More from the Dinner Party
“What is there to be scared of?” Ray put his arm around Jillian, drawing her close. “Just look at this view.”
“It’s not that,” she said.
“The ride will start again soon, they always stop it like this,” he said. “It’s okay.”
“No, Ray,” she said. “It’s not the Ferris Wheel. I’ve ridden Ferris Wheels before. It’s… it’s the wishes.”
“You mean that stupid dinner thing you went to?” Ray shook his head. “I told you, there is no way someone can make a promise like that and actually make it happen.”
“I don’t know,” Jillian grabbed the safety bar when the ride swung forward, their gondola stopping at the apex of the wheel’s arc. “I’ve been hearing things about some of the others who were there.”
“Yeah, like who?” His expression said he was already bored with their conversation.
“Well, there’s Anton Fox,” she said, ticking off other dinner guests on her fingers. “I read in the newspaper that he’s been indicted for first-degree murder. Mr. Eastman, that poor man was blown up at the airport last month. Then there’s George Vernon. Remember, he was the one who made such as ass of himself.”
“What happened to him?” Ray was only half listening.
“No one knows,” Jillian said. “No one has heard from him since that night.”
“What about that weird chick, what was her name, Lily?” Ray was scanning the crowd below.
“Two days after the dinner, she was taken from the house in an ambulance,” Jillian said, her voice growing shrill. “Last I heard, she was still a patient at Cedar Hills.”
“The looney bin?” Ray continued looking over the edge of the car.
“Don’t say it like that,” she said. “All of them turned in cards. I don’t know if I even want my wish now, but I can’t take it back.”
“Do you know what all of them asked for?” Ray hawked up a wad of phlegm and spit over the side.
“Gawd,” she said. “You’re so gross.”
Ray laughed and pulled back from the edge, trying to hide from the crowd below. He reached over and twisted the skin on the back of Jillian’s arm. A fresh bruise began turning red beside another that was a faded shade of sickly green.
He leaned out over the edge once more, clearing his throat to spit again, when the carnival ride lurched forward, suddenly dropping several feet. Losing his grip on the car, the gondola’s momentum forced him over the side. He landed on the carnival midway with a nauseating thud.
Jillian screamed and flung herself against the back of the seat. The descent to the ride deck seemed to take forever.
Once back on the ground, and after being interviewed by police, Jillian was released. Witnesses verified that Ray had been hanging over the side of the ride when he fell. His death was ruled an accident.
When Jillian arrived home, she found a box on her front porch. Inside the gold-foiled package was a dozen roses and the request card she filled out for Mr. Stiles, her wish-granting dinner host and benefactor.
“I wish that I was brave enough to leave my abusive boyfriend.”
Another card tucked into the flowers, written in Mr. Stiles precise block lettering, read simply, ”sometimes we only need a little push to get us started in the right direction.”