My name is Mike Kandinsky and I manage a carnival. We tour the Midwest, mostly, and parts of Canada. My sidekick is Maude Lemon who used to be the bearded lady. We have a kid together–she’s living with Maude’s Aunt Polly in St. Paul. Maude shaved and changed careers and now manages a couple of the attractions.
At the time of my story we were just outside of Red Bow, our last venue in the States before going on to Canada. Folk in and around Red Bow are used to seeing us and we have some friends there, as well as the usual circuit freaks. Our entire season is arranged beforehand but I still like to use an advance man to make sure we have all our ducks in a row.
Now, many carnies pay “extra” to officials to leave them alone, maybe even look the other way. I can boast having some of the cleanest concessions in the business and it’s rare that I have to line someone’s pockets in order to do business in their town. In Red Bow we park on adjacent tribal land and I don’t have any problem giving the tribe a percentage of the receipts because…well, you understand. Then there’s that old con artist, Chief Shrinking Sky who always expects a little something for himself every year. I never begrudged him the money because I always recovered some of it at our poker games.
As it so happened, my advance man broke his leg chasing that coon hound of his and, Agnes, my office manager filled in for him. Agnes had some sort of memory lapse, as was her way, and neglected to give the Chief his due. Feeling slighted by white eyes (that would be me), the Chief set the tribal police on us with a bill for additional fees and penalties and the purchase of a “get out of jail card” for me; an additional permit for the screen master, and hefty consultation fee for himself. Well, that made me grumpy. I went to my trailer to sulk.
It was about that time that the Chief’s oldest daughter walked into my trailer and jumped my bones. Suzie and I had a thing going every time we hit Red Bow, before Maude and I got serious. I had not gotten around to telling Suzie about Maude and me and with Maude gone to Aunt Polly’s for a visit and…well, I was a lecherous cad, I’ll admit it now. At the time, I felt that nothing was written in stone. Wouldn’t you know Maude took that moment in time to return from St. Paul and walk in on Suzie and me. In my defense I was temporarily insane at the time when I told a suspiciously calm Maude my idea about nothing written in stone and made a lewd suggestion regarding the three of us and geometry.
I was definitely off my game because I didn’t see that left hook coming. Now, I’m a tall guy, and Maude is not a big woman. She has a reach on her though, and the power behind that fist when it struck my jaw was serious. It wasn’t the first time her fist had met my jaw. I deserved it then, too. Maude managed to chase off Suzie with her well-honed insensitivity and words such as “Injun”, while Suzie shouted at me to call her when I could get away from the “geek”. I went to Maude’s trailer that night and tried to patch things up. She wouldn’t let me in. She said there was a huge mind gap between the two of us. Well, gap or not, things weren’t quite right with us for a while.
Our last night in Red Bow we had our usual poker game with the Chief, along with the usual players, which included the clowns, of course. I had Maude stay away for this one. She doesn’t have much of a poker face and the clowns wore their grease paint for the occasion. Maudie commented once that there was something a little weird about playing poker with grown men wearing clown shoes. Typically, we let the Chief win a few. That particular night, I staked the clowns and we played hard. I wanted my pound of flesh from the old reprobate.
It turned out to be a very satisfying evening of cutthroat poker but that wasn’t my first time at the rodeo. We were moving the outfit during the night in case the Chief drummed up some other phony fees to charge me. Best of all, I crawled into Maudie’s bed after considerable begging and rather crafty footwear.
“When are you going to forgive me, Maudie?”
“Are those clown shoes, you’re wearing?”
I had a feeling Maudie was a little kinky about clown shoes.
Inspiration Monday: Circuit Freaks at Be Kind Rewrite
Prompts: Circuit freaks, screen master, mind gap, shrinking sky, white eyes
Word Count: 800
Thank you Stephanie Orges for your unswerving dedication hosting Inspiration Monday‘s challenge. You know you are my Monday.