circus act

Leave home & join the circus.


1. One.


I decided to run away and join the circus.


I was eighteen, I was in New Orleans for the first time, and I was stupid. All I knew was going back home to the Southern California trailer park I'd grown up in wasn't an option, and neither was staying any longer with my grandma in Mobile, who kept pressing me with questions on when I'd go home. The heat of August was oppressive, the humidity was unbearable, and the mosquitos were terrors. August meant that soon, summer would end, and my savings were depleted, and I would need a job and somewhere to live. 


Johnny promised to take me with him to New Orleans. He had a girl over there; everyone knew it. Except for me, because I knew that Johnny's girl was a guy, a weed dealer who sold for cheap enough that he could make plenty profit if he drove over once in a while then jacked up the prices once he got home, back to the house he lived in on my grandma's street. Johnny was a real sweetheart, like everyone knew, if only you ignored his dip spit, crooked teeth, poor vocabulary, and sexual advances. But I always did, because he was my savior; he was my way to escape.


On our way driving in, we stopped at a gas station. Johnny filled up the tank, and I went inside to buy myself some chips with a few dollars that I'd helped myself to from his glove compartment. Johnny could afford to loose a few bucks in a way that I couldn't; everything I owned was in a backpack in his car, and it hurt me to look into my secret pocket and see all I had was seventy-two dollars and twenty-nine cents. As I perused the aisles of the gas station in an attempt to find barbecue chips, a woman stopped between me and the shelves. Her skin was the color of a coffee bean, her hair was wild and gray, and she wore a dark purple, light-weight, cheap summer dress. She didn't speak but stared. Then, all of the sudden, with her two wrinkled hands she took hold of my one hand, which I clenched into a fist that she tore open. She pressed her raisin-like palm against the inside of my hand, dropping something, making me look down as she let go. It was a lock of hair, shimmery blonde, tied with a ratty, pink ribbon. I looked up and she was gone.


Unsteadily, I made my way to the register, still looking for her. The cashier was chuckling at me. He was sleeveless and sweating, and there was a plastic fan next to him that put-putted as it blew around air, barely slicing through the dense heat. "That oul' voodoo bitch. I ain't never seen her give someone luck before like she did to you. Mostly she just walks into this place and tries to curse everybody."


I didn't bother to reply, I just handed over my bag of barbecue chips to pay for, and I tucked the lock in my pocket, not knowing what else to do with it. As he gave me my change, and I pushed open the door, the bell chimed above me, and I saw a big red-and-white striped building-thing in the distance. I paused. It reminded me of something, so I turned around, and I asked the guy, who was busily flipping through a magazine, what it was. "Circus tent. Some crazy circus folk in town. Ya want a flyer? Hell, they gave me plenty enough."


I took one of the stack of papers he was pointing to, which was decorated in red and white, like the big top, and in fantastic letters it read:



Daring sights! Adventure! Bring your kids, your mother, your friends!

Come and watch amazing acts, including:

LEO the RINGMASTER, with his lions, tigers, and bears!





and MORE!


(the THREE WOLF CIRCUS is NOW HIRING! freaks, fortune tellers, and more!)


All I could think was--

it was a job.


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