Scene 15

carny copy

Lobo is preoccupied, painting scenes on another Carnival ride. He still bears the marks of his scuffle… bruises, cuts and nagging pains in various places. He’s moving kind of slow. Today is updating the “House of Horrors”. Kind of comes out as a mixture of “B” grade horror movie and biblical epic. Depicts some fairly gruesome shit. A good place to let his angst out. A master scene or panorama is painted across the 40 plus foot expanse along the top, sides and bottom of the entrance. Additional ‘shots’ or pictures appear along the walls and ceiling throughout the maze inside. Cumulatively they would tell a story, like Cathedrals or their modern day counter-part, a Motion picture… or so Lobo liked to think in his grander days. His story in pictures.

Alien looking bad guys. The sinister side is represented by a grotesque god-king and sumptuous goddess-queen commissioning their agents to plunder the kingdom of victim-mortals. Their chief emissaries being a fool-troll and his three unsightly accomplices… who strangely resemble charicatures of Buster and crew. A queer assortment of other ill-formed beasts are also in their company. The saintly side is depicted as well. Chief among the good guys is a sagely wizard. Standing atop a small mound overlooking the battle with an eerie iridescent glow illuminating the immediate vicinity. His youthful apprentice attends him to his right. To his left are three children, two girls and a boy. The older girl holds a sword. The boy carries an assortment of equipment for surveying the battlefield; map, compass, binoculars etc. The youngest girl, dressed in plain beige nursing uniform, totes a bag of medical supplies.

All the characters from the Carnival are somehow illustrated… in an exaggerated form. Lobo tries to capture and express something of their inner essence or a particular quality. The scenes conflict reflects good and evil forces at war in a surrealistic village. Graphic violence and carnage is pictured. Decapitated torsos, dismembered bodies, stab wounds and other dramatic injuries. All flavored by Lobo’s particular Apocalyptic vision and experience. The Cataclysm at end of the world. Clusters of screaming children, old people, animals trying in vain to dodge pieces of crumbling buildings. Angels and Demons, saints and sinners all wrestling alike in a bloody fray.

Lobo was glad to have the outlet. Whether anyone would ever notice or not… I don’t see how they could miss the message but… the fact is that he would tell his story, preach his message without a word spoken. The brush is mightier than the stick.  Well it was a comforting thought anyway.

Lindsay tentatively wanders over. He just stands silently looking on while Lobo works for a minute or so. “Sorry about what happen to you.” Lobo gives him a sideways glance. Just continues painting. Lindsay offers optimistically, “The pictures look really good.” “Hmmm,” responds Lobo blankly. Lindsay is still feeling guilty for his ‘secret sin’. Going through Lobo’s shit. Telling Butch and Agnes about him being in prison. Stealing his necklace… Wow, Lindsay sighs to himself. He takes a deep breath and starts to confess. “Listen, I… well… I’m sorry. You know… I wanted to tell you earlier but…”

Lobo turns gently toward Lindsay and stops him, “Listen kid , it’s not your fault. Shit happens.” Lobo pauses, wondering how far to take it. “It’s important for a man to know who his friends are. You know?” Lindsay drops his head. He looks like he could start crying. Lobo puts his hand on Lindsays’ shoulder a second, “Something you want to say?” Lindsay just stares at the ground guiltily. A tear runs silently down his cheek. Lobo speaks softly, “Lindsay, I’m going to trust you with something that could hang me if it were told… You understand?” He nods but doesn’t raise his head. If Lobo knows the whole deal… He knows Lobo knows. Why would he still be nice to me and help me out if he knew?

Lobo sets his supplies aside and gets into a comfortable position to tell his story. “They were right. I am on ex-con. I was in for 13 years of hard time. I do mean hard…” Lindsay lifts his head and rubs his eyes dry. He pulls the sleeve down over his left hand and wipes the snot away from his nose as he sniffles. “They’ll try to teach you to hate. Not to trust anything or anybody. They’ll try to poison you everyday with viciousness.” Lobo halts as if to shake a bitter taste from his palate. “Whatever… but for me it was like getting bit by a snake and all that poison ended up to be an antidote of sorts.”

Lindsay looks at Lobo for the first time since he began. He is amazed there doesn’t seem to be any bitterness or hostility in his voice or eyes. How does someone do that? Lobo continues, “I can’t keep that kind of hate or viciousness inside of me any more. I have to let it go or it kills me. I just try to see it all as part of a big play or movie.” Lobo looks up at the paintings in progress. Lindsay follows. They ponder them together… the characters, the violence. Lobo takes a deep sigh and reflects to himself, “You just got to play it out. See it through to the finish.”

Lindsay is comforted by Lobo’s deliberations. He feels safer. Relieved that Lobo didn’t get mad at him or even mention the things he did. “Why did you go to Prison?” Lindsay can’t believe the papers he read coule be right. For a second, Lobo wonders if he should really trust the kid. “Murder…” Lindsay tenses slightly. The papers were right then. Lobo reports matter-of-factly, “I was sentenced for the 2nd degree murder of two guys in Texas.” Lindsay presses on in awe and fear. “Did you… do it? Pause. “Yes.” Lindsay stares at Lobo straight in the eyes. “Why?” Lobo looks off into the horizon, into his past. “I was young. Very angry and very stupid. I thought at the time, somehow it was my right.” Lindsay read about 3 murders, and then there was the rape… Lindsay is perplexed. “2 guys…” repeats Lindsay. “How long ago did you get? When did you get out?” Lobo’s face contorts a bit as he recollects his thoughts and returns to present considerations, “Just a few days before landing here… sentenced to 30 years. Out in 13, on “good behavior”… still got 9 years on parole.”

Lobo picks up his can of black paint and brush. He turns and retreats to his illustrations. He steadies himself and carefully outlines the legs and feet of the troll and his accomplices. “If I fuck up, I go back to do the other nine. Any fuck up.” Lindsay sits back, “Wow!” Lobo resolutely proceeds,  “Which is another reason why I can’t afford to let other people’s poison get to me.” Lobo is visibly disturbed by the thought of returning to jail. “Also, parole board says, I have to maintain a good job, not drink or use drugs of any kind, and stay away from trouble…” Lobo rubs his jaw and grimaces. “though trouble’s seeming to follow me lately.” Lobo accidentally drops his can of paint and it spills all over the floor. Lindsay is startled. Lobo jumps out of the way. “Damn!”

Buster barks gruffly from the sidelines. “Guilty consciousness Mr. con man? Lindsay, Agnes is looking all over for you. You best be gettin’ home…” Lindsay reluctantly starts to leave. As he passes, Buster pulls him close and grumbles, “Besides you should stay away from the likes of this one anyway… now go, get on back.” Lindsay shuffles sadly away.

Dirty looks are exchanged between Buster and Lobo. Buster curtly observes, “I don’t know why the Boss wants to keep you around… but you better just stay clear of me and keep away from the other kids, you hear?” Lobo ignores him and goes back to work cleaning up the spilled paint. As Buster walks away he does a quick double take at the panorama. Squinting from the blaring sun light spilling over the top of the scene, he frowns as he studies the images… registering the resemblance’s.  He struggles momentarily, not quite consciously recognizing the representation or understanding their meaning. That Lobo is a puzzle. Does some weird shit ass paintings, that’s for sure. “Hmmm.” he mutters as he continues on his way.

Buster makes his way into the kid’s tent where they are severally assembled relaxing, playing cards. He peaks his head through the door. Brian, Sweetie, Jackie and fat Jerry. Jackie simply tries to ignore him. Brian is tense. Jerry frightened. Sweetie passive. “Listen, I want you all to stay away from Lobo, he’s bad news. Been in prison for God knows what.” He smirks. “Could be for killing little shits like you.” Jerry is shaken, “Really?!” Jackie mutters sarcastically, “Yea, sure.” Brian listens respectfully, “So anyway, mind your own business and give him a wide berth… Understand?”

Brian and Jerry nod in agreement. Sweetie looks down. Jackie maintains an arrogant demeanor, tries to appear bored and uninterested. Buster demands, “Got it?” Glares at Jackie. Jackie salutes Buster in Nazi style. “Hail Hitler!” Sweetie, still looking down, starts to giggle. She turns away to keep him from seeing. Buster shoots a parting dirty look as he ducks out. Jackie stick her tongue way out at him as he goes and taunts him as he moves beyond ear shot, “Pussy face, whimp butt. Pussy face, whimp butt… Bastard lick. Prick nic…” Jackie’s rhyming ability disintegrates. Sweetie breaks out laughing. Initially Jerry is puzzled, then begins to snort out loud, “Prick nic?” Brian pretends to be stern for a few seconds but finally breaks down and joins in the silliness.

Lobo completes his work for day and cleans up. Been a long, turbulent day. Nice to have some different scenery though. Besides the boredom, the ugliness of prison wears on a man. Lobo took a long look at the vista before him. Not the prettiest sight in the world… a fair ground. But off in the distance he could see the tree line and the distant mountains. Lots better than the desert and occasion cactus. The far-away beauty made him lonely somehow. Or rather remind him of his present isolation. He missed Mo something awful. That was about the only thing about prison life he missed.

***

Lobo gets back to the bunk shed and reclines a few minutes continuing his revelry. Suddenly inspired by an idea, he sits up abruptly. Decides to write to Mo. Pulls out a pad of paper and an old Bic pen from under the bunk. Also withdrawls a photo of his beloved friend from his locker as well.  As he began to put his thoughts to paper, her would intermittently write, ponder and glance at the picture. He reflected, “Well Carnival life is a lot like life in the pen. ‘Cept that in prison you learn right off what the rules are more and know where your enemies are comin’ from.”

He considers a moment, then decides not to go into the specifics about the recent troubles. Mentions Lindsay though, “Thekid reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger. I wish someone would have taken an interest in me at that age, it might have saved me a lot of painful years… but like you always said, ‘today is the day, just 24 hours at a time, that’s a big enough chunk to worry about’.  In any case, I think I’ll hang around here for a while… at least through the season. Things are kinda getting interesting anyway. Truth is… really this is the only place I could get a job. Damn sure I don’t want to give my parole officer any excuse for sending me back to the joint. Speaking of which… should be about time for your parole hearings… If I remember right, there’ll be coming up next month? Good luck. This time, try to keep a low profile. Just answer the questions…  and don’t mouth off to the board about what prison reforms need to be made and the plight of the young, black American… save that for another time buddy.

Lobo thinks a minute then chuckles to himself, “Here I am giving you advice about staying out of trouble… keeping your mouth shut!? He folds the paper up and deposits in a ready made envelope. He makes sure to write his return address… “in route, B & J Carnivals, California” . A quick lick shut, then off to find Hank. Hank was this weeks’ designated mail carrier.

When Carnies were playin’ a new location, typically one of the crew was appointed as “gof-fer”… go fer this and go fer that… making runs into town at least twice a day. Food, toiletries, mail, beer, cigarettes and the like. Several of them took their turn at it. Never the ride ‘supers’ or vital set-up and tear-down crew members. On the road, traveling from place to place, they could see to such necessities themselves.

The four kids have settled down a bit, returning to their poker game. Jerry likes to hang out with them when he can. For companionship and protection. The bigger kids, especially Busters’ gang were constantly tormenting him. Granted he was considered quintessential Carnival Nerd… uncoordinated fat kid with freckles and big ears. Jerry had a good heart over all but he wasn’t very bright. Jackie, Sweetie and Brian accepted him pretty well, unless they were in a crowd. Still he had it a lot better than Lindsay who didn’t really have anybody he could hang out with. Better to be teased than totally scorned. Understandably, Jerry was always trying to get in their good graces, especially Jackies’. As they continue to banter about Buster intrusion, Jerry pipes up and queries, “So, Jackie why do you hassle Buster so much?”

Jerry knew at once, by her reaction that he had blown it. Everything got immediately quiet. Jerry looked apologetic and tried to cover, “I mean… well…” Jackie waxed hard-edged, “I’ll tell you why I hassle Buster! I hate his gutts. He always goes around here telling us what to do… beating people up. Actin’ like he owns the place and we’re his slaves. I can’t stand it. What’s goes on around here stinks! I know he’s been robbing and stealing from people too.

Brian interjects, “So when did you become Ms. Morality? Like you aren’t taking money on the side by flashin the ‘marks” some ‘T & A’… and other more lucrative activities as wellllll.” Jerry’s loud monotone voice sing-songs, “Ahhhhhhh!” Brian waggles his index finger at Jackie, teasing her.. Jerry starts laughing again. Sweetie giggles. Jackie tries to remain threatening, “Yea, well at least I don’t treat my friends like shit. At least I’m not mean to everybody…”

She grows serious and melancholy, “You all go ahead and laugh, but I’m telling you I have this terrible feeling. I can’t shake it.  It’s not just Buster. A lot more bad stuff is about to happen.” Brian gasps, “Oh no! Not your feelings again. Tell us the future Ms. mind reader- psychotic…” Sweetie corrects him, “Psychic.” Jerry giggles. Brian continues, “If you were really as smart as you think you are, you’d just mind your own business and stay out of Buster’s way… And we’d all steer clear of Lobo. Like he said, Lobo’s an ex-con. You can’t trust him. Maybe it would be best to stay away from him. At least until we know more. That makes sense to me.” Jerry agrees. Even Sweetie must consent the validity of Brian’s point.

Jackie’s feelings are hurt and she becomes defensive, “So what’s Lobo ever done to you? Any of you?” Sweetie looks ashamed. Jackie is passionate about it, “He’s never done anything wrong around here that I’ve seen… I do know that he stood up to Buster!” Brian pokes at her, “You must have the hots for him or something.” Jackie retaliates, “You’ve just got your head buried up Buster’s ass, Brian.” She mimes kissing lips. Jerry laughs out loud. Brian blushes. Jackie resumes, “He’s a jerk… that I know. In my book, anyone Buster hates and is afraid of can’t be all that bad. Brian objects, “Buster’s not afraid of anything! Especially not Lobo.” Jackie restates emphatically, “Oh Yea? I could see it in his eyes. He’s afraid all right. Of what exactly or why, I’m not sure. I’ve never seen him afraid before.” Jackie relishes the idea, taking private delight in the prospect. Brian shakes his head in disbelief, “You’re crazy Jackie! Gone way over the edge.” Does a mocking gesture that indicates she’s gone coo-coo.

He stands up to leave. “Let’s go!” Jackie crosses her arms. Jerry rises. Sweetie is hesitant, checking with Jackie. Brian reiterates, “Come onnnnn Sweetie!” Jackie reassures her, “It’s O.K. I’ll see you later.” Then she states smugly, stroking her chin mischievously, “I have some important work to attend to. I think I’ll take care of Buster myself, once and for all.”  Brian warns, “What are you up to now… You stay out of trouble Jackie!”

They head out. Brian glances back over his shoulder suspiciously, perplexed by her last remark. Jackie sits backs back in the chair with a self-satisfied look on her face and whispers, “Yea, I’ll take care of Buster. Maybe I’ll just have to have a little talk with Butch about Brian and his attitude.”

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