circus story

Thursday, January 1, 2004

The beginnings of a strange story (the one with the cooky main character). Here goes:


He was mad, quite mad. He watched the walls close in around him, approaching in pulsating, jerky motions. It had been days since he left the house. He coughed. The TV droned in the background, its flickering light casting blue cloudy visions on the wall. He decided the blue flickers were more entertaining than the screen. Cavemen didn’t enjoy shadow puppets more. Kevin took a drag from the cockroach, the sharp smoke filling his lungs. He held the smoke until his lungs burned, and then expelled a large cloud with a short breath.

Chocolate. That’s what he needed. He searched the cupboard and ripped open a chocolate power bar. The cardboard texture rallied its forces against the vitamin onslaught. The chocolate came late, taking both by surprise and falling back only under heavy fire from the unknown crispy bits. He took tiny bites and chewed each piece until it liquefied and slipped down his gullet. Peace reigned only between each swallow and bite.

The phone had been ringing for a while. He reached over and kicked it. A chipmunk chattering came from the receiver. It was replaced by the piercing off-hook sound, which echoed through the air long after the phone went dead. He pushed his finger into his nostril. His snot consistency was ideal: dry, pasty, and crunchy. He excavated a few chunks, rolled them into balls, and flicked them on the rug. The floor was full of green excretions.

He activated the shower and sat on the toilet, flipping through a magazine. The bathroom filled with steam, obscuring the pictures in the magazine. Kevin flushed the toilet and lay down on the floor, lifting his head until half was over and half under the cold air wall. The shower pounded away and bounced off the back wall, ricocheting past the curtain and gathering into a puddle just outside the bathtub. It oozed toward him. He felt wetness in his sock and spent some time trying to think of something worse than wet socks. When he accepted that there was nothing worse, his sock was already soaked through. He pulled it off with the big toe nail of his other foot and kicked it into a corner.

He left the house with the shower running and without his running shoes. He returned for the shoes: he couldn’t muster the energy to think about the amount of concentration necessary to avoid glass shards while walking barefoot in his neighborhood. The steam leaked from under the bathroom door. He took a towel from the closet and clogged the opening. An educational video taught him that trick in case of a fire.

The darkness surprised him. Darkness always surprised him. The streets were busy with circus people. He walked backwards for half a block, watching a short man walk a tall dog wearing a sweater. Kevin wasn’t sure if the sweater was a dog sweater or a human sweater. Except for the extra armholes, he wasn’t sure what the difference was between a dog sweater and a human sweater. When the dog sat down to take a shit, he finally figured it out: a dog sweater has a flap for shitting. Human sweaters don’t need shitting flaps. Well, most of the time they don’t.

With that puzzle figured, he spun around and almost ran into a bearded lady. He grabbed her shoulders to stop from falling and the lady harrumphed. It wasn’t a very feminine sound and her shoulders were suspiciously muscled. He held on for a bit, squeezing her, until she jerked away. He let go reluctantly. Her feet and hands were rather large for a woman and her legs hairy. But no man could have her kick-ass cleavage. Kevin kept spinning around to watch her waddle away.

He pulled out a cigarette and lit it with four matches. He always used four matches, never trusting just one to get the job done. His jacket pockets were filled with matchbooks from all the swanky establishments he frequented. His favorite was a book with two rubber nipples on the strike strip. It made igniting difficult, but the graphics were exceptional. He practiced unusual cigarette grips, settling on the lit cigarette hanging between his pinky and ring finger. His arm hung down, raggedly, with the cigarette balanced precariously. He was too unsure of this new grip to take a drag. Give it time, he thought. Even Dolly did one boob job at a time.

The parade continued but the dancing bears never made an appearance. Kevin became consternated over this, and while searching the sea of people for the bears, lost his grip on the cigarette. A woman who looked suspiciously like Susan gestured at him. He faked left and ran right, planting his foot hard to avoid running into a happy-faced clown, her red lipstick defying conventional clown practice and stretching past her bulgy nose. He spun to his left, rubbing his buns against the clown’s satiny red summer dress. He didn’t think clowns should smell that good. He arrested his spin and lingered. The clown didn’t seem interested in entertaining him, and sauntered away, the fat pockets under her arms swinging and banging against her ribcage with audible smacks. The gesturing woman blindsided him, interrupting his reverie, and grabbed his arm.

“Kevin, where the fuck have you been?” she swore. “I’ve been calling you for hours.”

Kevin pretended to think about the question as a troop of midgets parted around them. The midgets carried knapsacks and two oversized midgets led them. He waited for them to fall and tumble, or punch each other, but nothing happened. The night was turning out to be disappointing. A glowing yellow ball dangled in the sky, making the darkness strangely bright. The woman yanked his wrist.

“Are you even listening? We waited half the morning for you to show up. But did you? No. Not even a call. You didn’t even shower today, did you?”

The question surprised him. He thought for a moment and answered, “actually, you caught me in the middle of my shower. If you will excuse me, it’s rather rude to look at me this way. At least have the decency to hand me a towel.” He extricated her hand from his wrist, tenderly lifting each finger until his arm fell free.

He raised his hand for a drag and looked accusingly at Susan. “Give it back.” She denied any knowledge of his filched cigarette and offered him a cigarette from her purse. As he searched his pockets for a matchbook, Susan grabbed his chin and turned his face. She stuck the cigarette into his mouth and held up her lighter. Kevin took a long drag and blew the smoke out of the side of his mouth. Satisfied, Susan let go of his chin.

The circus ended and the streets cleared.