The Opening of the Circus
Gustav had never been to a circus before and when the newspaper announced the opening of the Hippotheatron in 1866, he was ecstatic. There were to be horses, monkeys, and even a …
… pair of Ostriches! He had only read about them in the books, but if that wasn’t exciting enough by itself there were to be other animals also His father had talked of strange and exotic beasts from far off lands! Barbary lions, Tasmanian tigers and other animals his Father had not heard of either. Oh my this was going to be show, a great great show, possibly the greatest show on earth! Gustav just wasn’t excited about the animals, from what had been read to him there were also going to be the ….
…..greatest collection of freaks he’d ever seen. His Father had spoken about it at length.
When they arrived at the Circus his Father lead him past the rows and rows of seats.
Weren’t they going to sit down? Gustav wondered to himself. He could already smell that animal smell, a bit like the farm he’d grown up on only ten times more powerful.
His father lead him past cages containing some very strange animals. Some that looked like horses but with black and white stripes and another animal with a long neck and brown patches all over it.
Finally, his Father pulled him up to a man wearing a red coat and a top hat, who was twirling two enormous moustaches.
His father spoke “Well, Here he is, your new addition to the freak show. I told you I had the hairiest and ugliest child you’d ever seen. Twenty bucks and he’s yours.”
“Done” The man in the red coat said taking out a huge wadge of cash and counting out twenty dollars.
That was how he joined the circus……
…My father had vanished as soon as he had the cash in his hand leaving me to the mercy of the mercinary Ring Master. I cried myself to sleep that night as I restlessly squirmed around trying to find a comfortable position within the cage that was now my home.
The Ring Master planned to develop an act featuring me as one of the freaks for visitors to behold and gawp at. Perhaps he realized how pitiful I looked shivering and tearful curled up in a corner of the cage and rocking myself backwards and forwards.
“Who’s gunna pay a farthing to look at a miserable wreck like you?” he ferociously yelled at me. “Not even yer own father could bear to look at yer!” He shook the cage that I was held within wrapped his baton against it several times in his disgust, before storming out of the tent.
A moment later, I heard a voice that sounded quite entrancing…soft and gentle like a lullaby. She called “Little boy, don’t cry. Don’t listen to what that cruel brute says to you. I will be with your friend.”
I had never seen such a perfect creature in all my life. Immediately I stopped crying and came closer to the bars of my cage and before I realized what I was saying, the words fell out of my mouth, “Are you an angel?”
She smiled and laughed, with her melodic voice she asked me “What’s your name sweetie-pie?”….
I told her my name was Jon, even though that’s not my real name. I wasn’t ready to fully commit myself to this life. I still felt I could escape, given the chance. When I did, I would go back to using my real name and when people hear it they’ll know I never had anything to do with this life. Or that my father had abandoned me.
“Jon…” her voice was like a balm to my aching heart. She had golden hair and the bluest eyes I had ever seen. I wanted to reach out and touch her face but I restrained myself. “Why are you so sad?” she had a look of deep concern.
“My father sold me to this place. I never knew I meant so little to him. If my mother was still alive this would have never happened.” I couldn’t keep the tremble out of my voice.
“I’m here now.” she reached her hand into my cage and stroked my hair. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.” I felt relief in that moment. Maybe this life wouldn’t seem so bad. Maybe I could make this work.
It would take years before I would realize her promise to protect me was false…
Now to continue the story, I nominate…
This was fun!