Circus of Gloom

     ​It was, on the surface, a happy time. There was juggling, balancing acts and fire breathers gracefully danced about, and many others, too, were within their ranks. The smell of cotton candy, or floss as this particular circus folk liked to call it, was the only smell of circus food filling the air. It was Flossy’s favorite at the circus and had been since he first arrived at the age of 10. Orphaned and found wearing a bright red clown wig while eating a large fluffy ball of cotton candy, the name stuck. Among the group there were contortionists and acrobats, a troupe of clowns came roaring around the ring packed in a tiny bright red fire truck, one hanging from a swinging ladder, his painted smile hiding the hurt inside. He was Flossy’s brother, through the circus that is. They were the same age and had arrived to this group of folk separate, but ever since the two were inseparable. But Flossy was gone now. Times change, people drift away, and the dust blows on. 

     They say nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. Well, on that day in the tiny town of Midway, with its surrounding communities of people living in the hills and valleys, the circus was in town. The people watched for an entire day as the folk marched in their wagons of elephants and tigers, a convertible filled with the bearded lady and her entourage: Spike the snake eater, Ape-man, and the Two headed couple with their two – two headed offspring; that’s six arms, six legs, twenty-nine fingers(that’s another story) and thirty toes, six heads, and three bodies, then there was all the rest of the wild and fabulous characters that go along with the circus.  This hodgepodge of circus folk stretched for two miles and didn’t mov e too fast so the kids of the townies got to ride alongside and get a good look at what was to come.

This, however, wasn’t your typical circus. The festivities opened early the next morning with Captain Cannon shooting himself across the tent into a large pull of water that splashed a section of empty bleachers. After that everyone began their routine. They paused for a short time to eat a quick brunch of floss and Coca-Cola. They had the tent to themselves. It was a private affair. There were no posters on windows, or flyers on telephone poles, there was nothing to alert the townies when the fun would begin. But somehow, someway, the attendance had grown from none at lunch, to a couple thousand by dinner. 

The ringmaster was absent. He stood in the shadows, under a motorcycle roaring around in a large circular cage, avoiding everyone and their activities. His was the only face, could you have seen it, that would have shown the soggy gloom about the circus family. Night was falling and the cheering crowd continued to grow and soon, the tent was shaking and bulging with excitement of laughter and frights of lions and tigers and their roars. Eventually the local band showed up to add to the night’s entertainment. There was another sound too, one generally not heard at the circus. Barking. It seemed that everyone and their dog were present and all excited beyond belief at the amazing talents of the circus folk. 

But suddenly, dreadfully, convicting, a cloud of silence moved over the artisans and they stopped in their tracks. They looked at each other, the clown climbed down off the swinging ladder and looked to the center, and the smiles painted on the troupe seemed to have e mysteriously melted as the lion and tiger laid down to pout. The entertainers all looked at each other, then to the center ring one more time, ignoring the chants and cheers of the crowd, then in unison turned to the door and marched out, led by the lion, and followed by the tiger. They continued to their trucks and cars, and before anyone knew what happened, they were on their way, gone. 

The crowd stood astounded and appalled. The men looked around at each other shrugging their shoulders, women put their hands on their hips, little boys and little girls cried, and the dogs chased cats. A large lab named Gyro knocked over a little girl who could’ve ridden him like a horse. When she stood up, she stared at the center ring, where a lonely ringmaster flipped off the lights over the bleachers leaving the crowd darkened. All eyes were on a yellow glow -center ring – in the middle was an open casket, white as snow. Inside was a bright red wig. No one really understood what was happening. She tugged on her daddy’s coattail, “look, he’s sad and alone.” The man looked to the center ring where the ringmaster was reaching for a microphone hanging just above his head. 

“You’ve  come one, 
You’ve came all,
But were never asked to call. 
So in Flossy’s honor
We played on.


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