Honey Moon

By: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The

Lift Hill



1980-1982





1





All that spring Honey prayed to Walt Disney. From her bedroom in the rear of the rusty old trailer that sat in a clump of pines behind the third hill of the Black Thunder roller coaster, she prayed to God and Walt and sometimes even Jesus in hopes that one of those powerful heavenly figures would help her out. With her arms resting on the bent track that held the room's only window, she gazed out through the sagging screen at the patch of night sky just visible over the tops of the pines.



"Mr. Disney, it's Honey again. I know that the Silver Lake Amusement Park doesn't look like much right now with the water level down so far you can see all the stumps and with the Bobby Lee sitting on the bottom of the lake right at the end of the dock. Maybe we haven't had more than a hundred people through the park in the past week, but that doesn't mean things have to stay this way."



Ever since the Paxawatchie County Democrat had printed the rumor that the Walt Disney people were thinking about buying the Silver Lake Amusement Park as a location for a South Carolina version of Disney World, Honey hadn't been able to think of anything else. She was sixteen years old, and she knew that praying to Mr. Disney was a childish thing to do (not to mention questionable theology for a Southern Baptist), but circumstances had made her desperate.



Now she ticked off the advantages she wanted Mr. Disney to consider. "We're only an hour from the interstate. And with some good directional signs, everybody on their way to Myrtle Beach would be sure to stop here with their kids. If you don't count the mosquitoes and the humidity, the climate is good. The lake could be real pretty if your employees made the Purlex Paint Company stop dumping their toxics in it. And those people who are carrying on your business now that you're dead could buy it real cheap. Could you use your influence with them? Could you somehow make them understand that the Silver Lake Amusement Park is just what they're looking for?"



Her aunt's thin, listless voice interrupted Honey's combination of prayer and sales presentation. "Who're you talkin' to, Honey? You don't have a boy in that bedroom, do you?"



"Yeah, Sophie," Honey replied with a grin. "I got about a dozen in here. And one of 'em is gettin' ready

to show me his dingdong."



"Oh, my, Honey. I don't think you should talk like that. It's not nice."



"Sorry." Honey knew she shouldn't bait Sophie, but she liked it when her aunt fussed over her. It didn't happen very often, and nothing ever came of it, but when Sophie fussed, Honey could almost pretend

she was her real mother instead of her aunt.



A burst of laughter sounded from the next room as the Tonight Show audience responded to one of Johnny's jokes about peanuts and President Carter. Sophie always had the television on. She said it kept her from missing Uncle Earl's voice.



Earl Booker had died a year and a half ago, leaving Sophie the owner of the Silver Lake Amusement Park. She hadn't exactly been a ball of fire when he was alive, but it was even worse now that he was dead, and Honey was pretty much in charge of things. As she drew back from the window, she knew it wouldn't be much longer before Sophie fell asleep. She never lasted much past midnight even though she hardly ever got out of bed before noon.



Honey propped herself up against the pillows. The trailer was hot and airless. Despite the fact that she was wearing only an orange Budweiser T-shirt and a pair of underpants, she couldn't get comfortable. They used to have a window air conditioner, but it had broken down two summers ago just like everything else, and they couldn't afford to replace it.



Honey glanced at the dial on the clock sitting next to the bed she shared with Sophie's daughter, Chantal, and felt a twinge of alarm. Her cousin should have been home by now. It was Monday night, the park was closed, and there wasn't anything to do. Chantal was central to Honey's backup plan if Mr. Disney's employees didn't buy the park, and Honey couldn't afford to misplace her cousin, not even for an evening.



Swinging her feet down off the bed onto the cracked linoleum, she reached for the pair of faded red shorts she'd worn that day. She was small-boned, barely five feet tall, and the shorts were hand-me-downs from Chantal. They were too big for her hips and hung in baggy folds that made her toothpick legs seem even skinnier than they were. But vanity was one of the few faults Honey didn't possess, so she paid no attention.



Although Honey couldn't see it herself, she in fact had some cause for vanity. She had thickly lashed light blue eyes topped by dark slashes of brow. Her heart-shaped face held small cheekbones dusted with freckles and a pert little excuse for a nose. But she hadn't quite grown into her mouth, which was wide and framed by full lips that always reminded her of a big old sucker fish. For as long as she could remember, she had hated the way she looked, and not just because people had mistaken her for a boy until her small breasts had poked through, but because no one wanted to take a person seriously who looked so much like a child. Since Honey very much needed to be taken seriously, she had done her best to disguise every one of her physical assets with a perpetually hostile scowl and a generally belligerent attitude.

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