Friday, April 29, 2011

“Zen Juggling”

The arena was plunged into darkness. Seconds passed, and the crowd began to murmur uneasily. Then a dim, purple glow rose from the center ring. A drooping face with a wild, lopsided grin. One eye rolled uncontrollably. The other soaked in its surroundings.
The figure gave a slight bow, and then tossed four objects into the air. They were torches that burst into orange flames as they reached their highest point, leaving trails as they came tumbling back down. No sooner did one drop into his hand, was it again flung up into the air. Faster and faster the torches spun through the air, to the delight of the awe-struck crowd.
There was a frantic drumbeat that seemed to pace the juggler’s flashing hands. Other than that, not a sound could be heard.
To most, it appeared to be a feat of great concentration. For Deadeye, it was second nature. Here, in this moment, the Juggling Jester felt true peace descend upon him. His hands moved like separate entities. He did not see or hear the crown. Nothing existed but self, one with his props.
Deadeye was juggling. He was Zen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

“You Bet Your Life”

Every performance is a gamble; your life is the stake. Sing the wrong note, take a wrong step, or whip the lion just a little too hard, and it could all be over for you. Pull off that one legendary performance, and you could go right to the top. Either way you’re screwed.
If you flop, people will always remember your failure. It takes a lot to ever recover. If you are amazing, you will never again match those heights of excellence. The only direction you can go is down. It’s called ‘peaking’ and it’s as much a career ender as failure.
Tonight we have seen both, and a little in between. The elephants performed a satisfactory Rachmaninov, and the monkeys were comical, but average. Manny Fats, our strongman, was… incredible, if not inspiration.
Caliberini was the big surprise. He soared to his greatest heights in a performance that left the audience in shock and wanting more. Even I was amazed, and I’ve seen it all. After 40 years as a ringmaster, its hard to surprise me, but Caliberini’s routine did just that.
Our lowest point was Whiskey’s performance. The old lion finally let the drink beat him, and it was a sad display. He could barely stand, much less jump through hoops. I won’t fire him; he has been with us for too long. He’s family. But it may be time to move him out of the center ring.
There’s still one act remaining. A personal favorite of mine. Deadeye makes his return tonight, which is always a big thing for us. Whenever he is released from Branherst, he comes back better than ever. It is like the asylum grants him a renewed vigor. Sometimes I think he has no peak. That he is in another universe all together.
So, here we go. Everything is all set for the Juggling Jester. All he needs now is for me to go out and introduce him. Into the spotlight I step, Ringmaster here at El Circa de Cykoticas.
“At last we have come to the grandest finales. Tonight you have witnessed extraordinary feats of courage, beauty, and brawn. Your eyes have feasted on the visual food of gods! But nothing has prepared you for what is yet to come. “
“Turn your eyes, if you will, once more to the center ring, where soon you will see a performance that will be talked about for years to come. Tonight, after three months we welcome back to the Big Top one of our most beloved acts! Ladies and Gentleman! Boys and Girls! Without further ado, I give you…”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


If anyone knew our secret, the appeal would be lost. It’s a big deal to be a headliner. Center ring is what we all aspire to, and our act earned it. But it would all come crashing down if our secret got out.
There are three of us. My brother, Xeke, he’s the oldest. He started out with our parents and has the most experience. He taught my sister and me everything mom and dad taught him. They died when I was 6. Xeke was 15, so he took care of us.
My sister, x-tacy, is my twin. She’s got the looks in the family… We’re not identical. She also has the rawest talent of the three of us. Those two factors kind of make her the centerpiece of the act.
Me, I got the brains. My name is Xavier. It was my idea to do the whole act in the nude. After all, sex sells. Why not cash in on such a hot commodity? That’s what got us the headline spot. Acrobats are a dime a dozen, but naked acrobats… Well, you get the idea.
Collectively we’re known as Triple X. We do the trapeze, the high wire, and a number of other tricks. You should see X-tacy work a pole. The guys go mad for that part of the show.
But, for as much as the ‘sex’ sells, it’s the danger that is the real draw. People come to see us risk our lives. Secretly, they hope a wire snaps or a foot slips. They want to watch one of us tumble to our deaths.
That’s why our act would be ruined if people knew our secret. My brother, my sister, and I can’t die, or even get injured. We’re immortal… At least I think. We still get older, so maybe age will kill us, but a fall won’t. That removes the risk. That takes away the thrill. So, we keep our secret, and continue defying ‘death’… and censorship.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


“We got real lucky tonight, people! Nobody got hurt when Everest came down, but that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. I wanna know just what happened here tonight. You hear me?
The Professor was pissed; you could hear it in his voice. Not as pissed as me, of course. The Roller Coaster was my turf. She had been in the family since day one, forty-two years ago. Now she was nothing but a pile of junk. The whole dame thing had collapsed. Not all at once. A little at a time. It was slow enough to get everyone to safety, but not to save her.
I felt like crying, or screaming. It was the end of an era. My baby was dead… She should’ve had another 10 years.
I know what this was, though. I don’t know who did it, but I know someone did it. No one can tell me otherwise. I’ll find out who, and when I do, well… Payback’s a bitch.

Monday, April 25, 2011

“Vanity Plates and Bumper Stickers”

*A few of the notable displays found on the backs of Carney vehicles:

-Vanity Plates-
Bowwow- The Dog faced Boy
CNVLKNG- The Professor
MGCMAN- The Great Galetto
ZIGZAG1- Ziggy the Dragon
GOTWOOD- Max and Bucky

-Bumper Stickers-
The Dog Faced Boy- “Calm down, I was only cleaning myself”
“Looking for a good place to bury my bone.”

Ziggy the Dragon- “Objects in your bong may be closer than they appear.”
“Marijuana for president!”
“I’m not a pothead. I leave the leadership roles to others.”

Jumbo Jenna- “Caution! I brake for drive-thrus.”

Max and Bucky- “You can learn a lot from a Dummy. Who do you think taught me to

Saturday, April 23, 2011

“Under The Influence”

Any other night they would have closed the show, but with Deadeye’s big return, the Ringmaster made a switch. Maybe that’s why it happened. Maybe it was just inevitable. Whatever the case was, Whiskey screwed up and it would cost him.
On any other night the big lion had time to sober up before going on. Tonight he was rushed out first. Perhaps it would have been better to just pull out for one show, but a star never sat the bench. No matter what, the show must go on. So, go on they did. Salazar should have known better.
It began with Whiskey stumbling out like a boxer who had taken one too many blows to the head. The lion weaved his way through the ring to the edge of the first row, belched loudly, then proceeded to vomit on the patrons sitting there. No shame would have come if Salazar had pulled him out them. He could’ve claimed Whiskey was sick and the clowns could’ve come back out. But it didn’t happen.
Instead, Whiskey gave a gave a grandiose bow, stumbled back toward the stunned Salazar, and took the trainer’s whip and microphone from him. It was the liquid courage. The lion then proceeded to chase Salazar from the ring, using his own whip on him several times. With that done, he walked back to the center ring, and made a dozen or so vulgar statements before finally doing a face plant and blacking out. It was a sad spectacle.
Whiskey probably won’t remember it in the morning, but everyone else will. It is a stain on his career, one that will probably lose him his headline slot, if not his job. But, that’s fame. Here today and gone tomorrow. R.I.P. Whiskey.

Friday, April 22, 2011

“Three Piece”

Ext- The Carnival’s Midway. Three teenagers (Smoke, Diesel, and J.C.) are leaning against a game booth horse playing and watching the crowd pass by.

J.C.: Man, this place is a drag. We got anything going tonight, Smokey?
Smoke Go fetch! Nah… Uncle Lou wants us to help him out tonight, but it’s probably something stupid.
Diesel: I ain’t doing no work!
J.C.: Well, we gotta find something to do. What’s up with Ziggy?
Smoke: Dry as a bone… Dogface said old “Puffy” was blazin’ on Spinach earlier, so…
Diesel: This ain’t so bad, just hangin’ out here…

Diesel: What I mean is that it could be worse.
J.C.: What’s worse than being bored out your mind?
Diesel: Well, you could be stuck in an elevator that keeps on playing Justin Bieber over and over and over….
J.C.: Ok, I get it.
Smoke: Or you could be watching Donkey Porn.
J.C.: What the hell is Donkey Porn?
Diesel: Two donkeys going at it on camera…
Smoke: Or a donkey and something else.
J.C.: That’s sick.
Diesel: Actually, its probably not that bad… Well, I mean, if you’re a donkey.
Smoke: He’s got a point.
J.C.: Okay, but back to the original problem. We need some action.

Diesel: Well, that was something.
Smoke: Yeah… Looks like it came off of Mount Everest… I wonder if anyone was hurt?
J.C.: Who Cares? Let’s get out of here before we have to help clean it up.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

“Smoke And Mirrors”

“The art of a good magician isn’t the trick itself, it is the presentation.”
The Great Galetto sat on an elegant, high-backed chair, his legs crossed at the knee, looking more like royalty than carnival illusionist. His apprentice carefully watched his every move and noted his every word, as the magician conversed with the young woman sitting across from him. She was a reporter for the local paper, doing a special interest piece on of the carnival’s more popular acts.
Like many entertainer’s, Galetto’s ego fed on attention, and the pretty blonde was giving him a healthy dose. An interview, her short skirt, and the wide-eyes look of admiration she was giving him had Galetto firing on all cylinders. Give him an audience and he’d give them a show.
“The bigger the bang, “ he said with a wink, “the bigger the payoff.”
All his charm was turned on as he spoke, laying one hand on her knee. The lines were transparent, but delivered with such perfect timing that she ate up every word.
These were the secrets the apprentice had to learn. Not the illusions themselves, devices were easily mastered, but delivery had to be perfected. Or, as Galetto had just said, presentation.
“But what it really comes down to is knowing when to pull the trigger.” He gave her a smile that said more and she blushed.
That was the apprentice’s cue. It was time to perform some magic of his own and disappear. He got up and left the trailer. As the door swung shut behind him he heard Galetto asking the reporter is she wanted a glass of wine. Somewhere in the direction of the roller coaster there was a crash and screaming. More than usual.
He shrugged and began walking toward the cluster of trailer’s known as ‘nightmare alley.’ That was where the Professor’s freaks stayed. Maybe Jumbo Jenna was done for the night. He liked feeding her doughnuts. It was one vanishing act that didn’t require a lot of smoke and mirrors.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Professor Lucifer Von Diablos is a showman, no doubt about it. He has that unique talent to deliver witticisms with perfect timing. Like P.T. Barnum, Groucho Marx, and W.C Fields, this carny is a quotable entertainer that will be remembered for his sayings long after he has stopped talking.
- On the Dogfaced Boy: “He’s a teenager. I’d expect him to chase tail, just not his own tail”
- On Jumbo Jenna: “She ate her way to the top, literally. We used to have a less fat fat lady, then Jenna ate her. The rest is history.”
“Once, we thought she was pregnant. Turns out she had just sat on a midget and he got stuck… where? Well, it sure wasn’t her armpit, Einstein”
- On guessing weights and ages: “Women hate it, but it’s not my fault if they’re old and fat.
- On Funnel Cakes: “Dough and white powder…Reminds me of the 80’s, before I joined the carnival.”
- On the Bumper Cars: “It’s like the L.A. Freeway, without guns.”
- On whether or not carnival games are fixed: “Well, they sure as hell ain’t broke! But if you mean, do we cheat… only when there’s money on the line”
- On the Circus: “Their tent smells like animal crap. Our midway smells like cotton candy. They have a bunch of clowns running the operation. We have rides. Which one are you gonna pay money for?”
- On the Carnival’s Ventriloquist Act: “One’s made out of wood. The others a dummy.”
- One the Great Galetto: “You wanna see him do a real magic trick? Watch how he disappears when you ask him where he learned how to escape from handcuffs.”
- On the Ringmaster: “Anybody that talks as much as he does should just shut up.”

Monday, April 18, 2011


They are everywhere, promoting the Carnival, selling the circus. I see those posters on the ride to work. I am assaulted by them at the grocery store. Bright colors and flashy words overloading my senses.
But I can’t look away. The imagery draws my attention like a disaster story on the six o’clock news. I am fascinated, and frightened. What lies in the hearts of clown and freaks? Why do I have this irrational desire to attend one or the other?
There, the flyer for El Circa de Cykoticas claims to be the “most incredible display between Heave and Hell!”, and I want to know if its true. Is Caliberini really as amazing as his name suggest? Just how daring is the juggler, Deadeye? Would the beauty of X-tacy truly break my heart? That placard sells it so well…
And over here, a placard for the Carnival of Chaos. “Come out for the ride of your life!”, it screams. They have a magician, and a ventriloquist act. There is a freak show featuring the Dogfaced Boy, Jumbo Jenna, and a real-life dragon. Do they really have the tallest roller coaster in the world? I don’t know, but I want to find out.
The child in me is bouncing around in anticipation for a show. I want to go to both, but I can only afford one. Oh, the agony of choice. Damn posters!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

“On Top Of The World”

My favorite ride is the roller coaster. Not the new versions they have at eh big, corporate theme parks, but the old rickety wooden one they have here at the Carnival. It’s called Mount Everest, and it boasts the highest peak of any roller coaster in the United States. Maybe the world. It’s a real classic. What I love about it isn’t the breakneck speeds it reaches, or even the triple loop. What attracts me is that first climb to the top. The rise before the fall. There’s a thrill of anticipation as the car clickedy- clacks its way up, the rails moaning and groaning with tension. Then you reach the top, and for a moment it seems like you can see the whole world. You hang there, suspended above the carnival, before plummeting back down again.
As much as I love it, I have to wonder if each ride will be my last. Everest is 42 years old and sure to go at any time. But maybe that’s the real thrill of the ride, the risk.

Friday, April 15, 2011

“Night At The Circus”

‘Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and girls! Tonight you will bare witness to an extraordinary display of madness, mayhem, and magnificence! Here, beneath the Big Top, in these three rings, feats will be performed that will leave you paralyzed in awe! Don’t blink. Don’t turn away. Don’t even get up to use the bathroom, we can hose the seats off. What we can’t do is give you an instant replay, so don’t miss it the first time!
‘Indeed, we have a show in store for you! Death-defying, dazzling, and dynamic exhibitions that will make your head spin and your mind rot. I dare you to prove otherwise…
‘ To my left, witness Herculean feats of strength performed by the world’s most powerful man! Ooh and Aah as the Amazing Caliberini risks life and limb.
‘And to my right, you will see the only full elephant orchestra in the world, featuring renowned cellist Yo-Yo “Ma, I don’t think we’re in the jungle no more!” Also watch as monkeys sling feces at one another in an act we call “Holy Crap, Duck!”
‘But here, in this center ring, is where you will truly be amazed, as some of the world’s greatest acts shall take on some of their biggest challenges. Here we will experience the stars of tonight’s extravaganza!
‘First, we will welcome Whiskey the Wild. A lion with attitude. His tricks should astound you, his words could offend you, And his blood- alcohol level would certainly kill you!
‘From there, we move on to the high flying trapeze act, Triple X. They will have you saying, “Did they just do that?” Yes, they did.
‘Finally, our show will close with the return of one of our most beloved acts. Blind on his left side, he will perform feats of balance and dexterity impossible for one with no depth perception. You will fear for your own life, as much as you fear for his, as the Juggling Jester manipulates fire, knives, and fate.
“Sooo prepare yourselves! The show is about to begin! Welcome to EL CIRCA DE CYKOTICAS!!!’

Thursday, April 14, 2011

“Money Talks”

I just finished a 90-day stretch. My eight at the Branherst Institute for the criminally Insane. It wasn’t my longest, nor was it my shortest, but it was my easiest.
After the first one, a person just learns how to make the best out of his time in there. I like to look at it as a mini vacation. I check in, relax, and enjoy the thorazine. Yeah, my stays just keep getting easier. At some point I might not check out.
Today I did, though, and it felt good. The break was nice, but I’ll be glad to get back to work. First, a quick job for the Boss, then I get to close out the Big Show tonight… That’s my true passion, juggling.
My partner is a clown called Blaze. He handles my pyrotechnics. He’s also the one I’m teamed up with when the Boss has one of his ‘special jobs’, one we don’t talk about. We that from time to time… Rob a bank, kick a Dogboy, pick up some milk… I don’t ask questions, I just do what the Boss says. He signs the paychecks. He gives me the spotlight.
We parked in front of a run down trailer, about a quarter of a mile from the carnival. I could hear that stupid calliope music playing and screams of delighted patrons. I really hated the carnival.
“This is it?” I asked
Blaze nodded, stubbing out his cigar, “This is the address the Boss gave me.”
“And your guy is in there?”
“Yeah, he’s in there?”
I sighed, “Let’s do this then.”
The sooner we got this job over with, the sooner I could get back to the circus. Blaze went up the steps and banged on the screen. I stayed off to the side, eyeing the trailer warily.
The door swung open to reveal a scruffy looking carny in a dark blue jumpsuit. He smelled like gasoline and goats. I was thankful that Blaze wasn’t smoking.
“You Henry?” Blaze asked.
The man scowled, then looked around wildly. He looked liked he should’ve been in Branherst. Finally, his eyes came back to rest on Blaze and he jerked his head in a gesture that said, “Yes” and “Come on in” all at once. We complied.
Inside was cramped and smelled even worse. Machine parts and grease seemed to cover every square inch of the trailer floor. A workbench was holding up one wall. It was here the man walked to and began tossing tools and blueprints around till finding what he was looking for.
“Here,” he muttered, handing a bundle of rolled up papers to Blaze. “Mount Everest, everything you need to know about the roller coaster is in there.”
Blaze handed them to me without taking his eyes off the carny and said, “Check it.”
I looked,
“We good?”
I nodded, “Yeah, we’re good.”
Blaze reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of bills, then tossed the roll to the carny.
“Can’t believe you sold ‘em out, Henry,” Blaze was saying, as we made our way out.
Henry just shrugged, counting the stack, “Money talks, Clown”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Tonight was the night. After all his planning, Caliberini was finally going to perform his greatest stunt. It would either make his career, or break him… literally. But it was worth the risk.
He wanted the center ring slot with every other fiber of his being, if it required his life in exchange. Not that he wanted to die, but to be a truly great daredevil you had to risk everything. Tonight he was putting all his chips in the pot and going for the big score.
Once more, he checked to be sure everything was ready shark tank. Check. Motorcycle gassed up. Check. Hoops with flame projectors. Check. Super-Flammable Jumpsuit. Double-check. Everything looked to be in order. All that was left was to actually do it.
Up till now he had just been a part of the show. Tonight, he would jump the shark and become The Show. After this performance, Caliberini would be legendary.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I’d like to think people get what they deserve. That the universe will right itself whenever things go wrong. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I’d like to think so. Sometimes I even give it a little help, when I think the universe needs it. It’s just my way of keeping the balance.
Who am I? A nobody at the carnival. One of those faceless, nameless guys that hawks food from a booth on the midway. You may have seen me somewhere else, but you just can’t put your finger on it, and you don’t really care
Me? I’m a little better at keeping tabs. Maybe I saw you help that old lady across the street. Maybe you’ll get an extra scoop of ice cream when you come to my stand.
And maybe I saw you kick a dog, or worse…
You’ll never know. But someday you just might get a yellow snow-cone that’s not quite all lemon, or chocolate covered peanut that’s been double- dipped. That soda you’re drinking may be Sprite, lacking a dash of r and e.
Get what I’m saying?
So, watch what you do. I will be, and remember… it’s just karma

Monday, April 11, 2011

“Job Security”

Look over there, on the other side of the midway. See those three young punks hassling the customers. Yeah, the ones that look like they belong in a juvenile detention center. I know what you’re thinking. Somebody should toss them out of here, but nobody will. You know why? ‘Cause they work here.
Does that comes as a surprise? It shouldn’t. Those boys are the professor’s nephews. Nepotism at its finest. He won’t fire them either. Says they bring a little spirit to the Carnival. Yeah, spirit, and crime sprees...
But that’s job security in our business. Us carnival folk are all related to somebody in the business. The booth’s and rides get passed down through the generations. The circus folk are like that too, so we got that in common.
Judge us however you want. Call us freaks and gypsies and vagabonds. We won’t deny it. We’re all those things, but more than that, we’re family.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

“In The Spotlight”

Some things just stick with us, haunting our every moment. Dominating our every thought. That’s how it is for me. One thing I will never be able to forget.
The first time I stepped into the ring was like taking in oxygen after nearly drowning. There was a feeling of giddiness I can only compare to a free fall from a thousand feet. My heart felt like it was going to explode.
I had practiced before friends and family and on my own, but at that moment I was before a real live audience. This time my judgement was in the hand of stranger who would not see the person, but the performance. A hush fell over the crowd, and the lights went down…
When the throbbing pulse of the music began to play, the audience seemed to vanish. It was no longer a performance, it was just me and the stunts. The Amazing Caliberini versus destiny. The music and lights swirled around like howling winds and falling stars. In the distance, the rolling thunder of guns blazed, and I became lost in a storm of bullets.
Nothing had ever prepared me for that moment in the spotlight, and nothing could ever equal the feeling it still gives me. And that’s why I do it night after night. Even if someday it kills me.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Int.- Clown Car. Blaze is driving. Deadeye sits in the passenger seat trying to balance a pencil on his fingertip.

Blaze (smoking a cigar): So, how was Branherst?
Deadeye: No freakin’ balls!
Blaze(Cut his eyes toward Deadeye): Say what?
Deadeye: No balls, clubs, scarves, devil sticks, nothing! I was really starting to lost it in there. Know what I mean? Juggling helps me keep my head, but did they get that? Nope! I’ve spent the last three months using fruit to help keep me from going bananas. (Shakes his head.) Apple sauce day was real fun.
Blaze: Bet the drugs were good, though/
Deadeye: Average… At best… You know what was really a blast? The people.
Blaze: Who? The staff or the other loonies?
Deadeye: My people… There was one guy who swore he was Jimmy Hoffa. Kept trying to organize a union.
Blaze (laughing): What were his demands?
Deadeye: Extra pudding cups at dinner and a wider selection of fat crayons.
Blaze: So what happened?
Deadeye: Well, finally the orderlies got so tired of all the fuss he was causin’ and took him for shock treatment. He was gone for about a week. Two of the para-schitz…
Blaze: Pair of what?
Deadeye: Paranoid Schizophrenics… Anyway, tow of them got to arguing over what happened to old Jimmy. One claimed it was an alien abduction, the other said there was a government conspiracy that had him killed. They went back and forth until finally old Jimmy was wheeled back into the ward. That sparked a whole new argument between the two. But, they did agree on one thing. Jimmy wasn’t Jimmy any more and they had to keep a close eye on him.
Blaze: Was his brain fried or something?
Deadeye: Most definitely. For the first few days he just sat around muttering to himself. Then one day he woke up and went right back to trying to organize the common people against what he called ‘the injustices of corporate administrators.’
Blaze: Wow, that sounds like some wild stuff. How was the food?
Deadeye: Pretty much like what we eat out here… They got hamburgers, spaghetti, cereal… They just give you different brands. Know what they call Fruit Loops?
Blaze: What?
Deadeye: Loopy Fruits…
Blaze: No way! Do they taste any different?
Deadeye: Nope, taste exactly the same… They even got a toucan on the box… Birdie Bill… He’s got a slogan that goes, “Let your beak be your guide.”
Blaze: Crazy, man. So if it’s the same thing, why do they call it something else?
Deadeye: Licensing, Brother. In this day and age it’s all about licensing.

Deadeye: This it?
Blaze: Yeah, this is the address the Boss gave me
Deadeye: And you’re sure your guy is in there.
Blaze : Yeah, he’s there.
Deadeye: Let’s do this then….


Thursday, April 7, 2011


Every clown has a face, and every good face tells a story. It's more than just a big, red nose and greasepaint. It's about creating a unique character. Like any other act, it's all in the presentation. That's what separates the professions jokers for the birthday party bozos.

The clothes, the comedic style, even the act itself all hinges on the face. It's a product to be sold. If the suit makes the man, then the paint makes the clown.

But the clown has to believe in it too. He or she must embrace the face and become one with the character. I am Deadeye the Daring with or without my paint. The makeup only allows the Juggling Jester to surface and give the people a show.

Without my paint, I am nothing more than a deformed madman. Crippled before I was born by the stroke I suffered while still in the womb. My left side is weakened, the muscles of my face drooping obscenely. I am blind on that side as well, and my left eye rolls wildly beneath the lid that never fully closes. Psychiatrists have diagnosed me as insane. The state has institutionalized me eight times.

Without my pain, I am social pariah. With it, I am a star.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Ferris Wheel"

Smiling faces walk the midway, oblivious to the sinister origins of a carnivals attractions. It is a place of madness and mayhem, disguised by brightly colored paint and pretty lights. Many of the rides are based on ancient torture devices. The games once had much higher stakes. I suppose ignorance really is bliss. It would certainly dampen the mood if people knew the truth.

Take the ride I operate, for example. Seems innocent enough. A big wheel, with seats that hang from crossbars. The wheel turns and the chairs go up, then they come down again. Great fun. But, did you know it comes from an interrogation tactic used right up until the mid-1800's? It's true. They used to strap the person being questioned to a rotating wheel, the base of which was under water. The wheel cranked until the victim was fully submerged. Then they were left there to thrash against their bonds for anywhere from 30 seconds to a full 2 minutes. Just before they drowned, the wheel was cranked again, bringing the subject back up for more questioning. If the answers weren't satisfactory...Down they went again.

The process was repeated again and again until the questioners were satisfied, or until the subject was dead, whichever came first. Fun fact huh?

Still want to ride? Got your ticket? Then step on up, you're the next in line.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Size matters. Don't let anyone tell you differently. That's not to say that bigger is necessarily better, but it definitely has to be hearty enough to fill me up. I'm like Goldilocks. I want something that's just right. If it's too big I just can't handle it. Too small...well, take the other night for example. This guy come to my trailer with something that was barely a mouthful. It left me so unsatisfied I couldn't sleep. I was up all night tossing and turning.

I will say this, though, if the person really knows what they're doing I can make an exception. Like last night...Oh, it makes my knees weak just thinking about it!

I had this girl come over to take care of me. I don't usually swing that way, but she came highly recommended. She was well worth it too. Fulfilling my every desire right up to the big finish. What she did with whipped cream and syrup should be criminal.

Oh my, I'm getting all flustered. Maybe I'll call her up just one more time before we leave. I could do that now, just to see what kind of breakfast menu she puts together. Cooks like her don't come around often and my appetite demands the best. How do you think I keep up that voluptuous, thousand pound figure? Good food and a passion for eating.

Monday, April 4, 2011


"You know what the difference is between a ventriloquist and his dummy? One is the brains of the operation, the other tries to talk without moving his mouth...Ha!"

The tuxedoed puppet known as Bucky clutched his sides as he cackeled maniacally at his own joke. He sat in a tiny chair, built to a scale that suited him, rocking back on two legs. Next to him, hundched uncomfortably in the small trailer, was the massive form of Edgar, who by standards was considered a giant. His abnormal proportions were all the more apparent when compared to his fellow carny, especially in the cramped space they currently occupied.

"Oh, boy...Max is so easy...Just like his sister! Ha-Ha!" Bucky nearly toppled over as a new stream of laughter came belting out.

Edgar grunted, and shook his head.

"Why are you always so hard on him, Buck?" The giant asked.

The puppet gestured, as if dismissing the question.

"Max is a moron! He thinks he can just treat me like some run-of-the-mill blockhead...I mean, c'mon, look at me!" The doll jumped to his feet and twirled around, showing off his two-foot frame. "I sing, I dance, I write all of the jokes for our act. He would be nothing but a barker if it wasn't for me!"

"So why do you stick with him? Why not get your own act?"

Bucky sat back down and thought for a minute before responding, "I would, but truth is, if it wasn't for Max, I woudl still be locked in a trunk dryrotting, so I guess I owe him for gettin' me out."

He paused, before continuing, "But as soon as I feel that debt is paid, I'm gone. No strings attached."

Bucky nodded, as if agreeing with himself. Edgar nodded too, but was more because he was sleepy than agreeing with the Dummy.

"So, did you hear how the ventriloquist died? Somebody stuck a scratch-and-sniff sticker on the bottom of the pool! Ha...."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Cash Crap"

Int. A dimly-lit carnival trailer. Clouds of smoke fill the air. The walls of the trailer are decorated with cult-classic movie posters, rock-and-roll memorabilia and a variety of other stoner paraphernalia. Sublime is playing softly in the background.

ZIGGY, a dragon that is reminiscent to Puff, without the Magic, or perhaps a green, urbanized Barney, lounges in a bean bag chair in one corner. He holds a bong in one hand and appears to have taken one too many hits from the device. The trailer's door opens. ENTER THE DOGFACE BOY.

DOGFACE : It smells like a forest fire in here, Ziggy! What the blazes are you smoking?

ZIGGY : Just a little medication...

DOGFACE: Dude, that's spinach.

ZIGGY : What?

DOGFACE : You're smokin' spinach, numb nuts!

ZIGGY : Maybe I am, Dogface. Maybe I am.

DOGFACE: No...Really, you're smokin' spinach...And canned spinach at that.

ZIGGY : Well, give the Green Giant my compliments! He's sure made me jolly...

DOGFACE: You can't get high off spinach!

ZIGGY : How do you know? You ever smoked it?

DOGFACE : Well, no, but... It's just common knowledge. People don't get high from spinach!

ZIGGY: What about Popeye?

DOGFACE : Popeye? What about him?

ZIGGY : Look at the facts man. His best buddy spent all day scarfin' hamburgers, his girlfriend was a meth-head with a pimp named Bluto, and he was always squintin' and suckin' on that pipe. Popeye and his whole crew were gettin' blasted on spinach. .

DOGFACE: Oh, my god, you've smoked yourself retarded.

ZIGGY : And speaking of some trippy-ass cartoons, what was the deal with Dagwood Bumstead? He had that hot wife and all he wanted to do was eat sandwiches and sleep. Dude was definitely dippin' into the ganja...

DOGFACE: We weren't speaking of "trippy cartoons", we were talking about you smoking spinach!

ZIGGY: Ooooh...Maybe I should try cookies! That big, blue dust mop on Sesame Street is always raving about them.

DOGFACE : You're an idiot...Anyway, Boss says you got 10 minutes to curtain, so get a move on.

ZIGGY : Sit, Ubu, Sit. Good Dog.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Big Top"

They call me Blaze, a name I picked up is Desert Storm working demolitions. I was special Ops, so any mission I may or may not have been a part of never happened. At least that would be the official story. Now I'm a pyrotechnics expert for the circus, still earning my keeping blowing things up. So, I guess the shoe fits.

The outfit I work for is one of those year round operations that just seems to appear in the middle of the night. You know the kind I mean. One day you're driving past an empty field and the next there's a big tent and the overpowering smell of large animals. We come in the little fanfare, hoping to draw the curious, and once the fat lady has sung, we vanish. The people get a show and we get to eat.

Lately things haven't gone so smoothly. It is that damn carnival. We all know it. They seem to be in every town we lay stakes, stealing our business. When you have the only show in town, everybody shows up, but when you give the folks a choice...Well, they don't always choose you. It was easier before we had to compete with the Professor and his band of freaks.

The other clowns ehre at the circus want to go "Godfather" on the carnies, but the Ringmaster has issued strict orders not to cross the midway. He doesn't want to make our feud a public affair. It's not my job to ask questions. The Boss has been running this show for nearly 40 years, so he must know what he's doing.

"You pickin' up Deadeye today?" Whiskey asks, as I pass his cage.

The lion is our star, trained by the famous Salazar. He's also a raging alcoholc, hence the moniker and the flammable breath wafting in my direction. He's lucky my cigar's not lit.

"Yeah" I answer, barely slowing.

"Make a stop for me," He yells, gesturing with the half empty bottle of Jack Daniels he's drinking. It's the universal sign for "I need a refill".

I just grunt my assent and keep walking. I ahve an hour till the asylum officially releases Deadeye into my custody, but its a 45 minute drive and there's always paperwork to sign. This is Deadeye's eighth trip to Branherst, so release is old hat.

It wouldn't be a big deal if I were a little late, but the Boss has a job for us to do and the sooner I get Deadeye, the sooner we can get the job done. It's one like my Iraq days. Something that won't officially happen. We get in, we get out, and we get back. If it all goes right, we'll be back in time for the show. If not, Caliberini will fill Deadeye's slot. That's not an option any star wants to take, so I'll do all I can to get him back in time.

Friday, April 1, 2011

"Aiming for the Skies"

The Amazing Caliberini was the toughest mofo in the Three Rings. He knew it, and so did everyone else. That was why he could keep his head held high, even if his act wasn't a headliner yet. Someday he would make it to the center ring, and when he did there was no going back.

Currently, El Circa de Cykoticas boasted three star attractions. The opener was usually Deadeye, the Juggling Jester. His fiery displays and deft manipulations of hand and eye had earned him some renown as the most daring juggler in the world. Next came the high-flying acrobatics of Triple X. The troupe was made up of two brothers and their achingly beautiful sister. The death defying act was only made more brilliant by the tastefully erotic spin they put on their performance. The closer was a veteran of the circuit. Known as Whiskey the Wild, the trained lion pulled off tricks that would make Sigfried and Roy's cats jealous.

Anything other than the three stars was just filler. Sure, Caliberini's name was on the poster, but almost as an after thought. No one would notice it if they weren't actively looking for it. That was something he hoped to change.

Waiting the other acts out wasn't an option. The "Exes" were young, Deadeye in his prime and Whiskey had tenure. Their slots were secured, unless a really spectacular act came along. So, Caliberini worked on his act. He swallowed swords, took sledgehammers to the sternum, cannon balls to the cranium, and dove on dynamite. Tonight he was going to catch a bullet with his teeth, and tomorrow he would wrestle a grizzly. Whatever it took to draw the crowds, he was game.

Yeah, Caliberini was the toughest mofo in the show and anyone who doubted it, wouldn't by the end of the night. He would always prove that claim, just like he would always aim for the skies, whether he was in a cannon waiting to be shot over the Big Top or not.

Introduction to the A to Z Challenge....

When my Dad told me about the writing challenge planned for April, I was intrigued by the idea. As a part of the "blogging community" and as a writer, it was an exciting proposition. So, over the next month I will be posting writing titled alphabetically A to Z.

At first I planned to just write a variety of poems and essays, as I have done in the past, but I didn't find the inspiration. It felt forced and lacked creativity. Then, an idea came to me. Why not write 26 related stories? From there, the juices began to flow, as I began to mold the clay of one of my old creations. The result was what follows in the forth coming April posts. Collectively, I call it "The Show of Shows".

And what is that?

Well, at first there was only the circus, and the crowds came to see it. This was good.

Then the carnival came to town and noone went to the circus. This was not good.

From that day on, the two factions have been at war, and this they call "The Show of Shows"....