First impressions do count. They are, in fact, seminal. If you are the sort of person that is able to look others in the eyes then whether or not they return your question becomes immaterial. Fear often prevents eye-contact. Respect, too. However, I would suggest that meeting another’s gaze – even for a few moments – will do you and them, wonders. In a case of respect, looking down after saying hello will demonstrate humility. And yes, humility is very important in a world like this. That does not ever mean you need to feel ‘lesser’ or be subservient to any other being, or put their opinions or needs above yours. Yours – are as important as the man’s standing next to you.
Impressions are what is left behind, as such. You can recall a strong impression in minute detail if you concentrate. First impressions are like red wine-stains – they take some washing out. Some may even remain forever. Like scars. Or blood. Blood – when you have seen enough of it – always makes an impression. A deep one. A voice makes an impression. The way a smell makes an impression. One that can last a lifetime, in fact. And some lives are very, very long.
When Alice first hit Wonderland she noticed the pea that had been sleeping under her mattress for the past months. The pea apologised profusely for the bruises she had caused Alice and they went to make an impression. They thought the best place for that would be at the palace of the Queen(s) of Heart. They were right. Fortunately, the pea made it into one of the Queen’s delicious soups and Alice was invited to partake of the fare. She saved the pea and sent the Old Queen into orbit. That is the way Alice works.
Tonight the flaming hoops story is new. The tigers have rewritten the script.
The vampires can feel something is up. They swarm to the ticket office.
The tent has a maximum capacity.
This is one show no one is keen to miss.
No one will miss it. It will be pirated and sold on.
That is always the way. They will make the copy worthwhile.
This night, yesss, this one, there will be blood.
A great deal of blood.
The ringmaster just doesn’t know it yet.
The lions have yet to weigh in.
They have thus far remained silent, detached.
That is the luxury of a lion’s say-so in today’s world.
Watch out for what the lions discuss when no one is watching.
They have evolved from circus freaks into machines bred for the bullet.
How advanced is Natural technology? They are under no illusions.
They will always be King of the Jungle.
Go and ask Mowgli. He will tell you what is what.
The vampires bring their progeny to a show such as this.
It is worth the corruption of their young souls.
To see the wild win for a change will lift morale.
The children will bay like wolves. It is their instinct.
The dogs will not perform well if their slot is after that of the cats.
The baying of wolves will unsettle their senses.
For the first time, they will feel divided. It makes sense to divide a pack.
It confuses the master.
The Master. The vampires snigger into their sleeves.
Now that was funny.
What would excite the patrons was the blood-trade spectacle.
It would bring the animals’ eyes alive. It would be best if the hoops were afire.
That would add atmosphere.
If the ringmaster left the gate ajar, that would add atmosphere.
Once he was dead, beheaded, what stood between the angry cats and man?
Vampires in human form die human deaths. That was the dare.
It was their choice to visit the circus on a wild Friday night.
At moonrise it will become clear who sleeps, who wakes.
The tigers have made sure of that.
The fact that the ringmaster came back disappoints many of the circus performers.
Their sentence seemed shorter the other way, when the circus ran itself.
Not to worry. After the cats come the clowns.
They would make everyone smile. It was their job.
They were paid to clown around, so they must clown.
They had better bring the house down.
If they failed, they would be fired. A simple understanding between puppets and master.
Master. The clowns grumble his status into cupped palms that they fling wide, sideways.
They throw out the name with determination. A curse to be rid of.
Send it out. Out. OUT. There is no space in the tent for curses.
The animals can hear their dense man-whispers. The hiss of spit hitting dry hands.
Circus people were superstitious with good reason. Be careful what you summon.
The curses must stay outside.
They are on the naughty step until they learn the first aspect of values.
The gypsy sits outside in her painted caravan. It rests on the backs of two pitch horses.
The red looks good against their black.
She reads for people. Whoever, whatever. She follows the circus and she speaks out.
‘Cross my palm with gold,’ is what she wants to say, with a wink.
She says deadpan, ‘Five bucks, fifty.’
It is not just the wild animals whose eyes have died.
Night time at The Circus is the most exciting.
It is when the vampires come to watch. They lust for blood.
They know the wild comes out at night.
There is fire.
The Circus is in a fortunate position. Its blood-trade is spectacle.
Its lineage, too. That is why it is fortunate.
It can pull crowds with its people.
The circus people are like fairground people.
There are none like them.
Luckily for the wild animals The Circus can soon excuse them from service.
Most human beings understand their plight.
Their ‘wildness’ has worn off, anyway. They are tarnished. Has-beens.
Where is the magic in a has-been? If you are honest you will admit there is none.
If you are not convinced then take time to walk around after the show.
Peruse the cages. The stakes.
Notice the eyes of the wild animals. They are dead.
Know that is because they no longer dream.
The subject of the ringmaster is bound to come up. He is a hot topic.
He has begged off again, citing a scratch from one of the big cats.
An infection. Perhaps he will die of tiger?
More likely he will die of scorn. Or rumours.
Whichever, one more no-show and he is out.
There is a three-strike rule for ringmasters.
Of course there is his understudy. There is always an understudy.
Luckily a voice-over is a voice-over no matter who presents.
The ringmaster’s absence does not mean The Circus does not run.
It just manages itself differently.
The wild animals get a night of zoo-treatment. They do not get a night off.
Flashing cameras. Squeals. Pussy-pussy-pussy.
Watch the elephants rocking. Back and forth, back and forth.
They are not dancing, no. They are screaming.
For their captors these screams are not good news.
For the ringmaster, a depression with the elephants is especially bad news.
He is the clown when they refuse later to work for his voice.