There was a Gorilla Lady—damned if she wasn’t all hairy looking. Fred couldn’t believe she was a fake. Maybe that hair is real. Dexter, the muscle man, looked like a nice guy, tall and built like a mountain.
Don and Joe stood with Lucy, which annoyed Fred. They looked too chummy for his taste. But any jealousy melted away when Lucy’s arm shot up and she waved! She hurried over. “Aren’t they all marvelous? Look, here comes the Wildman.”
Fred caught sight of The Wildman of Zanzibar. He didn’t look very wild or imposing. He certainly didn’t look like a cannibal. Fred didn’t think he was; probably just more of Joe’s bullshit.
“They’re all old timers. We worked the circuit before,” Lucy explained.
Bob and his dogs were even there. Some kids snuck in and Bob was talking to them. There was a little girl with ribbons he was making a fuss over.
Mabel came out and greeted everyone. She was a fine looking lady and boy did Tommy look proud of her. She knew everyone.
“It’s like one family,” Fred said, and it was.
He knew then if he had his way he’d stay with them forever. They were nice to Old Pa and seemed to really be one big family.
Tommy had organized a big cook out—kind of a welcome for all the performers. During the event, he made a great speech. There were great eats and the dancing girls came out later wearing scanty costumes. Alice looked at their svelte, shapely bodies. Poor Alice.
The girls started to do the hootchy kootchy. Then a shimmy, which got the clowns all riled up. They whistled and clapped. Fred knew he’d have to speak to them about not doing anything stupid.
The others, including the Gorilla Lady, sat with Lester and Don—but Lucy came over to sit with Fred. She was excited about Alice and Al when Fred told her about the ring. Fred wondered if she had ever been engaged. He was afraid to ask her though.
They all had a fair amount to drink, despite Prohibition. Tommy kept quite a store. “And we don’t worry about any raids either—I know the right people and money always talks,” he said. “Ain’t that right, Bob?”
Bob the dog man gave him a funny look. “Sure is, boss.”
Fred wanted to ask Lucy about Bob but she was talking to Al and Alice. When Old Pa started to snore, he bid everyone a goodnight. “I best take my dad back now.”
They waved him off. But he thought Lucy’s wave was special, at least he hoped it was.
He put his old father to bed, whistling as he did. “It feels good to be happy,” he said. “Don’t it, Old Pa?”
No answer because the old man had fallen asleep. Fred fell into a deep sleep. The distant sound of laughter and talk from the cook out lulled him. It sounded comforting.
But because he was asleep, he never saw Tommy’s trailer door open. Nor did he see Mabel step outside, naked as a jaybird. Tommy laughed with glee when two huge wings appeared. “I love when you do that!” he cried.
She laughed too as she blew him a kiss and flew away. Up into the sky she soared, like a giant bird. She came back later—holding a child in her arms..."
End of excerpt
CIRCUS OF HORRORS