BY MELANIE MATTHEWS
Now abandoned, Dinosaur World was a must see for my son. It was a perfect marriage of Dinosaurs and kitsch. Located near Beaver Springs, AR, it was a hodge podge of brightly colored concrete reptiles and cavemen. Even Oliver saw there were no facts behind any of the exhibits. Badly molded cavemen stood in a wooden tower menacing the parking lot below as we drove in.
Why relate this memory over the taffy pulls, petting zoos, digging for diamonds or Cadillac Ranch? Because I watched my son run from one tacky exhibit after another looking for something. I don’t think he even knew what he searched for.
I let him cross the rope bridge suspended over water. Thinking back, I’m not sure it was even safe. But I wanted to see my son have fun and that he did. Oliver walked out to the middle, looked both ways making sure he was alone before shaking the bridge back and forth. He wanted to see how far he could move it and how scared he could make me. I was but didn’t show it. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction only to have him try something more death defying.
Then he found this big green dinosaur. I couldn’t tell you if it was supposed to be a T-Rex or a Spinosaurus, its ferocity almost comic. Oliver stood ten feet in front of it, staring up into the painted eyes. The claws were spread in an attack behavior but the statue was anything but menacing. Yet, my son stood transfixed. And just as quickly he was ready to leave.
We walked back to the main gate in silence. I thought about asking Oliver if everything was alright but decided against it. I could sense he just wanted to be with his thoughts. At the snack bar, we shared a Kong Burger and French Fries.
Actually, I ate a few bites and Oliver played with the fries. Finally I asked if he was alright. Oliver said he wasn’t sure. He was afraid but didn’t know why. He felt “fuzzy” and there was a ringing in his ears. He didn’t want to go to see a doctor. He said it was already gone. I made him promise to let me know if this feeling came back. He promised.
We pulled out of the parking lot and started back to the highway. Oliver watched Dinosaur World disappear into the trees. We drove in silence for a while. Then out of nowhere Oliver says, “Something’s going to happen.”
“I don’t know.”
“Good or bad?”
“I don’t know.”
And that was it. I tried to ask him about it later at the hotel but he said he didn’t know. It was just a feeling and the feeling was gone. I didn’t push. The remake of King Kong was on television that night. I find it now a synchronous event. As I later learned, Dinosaur World was originally named Land Of Kong and was somehow connected with the actor John Agar who was in the 70’s remake of the film.
Is there anything relevant about that roadside stop? Who’s to tell? In Moses’ dreams, my son battles dragons. He felt “fuzzy” with a ringing in his ears similar to what I felt the day he disappeared. Maybe I too am looking for relevance in simple coincidences.
Number 3 to come.