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Monologue by Corliss C. Tomlinson

Tomlinson, Corliss C.
McCulllough, Sabrina
Date of Interview: 
Then and now; Relationships with people and places; Overcoming obstacles
Corliss Tomlinson talks about an attempted mugging in a fun house on Coney Island.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Sabrina McCullough interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
CT (Corliss C. Tomlinson): OK [pause]. Um, this, this is a true story, this happened in the 70s, this was about 1975. My husband and I decided late one night around ten-thirty we were going to go to Coney Island and get a banana frozen custard which is like Carvel ice cream. We were going to do that and go on the Cyclone. When we got to Coney Island, we decided we were going to go on this walk-through, it's like a spook house, it's not a fun house. It's like one of those scary things but it was a walk-through, it wasn't where you sat in your car. And I looked at the guys that was running this ride and they looked like a bunch of skells and I knew that I shouldn't be going in there, but no, we had to go. And we had smoked a joint before we went in and, and you know just to like pep up things and make it a little more scary and fun. But anyway, we went in and like I said, it was very late and Coney Island was really almost empty and you know there's a lot of scuzz-type people out there and, so we went in anyway and [sigh], you know, and what it was is they, they brought us into these very dark rooms and, and each room was like, set up where they had like these cages and behind these cages they had these like little scary things they made up out of I guess paper mache or something like that and at each cage they would stop and tell you a story about the monster or whatever that was behind this cage which was all really stupid, you know, it wasn't even scary. It was just stupid and dark and I don't like dark where I can't see where I'm going, and I was a little paranoid because I guess that joint was taking effect, but anyway, we went through each thing until we got to this one area which was totally black. And all along as we were going there was only two guys that was like directing us in this thing. But then they ushered us into this one area where it was totally, totally black and they started telling stories, you know with these, these, uh, paper mache little monsters they had in cages but when Steve and I turned around, now the only light they have is one little red light bulb. There was no exit signs, there was nothing. And then now instead of two guys, there were six. So they started, I didn't think, I thought there was something wrong with that. Now why did it would take six guys to tell me about some stupid paper-mache? "It's awful, whatever you got in there." And so he started telling us about each one and then he got to this one and he said, um, "This guy's name is Ben." And I'm like, "OK." It's just me and my husband now. There's no other people in this fun house or spook house, whatever, but us, me and Steven, eleven-thirty at night. And he says, um, Ben says, "You've got to give up your bread." Well, in those days 'bread' meant money. And I was like, "What?" And he says, Ben said, now meanwhile, we're surrounded. It's just the two of us, in the dark, no exit signs, and with all these scuzz-looking people talking about. [tape interruption] Ben said, "Give up your bread." And he repeated it about four times and Steven just stood there, got real quiet, didn't say anything, he was like staring off into space. I panicked and I started talking gibberish and I said, screaming at the top of my lungs, [screeching] "What did he say, Steven? What did he say, Steven? What did he say, Steven?" And I couldn't stop. I mean I just kept, I kept hearing myself say, "What did he say, Steven?" Doesn't even make sense. [Laughs] So I looked over at Steven and I then realized he's not even answering me. He's acting like I'm not even there. These people are still standing there watching us. And I realize now my husband is trying to get to his gun. He's a police officer. And I realized he's trying to get to his shoulder gun, OK? And I knew he had one strapped on his ankle but we're in the dark and he couldn't get to either one, he had totally zooloo'd out toward another planet somewhere. And all I kept thinking this fool is going to get his gun, and he's going to shoot us all in the dark. Including me. [Laugh] And I'm still screaming, "What did he say, Steven? What did-" I never stopped saying that. Well, this, it seemed like an eternity and we just, Steven's still standing there mute. He's not saying anything. He's like fixed, right? I'm still in this high-pitched, hysterical tone. We scared them. We ended up scaring these guys that they, they were trying to mug us. They were really trying to get our money. But it flipped out on them because Steven didn't answer nobody, not even me and me in my state, I was like a complete nut job, OK? And finally we, we must have been in there about 15 minutes and, um, with me screaming in the dark, they finally just let us out. [Laughs] They just, they let us out and that was it, I mean, there was, it wasn't even scary. So after we came out of there, I said to Steven, I said, "We were getting ready to get mugged and you were just standing there." He said, "I was trying to figure out how to get to my gun and you were sounding like Lucy screaming, 'What did he say, Steven?'" Well, the end of the story was, the Cyclone, which is the, was the worst wooden rollercoaster anywhere at the time I guess. We went on there, sat in the front seat and when you go down, it's like a drop that goes straight down. There's not, you know, curves or anything. It just goes straight down. And we thought that was like the whip [laughs] after coming out of what we just did, it was like the Cyclone was nothing.