' into the world. Means I will have to scam more unsuspecting marks so I can afford her diapers, food, and clothing. It ain't easy, but it's a living. It may seem like a rather sleazy method of earning money but I ain't a bad guy. I have to do this. Believe me, I'd rather not earn a living this way, but I am not really the type that did well in school.
I failed my way through high-school. Done got my GED but never went to college or furthered my education after because I didn't wanna. I was happy with what I got but was only skilled in the trade of mastery over suckers. Like it or not, I'm stuck doing this job. Sure I love to hear the squealing of kids and parents on amusement rides as I travel from fair to fair but after summer's over, I have to go to the street and peddle my wares, with what little skill I wield. The summer is what gives me all my cash, so I milk this cow for every last cent she's worth. Dishonest, maybe, but livin's livin'.
Chapter 2--Three Types of People in the World
In my line of work there are three types of idiocy. First there are those who have girlfriends or boyfriends, or are trying desperately to do so just by winning a prize from my booth. I'll have you know that every carnie I work with rigs his game just so the prizes are next to un-winnable. Crooked, maybe ? But it earns me a heck of a lot more money than being honest would ever do for me.
The second type of sucker is the parent who wants to win a plushy for his kid or kids. Now take in mind, some of these kids are real snots who don't deserve anymore toys since their rooms are overflowing with them to begin with. But just because mommy and daddy love them and want to keep their devotion strong. Just so long as their little babies affection can be bought, their whining will be stopped and I will get huge amounts of dollars from these poor saps.
The third type of mark is probably the most rare and 'austere'. I actually used a big word for once, so, I done think that makes me smarter than the average redneck. These folks are the ones that come to my booth just so they can relive their youth or enjoy the thrill of being a man for a few moments. These veteran shooters usually have no trouble knocking over the tin cans that my mouthy son sets up for me when he's off during school break. He doesn't complain much, but he does get bored extremely easily and tends to wander off when he's supposed to be tending to pick up and reassembly. Anyway, where was I. Ah, yes. The NRA supporters ! They're excellent at what they do and they seem to improve every year no matter how difficult I make my displays. Sometimes I think they win just to piss me off, but other times, I think they do it just to impress me. Then again, there's another part of me that feels intimidated and annoyed to see any other man, especially one who is old enough to be my grandpa Stan, who can shoot a gun better than I can.
Chapter 3--The Darker Side of Carnival Life
People often think of carnivals as fun, frivolous, entertaining and fat-inducing. All of the above things are true, but I sometimes see the true nature of people during the summer. Summer is a great time, but many people often get lazy. I never get lazy, and I often tell Bubba he shouldn't either. Being the snake-in-the-grass he is at times, he often will roll his eyes and tell me how 'uncool' I am. But I know he listens, or he'd be getting awful grades and getting into trouble. Anyway, back to my original train of thought. Some of the things I see make me very irate as a father. The way these parents treat their kids, it's obvious that they didn't want them to begin with. That or they simply don't know how to treat a child, let alone how to discipline him. I have seen kids get called names, shamed, embarrassed and even worse, hit or spat on. Never would I ever do that to Bubba. Sure, I've spanked him a couple of times when he deserved it, but never just out of anger or frustration. No, that's abuse. Sadly I have had to call the police in particular situations. Those incidences I have erased from my memory. They're grim reminders to me as a dad, showin' me how I should act and continue actin' if I want to raise a fine young man as I have in the past.
There are times that people get what they deserve at the carnival. I have dealt with people who drink too much, and often, they reap what they sew. I hate to sound cruel, but I really have no respect for this lot of person. They're interested in their next high, or are simply drinking to forget whatever pain they have in their lives, whether boredom, loneliness or addiction. They remind me too much of my good-for-nothing cousin, Clive. All he ever does is drink and puke all over the place. Lousy fool doesn't even have a job, so he sponges off his poor Aunt Merle. Merle never asked for any of that. It's seeing these drunks that make me worry for his sake, but mainly hers. One day Clive'll die of liver problems, but I can't convince him of that. I'm not the sage adviser in the family, anyway. But even if I were my dad, Clive'd never listen to him anyway because he's so damned stubborn.
Chapter 4--Can't Complain
I don't have many 'dark' days as a carnie and life's pretty good. I come out like a bandit on many occasions. I don't pay attention to the backbiting remarks or smears I have heard concerning my line of work. It's a job and in this crappy economy, I'll take it over shoveling horse manure any day. Over the years, I have seen Bubba grow, and little Emma is starting to talk. Neither of them will take over the family business, I'm sorry to say, but to be honest, I hope for better for my darlin' babies. They deserve better than the redneck life. Not that there is anything wrong with it mind you, but I just feel that they should be allowed the freedom of enjoying a life with fewer problems than there are now. I know that may not be possible, but I think as a dad, as flawed as I am and bein' the sun of a gun I am, I know I make mistakes, but somehow, Bubba n' Emma will certainly be livin' in an easier time, I'd like to think.
Closing Thoughts From Earl…
I don't know what's goin' to happen tomorrow. I sometimes forget whether I left a can of pop half drunk in my tool shed. I won't know until I've found it, only to discover there are flies in it, or it's gone flat. I see my kids grow from day to day, and I know they're goin' to have a better life than me. I am happy with that, and I can't want for more. My wife and I are happy and my family life isn't too half bad.
Cousin Clive's still a good for nothing who never amounted for diddly. Some things never change. The only thing I can leave to those who may be reading my memoirs (and again another big word, ain't I just a regular Ine Steen ?) is not to judge us carnie folk. We may look grungy, smell bad and have bad teeth (I may be an exception to that rule) but we do our best to try and entertain you, the customer.
We hope we do our jobs well despite that fact that we're all a bunch of crooked bastards that have to do what we can just to make ends meet. It may not be the best method of livin' but I ain't knockin' it. I just do what I must to live a good life, and be around for my kids and my lovin' wife.
From the Man Cave of Earl P. Jones III