Helter Skelter

The theme set for today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is Helter Skelter. That conjures up fun fairs, carnivals, the reek of diesel, candy floss, cheap meat, pizza and fried potato, with a soundtrack of screeches and the crack of the rifle range where people were trying to pot a duck for a teddy bear prize.I felt repelled by the prompt to be honest. But I sat with it a bit and then realised that I was a ‘tween in the summers of 1968 and 1969, when it felt like the whole country was on an LSD trip to my baffled consciousness. To be frank, a lot of the young people promenading the boardwalk back then were high on some hallucinogenic or other. My lack of enthusiasm for crowds probably dates from this time; I was fine at the World’s Fair four or five years earlier. Fun fairs have always seemed faintly sinister to me though.

Besides, I am a fun fair woosy when it comes to rides. Ghost Train, Merry Go Round and Ferris Wheel – those are the only ones I will consider riding and even the ferris wheel can’t be too high. I tried the cups and a roller coaster once. Never again. I don’t enjoy being terrified. I have enough cortisol surges already, thank you!.

But then I made the connection to the events of August 1969 in Los Angeles, California. Helter Skelter really means one thing to me- Charles Manson and his family’s murder spree I read about it obsessively in the newspaper and the reports in Time magazine of the arrests and the trial revelations. So, though I was a bit loathe to take on today’s prompt I finally took a deep breath.

Helter Skelter

It's a Ghost Train ride.
August '69:
buckle up for the
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
ultimate trip.

It's an apocalypse
dreamed up on Old Man Spahn's
movie ghost town ranch.
Next production's
a technicolor
Theater of Blood.

Charlie's gone and carved
a swastika on his forehead,
his mark of Cain.
It was all Charlie's will.
But he was just some little man's son
who wanted to be as big as Jesus,
as much as he was like Satan.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured Photo by Hannes Egler on Unsplash

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