“Come on. Let’s do it,” Rick pushed as they stood on the paved amusement park walkway looking up at the loop-de-loop in the Python Roller Coaster.
“Nah. It’s stupid,” Daryl said with a nonchalant shrug.
“No I ain’t.”
“Yes you are!”
“No I ain’t!”
“Well I’m not going,” Lori said from her spot next to them on the pathway.
“Me neither,” Carol added. “This school field trip doesn’t have ‘must ride the Python’ as a requirement.”
Daryl looked up at the next coaster going around the loop-de-loop, squinting his eyes in the sunshine.
“You wanna be upside down that bad,” Daryl said, “I can pick you up by your knees and dangle you.”
Rick rolled his eyes as screams from the coaster blew past them. Then he narrowed his eyes at Daryl, stood up straighter, crossed his arms and said it. “I double-dog-dare you to get on that coaster with me.”
The girls gasped. Daryl grabbed a hold of nearby fence to balance himself.
The challenge was out there hanging like dry laundry ready to be folded and brought inside. There was no way Daryl could back down with double-dog-dare at stake.
“Fine.” Daryl said with a scowl.
“The line’s an hour wait, so you girls probably want to go do something else,” Rick said. “We’ll catch up with you later.”
“Fine,” Lori said. “Waste an hour with Dixon when you could be holding hands with me in the Tunnel of Love.” She flipped her hair, grabbed Carol by the arm and walked away.
“Have fun!” Carol shouted as she turned back one last time.
When Daryl turned back, Rick was grinning from ear to ear.
“Are you putting my life on the line just because you wanted to get away from Lori for a while?” Daryl grumbled.
“Well, she won’t stop pushing herself on me and I’m just not interested,” Rick whined.
“Easier ways to do that, asshole,” Daryl said as they walked to their spot at the end of the line.
“Like how? You see how she is.”
“Have you tried this: Lori, I’m not interested,” Daryl sassed.
The sun beat down on both boys and Rick could already see the start of some burn on Daryl’s broad shoulders. He, as always, was wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off. That was his look and with Daryl’s waist to shoulder ratio, it was hard not to notice. God knows Carol certainly did.
“So, what about you and Carol? You ever gonna ask her out or what?” Rick asked.
“Pfft. She ain’t my type. We’s just good friends.”
“Does SHE know she ain’t your type?”
Daryl grabbed Rick by the elbow to lead him as the line moved forward. “She knows my type,” Daryl assured him.
They stood in silence a while looking up at the train of roller coaster cars as they jetted by, hands raised, voices shouting and the occasional jingle of change falling out of someone’s pocket.
“I don’t know why you want to go on this thing so bad, Grimes. It’s stupid. S’like for kids.”
“Well, if it’s for kids then you have no reason to be scared to death,” Rick said with a smile.
“Yeah, okay. How about we sit in the front seat then?”
“Fine,” Daryl said as if it wasn’t much of a difference either way.
They were quiet again for a bit,--people watching--when Rick asked, “So what is your type then?”
Daryl narrowed his eyes again. “Not Lori, so don’t even think I’ll ask her out to take her off your hands.”
“So you don’t like short blond hair like Carol’s...or long dark hair like Lori’s. So what do you…”
“Curls. I think curls are cute,” Daryl answered as he bit on a thumb nail.
“Hmm..curls,” Rick wondered allowed. “Jessie? Her hair’s kinda curly.”
“Nah. Don’t like blondes.”
“There are no girls at Hilltop High with dark curls.”
“Maybe there just ain’t no one my type at this podunk high school. What’s your type, anyway? Lori don’t seem like a bad catch.”
Before Rick could answer the line surged forward again and they ended up on the stairs headed for the loading dock.
“Shit’s taking forever,” Daryl complained. “Shoulda got a ice cream or something. It’s hot as balls out here.”
“Oh man, now I want ice cream...Mint Chocolate Chip,” Rick said dreamily.
“That’s my favorite, too,” Daryl said with a grin. “Let’s jump outta line and go get some and hide from the girls the rest of the day.
“Well, now, I can’t do that to you. I wouldn’t want you to back out of a double-dog-dare. What would it do to your reputation?”
“My reputation is already shit. I’m the unkempt smoker who always wears hand-me-downs and hates everyone. Frankly, I don’t know why you always been such a good friend. Everyone wants to be friends with you, but you always hang out with the bad seed. You trying to get a tough guy rep yourself?” Daryl asked with a laugh.
“I just like people that are no nonsense and real. Nothing fake about you, Dixon. You are who you are and you don’t apologize for it.”
Daryl pulled out his pack of cigarettes and lit one up as they waited. “I always wanted to try one,” Rick said. “Not to be a badass, but just because, well...you seem to like it so much. Must be good.”
Daryl blew out smoke and handed his cigarette to Rick, who held it wrong and looked at it funny.
Rick put the cigarette between his lips and drew in his breath, immediately exploding into a coughing fit that lasted for a good five minutes. “That was smooth,” he rasped.
Daryl barked out a laugh. “This shit ain’t no good for you, anyway. I should quit.”
“You should,” Rick said, his head cocked to the side as if the conversation was critically important.
Daryl took another drag and blew the smoke up above the crowd. “Probably won’t, though.”
The line moved again and finally the boys were facing the track. Rick took Daryl by the elbow and guided him to the line for the front seat. When they finally got to the front of the line, Rick swept his arm out at the car “Right side or left,”
“Which side stays on the ground?”
Rick laughed and helped Daryl into the car first. “I’m not doing this to torture you. You’re going to LOVE it, Dixon! I just know you will.”
“You know how I said I wasn’t scared,” Daryl asked, his voice a pitch higher than usual.
“That was a lie.”
Rick giggled and wrapped his arm through his friend’s. “I won’t let you die, Dixon. Cross my heart and hope to…well...cross my heart.”
The cars lurched forward and started slowly ascending the rails.
“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you,” Daryl muttered.
“I don’t think you do,” Rick insisted. “Do you want me to make conversation to keep your mind off the action here?”
“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”
The front car started to crest the first hill, the straight-down fall right ahead of them, as Rick grabbed Daryl’s hand and said “I have dark curls. I don’t think you hate me at all. I think you love me.”
The cars dropped, pulled down by gravity, wooshing down, down, down until they finally turned and rose up and down a few times.
When Rick finally looked over, Daryl was staring at him, not reacting to the coaster at all. “Well...that got my mind off this death trap. How did you…” Daryl was interrupted by a shaky back and forth of the cars as they twisted around to another rise.
“Yeah. You’re welcome. Soooo…you gonna ask me out?”
As the cars rose again, creeping slowly up towards the sky, Daryl laughed. “Was this your plan? To hold me hostage on this roller coaster until I said yes?”
“Just didn’t want you to walk away and try to deny it. You’re right, Carol knows your type and Carol is friends with Lori and Lori tells me everything.”
Daryl looked at Rick, still surprised. “So does anyone know you’re...batting for this team?”
“Just you,” Rick said as the car reached another crescendo. He was still holding tight to Daryl’s hand as the cars fell and crashed up into the loop-de-loop.
“I hate youuuuuuu!” Daryl screamed as he gripped the lap bar and Rick’s hand with all his might.
Once they lived through the loop, Rick turned to the people in the car behind them. “He doesn’t hate me. He’s in love with me, actually.”
The two in the seat behind them looked to be a young asian guy and a farmer’s daughter type. “Are you in love with him?” the young girl asked.
“I haven’t said yet,” Rick answered, Daryl blushing so hard it looked like instant sunburn.
“Ask him out,” the boy next to her said.
Then she joined him and they both chanted “Ask him out, Ask him out.”
As the coaster rose up to its final hill, the entire car of riders was chanting “Ask him out! Ask him out!”
Daryl was shaking his head. “You are nuts, Grimes.”
“Well, before we get to the highest drop...will you go out with me tomorrow night?”
Before Daryl could answer the cars fell, Daryl’s high pitched screaming drowning out the chants behind them. When they finally pulled into the station, Rick turned to him. “You scream like a girl.”
“That’s not a nice thing to say to someone you want to go out with,” Daryl flirted.
“I’m just stating facts,” Rick shrugged as the lap bars lifted.
“Is this one of those ‘pick on me cause you like me’ things?”
“Yes,” Rick confirmed.
“You’re lucky you’re cute.”
“Is that a yes?”
The riders that were following them off the ride all cheered.
“You know,” Daryl said. “After a few years when you are ready to propose, you’re gonna have to top this.”
“I know. I’m already working on it,” Rick said as he grabbed Daryl’s hand and pulled him close.