Reasons why tonight I’m going to run away from the circus.
1. Whilst clowns without waxy make-up and oversized outfits don’t look anywhere as scary degreased, they’re nowhere near as funny. We’ve spent far too many whisky soaked nights round the table, supping cheap, heart-burning liquor from thin plastic cups, no ice, and ended up falling into each other’s arms crying non-fake tears.
2. Too many mornings I’ve woken up thick with shame, and guilt.
3. And, more to the point, everybody, and that includes me, hates Top Hat, the iron-fisted boss man, the one running this show, laying down the program, enforcing the rules. He’s never off-guard. I’ve seen him galley-drunk once, the only time I heard him cursing like a sailor too. Maybe that was the night his third wife died. He’s both ringleader and lion tamer. Mid show he changes from a tux into a leotard and sticks on a false moustache. He cracks his whip at the lioness that’s never known her homeland. Whenever I walk past her cage backstage, I tip her a wink to encourage revenge, go on, I say, one bite should do it. He also happens to be my father.
But… I’ll miss the acrobats, they’re agile and fluid, all grace and danger. They make possible the impossible. I’ll try to remember them always, whenever I’m in need of a pick-me-up.
4. I’m afraid that one night I might do something that I shouldn’t. My act is to throw knives, or daggers; basically whichever pointy blade seems the most menacing at the time. I launch them at stiff-with-fear victims volunteered from the crowd. Even blindfolded, my aim is true. Sometimes I’m tempted to snick an earlobe, or sever a pinky, or worse… now that would make for a more interesting evening don’t you think?
How I wish I could be less angry.
Achilleas the strongman isn’t angry. He does one thing, and he does it well. He lifts heavy weights. That’s all he does. Lifts enormous weights stuck on the end of an articulated lorry axle. He found his calling, and he’s stuck with it. He trains vigorously every day, performs the same show every night, loading another ten kilos, absorbing the crowd mutterings of will he or won’t he. And you know what, he’s fine with that, he even whistles when taking a shower! I’ve heard him, (see 2.). He loves life, and revels in his moments to shine. He comes on right after the dancing horses, right before the clowns. Take a bow, my friend. Take a bow.
So for tonight’s finale, instead of the Albanian waif, it’ll be me slipping inside the barrel of the cannon. Her outfit fits me perfectly. I’ve dyed my hair black as tar, and I’ve bribed the rocket-man to increase the propellant. Nobody will notice it’s not her until too late. I’ve been promised it’ll be a big enough bang to break me right through the big top. I don’t know where I’ll land; all I know is I’ll be somewhere else.
Lee Hamblin lives in Greece. His stories can be found in FlashBack Fiction, MoonPark Review, formercactus, Reflex, Ellipsis, Fictive Dream, and other places. He tweets @kali_thea. Blog: https://hamblin1.wordpress.com