An original account
told his three year old twins they were driving him nuts. While
he slept they got a better offer from the circus and ran away
An owl coos into
a stiffening wind, removed from where several town homes stand quietly
in this pre-dawn, rainy, hour. There are cement walkways leading in
all directions. One path in particular bends to the far end of the manicured
grounds to where a battery of outdoor mailboxes is clustered. Upon closer
inspection one residence reads especially worthy. The Mentals: Mary
"Are you sure you cant come with me to visit my mother?"
"Id love to, Mary. But my cold needs a few more days of rest."
Inside a spacious room light from the parking lot illuminates both people.
Marvin lies on his side on a wide bed, tightening the collar of his
pajama top about his neck hiding true intent. Across the room she is
seated in front of a computer that has a clown on the screen.
"What is it with you and the internet? Its filled with weird
"Thats where I met you." She turns to face him.
"Thats different. I like me. "He coughs himself into
consciousness from a sound sleep. " But I dont like my type."
Rebuffing her hint of similarity.
She walks to the bathroom, with round buttocks that disappears when
the door closes behind her with a thud. Thrusting shower water is heard
through the door.
"If she knew about my plans after she and the kids leave for the
weekend Id be the one in hot water, " he mumbles.
"I need a towel! " She calls through hanging steam, wiping
mounting soap from her eyes.
"Coming, my desert flower" Quickly, he gathers a towel, proceeding
to the bathroom mumbling. "I know what Id like to give her."
The door opens.
"A maid of your very own." He hands her the towel then turns
"Not so fast, big boy." Her bare arm protrudes from behind
the shower curtain. "Didnt you forget something?" She
motions him closer then reaches out, snatching Marvin inside with her.
"Whered you learn to talk like that? " She unbuttons
"The internet. Where else?"
The lights go out. He whistles.
"Whistling in the dark is bad luck."
The clown on the computer screen winks.
Marvin is in an enclosed porch looking at a photo of Mary. Sadly, he
remembers her last words as she stood in the doorway, luggage in hand,
prepared to leave for a dingy taxi waiting in the drizzle that can only
help the cabs exterior. Her tone is playful with a stinging air
of now that youre caught in her voice. "Was Daddy
planning to be Mister Single tonight while Im half-way across
the country?" She authoritatively pinches his cheek. "Hmmm?"
"Not anymore. " Red faced he sulks. The impatient cab driver
honks the horn, and away Mary jaunts.
"Wheres Mommy?" His twin girls, each wearing identical
pink outfits, hop onto his lap causing him crotch discomfort.
"Ouch! " He adjusts his seated posture. "She went to
visit Grandma for a few days." He corals them.
"Can we have a dog?" One asks.
"You had a dog when you were little. "
"Times were different then."
"Arent times different now?"
"No, its the same
"Me!" calls the one missing a left, front, tooth.
"Me, too" smiles the second girl not to be outdone by her
"Ill race-ya." He initiates.
The girls hop away from his lap springing for the hall. In the process
kicking Marvin where he would prefer to be un-kicked. "This is
child abuse if ever Ive seen it. Theyre kicking the crap
out of me."
"Are you ok, Daddy?" They turn back to ask.
Doubled-over, he can barely breathe. "Im fine." With
that they disappear into the hall and down the stairs to the kitchen.
He picks up the telephone. "Ill call my dopey brother to
take the kids until Sunday night." He dials. "Hes never
let me down before when I needed a favor."
On the other end a man answers the telephone. "Hello?" He
asks with annoyance. Perhaps being clairvoyant.
"I need a favor." The line goes dead. "I should never
have called that worthless dope a worthless dope. " Marvin concludes.
Outside, threatening clouds have helped the weather deteriorate further.
Inside the kitchen all is much worse. The girls each wear tall chef
hats standing behind the stove. Rising smoke layers soot to every the
walls. The twins agree by slapping-five.
"Fire!" One of the girls chuckles.
"We have a fire. Yell for water." Her sister adds.
Marvin rushes into view, immediately doused by the girls who hold the
"Why didnt I think of that?" He mutters, taking the
nozzle from the bubbly young one. A saucer thrown at him. He ducks,
striking his head against the counter. He staggers before falling out.
A full moon accompanies nightfall. Inside the home, floor level, Marvin
opens one eye. The room swirls in eerie silence. After winning the battle
to stand he does so, staggering from room to room searching. "Girls.
You can come out now." His steps hasten, producing an increasingly
frantic "Girls!?" Still nothing in return.
Outside there is the sound of a small truck starting and driving away
-disturbing no one. Left behind is a torn admission ticket to Circus
The circus reminds everyone of clean family time, of a long ago value
system rapidly vanishing; with its high centered tents and the accoutrements
of sawdust, bombastic drums and cymbals that shadow various wild animal
acts, and all the sights and smells that go with it. All of which are
sugar-coated when the man on stilts approaches with more cotton candy
than anyone could eat in a dozen lifetimes. What a nice day to be out.
Though every day one can get out of bed is a nice day. And if Marvin
were not looking for his children a trip to the circus would seem special,
Assorted clowns peddle unicycles, juggling, wearing multi-colored outfits;
past a late model sedan that jerks to a halt. Marvin looks out from
the drivers seat. He thinks. "Forget the kids. When the wife
finds out I let them run away from home Im as good as dead."
He envisions a raving Mary who points while she yells.
In the moderate distance are canvas tents set up on a spacious field,
resembling a small city placed in the middle of nowhere. Marvin walks
the dirt road to the show grounds via the midway; the area outside the
main entrance that is lined with concessionaires, rides, and mini side
shows each of which uniquely spells out "Welcome to the second
greatest show on earth!" Swelling crowds filter past a blinking
sign displaying: Circus Miraculous.
Short roustabouts kneel to adjust a tie that holds the tent secure.
Watching from many rows behind the center ring Marvin sits surrounded
by eager children all of whom gaze at the ringmaster in awe. Then the
lights dissolve sending the indoor area into blackness. When the lights
brighten Marvin sees an array of juggling clown positioning his daughters,
juggling them around and around. Marvin hops to his feet. "I want
those two girls!"
"Pervert in the house!" Shouts a demonstrative parent. Marvin
leaps from his fold-out chair flailing his arms; which the woman beside
him interprets as inappropriate touching; to which she draws her purse
and begins pelting him feverishly. Security guards rush in. "I
want those two little girls!" Marvin struggles.
"In case you havent heard, Mister. There are laws against
that. "One guard says.
"You dont understand. Those are my kids. "Marvin struggles.
"Time to leave. " The guards grapple with Marvin, dragging
him to the exit.
Within seconds Marvin tumbles outside, rolling across animal droppings
before coming to a stop at a midgets feet. "Everyones
entitled to a bad day but this is absurd. "
"Pssst. " A few feet away a midget standing over Marvin smoking
"Anybody ever tell you, smoking will stunt your growth? "
Marvin looks up at the midget.
"Not in the past five minutes." The diminutive one snaps.
"I hear, the boss took-on two new roustabouts this morning to help
with the canvas crew. From what I gather, theyre about the size
people youre looking for." He motions to himself. "
And I outta know." A direct stare from him to Marvin. " The
information will cost you
I could be in a lot of trouble around
here if people see me talking to a townie."
"Whats a townie?"
"An outsider." He says with disgust. "A local."
"My kids are working here? What youre saying is against child
Standing impatiently. "Are you in, or out?"
"Two hows. How can I trust you? And how much?" Marvin squints
with suspicious thoughts of being the victim of a rouse.
Marvin abruptly turns away.
" Do you want to see your kids again? Youve got two kids.
Around here accidents happen in threes. The way I see it, there's one
more strike coming to you."
Marvin remembers his children running rampant around the home, destroying
everything in their path.
"My interest in this conversation is dwindling." His short
fingers begin to receive the bills Marvin counts. "Walk this way."
Marvin mimics the midget, toward the far end, past a string of outhouses.
The midget stops. He walks into the back of him. "Not too close."
He rolls his eyes angrily. "I dont want people thinking were
From the rear of the center tent, through thick, old style, curtains
fold back just enough for him to see his twins about to walk the high-wire.
"Oh, no!" Marvin tries to get around the midget running for
an extended ladder. When he jumps on it the ladder humorously wiggles.
He falls. He starts climbing the main quarter pole, but slides when
reaching the part that is greased. The girls look down from the high
wire riding bicycles across the taught cable toward each other. The
audience loves it until one of the twins falls! Marvin runs, slipping
on a banana peel, crashing into a mound of stacked bowling pins. One
of the girls hits a trampoline, bouncing back to a lower cable.
"Daddy!" calls her sister. "Over here. "
Marvin takes a balance pole and vaults up to high wire. It is too late.
The girls are gone. The crowd cheers knowing this is all part of the
Meanwhile, an elephant extends to scoop the girls placing them on its
back. Marvin takes a diving leap onto a large ball, bouncing up and
onto the elephants back. "Safe at last." He pants. The
elephant rises on its hind legs, sending the girls and him sliding backwards
into the lions area. "I spoke to soooooon!" Marvin shrieks.
The lions mouth springs open to catch them. From afar the midget
tosses the broken balance pole into the lions mouth, wedging it
open, and out the girls trot from its dripping mouth. The lion roars
while running in a circle trying to get the stick out of its sore mouth.
Assorted acrobats run to assist. An ostrich trots in with Marvin on
its back. He reaches down and scoops up his kids. "Id like
to stay, but that would prevent me from leaving." To the exit they
"More! More!" the crowd exalts, cheering wildly.
"Are you out there!?" A womans voice calls
Marvins perspiring face twitches during this sleep.
"I need a towel!" Mary calls from inside the bathroom, having
turned off the shower water, listening for him. "
His eyes spring open. He walks to the bathroom holding a towel. He goes
"Ive been calling you forever. What took you so long? What
"I had the strangest dream."
She takes the towel and begins drying herself. "Are you sure you
cant come with me to visit my mother?"
"Id love to, Mary. Suddenly, I feel better. "He smiles
with fatigue."Its been too long since I saw dear ole
"Marvin, youre more mental than I thought."
© Zaak Fresh 2003
Little Falls, NJ
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