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Circus- Chapter 2. In Tents


As he fell backwards, he saw the sky disappear under the veil of the tent’s edge. He landed in the mud on his back. The mud splattered through his mop of brown hair and across his glasses. He realized he had most likely done it. He was in. He stood up. No one paid any attention to him. He was officially a criminal. He smiled to himself and thought “Fools.” Now, the next task for any criminal was to secure a hide-out, but where? Even the clean-up crew did not take notice of Nigel. His muddy clothing was a near perfect disguise for someone wishing to be ignored. Beyond the third ring of the circus, just out of the light, was a tall, stacked, pile of long oblong crates. They were labeled tentpoles. “Perfect. No one would be there for some time.” He thought. He worked his way around the perimeter to the crates and settled himself onto a dry pocket on the ground which was covered by fresh green grass. He could not see from there, and yet more importantly, he could not be seen. Two hours passed. He had nearly nodded off, when he was awoken by the rumble of his own stomach. He had not eaten since his mother’s breakfast of soft eggs, toast and an apple which he had brought to sustain. The apple didn’t seem so appealing with the smell of cotton candy and popcorn in the air. He crouched up to a kneeling position. His eyes breached the top of the crate concealing his position. He was surprised to see a crowd had already half-filled the Big Top. Through the tent opening, outside the bright red glow of sunset pierced the sky and gave reflections of lavender to the moist grey underbelly of clouds. The red and white stripes of the tent had clearly faded to a pink and beige over time. The sunset light brought a new life and color to them. Everything seemed more vivid and alive in this golden hour. A new anticipation washed over Nigel. He had done it. He had really pulled the caper off and was on the inside. He didn’t belong there yet he knew, as long as he carried himself like the others, his charade would persevere. He noticed how the mud on him had caked and dried. He calmly pulled the fabric of his oxford white shirt taut. It snapped back as a cloud of light tan dust appeared. He brushed the dust away. He looked like every other kid there. All he lacked was a family. Looking around he noticed plenty of others by themselves. He strolled around to the front of the ring and easily grabbed a front row center seat. It was an amazing feeling. Firstly, being a complete and total fraud. Secondly, the excitement of knowing his dream to see the circus would finally, be fulfilled. Thirty-minutes had passed as clowns entertained the remaining crowd straggled in. Several made balloon animals which they sold to the parents of spoiled children. There was pink and blue cotton candy which looked so good. Nigel wondered what that must taste like. The overwhelming smell of fresh fried corn dogs and popcorn stirred his empty stomach. Yet, with no money and no food tickets, Nigel decided to forget his hunger and to ignore the lives of luxury of the rotten children with fat doting parents. He was here to see the real spectacle. Barkers selling snappy things, poppy things, hats and paper animal masks printed with lions, giraffes and monkeys collected quarter pounds and half pounds galore. Everybody seems so rich in comparison. His parents never had money like that. Suddenly, the curtain tent door dropped as the lights went dark and a bugle blasted. A single spotlight beamed directly on the center of the ring. The edge of its light was no more than 8 feet in front of him on the ground. Every grain of dirt and hoof print was illuminated by the sharp beam. There was truly magic in the air. Nigel swiped his hand through the air and the dust chased his motion in swirls. Suddenly a black man bounded into the ring in a shiny sequined suit which seemed to send a million reflective sparkles through the air and across the faces of the packed crowd. Nigel had never heard such a powerful and commanding voice in his life. There was no use of a microphone or megaphone. The ring master’s thick Jamaican accent resonated in Nigel’s chest. He immediately wondered if people in the back row could feel this same physical sensation emanating from this super being. The spectacle began. The crowd were on the edge of their planked seats. There were intervals when time seemed to race with the action of tigers jumping through flaming hoops and there were moments when time froze. A young acrobat girl delicately stacked a series of wooden chairs twenty feet in the air. She climbed to the top holding a parasol in one hand and a tea tray in the other complete with saucer, cup and china tea pot. When she scaled the makeshift structure she let go the umbrella and it fluttered to the ground. She inverted her body into a balanced handstand as she contorted herself while placing the tray on the top chair. She gripped the teacup and saucer on one foot and extended it towards the roof. Her other foot carefully bridged the handle of a teapot. In this precarious position, at what now seemed one hundred feet up, she poured a cup of tea without spilling a drop. [1] It was all visual insanity and overload with tigers, lions and high wire walkers. At one point a muscular man swung around the entire circumference of the center ring from a rope as he did muscular acrobatics. A series of seven ornate boxes, linked like train cars, were towed in by a large bear. Each decorative box was placed in a series of descending sizes from large to small. Every box glimmered with a single brilliant enamel color of red, green, white, black, or blue. Each was decorated with gold filigree like Fabergé eggs. One at a time the boxes opened to reveal a human, eventually seven members of the Russian family. The “Brilliant Bolsheviks” began their act. They used their bodies as projectiles using the largest see-saw Nigel had ever seen. Eventually, this culminated with them forming a human pyramid supported by three men at the bottom. Two more balance above them with the mother at the top. A small seven-year-old girl stood alone on the see-saw with no family member left to launch her. Suddenly, the tethered bear was free. Standing on its hind legs a mere twenty feet behind the girl. She gave no indication she knew death lurked behind her. The bear roared. The crowd collectively sucked in their breath. A man in the crowd hollered, “He’ll kill her!”. The father barked a command at the bear in Russian. The bear dropped to the ground and, raced toward the girl at full speed. The acceleration and velocity of a charging bear was astonishing. Nigel’s heart skipped a beat as his eyes locked onto the scene before him.[2] [1] Have two skills that you are great at, three if you can. Lilly-probably had the ability to do the acrobatic tea pour long before the second skill of chair balancing. Think about professional athletes. One skill and their career is over when the body fails. If they can speak well and be media trained they can become great commentators and have a second career. Consider Magic Johnson, great athlete, great communicator incredible businessman. All practiced talents. [2] You may work for years until you have a development that changes and improves the act. In their case having the last child added the entire drama to the act.

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