Scene 16

carny copy

Buster observes Lobo intersecting Hank and handing off his mail. He took particular note because no one thought Lobo had any friends anywhere and remained a mystery. Buster mutters to himself, “Let’s see what we can find out.” He watches Lobo depart and then hurries over to catch Hank as he gathers up the outgoing mail and sorts the lists of requested supplies given by the Carny folk. He’s about to head off, Buster motions to him and yells, “Hank, hold on a sec.” Hank stops, one foot in the old truck, “Yea, sure Buster. What’sha need? Just headin’ in to town.” Buster awkwardly asks, Ahh, let me see what you got there.”

Hank looks stumped, “Just a handful of mail, boss… you know.” Buster stands beside Hank – with his back to midway to block the view of any curious onlookers- and starts to sift through it. Hank protests quietly, “Hey boss, you shouldn’t do that. Buster ignores him, “I’m just checking something out.” Hank nervously looks around, “Hey, you could get us into trouble for that. I think it’s a federal offense or something…” Buster clarifies, “Geez, Hank… That’s for opening other people’s mail. I’m just looking at the outsides. Hank seems relieved a tad but asks timidly, “Oh… You sure about that boss?” Buster quickly scans the names and addresses.

About 2/3 of the way through he stops. “Got ya!” Buster pulls the pen out of Hanks’ shirt pocket and jots down the information, talking aloud as he scribbles the return address of the prison and Lobo’s friends’ name. Hank stutters, “What you need with that Boss?” Throws the envelope back into the pile. Buster looks satisfied. “Nothin’ to bother about. You just go on to town.” Hank compliantly proceeds to get into the truck and drive away. Buster stuffs the note into his front pocket and happily trots off.


Jackie marches over to Butch and Agnes’ trailer. She looks, confident, strong, carefree. She starts to knock but then suddenly reconsiders as if she were rehearsing her lines for an audition. She starts to knock again then hesitates… She checks to see that no one is watching her, then proceeds. As she struggles to pull herself up and peer through the window, she catches glimpses of them locked in an intense sexual engagement. She perilously stands atop of a cinder block.

Butch is stroking, fondling and clutching Agnes passionately and affectionately. A prelude to serious fucking. Her countenance falls. It’s as if a dark cloud descends upon her. Though she is becoming very upset and sad as she watches them sporting. Nevertheless, she maintains her voyeuristic vigil.

She fails to notice Lindsay coming back. He stands silently behind her for a minute evaluating the situation, then interrupts her obsession, “What are you doing here?” Jackie jumps about 6 inches, looses her balance and falls on her ass with a clatter. Lindsay stands over, looking down at her with his arms crossed. She is absolutely embarrassed. “Nothing! None of your business.” She slowly scrambles to her feet and brushes herself off.  Lindsay moves past her and tries the door. It’s locked. “Damn!”

The fervor of Butch and Agnes’ lovemaking gathers momentum moving toward climax. Lindsay and Jackie stand there motionless, hearing the sounds of them going at it. The syncopated gasps, moans and grunts sound humorously grotesque. The trailer rocks and sways slightly. The final hammering of their violent, exploding cries sends shudders down their spines. Simultaneously they look at each other, rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. Jackie smiles. They exchange astonished glances, and both start to giggle, then laugh lustily. They wait for the final gushes of passion to subside, then Lindsay knocks loudly as if on cue. It takes several times to solicit a response. Jackie and Lindsay try to regain their composure.

Butchs’ muffled voice resounds through the thin tin walls of the trailer “Who is it?” Lindsay responds impatiently, “Guess!” No response. Lindsay knocks again. Butch again, “What do you want?” Lindsay returns, “Open the door!” He knocks again. Butch irritated, “Yea, yea… I’m coming. Just a minute. There is a curious commotion and clatter. Butch shuffles to the door. He opens it a crack and peaks out. Without acknowledgment, Lindsay pushes past him, swinging the door wide open.

Butch stands in the doorway with his fly gaping. His hairy chest exposed down to his crotch. He is finishing the seemingly painful process of tucking in his shirt back into his tight jeans. He grumbles angrily at Lindsay as he passes, “Damn kid. What’s so goddamned important anyway!” When Lindsay fails to respond, he adds, “Little shit.”

He then dreamily looks out at the midway a moment, gathering his thoughts. This is odd. Jackie hasn’t come around here for… well at least for God, it must be years… since Agnes. Hmmm. Butch quickly refocuses and snarls, “What do you want, Jackie?” Jackie as lost most of the inspiration and enthusiasm that moved her to come. “Ahh, really nothing actually. You see, I was wondering…” God I got to think of something quick. She finally bursts out, “Well… if you’d like to come see the new way I decorated the stage for the act. It’s pretty cool. Really sexy. I thought you’d like it.” Jackie fidgets, looking uncomfortable.

Butch knows something is up but is in no mood to play guessing games. “Yea sure, great.. wonderful. Got no time now, O.K.?  Some other day. Anyway, I can’t… right?” Looks around distractedly, then impatiently snaps, “Listen, can’t you see I’m busy?” Jackie looks dejected, “Seems like lately you’re always busy.” Butch tries to figure out what she’s getting at. “So what’s your point?” Jackie moves closer to him as he perches on the trailer stairs and puts her hand on his as it’s grasping the railing. She shifts into her sultry persona, kind of flirtatious and shy with just a sprinkle of whore. She looks up at him with her big eyes and plays with the button on her sweater, near her breasts. “I was just thinkin’ of the way things used to be… you know before Agnes and Lindsay came. We sure had a lot of fun back then.”

Butch looks uncomfortable and nervous. He reaches over to close the door of the trailer completely. He answers in hushed tones, “Well that was then and this is now.” Jackie persists quietly, “I was just kinda missin’ things and thought that maybe…” She creeps closer. Butch is standing on the landing, two steps higher – elevated a couple of feet. That, and with his size put Jackie’s head about crotch height. She bats her eyes at him then descends down his body to linger between his legs… discretely wet her lips, then return up his body to his eyes once again. Butch is stimulated. Jackie is getting to him. Butch feels that twitching between his thighs that signals that the ‘heat is on’. Jackie senses it as well. They linger in private revelry, reminiscing about long forgotten debauchery.

As if sensing an imminent threat, Agnes unexpectedly peeps through the kitchen window. Seeing the questionable interaction of the two, she winds the window open to hear. Women have incredible intuition about these things. Their “sixth sense” is more acute than a dog’s sniffer. They can usually spot shit even before it’s out of the ass hole. Butch hears the window opening and abruptly changes the subject, “I told you. I’m too busy to come see your new stage. Adding a sharper edge to his voice for Agnes’ benefit he continues, “I can’t be baby sitting everyone in this fucking Carnival. God, people around here can’t do anything for themselves. Although he projects bravado with his voice… Feeling guilty, he avoids looking into Jackies’ eyes. Initially Jackie looks crest fallen. She has exposed herself to Butch and been especially vulnerable. She almost start to cry as she grapples desperately with her emotions. She’s finally able to brush it off and regain her antagonistic persona.

Agnes questions through the window, “What’s goin’ on out there? Butch, when are you comin’ back inside? He yells back, “Everythin’ fine, I’ll be in in a minute.” He turns to Jackie and clenches his jaw, “Let’s cut through the shit Jackie. So what’s up?” Jackie glares back at Him. Angry at herself for making a fool of herself and thinking she could manipulate him.

“You got to put a leach on Buster, he’s getting way out of hand! Busting heads… acting like he owns the place. I won’t put up with it anymore! You gotta do something about him.” Butch looks at her with contempt and astonishment. “That’s what all this bull shit is about!? Buster does what I want him to do. You’ll like it or leave! You got some nerve comin’ over here tellin’ me what I gotta do!  I’ve half a mind to kick that little ass of yours!” Butch raises his voice threateningly.

Jackie hardens and spits bitterly her own threat. “And if I did leave… I’m sure there’s lots of people who would love to know what I know… about the way things are handled around here… like that little girls father for instance… Butch bolts down the stairs and presses into Jackie’s face, waving his fisted finger like a cocked weapon. “Are you threatening me?” She is startled and retreats a couple paces but remains steadfast in her spitefulness, “No… I’m warning you. I’ve had about all I can stand of Buster…” Jackie weakens and looks down submissively, “me and a lot of other people around here. I’m just asking you to pull him off, that’s all.” The tension between them is thick.

Butch whispers to her quiet daggers of danger. “If you ever threaten me again… or betray me to anybody… or try to hurt my Carnival…” Jackie starts to weep, “I’d never say anything to anybody, honest! You’ve got to believe me!” Butch is cold as stone, “If you do…I swear to you…” His voice is soft, almost tender. “you won’t live to tell anybody… anything… ever again… Kapeash?” Jackie signifies her understanding. “Yes, sir.” Buster barks louder than Butch. He nips and snaps… occasionally breaks the skin…but Butch… Butch doesn’t bluff. Doesn’t bark. He goes for the throat. For the kill. Jackie stands there in silent and complete surrender until Butch finally moves slowly away and dismisses her. “Now go away. Don’t let me see you face around here again.” Jackie is unable to lift her eyes. She just turns away and drifts off like an empty ship lost at sea.

Agnes calls Lindsay from his sanctuary in the back of the trailer. “Lindsay, come here we want to talk with you!” Lindsay cautiously pokes his head through the curtain divider. The scene looks ominous. The trailer is clean, that’s the first clue. It only ever got really clean when there was trouble. Agnes and Butch both sitting stiffly on the couch. They look too serious, far too serious. Oh shit. It’s a staged event and they’re ready for him. Agnes looks at Butch worriedly. “Lindsay, come over here, sit down.” Agnes pats a place between them. this is really not fair. There’s two of them and they’re both bigger and older… Lindsay is uncomfortable but complies.

Agnes authoritatively states, “We know you’ve been hanging around with Lobo. Lindsay starts to object. Butch breaks in. “Listen, Kid. Lobo’s bad news. You stay away from him or we’ll…” Agnes reprimands, “Butch! Hold on.” Returning to Lindsay. He sees the opportunity to throw in his two cents, “I haven’t been hanging out with him. I just stopped by the House to check out his paintings.” Butch sternly asserts, “Lindsay, Lobo’s an ex-con. We’re checking him out now. He’s trouble.” Lindsay gets sassy, “Why didn’t you just fire him, like you did Henry then?” Henry was kindly to Lindsay. Before Lobo one of the few carnies that would sporadically be nice to him. He was mad that Henry was gone. Agnes corrects Lindsay, “Don’t talk back to us like that!” Butch defends himslef, “That’s none of your business kid.” Agnes’ turn, “We just don’t want you hurt…” Lindsay sighs sarcastically, “Yea, right.”

Agnes regains the floor. “Also, we know you know a lot more about him then you’re lettin’ on.” She looks at him with that Mother’s ‘I got you by the balls look’. She extends her right hand before them and displays the necklace Lindsay stole from Lobo. Lindsay is shit faced. Agnes continues, “We found this! Did he give this to you?”

Lindsay is scared. He shakes his head and denies, “No, I found it… honest!” Butch lets out an exasperated, accusatory breathe, “Shhhhhit! He was wearing this the 1st day. When he came in for the interview. I saw it. So how did you get it? Did you steal it, kid?” Lindsay just looks down sullenly. Agnes looks on with concern while Butch continues the interrogation. “You and Lobo getting to be real close buddies. Maybe you did something to earn it. Lindsay and Agnes are confused about his meaning.

Butch puts on a real sweet effeminate persona and voice, “Or maybe he gave it to you… You two being so close and all…” Lindsay looks shocked and hurt. “What!” Agnes breaks in reassuringly, “We’re not accusing you of anything, Lindsay… we just know you’re holding something back from us… that you’re keeping secrets.” Lindsay looks guiltily at his mother. “I’m not doing anything wrong, honest!” Agnes answers, “I know son, I believe you. But you got to tell us the truth now. The whole truth. What has Lobo told you. What do you know?”

Lindsay maintains his position of denial and mutters sullenly, “Nothing… I don’t know nothing. I told you, I just talked to him about the art stuff… really!” Lindsay has a hard time even sounding convincing to himself. Agnes just sighs deeply, throws up her hands and shakes her head. Butch leans back on the couch and slouches down, “Just like I told you Agnes, that Lobo’s got the kid under his spell… he’s trying to turn Lindsay against us. I should’ve taken care of that bastard long ago.”

Lindsay jumps to his feet screaming, “No! Leave him alone! Haven’t you done enough already? I -didn’t -do -anything -wrong!” Lindsay grabs the necklace from his mother’s hand and angrily runs from the room. Agnes peers at Butch and offers sarcastically, “Gee, thanks a lot! You really helped out in that situation.” Butch retorts, “Something’s going on between them, I just know it… the kid’s hiding something.” Agnes argues, “And you really got right down to the truth of it, didn’t you?” Butch defends, “If he were my kid I’d beat the truth out of him.” He gets up and walks over to the fridge for a beer. Agnes pulls another cigarette from the pack. Her hand is shaking as she lights up. “Yea, I’m sure you would…” Butch, ignoring her slam, turns to her, “The point is… Lobo is bad for the Kid… Right?” Agnes takes a reflective drag and nods. Butch motions for her to follow. “Well…” They both go back to Lindsays’ door. Butch lightly taps on it. Agnes signals with her cig for Butch to take the lead, “Listen Lindsay, we don’t want you hanging around Lobo anymore… period. O.K.?” There is no reply from the other side. Butch repeats, “Lindsay, you hear me?” Agnes chimes in, “He’s right Lindsay, you stay away from him.” Look at each other, satisfied. They’ve done their duty. Butch offers a final benediction, “Or else!”

Lindsay sits on his bed silently staring at the stolen pendant. It’s an odd piece of jewelry. Never seen anything like it before. Now that Agnes and Butch made such a case of the whole thing, he was more adamant than ever to hang on to it. Hmmm. A silver crucifix with a yin-yang symbol welded onto the center of it. Looks hand made. He had seen some hippies wearing the yin-yang symbol before. Must be some kind of good luck charm or mystical thing. He’s seen a lot of crosses before. Lindsay puzzles over it…

Jackie returns to her stage and starts to set it up alone. She vacillates between fear, anger and sadness as she contemplates her encounter with Butch. Mostly hurt. The freak show. Yea, this is a good place for her… the only place for her in the world. A fucking freak that people pay their spare change to gawk at. Earn a few bucks on the side showing a little tit and giving a little head. Well you had to do what you had to do in this world. There’s nobody going to look out for you. You’re on your own. YOU got to do it for yourself. Only the strong survive. It’s just at this particular moment in time, she didn’t feel especially strong. Or even like surviving.

One of Buster’s gang, Peter- the chief enforcer, is working in the freak tent setting up one of the booths across the aisle. Getting ready for the opening the next day. He keeps staring over at her as she works. His eyes are glued to her as she bends over to fetch this and that and stretches to hang stuff up. He utters a licentious remark under his breath… about her ass. She ignores it, still feeling too hurt to care one way or another. Peter goes over to her stage and hangs over the railing, flirting with her.

He’s looks to be about 17 or 18. A big guy, maybe 6’ or so. A good 170 pounds. Jackies’ small 5’3” frame boasts about 110 pounds when she’s soaking wet. 15 years old, going on 25. She ignores him, the best she can. Stays lost in getting her needful things together. Though she’s unable to hide the melancholy look on her face. Nothing is said for a long time. He just stares at her while she’s busy about her business. Three workers- green help (temporary workers singed on from town to town on a first come, first served basis) come in to get further instructions from Peter. “You guys can take a break after you finish unloading the truck. We’ll start back up in about 60 minutes, or so. Gus, you go down and get some more lumber and nails from the utility shed. Take them down to the crazy snake. I’ll catch up you’all there… in a few.” They start to ask questions to clarify the instructions, but Peter shoos them away. Bewildered. they really not knowing what’s going on, but obey…grumbling along the way, they exit the tent. Peter closes the door and fastens it. Jackie and Peter are left alone in the tent. Lunch time no one’s going to be comin’ around anytime soon.

Jackie notices Peter latching the door and is a little scared. Peter strolls over to her. He strokes her back gently. She freezes leaning against the booth rail, her back towards him. He runs his hand down her ass and grabs it firmly. He reaches around and pulls her ass up to him. Starts to kiss her neck and shoulders.

She yields to him. Arching her ass back into his heat. She turns around to face him, but refuses to kiss on the mouth. She clings to him, rubbing his back. She’s getting turned on and resisting it at the same time. She enjoys the attention and affection… like being lost in a far off land. Peter starts to feel her tits. He carefully unbuttons her shirt and opens it. He tries unsuccessfully to unclasp her bra. Jackie aids his stumbling hands by unlatching it for him and letting him at her warm, hungry flesh.

She closes her eyes and tries to forget everything. Butch, Buster, the Carnival, the marks, the accident… Peter sucks ravenously on her tits. “Lovely little nipples. I dig chicks with little tits. Usually they have nice little pussies to go along with it.” His probing hands head down her body. He begins to unbuckle her pants. She resists and pulls away. “What’s the matter?” She looks disturbed, distraught. “Nothing. Nothing at all… I just thought of something you might really like… that I really want. She pours on the seductive persona in an effort to deflect his pursuit.

Jackie, rubs his cock through his pants and whispers “Hmmm, It’s sooo hard!” Peter is taken back by her aggression, “God I’ve never known a chick like you! You really dig it, don’t you?” He gets a visibly flustered–a bit put off by her. Uncomfortable at loosing control. She rubs harder, with both hands. He moans, “You want it?! Yea… Damn… you little shit!” Jackie goes down on her knees. Unzips his pants. Licks her lips a little for show, it always drives them wild. Peter’s head falls back. Jackie looks at Peter’s engorged member and hesitates. Her grimaces reveal the mixed emotions going on inside her heart. She takes him into her mouth slowly. Deep down her throat until she gags slightly. Peter looses his balance and falls backward into some nearby boxes. She refuses to let go. She keeps his cock in her mouth, like a clamp. Peter pants, “Damn! Damn! You little shit…God, you’re good. Oh! Ah!” Jackies’ head bobs up and down… faster and faster on his slick dick, wetted by he spittle that’s dripping from the sides of her mouth.

He tries to pull her off him. But she just won’t let go! Up & down, Up & down… like she’s an angry animal, attacking him. He shrieks, “hold on, that’s enough!… Enough, I said.” But still, she won’t let go. She just gets faster and more veracious. Finally, he grabs her by the hair and yanks her off his dick. He literally throws her to one side. She tumbles across the floor in a heap. Peter staggers to his feet, “Goddamned bitch! I said hold on… Don’t want to shoot my wad just yet!”  He stumbles toward her threateningly, “I want to fuck you… hard! I want to feel my big cock in your tight little pussy. Jackie dramatically shakes her head “NO!”. Peter is mystified and angry, “What the fuck you mean “no”! A little late to be playing hard-to-get, ain’t it?”

Jackie is ashamed but firm on the matter, “I don’t do that… not with anyone… ever!” Peter is furious, “Fuck you! You lying bitch!” He grabs her, flips her around and pushes her down onto the dirt floor. He mumbles as he’s fumbling to pull his pants down, “I’m going to fuck you. I know you want it, you’re just playing hard to get… You must enjoy it rough.” She tries to get up but he just throws her to back onto the ground. She’s no match to his superior weight and strength. He falls on top of her. She instinctively raises her knee and drives it into his groin as his weight descends on her. Peter screeches out painfully, “Ahhh!” She uses the opportunity to untangle herself from him and scamper away. She screams, “I said NO! NO! You ass hole!”

Jackie is terrified and wounded. He starts to pull his trousers up from his ankles, and limps after her. She dashes at the door. Desperately trying to unfasten the latch in time. He grabs her with his right hand. Still tugging at his pants with the other. She fights passionately. She tries to scream but he quickly fastens his hand firmly over her face to mute her. Her eyes show only terror. His, only meanness. Jackie pushes with all her might, using the tent brace as a leverage point. Peter unable to keep his pants from falling back over his ankles, looses his balance and trips over them.

They both tumble headlong. He temporarily looses his hold on her. She grabs a nearby two by four and swings wildly as Peter again attempt to rise to his feet. Fortunately, she connects squarely and soundly to Peters’ head. “SMACK!” He goes down hard… knocked to his knees. She kicks him hard in the ribs. “Ahh!” He bellows. She takes a full swing over her head and brings it down with tremendous force on his back. He collapses. He’s not quite unconscious. She was aiming for his skull but missed. Lucky for her really. She might have actually killed him if her aim had been more accurate. Blood is oozing from his head wound. He tries to crawl away from her.

She attacks Peter with a supernatural fury… as if she were some avenging angel… or demon, pouring it’s rage out and delivering divine retribution upon him, and those like him throughout history for all their evil deeds. She releases the board. It drops with a hollow thump onto the ground. She dives at him, jumping onto his back. Cursing and yelling, Jackie claws wildly at his face and rips hunks of hair out of his head. She blindly pounds his head, back and shoulders with her fists. Bringing them up & down, up & down like angry hammers. He attempts to protect his head and face, in vain. Jackie relentlessly continues hitting him and hitting him over and over again.

This time it’s Peter who is screaming for help. He desperately begs her to stop. She pauses during her tirade to wipe the tears away that stream uncontrollably down her face. Her hands are bloody with hair stuck to them. Satisfied by her hard won victory, she dismounts her prey and walks falteringly to the door. As she unfastens the latch, she hears the familiar sound of Wolf whining and barking to come in. She stumbles out into the daylight. Wolf jumps up to greet her and congratulate her. Sniffing and licking her hands.

Peter’s helpers returning from their break, hear the screaming and yelling and encounter her just as she exits the scene. They dash into the tent to attend to Peter, who is moaning and writhing in anguish. Their hub-bub intensifies as they examine Peters wounds. Their eyes track Jackie into the distance as she and Wolf march away together. She ducks into a phone booth. The fair grounds maintains three. She studies the contents of the area directory carefully. Digs painfully into her pocket for some change and deposits the appropriate coins. She closes the accordion door tight. Jackie looks cautiously around as she discloses the dark, painful secrets. Wrapped tight in the transparent, muffled box, she pours out her story to the stranger, continually wiping the tears from her eyes with her blood stained hands. She finishes her confession and hangs up.

She ponders her next move. Twilight. The air is cool and crisp and wet. Butch and Agnes’ trailer are barely visible at the far end of the mid-way. Jackie sadly wonders aloud, “What’s to become of us all?”

Late that same night. Lindsay is restless. Can’t sleep. Quietly he pries the door open ever so slightly and creeps down the hall to check on the status of his guardians.

Through the dense darkness, the pale blue flickering light of the television illuminates the couple crashing on the couch. Butch appears to be out for good. Agnes sitting forward in one of her processing moods. In other words drunk out of her gourd on Vodka and replaying rehearsing endless dialogues in her mind. The more she drank, the faster the wheels churned. Whatever brilliant insights the alcohol inspired in the darkness were inevitably lost by the morning light. Tonight was typical. Staring blankly at the flickering screen to the muffled clamor of Johnny Carson. Lost in thought. Dwelling somewhere in the ether. Neither here nor there. Caught in between.

Trying to have a conversation with her while she was in the “Zone” was an exercise in futility. Like trying to trace the flight of a butterfly. Her reactions played in slow motion. Like every time she blinked her eyes. It took about 3 to 4 times longer to complete the reflexive motion. Her movements were clumsy. Her conversation blurred. Like drawing with a soft lead pencil, then smearing the sketch with your hand.

There were benefits though. He could get away with more when she was intoxicated. Her mental preoccupation’s while drunk allowed him to maneuver freely without restraint. He could speak more freely. Although she was sometimes volatile. If he said the wrong thing she would close up tight, like a clam and push him away. She could be down right vicious in that state. Like a trapped animal. Other times she would be very saccrine and affectionate.

How many times had he heard the same stories over and over and over again when she was in her talky moods. It was never a conversation. It was more like a long monologue in which he was the silent audience. Then at some point in the lengthy diatribe, she would be overcome by sadness and seek comfort… the affectionate stage. If he were responsive and attentive, fine. If he were not, watch out. A woman scorned. Rather a mother scorned.

The thing Lindsay hated the most though was when she made him wake her up at a specified time. It was his duty to arouse her after her long sleepless drunks that went on sometimes for several days for some important appointment. It was frustrating because it was practically impossible. He tried every technique imaginable. Pulling her off the couch. Loud noises. Yelling. Shaking her repeatedly. Coffee, juice or other refreshments. Ice on various places on the body. Nothing worked. The ritual could go on for hours. So the routine went. When she did finally awake, usually several hours after the appointed time, it would be Lindsay’s fault for forgetting to awaken her. At least that was better now that she was with Butch. Took some of the heat off.

So everything looked safe. Butch passed out and Agnes lost in the fog. He was free.

Deliberately Lindsay proceeded out the back door of the trailer. His exit concealed by the drone of T.V., Vodka and his clandestine behavior. Out into the cool, damp night. Lindsay loved the feeling of adventure and naughtiness… sneaking around behind their backs. Searching the surroundings confirmed his suspicions that most everyone was bedded down for the evening. Still got to make sure nobody is watching. Lindsay wore his black turtleneck and black trousers especially for the excursion. Except for his face and hands he would be almost invisible. It felt safe and powerful to be concealed.  Lindsay skirted around the trailers and tents pretending to be a spy or thief. One of his favorite shows was “It takes a Thief”… lot of good ideas there.

Peaking around the corner he spies the fat lady’s trailer. A lot of activity still going on there. Tommy must be long since asleep. They were quite a couple. Clyde, was as thin as Enid was obese. They were long time veterans of the Carnival circuit. They didn’t have to maintain the same schedule as other carnys. Clyde was the driver. Did some tinkering and running on the side. He was also the Carnival historian. Could remember where they had played when for the last thirty years. It was all written down in his little book, or rather books.

They towed a game trailer behind them from town to town. Worked B & J pretty regular for over 25 years. Lots of different games over the decades. Last 7 years pretty much stayed with the balloon throw. Hard skinned balloons, dull darts.  An old con but people still lined up to try their skill. Funny thing is that even if someone beat the odds, the cost of the prize was less than the admission. God, people were stupid. Why didn’t they just buy the damned stuffy? By the time they accumulated enough tickets to score the 18” animal they would have paid 13 to 14 dollars for something that they could have bought at the 5 and dime for $1.50. A trinket that they got for about 50 cents.

Clyde was reading the newspaper out in front of the small rounded trailer by the light spilling out of the front door. Enid, as usual, was busy in the kitchen. God that woman loved to eat, it was somewhat of an art to her. In a way, Enid was a professional eater. Being fat was her livelihood. The fatter the better for the side show. Who would want to see a fat lady who just lost 80 pounds? Once during pie eating challenge last season, he had seen her put down 16 pies. The closest contender, a 350 man had only been able to handle 12. Each contestant had paid $5 for the chance to win $100. Enid cleaned up. Plus it was a good crowd pleaser.

Enid was rather proud of her weight and her tattoos which she had covering 85% of her body. They advertised 95% but she wore a little bikini that no one ever got to see underneath. Most of the illustrations were biblical in motif. The scriptures and imagery all over her body are her way of “witnessing”, even though she is almost completely bare naked during her show. Enid also wore a huge, ornate gold cross around her neck during the show. The crowds would laugh and make cutting remarks, but Enid took it all in stride. She would just laugh and make fun of her fat with them. Everyone loved it. She would talk about the Lord a lot and illustrate her mini sermons with wagging different parts of her body at them.

The two thieves dying on their respective crosses beside Jesus were etched on her two breasts… A real favorite with the audience. She would shake her enormous tits while explaining the final moments of Jesus’ agony. She got away with a lot of hard core evangelism with her humor and simple directness. From another source, stuff she said would be offensive. Being grotesque was her unique missionary platform.. preach the gospel to the lost “marks”. Her podium a raggedy booth in a freak show tent.

Other tattoos of interest was the “Jesus is coming soon” on the top cheeks of her ass. “Repent or perish!” beneath her belly button, just above her pubic hair line. Who knows but that she lead lots of people to the Lord this way. God uses the “foolish things of this world, to confound the wise”. Whenever anyone took particular interest she would give them a gospel track about salvation. She had spiritual children from one end of the country to the other. She was approachable and non-threatening. People would confess their darkest deeds to her. Invariably, in every town they played, she would convert a sinner or two. She was always working on the kids. Usually, she knew when to back off.

Lindsay had tried her religion a few months after he and Agnes joined up with Butch. Just didn’t fit. Even tried reading the bible a few times. Liked the stuff about the end of the world and all. It was like science fiction. The rest was too difficult to understand. Besides, he had enough problems fitting in without adding religion to his baggage. He couldn’t shake the feeling he had the night Enid had prayed for him though. It was like he was wrapped in a soft, golden glow. Felt peaceful and safe. He cried and cried. Didn’t even know why. Anyway that was a god long time ago. Over a year. Jesus was for old people or crazy ones. Didn’t fit him. Still felt like he had let Enid down somehow.

Maybe she would know what this pendant means. Has a cross and everything, Lindsay ponders. Tentatively he wonders over to their truck trailer. Clyde looks up over his paper and comments casually, “What’scha doing out this late Lindsay? You could get into heaps of trouble, son.” Lindsay just shrugs his shoulders like it doesn’t matter. Enid temporarily suspends her business and opens the squeaky screen door. “Hi there Lindsay. Little late to be wandering around.”

Lindsay just fidgets uncomfortably. Looking from the ground then the stars. Enid observes, “Looks like something’s bothering you. Why don’t you come on in and chew the fat a bit.” Laughs to herself about her own joke. Lindsay smiles awkwardly and follows her inside. Clyde ignores them and goes back to his reading.

Enid goes back to her preparations. “Was just finishing up. Go ahead and sit down, I’ll get you a slice of Apple pie… should be cooled down enough by now.” Lindsay looks around at the cluttered trailer. Every inch is packed tight with stuff. The walls and shelf space are crammed with religious artifacts. The one exception is their wedding picture… hanging over the table. Lindsay studies it. Yellowed from age. Could still make out their identities but man, did they look different. Clyde got skinnier and Enid got fatter. Like balancing on a teeter totter… as if she had sucked the weight from him…gained in equal proportions to his loosing.

She sure is a warm hearted lady. She cuts Lindsay a sliver and lays it on a pink plastic plate. Brings it, a glass of milk and the rest of the pie over and sets her bulk down besides him. Lindsay acknowledges her offering succinctly. She gives him a quick once over and leans closer, “You look kind of troubled dear… There’s nothing so big that the good Lord can’t fix it you know…” Lindsay barely touches his portion. Mostly just pokes at it with his fork. Enid starts nibbling at remaining 5/6 of the desert. Little bite here and there as they talk. Over the course of the 10 minute conversation, eats the entire thing.

Lindsay haphazardly mentions, “I was wondering… well I was exploring the other day… and found this.” Shows her the pendant. She studies it carefully. “Hmmm… interesting. Never seen a thing like this.” Lindsay looks on with her as if it were the first time he had ever seen it as well, unconsciously mimicking her gestures and expressions. Turns it over looking for an inscription. She reaches over Lindsay to recover her bi-focals laying beside the cow salt and pig pepper shakers.

Enid recites under her breath as she continues to look it over, “Well of course the cross is the cross of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ… who loves us unconditionally. He died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day to set us free from our wickedness… (a rote monologue she has delivered a thousand times) She halts puzzled as she examines the black and white circle with 2 swimming fish on it. “I’m not sure about this part… I remember seeing it some place…” She squints as she struggles to recollect fragments of lost memory, “Now where have I seen this?” Without missing a beat she yells, “Say Clyde?” Lindsay jumps reflexively. An apathetic grunt rebounds from beyond the door. “Come here a minute and look at this, will you?” More a command than a request.

Clyde rises uncomfortably and obediently scuttles in. Standing between them at the edge of the table he looks down unenthusiastically, “Hmmm… Yea, that’s that Hindu thing I think. One of those mystical cult things the Hippies are wearing now-a-days… Never seen it on a cross before though.” Having performed his required duty, Clyde retreats back to the out of doors. Enid rolls back on the chair and proclaims, “Now I remember! That’s the symbol they use in those Oriental Religions from India and China when they worship the Devil.”

Enid gets instantly afraid. As if Lindsay had polluted her sanctuary with something evil and dangerous. Her voice raises pitch and volume as she declares, “That there’s the “Mark of the Beast! The devil’s very own sign. Worn by the sons and daughters of Satan and sin…when they’re having sex with animals and demons… and surrendering their eternal souls to the fires of perdition!” She throws the necklace down on the table as if it were white hot and hauls her frame from the chair.

Lindsay is speechless. His mouth is gaping open. He tries to respond, “I didn’t…” Son, you should get rid of that immediately. It pollutes the sign of our savior. It will bring a curse upon you. Upon all of us!” She retreats from it like a poison snake. Her eyes appear to bug out as she goes into a trance like state, “Beware of the cur-sed thing… Thou must cast it from thee… and pray God would forgive and cleanse thee from thy uncleanness and wickedness!” In an impulse of godly boldness, Enid grabs the pendant and expells it from her premise and presence. In one swift action she snatches it form the table, kicks open the door and throws it mightily into the darkness in the direction of the dumpster. “Cast out the graven image from thy midst and I will surely bless thy household once again… Be gone Satan, in the name of Jesus!”

Lindsay bolts from his seat and objects, “Hey, give that back to me! Give it back! Hey!” Lindsay angrily follows his treasure out the door trying to discern where she tossed it. Clyde rises from his seat, fairly confused but unconcerned by the ruckus.  Lindsay dashes off in the direction of Enid’s perceived target. She stands in the door of their little trailer. Her enormous mass silhouetted against the bright light behind her like a fat feminine tattooed version of the Arch Angel Michael.  “I’m warning you. Lindsay, beware of the broad smooth road that leads to destruction! Many there be that follow that path.” Lindsay stumbles further away from their trailer searching for the artifact. Enid’s prophetic proclamations trail off behind him, “Repent of thy sin of idolatry. He is a gracious God. Ready to forgive thee and remove thy transgressions!”

Lindsay is stunned, overwhelmed and offended by her harsh admonitions. “No, thanks.” He mutters to himself.  The radiance from a nearby street light reflect off the gold cross to help Lindsay find the discarded trinket. He packs it back into his pocket as trots away. Sarcastically grumbles, “Yea, and thanks for the pie.”

Clyde remains unaffected by the goings on. He casually returns to the trailer. He does get upset though by his discovery that his favorite desert is completely consumed… except for the ½ eaten sliver on Lindsays’ plate. “Enid! All my pie is gone. What happened to it?”  Enid shakes her head in ignorant defense and denial, “Well that young boy was just famished… pretty much ate up that whole pie. Poor dear must have not eaten in a week!” She registers no conscious memory, and therefore guilt, of having consumed the entire desert. Clyde gives her a questioning look. Then shrugs his shoulders and heads off to bed. Enid returns to her kitchen routines, cleaning up.

Lindsay walks down the lonely path in darting in and out of the darkness that borders the circumference of the midway. Hands hanging from both front pockets. Fondling the necklace with the right hand. He hesitates at the phone booth near the rear end of the fair grounds. Taking a nervous glance around he enters the dimly lit monolith, drops a dime into the receiver and dials a memorized number. As he carries on a clandestine conversation, the faint light spills out into the damp coldness enclosing him. A couple feet above Lindsay’s head, swarms of unidentified flying creatures make concentric circles… around and around they go, from nothingness to nothingness. Occasionally in bugs rest on the faded, dirty milk glass of the lighting panel before their restless impulses drive them to reemerge into the meaningless, primeval dance. Lindsay spills his own personal darkness and quandary into the light… or if not light at least warmth and fire.

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