Saturday, April 30, 2016


By the second story featuring Al and Hank, I felt I knew them well enough to write a full-length novel about them and the world they lived in. And what's more I wanted to! That world is what Circus of Horrors is all about. It is currently on offer for 99 cents.

Here you go, enjoy:

"Freaks get bullied it's as simple as that." Baby Alice wept. "And we are freaks!" 
Poor woman. She was the fat lady in the circus. And what an unhappy lady she was.Al and Hank nodded because what she said was true. Baby Alice sniffled. "You oughtta hear what this guy said to me. He's been coming around regular too. Every day nearly. What am I going to do?"
"Point him out," they said. So she did. The problem was he wasn't just a regular mug; he was the new assistant manager. You see, the circus was in the process of changing hands. And if he was bad the new owner was worse. Word spread quickly about him.
"Ain't you heard? Joe Surley bought us out! He's the worst bastard on the circuit!"
"Oh no!"
"Oh yes!"
The sword swallower and the thin man stopped speaking. They could feel someone was watching them. They turned to see a sour-faced character eyeballing them. He was the new manager, Festus McCoy. 
"Care to repeat that to me?"
The men shook their heads. Festus smirked and waved them off. He had just spotted Baby Alice and she was a lot more fun to insult. "Hey fatso," he called. "Come here, I need a good laugh!" 
Just as predicted, the notorious Joe Surley appeared on the scene a few days later. He introduced himself in his usual manner:

"I'm running this here two-bit circus. Don't think that I won't close it down and sell off the animals for dog food if I want and you too!"

Some of the circus stars began murmuring. Surley stopped them cold.

"Look, this ain't big time. You're strictly the rejects from the bigger shows. So don't have any delusions about your worth!" 
When his eyes fell upon the cowering circle of those deemed 'freaks,' he smiled: "And you messed up creeps, step outta line and I can replace you like that!" he snapped his fingers for emphasis. 

Just then Al and Hank happened to walk over. They were all dressed up. They enjoyed dressing up between shows. They were movie fans and their favorite stars were the Hollywood tough guys. Paul Muni's Scarface and Edward G. Robinson's Little Caesar thrilled them.
Those in the know would have said they lived vicariously through film, becoming something different than the 3 ft. 10 inch midgets they really were. 
Joe snorted. "And just what are you freaks supposed to be? You look ridiculous!" Before either one of them could say anything their new boss stormed off. But not before laying it on thick: "Freaks you are and freaks you'll always be!"
"Bastard!" Al spit out. Hank wiped his face. He was sweating. He always sweated when he was upset. And boy was he upset.Each of them had grown up in mental institutions. 
Al had a police record. He pistol whipped a bully in Nashville when he was 17 and was put in the pokey for awhile.The boys, as they referred to themselves, were tough as old boots. 
They were sometimes mean besides and capable of anything.Both of them had done murder, most recently last Halloween in some jerkwater place, rubbing out two old maids for what they could get. 
Well times were hard in this Depression.They sold silverware and one or two other things they had come away with which was enough to buy suits and have a high old time besides.They liked dames, see? 
Although Surley was rubbing them wrong about a lot of things, they weren't really planning to murder him until he told them about the clown outfits. "I been thinking. I got plans for this here circus! And we'll start with youse two! See I want you to be clowns! You're clowns anyway, so you might as well dress the part.
When Surley left the boys smiled."You know what we're going to have to do, right?"
Sure, they knew. They waited until the following Sunday. Joe always drank himself to sleep on Sundays because there were no shows on Monday.That's when they dropped one of his cigarettes onto his mattress.They had splashed the place with kerosene too; well they wanted to finish the job in the right way. Al lit the match. "Fucker."

The boys watched the fire for a while.

"Shame we couldn't cut his throat. I love to do that."

They both did, nothing like a good old crimson torrent.

"We can't always do what we want." Hank said. He was wise, that Hank.
The screech of sirens tore through the night air. All the circus people were huddled together in their night clothes.No one said they were glad. Mostly they didn't speak much about it other than to wonder what would happen to the circus and to them. 
Baby Alice was worried though. "Geesh, I hope McCoy don't take it over."
She needn't have worried since they arrested Festus McCoy the next day. Well, they found him with a lot of matches and an empty can of kerosene. 
The cops thought it was pretty obvious as to what he had done.
As for Al and Hank they just knew they were lucky it was another jerkwater town and not much was checked in such burgs."Yup," Al said. "We ain't never gonna kill in a big city."
"You're right," Hank answered. "Only we ought to go to Coney Island next week, I hear they're hiring."
"Okay, swell but look, no matter what happens we won't kill there."
"We'll work hard and try to get laid."
"You said it, brother, I'm always up for that!"

They're featured in Circus of Horrors (99 cents on offer)!


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