“What do you mean you only take cash?” Jack didn’t bother to keep his annoyed disbelief out of his voice.
“Out here, it’s just safer. Who knows what sort of tricks people might try to pull on a man like me, way up here in the mountains?” The grey bearded man might have weighed as much as Jack, but then Jack had a foot of height on the Canadian.
Part of him wanted to laugh. A year ago, all he would have had was cash and certainly not much of it. When he fought the Xemmoni Glooms in Kentucky a bank account and debit cards were the farthest things from his mind. Yet after his gift of gold from Loskeep, Jack guessed that he was probably the richest homeless person in North America. Fat lot of good it would do him, though, if these guys wouldn’t accept his card.
The only thing Jack had going for him was the old pickup truck he had gotten his mother to put in her name. Thick straps held the motorcycle upright. Despite his Stalwart status, even Jack wouldn’t want to ride a motorcycle through the Canadian Rockies in the winter.
“So you are saying I’m screwed.”
“Cash always works, man. You kids think everything should be run on plastic. That’s just like a note from your mom, saying you have money.”
“You don’t need to rub it in.”
“I’ll buy your bike for five hundred bucks.”
The man’s jowls shook when he laughed. “I hear the carnie is hiring.”
“What, there’s a carnival up here? It must be twenty below outside.”
The shopkeep eyed him as he lit up a smoke. “Everyone’s gotta make a buck, including you, dochta think.”
* * *
In the past, someone must have thought that the lonely mountain town of Pariah could support a strip mall full of shops along with a major grocery store. The majority of the businesses, including the grocery store, had gone belly up years ago. For rent signs hung in most of the windows.
The barren snow swept lot had been taken over by a dazzling display of lights. Despite the frigid temperatures, the rides and booths all appeared open.
Jack parked his truck a hundred yards away and took the sight in.
A mini-rollercoaster and a twisterwhirl we easy to make out and a rainbow of lights reflected off the patches of snow. But what really dominated the sight and caught Jack’s attention was a black unlit structure. It grew out of the northern part of the carnival like a black thorn stabbing at the sky. No lights graced this building and instead it seemed to almost absorb any color or light that neared it. A red light bled onto the walkway before the ride. Grabbing his binoculars, he took and deep breath and then focused in on the sign.
“The Haunted Funhouse. Perfect…”
As he watched, a young couple handed a man in an ebony top hat their tickets and headed inside.
“Looks like I might just have a job to do after all.”
To be continued next Monday