Arrivals and Departures

It was on a bright, starry night that the traveling circus rolled into town. Two of the town’s wayward souls, Thumbs Up and No Luck At All, watched the arrival from behind a dumpster on Twelfth Street. Each took turns turning their backs to and from the aggregate of vehicles and vans, while sharing their last doobie of the night. “Awesome, Dude, It’s the friging Circus,” Thumbs Up remarked, toking hard and burning his finger on the lit piece of paper. “Sonofabitch” he said, flicking the burning ember away. The caravan of lighted semis in stoned slow motion pulsated past the two observers, as if it were a living creature slithering down the street. It gradually crawled past their make shift cardboard box lean-to and came to a halt. A halt that moved a bit here and there, for several seconds as the two grasped the hugeness of the event unfolding before them. “I love parades,” No Luck exclaimed. Thumbs Up quickly replied, “You should; you’re a dam circus yourself!”

The disruptive nighttime forces of flashing cautionary lights and high pressure aire brakes bleeding off into the cool night engulfed them in a wave of sensorial backwash that left both momentarily in blissful awe of the arrival. Sounds arising from the halted procession sent echoes skirting up and through abandoned alley ways and streets, creating an eerie strange sycophantic rhythmic arrangement that evaporated and reformed again and again to a backdrop of humming hissing neon lights hanging from various buildings. As the chugging diesel engines dropped into low tone idle, CB chatter ignited an uneven wave of lights flickering on one by one, in campers and Winnebago’s throughout the parade.

Across the street directly in front of Thumbs Up and No Luck At All, in an aging converted Greyhound bus, Lift Step Tony sensed the big bus had stopped for more than just a red light, and pulled the covers up around his shoulders; “  just five more minutes.” Awakened, he rolled back over to see his wife, Loony Lucy Ball already sitting up, flicking a bic lighter, in preparation for her first smoke of the day. The spark flash lighted up the room casting long shadows on walls and ceiling of the tiny room they called home nine months out of the year.  “I wish you would quit that filthy habit,” he said. “I never get tired of trying,” she replied turning to see the time. “You know some people have sex before they smoke.” “Yeah right, like you could ever get that lucky!” Then silence moved into the room and hung over them like the unpleasant smell of smoked cigarettes lingering in a house stilled by closed windows and oscillating fans on a hot summer’s night. It stayed there for some time.

The heavy trucks loaded with animals, people, tents and peanut cooking machines, lined the street for three blocks. The two stoners played a game guessing vehicle contents. “Dude, Giraffes in that one!”  The other replied, “It’s a Circus, not a zoo!”  They finally agreed an army had arrived to invade the town, disguised as a circus! This army however consisted only of bewildered barkers, truck-driving ringleaders, and eye rubbing princesses still covered with rosin from recent flying trapeze performances. The first troops to hit the street were the elephant attendees, knowing full well the beasts were only at peace when moving.

Looney Lucy Ball reached for the remote control and dialed into the local news channel. Hearing the words, “Circus in town,” she paused to listen. Apparently the city was making a full-scale effort to relocate the homeless and other not so upright citizenry during the circus visit. “That’s a dam shame. Even poor people ought to be able to see a circus,” she commented, snuggling closer to Tony after putting out her cigarette. “What was that people do before they smoke?”

Thumbs Up and No Luck At All   stepped out from behind the dumpster and pulled their hoodies up over their heads while gathering their things together. “You think we ought to stay in town for the events?” Thumbs Up asked thinking they should protest the city’s efforts to run them off? “Nah, I got no use for elephants. I wouldn’t mind seeing a trapezes show, but, hey, could we ever get any higher than we are now?”

Hours later, two policemen tore down the cardboard lean-to behind the dumpster, and reported all clear on Twelfth Street; that night the traveling circus rolled into town.


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