Through the gate, the papery taste of Goofy on tongue. A heebie-jeebies excitement, a burst of shivers. Make like Kerouac, buddies on the road. Feathered feet across cartoonish cross-sections of America, across Main Street USA. Pupils dilate and seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours. Park paths wander to adventure, the start of happy trails.
Bears of country jamboree pluck banjos, long before music plays. A cacophonous concerto by Ursus horribilis; a symphony that lives down to its grizzly name. Friends now disappeared, gone to some great beyond. A similar need to escape, to find sanctuary.
Tom Sawyer Island: a respite, though brief. Injun Joe’s cave, black and creepy, sparks return raft back to mainland. Disembark to the plodding of feet, the funneling of flesh. Enter mazed trap of horizontal rope and tiki posts. Hippos and sloths fore and aft. Exotic animals clothed in Dockers, cameras ‘round necks. Still just the line. Then aboard Jungle Cruise and appearance of mechanized rhinos and monkeys. Shrunken heads. Pshaw, kid’s stuff. On boat a giant bird—dodo?—babbles in tongues up and down river. Avian statue slash tour guide to the land of the other.
Back on shore follow signs to darkness of Space Mountain, to anonymity, wanting be lost in space. Visitors now puddled, gasoline rainbowed, morphed around edges like paramecia, like amoebae. Coaster cars move when injected, sounding echoes of demonic despair, of everlasting hope. Of the future. Confused commotion afterward, unclear whether mountain is in space or space is in mountain. Then out the door to a rocking universe. A daydream nation of pavement.
Dizzy uneasiness, the faintness of breath, thoughts read by others. Stumble into glass-bottomed boat to discover It’s a Small World after all. Multitudes of faces and song. Hideous looks and voices; cynical stares and squeaky tones. A UN family picnic gone awry, the children’s table stretching from one hemisphere to the next, readying for a food fight. Anxiety spikes. Screams withheld to aneurism bursting points. Worsened by accompanying family of tapirs, though they’re so cute when they’re little.
Finally, return to the lot. Safety and sanity growing nearer with each tick of the clock. Disregard the carousel wheel of visions. Of examinations under microscope, of surgeons shuffling instruments at the operating table. Of friends crawling from the netherworld to reconvene on earth. Of keys out of pocket and turning the ignition.
Tires spin over undulating asphalt and ignite white-knuckled navigation through a sea of haloed headlights. Commence re-entry to a world that’s not so wonderful.