Chapter 21:

Funding For a Dream


Katie was overjoyed to be meeting with a second official for the week. And the President himself? It was a dreamlike occasion.

She sat directly across from the giant man in the tiny burger place, Triplestacks, somewhere in the middle of Berryland. With most of the visitors evacuated, there was hardly anyone here- certainly nobody else eating with them, other than Mr. Parker, wrapped in bandages, a still-frightened Drew sitting right next to him, and, of course, her sister Frankie, right next to her.

The green-haired girl found no amusement in meeting with another stuffy rich guy. They were just doing the same thing over and over again… even now, that kind of pissed Frankie off… that was her first thought as to why she found herself so angry on this afternoon.

A server brought them their meals, trembling in the presence of President Washington, who had ordered most of the menu. Once he had all the food in front of him, he started to assemble it into one singular sandwich, stacking chicken and fries into a multi-layer burger to challenge god.

“You look totally stupid.” Frankie told him, the first words spoken at the table that day. Katie gasped.

“What are you saying? That’s the President! Frankie, what’s wrong with you?!”

“It’s all good.” Washington assured, taking his first bite out of the mighty construct. “Miss Katie, your sister here’s a hero, you know.”

“She… is?” Katie unwrapped her burger.

“That’s right. She survived a trickery-armed terrorist attack- and the footage even shows she got a hit in on the little bastard.”

“Wait… terrorist? What are you talking about…?”

Katie didn’t know. That made Frankie feel just the tiniest bit better.

“You were comatose. A woman came to this park with some sort of unknown violent agenda.”

“It was known.” Parker spoke, hoarsely, his food resting unopened just as Drew’s and Frankie’s did.

“Someone you knew?”

“She had it in for us. Made an attempt on my wife and infant son years back.”

“And why was that?”

“We found… this in the wreckage that day.” Parker took an old, yet well-kept envelope from his shirt pocket. “I’m sure she left it on purpose. I kept it in hopes it would lead to her… but all it ended up being was a keepsake of a painful memory, until now.” He unravelled the paper to reveal a dusty self-taken photograph of a little girl, positioned in front of what everyone at the table immediately recognized as the remains of the X Dreadnought, the previous owner of the title for largest coaster in the world.

“She was the-“ Katie mumbled.

“The Dreadnought Girl, that’s correct. The fabled one-and-only survivor of the worst ride accident in history.”

Frankie didn’t care to hear about the woman who assaulted her sister.

“You should've told me.” Washington spoke. “You should have let me know, as your protector. I came here for a reason, my child- it is my very duty to solve issues like these.”

“It makes no difference who she was. Just an explanation for the madness. Not like you could’ve found her, Mr. President sir… as grateful as I am for your arrival. I thought in my heart that no other park owner’d have any incentive to save a guy like me.”

“You thought right. Even so… I can’t comprehend such evil. She of all people should have known causing such rampant chaos is an act of indisputable guilt.”

“Oh, I think she knew, Mr. Washington. I think she was quite aware of the irony of it all. Some people… just become obsessed with such things, you know. I for one… came quite close.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“I do, sir. After my wife died, I had my whole staff fired. I couldn’t accept someone else would do this. I blotted that horrid woman from my memory and told my son nothing of it. I convinced myself it’d never happened. That’s bad enough, don’t you think…? I for one can see with great clarity why Action became the nightmare she did.” Parker unwrapped his food at long last, taking a solemn bite from the product and forcing himself to choke it down. “We aren’t meant to cope with such horrible things. Madness is the only solution that fits every problem.”

“She still deserved it.” Frankie glared, seconding Parker’s action in opening her food. As awful as she felt, she sure was hungry…

“That she did.” Washington agreed. “Young lady, you saw that with your own eyes.”

Action’s exploding corpse flashed in Frankie’s eyes. She dropped her food as she gripped her mouth, quickly running to the bathroom.

Parker sighed.

“We have to do something about this… you two suffered so much thanks to me.” He looked towards Katie like he was hopeless below her. “I will compensate you a second time, of course… er- providing therapy, as well as money, for you and your sister… it is a cruel, cruel fate you have found yourselves in.”

“T-thank you… but mister, I really do feel fine.”

“Nonsense!” Gesus Washington banged his bricky fist on the table. “You two will make up for this repugnant memory a million times over. I swear it!”

“You want to help us too…?”

Washington sat up in his seat even further than he had been previously, cracking the wood that made it. “I must. What is your dream, Katie?”

“To… visit every theme park.”

“Then next, go to one of mine. Here.” He handed the girl a hard, cerulean ticket. “If it’s therapy you seek… no place could be more relaxing than our beautiful Makoasis Park.”

“Makoasis…?!” Katie bolted out of her chair. “But that’s… one of the most expensive parks in the country!”

“And I’m President of the goddamn United States!” He joined her in standing, saluting as he did so. “Listen well, my child… go live out your dream. That ticket will provide you a chauffeur to my park. Afterwards… use this to get along.”

He handed the girl a raw stack of cash he’d brought for the occasion. It could hardly fit in her hands.

“Use this money to reach your dream. I won’t support you all the way- you need to learn to use it for yourself. Spend it smartly, and it’ll last. Just… keep it a secret from your sister, if you’re able… that poor girl seems quite volatile.“ 

Drew still couldn’t get himself to eat.