The first time I ventured to Motion Gardens, I was eight years old. I had no idea, but it was the beginning of my love-affair with death, which would continue for the rest of my short life. As my father drove his 1981 basketball orange Chevette hatch-back (which, I would later inherit on my fourteenth birthday, after my third and final attempt at South Dakota’s robust and rigorous driver’s examination), the smell of stale french fries, sugar, steel, and sadness filled my nostrils. The sun was coming up over the brightly painted welcome sign, “Motion Gardens, like nothing else on Earth, parenthesis ,since 1978, Watertown, SD.” Upon discovering the seventy-five cent parking fee, my father gripped the wheel, and his muscular forearms powered through the pain of non-power steering and parked about two blocks around the corner. After he parked, we exited “the beast,” reached our arms to the sky, and breathed deeply with a joined excitement.
“You ready, little man?” Pop said, as he began to fill his water bottle with Popov Vodka.
“Damn straight!” I replied excitedly. I had been allowed to swear, ever since my parents separated a few months earlier. I think he found it endearing, but upon reflection I think it was his little way of giving my mother a hearty “fuck you.”
He handed me the condensation-thick igloo cooler, brimming with Mountain Dews, Old Milwaukees and soggy bologna sandwiches that held their water-weight in sadness. I had already begun to make my way, as I heard the hatch-back slam shut with a metallic uncertainty.
The line was non-existent as we approached the turnstile. A red-faced teen dripping with white-heads awaited on the other side of the entrance. His over-sized polo-style work-shirt was tucked cleanly into his undersized, severely so, khaki shorts. I recall my inability to take my eyes off of both his protruding dick and ball bulge, and his yellowed unkempt toenails.
“Motion Gardens, Welcome. How many?” He sounded less than thrilled.
“Two my good man,” My pops replied.
“Eleven,” his teen-angst was palpable.
“Oh-ho, una momento. We got one young-buck here,” pops said excitedly as he gripped my shoulder pushing me toward the teenage monster.
“Nine dollars.” He said, smacking what I can only assume was Big League Chew or a bit of scruchie stolen from an unsuspecting female co-worker's locker.
“And, bup, bup, bup. We got the get one free on the Dew can.” he stated confidently as he pulled a drippy Mountain Dew from the cooler, turning the on-can coupon around toward the young “carny.”
He sighed defeated. “Six.”
My father smiled as he lifted the exact change from out his shirt pocket.