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.
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.