Say the Magic Word
Joanne Faries

Charles Brillstein closed his eyes for a second. The Tilt-O-Whirl's twirling saucers played havoc with his stomach. Flashing lights, tantalizing twists, sensations of being adrift and then slung. He squelched his desire to hurl.

Unknown to others who worked for Thrillrock Rides, Brillstein answered to Mrs. Melvoy. Even Mr. Melvoy, king of Cobra Coaster, was unaware that his performance was independently rated (mediocre at that).
Charles had created his own degree plan at Mercer College, and graduated specializing in Psycho-Socio-Engineering Efficiency. His only client, Mrs. Melvoy wanted bodies on and off rides quickly. Charles' graphs maximized dollar/turnstile ticket return. He streamlined her operation.
Except for the Tilt-O-Whirl. He plumbed the depths of his obscure science study combinations and could not account for Sonny's performance. Numbers rose for months and then receipts plummeted on random days.
Out from behind hidden cameras, Charles chose to witness an August shift first hand. Beefy, tattooed sixty-one year old Sonny concentrated - taking tickets, pushing levers. Charles marveled at the flow, the pace, the graceful arc of Tilt-O-Whirl transactions.
A troop of Girl Scouts boarded, gasped, and squealed in unison. Calliope music celebrated. Cotton candy and caramel corn aromas co-mingled. Charles closed his eyes again, then heard a high pitched voice call out, "Mister, hey, Mister, please, please let us go around longer."
Charles' eyes snapped open when he heard Sonny say,"Sure, girlie. You said please."
Lines lengthened, and Charles grappled with a chart challenge. Manners had upended the Tilt-O-Whirl efficiency scale.

First published: May, 2011
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