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A Very Small Forest Fire photo

Before we entered the most raved about amusement park in the world, we went into the woods nearby, because there was nowhere to smoke that was in the park, or there was, but we would have gotten caught. My ex-infatuation Ric and his girlfriend Monica, who was was my best friend, had come to visit. Ric’s friend Igor was leading us around, with the first stop being a joint in the woods by the park on the lake. A little pond was in the woods, connected to the lake by a little stream, with a view of the 10000-meter-high rollercoaster and the 2 or 3 slightly smaller rollercoasters. I had insisted, or more suggested, that we smoke weed. They thought this was a great idea. Igor, especially, seemed excited. He had been working at the park all summer without any real excitement aside from the ocassional party for underage adults, which didn’t offer the unique perspective I assumed he got from weed. From what Ric had said on the way up, Igor seemed like he was introverted and socially turbulent, prone to being awkward or excited or both at any time. This seemed fine to me. I had recently detoxed from a prediliction for cocaine, but I still liked to smoke weed when I could. I was still a pothead, I thought. Forever, I thought. Of course, not compared to Ric. He had sold me drugs in college, or “hooked me up” as they say. Which is actually what he said right then: “Yeah, we can hook you up Igor. This stuff is pretty good. We got it from her friend--what was his name? It was weird.” Ric looked at me. “Oh, his name is Luke. Yeah, we snuck into his apartment via the window. He was on the 2nd story and there is a small outdoor porch area with bars by his window, so I climbed up that.” Igor nodded. He didn’t seem super interested. He said, “So you got in?” “Yeah,” I said. He wasn’t very happy.” “That’s cool,” said Igor. He seemed like he was very eager to smoke weed, so we smoked. It was a little joint, which we smoked most of, before flicking it away. We walked out of the woods and into the park, where Igor was able to take us through employee-only shortcuts as well as straight to the back of the lines that were for people who liked to ride in front, which were generally long lines but we also didn’t have to wait in the much longer lines that funnelled into those lines. It took about five minutes for us to get on the ride, during which none of us really talked. Monica and Ric were both scared of rollercoasters. He tried to hug her, and she pushed away. I realized she might not be happy that we were here. Maybe she really just didn’t want to ride. Some people are like that. They just don’t want to do things, but they feel like they have to do them, or else the only way they can get out of them is to act mad and shout. She seemed in slightly better spirits as we got on the ride, Igor and I in the right front pair of seats, while Monica and Ric were on the left front seats. We slowly went up and I screamed sarcastically, looking out at Lake Erie and the parking lot near the woods, where we had smoked a half hour or so before. I saw a little smoke rising from the woods. Why would there be smoke in the woods? Someone was having a camp fire? The ride reached its early peak and dove down a hill, picking up speed. It went on for a few minutes, as I already knew, as I had ridden it before. We went to another coaster that didn’t go as high, but did go extremely fast and throw you upside down. You rode it with your legs out. After that, we went to the highest rollercoaster in the world. Igor was able to get us in the “fast pass” lane, but we weren’t able to do any more short cuts than that. The “fast pass” lane had an estimated wait of 1 hour, which wasn’t really that bad for a wait, especially for a wait for the tallest coaster in the word. For a few minutes, Igor and I talked excitedly about a mutual interest in mid-to-late 20th century art music like Terry Riley, but neither of us was exactly an expert on him, and the conversation soon deteoriated into each of us stating tangentially-related facts or other things that we knew about him. There was silence, and I noticed Monica still looked sort of not in a great mood but she was leaning on Ric and we all seemed tired even though we had been together for less than an hour or two. OK, so we were a little bored, there was a lot of waiting in lines, but eventually we were in the immediate queue for the tallest rollercoaster in the world. It was just pretty much a straight shoot up to the top, with no fancy turns or twists. Just up and then back down, both times really fast, with a quick stop at the top, where the coaster hung for a few seconds, before whipping back down towards the ground. “We should get lunch after this,” said Igor to us, while we were waiting for the park worker to give us the go-ahead to get on the ride. “That sounds good to me,” said Ric. We got on and pretty quickly the rest of the cars were loaded, and we took off. Four or five seconds later, we were at the top. I glanced out over the lake, over the parking lot, towards the woods where I had seen the smoke earlier, and the smoke was bigger now, much bigger. “Fire!” shouted someone in a car behind me. Some people screamed. We shot back down to the ground. Once we were there, it was pandemonium. People were running out of the park, or at least of the lines they were in, while annoucements over the intercom repeatedly said, “Stop where you are. There is a hazard off-site. We are taking care of it as soon as we can.” But no one was listening to the announcements. Igor had disappeared, shouting, “I have to return to the HQ.” We went out towards the parking lot, where there were a bunch of trucks. Crowds of people were staring watching the trucks. This went on for several hours, during which we left to go take pees and get hamburgers. At the end of the day, we drove home, to my parents house, none of us talking. When I got home, my dad was watching the news, where they were obviously talking about the fire. It was featured with the headline, “Forest Fire” with sub-heading reading, “Today near Sandusky, OH.” Overall, the only damages were a few acres of some wood. Everyone was fine. 

image: Aaron Burch