The Whiskey Midget Freak Show


Out there itís dangerous, out past the sump bottom where those colored lights swirl hypnotic and slow, and all that cheap liquor, and the carnival whore painted pink and tawdry like a crepe-paper rose. No, he said. His Daddy didnít want to discuss it anymore. He put his newspaper down and gave him a crumpled dollar and sent him out to Websterís for a soda-pop with ice.

But he took the Tunnel Road instead. He cut through the Brandlot place in a dusk of pure spring, and the light that shined on him was gold like flame. He saw colors through the tree branches and a hot line of amber running along the fence rail. It was the night the cicadas came up from their holes. They clung to everything. On the blades of grass and on the fences. They were massed together on the stop-sign post. He watched an ivory nymph break through its husk all moist and stunted. Its eyes were like drops of pure red blood.

In the woods out by the sump bottom he could hear the calliope and the shouts of the revelers beyond the trees. He came through the brambles on his hands and knees and the lights spun crazy like a kaleidoscope and made him dizzy with glee. He met the boys at the pop-gun gallery and they drank from a flask of I-donít-know-what that burned like poison. They rode a kiddie-coaster called the Mad Little Thunder and the glow of the liquor lasted and lasted. He broke all the bottles with a BB gun. He won himself a stuffed pink bear and carried it everywhere, though the boys all laughed, and when the flask was dry they took in the fat lady and the freaks. There was a man who had himself a tail he could wiggle, and a bonafide hermaphrodite with boobies and a dick. There was a tattooed lady who could shoot balls out of herself, and smoke cigarettes with it too. The smoke oozed out thick and lazy and it made his belly hot just to watch the pussy farts. Last was the midgets. They had themselves a whole family in a tiny house so you could watch them do what they do. There was a Momma and a Daddy and a little girl one too. She had the saddest eyes he ever saw. The boys all threw peanuts. But when it was over he left her the stuffed pink bear.

He was wobbling drunk in the dark of the woods and saw the stars up in the sky and the cicadas on the fence post of the Brandlot place waiting for the sun to dry them off so they could fly. They hide down there in their holes like zombies in their tombs waiting for the mysteries to call them out of sleep every seventeen years like clockwork. The last time they came up, he wasnít even born.