A storm of Biblical proportions…
Picture this: a donkey and a man sitting in a giant pink and white teacup which is floating in the middle of a large body of pretty unsanitary looking water on a calm, sunny afternoon. Neither looks too concerned, excited, or nervous about this predicament. In fact, they look relatively bored. Maybe even relieved. You see, under the water, hundreds of feet below them is the theme park where both the man and the donkey had made their living, just hours ago, and this is the story of how they survived a storm of biblical proportions.
Scuttle, as the Donkey was called by park visitors, was once the star of his very own Super Bowl commercial. He played the little-donkey-that-could when a team of massive clydesdales couldn’t complete their task of pulling an old timey wagon full of beer kegs into town. It was hailed by couch critics everywhere as “a very cute commercial.” And so, Scuttle was a bit of a celebrity at the park. Visitors didn’t need to know that this was Scuttle number Three, as long as he could pose for a picture with them. The pictures sold in a commemorative old-timey-wagon-shaped plastic frame for a reasonable $29 price tag.
Sal Gridalini was what the Park visitors never cared to read on the man’s mandatory name tag pinned to his mandatory vino red vest. To his coworkers, Sal went by McGriddle, Griddlecakes, or Gridlock. He kind of liked Gridlock because it made him sound hard… which he was not at all. Griddlecakes was far more fitting, so he hated that one. Sal was a young man of few words and had a disposition his friends would describe as “super chill.” Sal was considered Scuddle’s handler but he had no formal animal handling skills or training. He applied to the job to learn more about photography.
Neither Three nor Griddlecakes noticed the sky turning a deep grey as they continued the day’s work. It was business as usual: invite guests in; take guests’ picture; hand guests a ticket with their unique photo ID number; point guests to the photo pick-up station; next guest please. But never the less the sky was turning grey. So grey, in fact, that its darkness would undoubtably intimidate the blackest of blacks.
The storm was born a phenomenon in the Atlantic. It was not until it was, and when it was, you’d better have been the fuck out of its way. The theme park was, unfortunately, not the fuck out of its way.
The first crack of thunder sent all of the animals in the small stable/petting area into a mild frenzy. Well, all of the animals but Scuttle who, undisturbed, lazily mowed a fresh patch of grass on his sanctioned break. Meanwhile, Sal, who was also enjoying some plant life behind the storage shed, ducked as if someone had thrown a shoe at his head when he heard the thunder. He had all but recovered from his self-embarrassment when the hail started.
It’s typical to compare hail to the size of a sports ball. Usually golf ball but, in some extreme cases, baseball or softball comparisons are drawn. In this case, for the sake of commonality, the hail was beach ball sized. Luckily it only lasted about 30 seconds, but only lucky for the ones who survived.
The park has a Halloween theme every year that goes through a committee of higher-ups whose only purpose is to determine if it’s just that right amount of scary-yet-still-family-friendly. The previous year’s theme had been Chainsaw Clowns which, as it were, had scared the hell out of Gridlock. The destruction and gore post beach ball hail would certainly have never gotten the committees approval — to say the least. The shed which Sal had been standing behind was flattened like a volume-wary recycler’s soda cans. Sal was left unharmed and quickly hid the remnants of a still-smoldering joint in the front pocket of his mandatory forest green pants.
The storm of all storms had made its way into the park faster and more exuberant than the skinny kid in a fat family from Ohio. Torrential rain and forks of violent lightning filled the sky. Park visitors and employees alike, naturally, lost their shit following the onset of death and destruction which was the storm's icy entrance. They clambered under structures and into the many park cafeterias and shops, squeamishly stepping over the unfortunate few (fortunately it was few [for as many people that were in attendance that day]) who got hit in the storm’s first assault.
Then came the storm’s second wave. Well, that might be considered poor wording since the second wave started with an actual wave. It might be better to say: then came the first wave, which was a huge asshole of a wave, ushering in the the storm’s second onslaught…a ton of asshole waves.
The ocean had been 12 miles away at the start of the day, and to everyone’s displeasure, it decided it would travel to them for once. With it came two shrimp boats, a slew of confused fish and other sea creatures, some sort of large military vessel, cars, 18-wheelers, highway signs, parts of buildings and tons of other stuff, too various to name.
When Sal saw the wall of water approaching he ran to the nearby Little Tea Pot ride, even though his boss yelled over the rain that his “dumbass should get inside.” This gentleman, regrettably, was soon thereafter taken out by a runaway ferris wheel.
McGriddle had no idea that he was in fact heading for the most effective (and funniest) option for a life raft in the entire park — other than the actual rafts used in the also-nearby water ride. At the time, he just thought it would be a good idea to get into a circular thing because, you know, circular things float better.
He had just reached the pink and white teacup when he saw Scuttle silhouetted by the never-ending lightning. There he was, all alone and licking a giant sphere of hail. Although Sal was considerably stoned and very frightened as that giant asshole of a wave made its slow-motionish approach, he was not going to let his duties wane. He was that donkey’s handler, damnit, and handle that donkey he would.
Gridiron. Why had no one thought of gridiron, he wondered as he ran towards his four-legged responsibility.
Sal reached Scuttle just as the wave knocked over the largest, fastest coaster on the east coast — The Velocity Raptor. Without thinking, he jumped on Scuttles back and yelled “yaw,” indicating with his finger that he wanted Scuttle to head for the teacup ride. Scuttle threw him off almost immediately. A reestablished Sal grabbed the donkey’s leading rope and ran like he’d never run before towards their faux-porcelain safe haven. Three followed at a modest trot with slack still in the rope.
What followed was a lot of noise, movement, salt water mixed with god knows what, confusion and a few instances of Donkey hoof to face contact — the last of which knocked Sal out cold.
Hours later, Sal was at the bottom of the teacup and curled up next to him was Scuttle, who was chewing on a stuffed version of himself that had somehow found its way into the cup. Starting with his pounding head, McGriddle slowly began to sit up, only to hit the small metal wheel in the cups center forehead-first. The wheel was there to give riders the extra thrill and nausea of spinning themselves on an already spinning ride. It basically worked the same when you hit your head on it, though lots less thrilling.
The storm was gone like the dickhead friend who crashes at your house unexpectedly, uses the last roll of TP and clogs the toilet, only for you to discover hours later.
The world was blue skies and brownish water as far as the eye could see. Beside the teacup, a seagull was catching a ride on the belly of a purple dragon worth at least 100 tickets or a $20 bribe.
There was no other life around. Just the man, the donkey and the bird. There was no dry land in sight. Just shitty water to the left, shitty water to the right, and plumes of smoke that seemed to go clear into outer space. Sal didn’t know which way they were going, and though he may have tried to use the wheel to steer them that one time, he had immediately known how dumb his effort was — and hoped that the donkey had not seen it.
There was only one thing left to do: sit and wait for help. Plus he had like a quarter of an L leftover in one of his pockets, so it wasn’t all that bad.