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.
The matinee performance held at high noon is packed.
Word of the glamour girls has leaked out. It never takes long.
The dads volunteer a day off work to take the kids on an ‘outing’.
The moms visit the spas and get pedicures. What a treat!
The cowboys have included some Indians in their act.
That always gets the boys hopping.
The girls watch, impassive.
They have seen prejudice before.
The boys beg for bows and arrows from the souvenir stall on the way out.
They want to shoot.
The dads comply. They want to shoot.
All in all, everyone leaves smiling.
The girls do like watching the dancers.
Do you buy candyfloss or popcorn when choosing snacks for your kids?
Perhaps you ask them their preference.
That is the polite thing to do.
If your child is too young to make a selection for itself, get both.
The child will appreciate your enterprise.
Do you believe that children should not eat sugar or salt?
Like fructose and gluten-free lactose are the only options?
Then you are destroying the delight in a child.
Everything in moderation (despite moderation being potentially fatal),
so we must also consider moderation in moderation.
That logic works for adults and for children.
You cannot watch a child laugh too much.
You cannot watch a child love too much.
The same applies to adults.
The trapeze artists/artistes warm up with their opening act.
They may as well.
Point. Flex. Lunge. Stretch. Breathe.
Point. Flex. Lunge. Stretch. Breathe.
They celebrate their evolution the way it should be celebrated.
They pay tribute to their muse.
The ‘aerial silk’ is not nervous.
Nerves do not play in their game.
They do not pay, either.
The trapeze artists/artistes have respect for the ‘aerial silk’.
You cannot witness their art and remain scornful of human beings.
Did you ever watch The Cirque de Soleil?
If you never did – you should.
Who needs animals?
It would appear that the circus is getting its act together.
That does entail freeing the ‘wild’ animals from bondage.
Some circuses are learning and we can all be grateful for that.
The animals have learned about gratitude. They are better at it than humans.
The humans are learning about humility. They are slow learners.
The ringmaster has finally made an appearance. His left hand sports a dramatic bandage.
He warms up with the dogs, an easy out. The dogs always respond.
In any case, he is making a noise, showing his face, cooing encouragement and barking orders.
The dogs read his intonation and perform well for their master. They understand instructions.
It is as well the tigers did not step up to his plate for starters. They wait, each one.
The ringmaster dreads the face-off with the tigers.
He knows he will lose his first.
The elephants are not impressed at having been neglected.
They will not wear hats and dance on three legs when the ringmaster asks.
They will refuse.
This will bring punishment, but the elephants do not care.
Their grief has them well-prepared.
Twenty five years, slaves, they are well-learned.
Physical torture for a moment of truth does not shock them anymore.
There are of course those people in the circus who do empathise with the animals.
To an animal, empathy is more valuable than sympathy.
For a circus elephant, to wander up city streets now and again is a wild freedom.
Do not forget that the concrete jungle is as much a jungle as any?
Should you see an elephant in the street, salute it. Say hooray. Yay for freedom.
Should you see a man behind that elephant with a gun that kills, tell the elephant to run in zigzags.
What else can a hunted elephant do?
The clowns are simmering. They do not keep quiet about their marginalisation.
They are feeling left out and they want back in on the act.
What else is a clown to do, but clown around?
They are prepared to let go of the union, as demonstration of goodwill,
They have been working behind the scenes on a new show.
They admit their current work is shoddy, stale.
They have employed a young clown to teach the old ones new tricks.
For a circus clown it is not enough anymore to be merely human.
The ringmaster has softened slightly towards the clowns.
He knows his own days depend on their modified contribution.
Now that the wild animals were protesting,
his return was not as sweet as he had imagined it was going to be.
SHIT. The elephants and the tigers with gripes. That was enough to crack anyone.
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.
For children The Circus has a special matinee performance.
At noon. This is when the cowboys come out.
All real circuses have cowboys.
They ride side-saddle, backwards. Standing.
Their horses do not overly mind the small galloping circle.
Three generations of performers born in captivity.
So they did not forget. They never knew.
Sometimes the horses would love to buck off the cowboy, ruin his show.
They are cheeky like that. They know their power.
The horses are glad for their blinkers. They keep the noise of people out.
The horses know their moves. They cruise through their routine.
The cowboys tip-toe up and down their spines spinning lasso.
The horses laugh at the prancing men and dream of saving the tigers.
The girls in gold glitter g-strings get everyone’s attention.
The bored men straighten their backs for a better view.
Black feathers, corsets, suspenders. Heels.
Tits everywhere. Bonus.
Jesus. Those matching backsides.
Where is the wife looking? Not at me. Nor are the kids.
The one on the far right is hot, hot, hot.
Very, very nice. She would look good bent over the bonnet.
Oh no. Boner.
It’s been three weeks. And that is some faceful of lady.
Nod, for fuck’s sake. She is watching you watching.
What? A Coke? Now?
The trapeze artists watch from the wings the goings-on in the audience.
Theirs’ is the show that comes on after the glamour-girls finish.
It is as popular. Flying people are compelling.
The opening contortionists that unwind themselves from the shadows at the top of the tent
are not called ‘aerial silk’ for nothing.
Their display is a tale: red/orange/yellow/green/blue/indigo/violet
and people read the way they ride ribbons in their sequinned spirals, stretches, spins,
telling the story of The Circus’ evolution.
The trapeze artists have an opening act. Theirs’ is the evolution.
In fact, trapeze artists can smile these days.
Circus politics have begun to change in their favour.
Respect is now being given where it is due.
Theirs’ has become a kind of autonomy in the ranks.
Even the ringmaster stops what he does to watch them fly.
They enjoy their daredevil status. It is years’ worth of work.
As before, they brought their skill to the table, the trapeze artists. Nothing more.
Nothing more was needed.
If you think the acrobats have time to consider their state of mind before they fly,
you are underestimating the freedom they find in flight.
They do not need to consider such things. They understand trust.
If you think like an acrobat you will find that your head stays silent, awed, whilst you work.
It knows its place.
If you feel like an acrobat, that is your business. Your body – your trained senses – are your business.
Trust the bearings your body gives you.
Trust your senses to tell you one side of the story.
Let your perception tell you a second.
Trust instinct – the Knowing – to show you a third.
That way, your performance will be flawless.
Acrobats are made for flawless performances.
The tiger is sick of sitting in his own piss and stink. That is no way to treat majesty.
And when does the stupid act he does buy him back the wild?
It had better be soon. He is tired of sitting in a small cage measuring man’s promise.
He is bored of wowing ignorant children
for the sake of their careless parents.
The flaming-hoop story is old. Tired. It passes the time.
The tiger is so bored it could die.
It accepts – and hates – in equal measure.
Who dares put the grizzly bear in a ruffled pink skirt on a tricycle, and then laugh, invite laughter?
Who does that for his living? The tiger smiles.
The same man who chases the elephants around in little hats. The tiger chuckles.
It is not wise to push the elephants.
The time is coming to shoot the clown out of the cannon.
He has a safety net. No one is scared.
Perhaps it would be funnier another way.
The clowns fight behind the scenes. They suffer petty jealousies and hangovers, from before.
The clowns hold grudges. They play favourites; poker.
None of them are good losers.
It is time for the clowns to get new clothes.
Their uniforms are worn.
The budget was cut last year. Again.
Clowns’ outfits are not a priority in the new one.
They grumble at the pecking order.
No one cares about the clowns.
They are right.
Their act would not be missed, were it axed.
Think about it.
They are a distraction to the main event, a time-filler.
Hardly an act.