Sunday, February 23, 2014


Another Local Character

There's a guy who works at the local Pizza Hut. He serves at the counter and makes pizzas. I don't know if he delivers them. He seems to be a nondescript, regular bloke. Nothing special about him. But he stand out like a sore thumb because he's in his late 50s (maybe early 60s) and his work mates are all teenagers. And I haven't seen a shift manager that looks over 25. I wonder how he ended up working at PH and how he got the job. Is he an ex-con, out of prison, given a second chance by a friend? Did he use to do autonomous research into pure maths theory at a uni in his old country, but he's qualifactions aren't recognised in Australia? Is he some sort of ex high flying multicorporate executive who got retrenched and his redunancy money ran out? Is he a barrister who had a nervous breakdown? I've met people like that. I once got a lift from a taxi driver who was once a Classics lecturer. I believe in the adage that it's easier to go from a 'bad' job to a 'better' job than it is to go from the dole to a job. I also believe that money is money. I apply for three types of jobs: Jobs that are at my level (jobs that I've done)Jobs that are 'above' my level (jobs that are the next step up from what I've done; jobs that I believe I could do if given the chance) and jobs 'below' my level (menial jobs, entry level jobs, 'shit kicker' jobs, 'pay the bills' jobs.) There was a time, and it was not so long ago, when even the thought of applying for a job, as an adult, at a fast food place, working with teenagers, would have sent me into a fit of depression. I would have felt like such a loser and failure. Humilated. What if my friends saw me? Now. I couldn't give two hoots. As long as I make enough money to pay my bill and expenses and have some modicum of a social life (I'm an introvert, so I don't need much of one) and I have enough spare time to pursue my creative and intellectual endeavours, I really don't mind what (within reason)I do for a job. I'd do it and I'd do it to the best of my abiltilty until I was promoted or found a better job. I have applied for heaps of menial jobs.(Note: my father worked as an unskilled labourer for all of his working life. It put food on the family table and put my brothers, sister, and me through private school. I grew up in working class Fairfield where many friends and their families were supported by 'menial jobs'-so I don't use the word 'menial' as a deogarory term, but as a descriptor.) Whenever I have applied for such a job, more often than not, I am meet with a bemused, incredulous look and/or tone of voice from the person whom I ask. And I usually don't get the job because I don't have experience or recent experience. The days of being given a go seem to be over. Which is why I'm interested to know how the Pizza Hut guy got his job. To end on a positive note of sorts, The shift manager at Fairfield Aldis was nice and friendly when I asked about applying for a nightfill position. She told me to come back again 'round Easter time,which I'll do...unless I happen to get a job at the University of Helseinki deconstructing the phallocentric hegemony .

Sunday, January 10, 2010


What does your cat think?

Why hasn’t that human feed me yet? Can’t he hear me meowing and caterwauling? I’ve just woken up from my twelve hour beauty sleep and I’m famished. I need to eat before I have another nap. If he doesn’t come down and feed me soon, I’m going to use his sofa and dining table legs as my scratching posts.

It’s not as if I do nothing for him. Why just the other day, I presented him with a rat that I had killed. I bought it straight into the lounge room. Sure, I ate most of the rat’s guts, but what was left must have been a lovely surprise.

What’s that sound outside? Birds! Let me out! Let me out! I’ll get my own breakfast Let me out!

Look, that window up there is open. If I jump onto the table and then onto yonder cabinet. I should be able to squeeze through that window.

There done. Ok, birds, here I come.I am a predator; you are my prey. My body is tense, ready to spring. I am a killing machine. I am your Alpha and your Omega.

Prepare to meet thy…

Oh! Goddamned, Muthafuggin bells! They always give me away. One was fine.
But with two there’s no chance and no tasty birds. And birds make even better gifts for humans than rats do. I may as well go back inside the house.

I can’t get back in. I can’t reach that open window. It looks like more meowing and caterwauling is called for. Let me in, Let me in, let me in and feed me, I’m hungry, let me in.

I may as well patrol the backyard, my territory. Marked it with my own piss I did. Maybe there are some skinks and lizards to eat. I’ll prowl around and make sure that no other cats come here. Especially, that Persian from next door. I loathe that cat. I’ll scratch her eyes out if she dare step into this yard. I can smell the scent of that feral tom cat that lives in our neighbourhood. The last time I fought him, I had to be taken to the V-E-T. He nearly killed me. Not that I’m scared of him mind you. I got in some pretty good bites and scratches myself. I remember clawing his eyeball as I bit into is neck.

I recognise that sound, those sounds, I’d recognise them anywhere, any time. It’s the sound of a can opener opening a tin; the sound of a spoon tapping the tin, letting me know to ‘come and get it’. Oh boy, oh boy, I’m going to run as quickly as I can to get it. I’m so hungry, I’m starving, and I can almost taste it now.

What's this?! Generic sardines-in-aspic! I’m not eating that muck! Give me something else. Where are you going? I’m hungry. I demand that you open another tin. Ok, I’ll eat the dry cat food, I don’t really like it, but I’ll eat it.

Now that I’ve eaten, I’ll have my nap.

Man, what I dream. I dreamt that I was back in ancient Egypt and I was the Pharaoh’s number one cat. I’m feeling hungry again. Maybe I’ll just smell that generic sardines-in-aspic. Hmmm, smells ok. Maybe just a few bites. Not too bad. I won’t eat much. I don’t want the human buying it again.

Ok, finished. Now I can relax again. I’ll have another sleep.


Creativity Portal's Imagination Prompt Generator

Saturday, January 09, 2010


What's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you?

Creativity Portal

My mother did the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for me- she gave me life.My father had a hand in this as well. They gave me love, a home, food, and an education.

‘Nice’ is probably not the right, not a strong enough word to describe what they gave me.And I say this despite the fact that there have been times when I wished I hadn’t been born.When I have agreed with the Australian broadcaster Clive Robertson who used to say (and I paraphrase) “ If there had been a prospectus of life which I could have read in my mother’s womb before I was born, I would have read it and said ‘no thanks, I don’t want to be born’.

But despite the fact that my life hasn’t been 100 percent nice. There have been enough good times for me to say that it was nice that I was born.

Thanks Mum (may you rest in peace), Thanks Babbo.

My Way-Frank Sinatra

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I Has A Little Robin (Parts 1 -22)

1. I Had a Little Robin

When I was young, I had a little robin tattooed onto my left wrist. Now that I’m very old, the tattoo has become faded and wrinkly. But, not for a moment, do I regret getting it because, despite its present condition, its message - to me- is still clear: “hope is the thing with feathers’. This little bird that sits across my wrist has saved me from myself a whole heap of times.

The tattoo was modeled on a robin that was once part of my life. This bird had three legs; like me, it was a freak (or ‘differently-abled’ or ‘challenged’ as the do gooders like to say.) I don’t have three legs. I have a genetic defect that makes me look like a Neanderthal.

My name is Dusty O’Connor and I was born in Cimarron County, Oklahoma in 1922.
In 1925, My father, who was handsome on the outside but ugly inside, died as a result of an infection he got from being tar-and-feathered by a group of men (some ‘marks’) he had conned. My father’s death, obviously, left my mother a widow. She was Dust Bowl poor and a malignant narcissist; so she didn’t have the money, the time, nor the inclination to look after me. Consequently, she sold me to a carnival that happened to be passing through, where I became one of sideshow freaks. And they, the freaks, accepted me as one of them, one of them – gobble, gobble, one of them.

I was displayed in a cage and billed as ‘Bru-Bru the Beast from Borneo’, ‘the Ugliest Boy in the World’, ‘The Missing Link’. Step right up! Step right up!

My main caregivers, the couple that I grew to love as my new mother and father, were the Fat Lady and the Bearded Lady (who was actually a transvestite.) One of the greatest gifts that they gave me was an appreciation for the fine arts-for poetry, classical music and the like. I was three years old when I came to the carnival and FL and BL loved reading to me. By the time I was four, I could read by myself. Later in my life, my IQ would be estimated to be around the same as Albert Einstein’s, about 160+.

2. Drawn By The Sea
Have you ever wondered ‘what am I doing here in the dust and dirt when I’m drawn by the sea’? ‘Why am I living this fish-out-of-water life? I have. I did. I still do.

The years passed. I grew; so, did my cage. My new parents, Olga the Fat Lady and Mortimer (Morticia) the Bearded Lady, had instilled in me a great love of reading and a passion for knowledge. I wanted to be scientist or doctor when I grew up, perhaps a medical researcher.

But whom was I kidding? I was the Beast Boy from Borneo, the Missing Link-the guy with the Neanderthal forehead. I lived in, travelled with, and worked for a carnival in dustbowl, capital D Depression era, USA.

I knew in my fourteen year old heart that science was the sea that called me. But I also knew in my mind that it was a sea that I would never swim in, at least not professionally.

Speaking of the sea, my dad, Mortimer, was one drawn by the sea. Before he came to the carnival, he had been an officer in the US Navy. He loved the sea. He loved the Navy and being a sailor. But he had a problem. Gambling. He was a chronic, addicted, compulsive gambler. What he lacked in skill he made up for with good luck and what he gained with good luck he lost when the more frequent bouts of bad luck came around.

I swear, whoever wrote the lyrics to the Sinatra song “That’s Life” must have met Morty. Except, Morty was always more in the ‘shot down’ position than he was ever ‘riding high’ or ‘back up on top’.

But whenever he did win, it was usually big. And then it was lobster, truffles, champagne, and chocolates for him, mom, and me. But when he lost, it often meant having one meal of bread and water a day, or begging, borrowing, or going without food for a few days.

It was time to get ready for my matinee performance. As I changed into my ‘missing link’, ‘wild man’ leotards, I looked out at the flat lands that stretched out as far as my eyes could see. A Walt Whitman poem, ‘Or from that Sea of Time’ came to my mind:

“OR, from that Sea of Time,
Spray, blown by the wind—a double winrow-drift of weeds and shells;
(O little shells, so curious-convolute! so limpid-cold and voiceless!
Yet will you not, to the tympans of temples held,
Murmurs and echoes still bring up—Eternity’s music, faint and far,
Wafted inland, sent from Atlantica’s rim—strains for the Soul of the Prairies,
Whisper’d reverberations—chords for the ear of the West, joyously sounding
Your tidings old, yet ever new and untranslatable;)
Infinitessimals out of my life, and many a life,
(For not my life and years alone I give—all, all I give;)
These thoughts and Songs—waifs from the deep—here, cast high and dry,
Wash’d on America’s shores.

Currents of starting a Continent new,
Overtures sent to the solid out of the liquid,
Fusion of ocean and land—tender and pensive waves,
(Not safe and peaceful only—waves rous’d and ominous too.
Out of the depths, the storm’s abysms—Who knows whence? Death’s waves,
Raging over the vast, with many a broken spar and tatter’d sail.)”

The crowd of townies that had gathered to see me gasped when they saw me in my cage. They cheered and they jeered. I really played it up for those local yokels, I snarled and growled; I hissed and I spat. A little blonde girl with a snub nose and cold eyes threw an apple at my head. It hurt. The crowd laughed. I picked up the apple and ate it in the most beastly, animalistic way that I could. I slobbered and drooled all over that piece of fruit.

3. Painting A Full Moon
Back in our caravan, after my show, Olga put an ice-pack on the lump that had formed on my forehead.

“Throwing an apple! That girl needs a taste of the hickory switch”.

I agreed with Olga but said nothing. I marveled at her touch. For a very fat woman, carnival side-show freak fat, she had a deft and gentle touch; gentle, yet strong and soothing-very motherly. I closed my eyes.

The sound of Harold the Talker’s bellowing spiel came through the open windows of the caravan.

I thanked Olga for attending to my injury, kissed her on the cheek, and then went to my bunk and lay down.

Although, it was ‘Adults Only’, I had seen the Dagma the she-wolf show a few times; so, I knew what would be waiting for the crowd that Harold had gathered. They would be led into a large tent. At the front of the tent would be a cage; in that cage would be a young woman in her early twenties who wore a white summer dress. Standing next to the cage would be a man with a rifle.
Inside the tent, Bernard the Lecturer took over from Harold the Talker.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I know that it’s upsetting to see a beautiful woman in a cage. But it’s for your protection and hers-because when she turns, and she will turn, she turns into a hell beast. Yes, folks, soon the sun shall set and the full moon will rise and once more Dagma shall snarl and howl. Be aware, she bites!”

The crowd would stare transfixed at the front of the tent. Their collective gaze regarded the woman in white in the cage. For a brief moment, just a blink of an eye, the lights went out. Then. There was a howl. And when the lights came back up on a snarling wolf-woman, in a white summer dress, stood and snarled at the crowd. The crowd gasped.

It was all horse hockey B.S. ‘Dagmar the she-wolf’ was really Donna Lake from Baltimore. She was a fraternal twin. Her sister Lucy Lake was the ‘normal’, ‘non freak’ twin. She played Dagma before the ‘transformation’ (the switcheroo). And, after the lights came back on, Donna, the twin born with hair all over her face and pointy ears, she played the part of the wolf-woman.
During every show, Donna-as Dagmar-would rip her dress, exposing her amble, non hairy, bosoms. The Carnival had to pay the local authorities a payment to allow Donna to do this without being arrested for public nudity and the Carnival fined for promoting lewd behavior. There was nothing wrong with Donna’s body and she really played up the she-wolf’s animal sensuality in her “Adults Only” ‘‘Too ‘scary’ for children”’ show.

Ahhh, the full moon. It brings out the true freak in all of us.

Back in my bunk, I had fallen asleep. I dreamt that Olga was painting a full moon. Mortimer and I were making a ladder to the moon. And Donna and Lucy picked flowers under the moon light.

4. Somebody In The City Loves Me
Music awoke me. The Blues. The Mississippi Delta Blues being played in the key of ‘gee that sure is sad’ by some of the carnival folk. They were playing for their own amusement and for any
appreciative listeners.

John ‘The Human Skeleton’ Hope played the slide guitar;
Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Stead, The Tattooed Lady strummed the mandolin;
Roger ‘The Dog-Faced Contortionist’ fiddled along on his violin;
Herman ‘Swannie’ Swann, The Pinhead, plucked the box bass;
Mr. Mephisto, the Clairvoyant, played the drums;
Simon-Simone the Half-Man/Half Woman sang.

The group was playing a song that Simon-Simone had written called, ‘Somebody In The City Loves Me’.

"Somebody in the city loves me
But I’m stuck here in this dust bowl,
A million miles way from my baby
And I ain’t got nothing at all.
Yeah, there’s somebody in the city
Who loves me for me
And I upped and left her;
Now I live in misery.
Somebody in the city….”

The performance was interrupted. Big Tony Blight, the carnival’s owner, had terrible news. Fred Longfellow the Sword Swallower had been tar-and-feathered and had died because of a resultant infection. We carnival folk were grief-struck. Fred was a good egg.

But the show must go on

5. As Yellow As Joy

Content Warning.

But not everybody thought that Freddie Longfellow as a good egg. He wouldn’t have been tar-and-feathered if that were the case. No. Freddie Longfellow was a good man in many and most ways, but he had trouble keeping his long fellow in his trousers. He was very well-endowed (“Longfellow by name and long fellow by nature” was the saying about him around the carnival.) this coupled with his charm saw him bed many a woman during his travels across the country.

Until the afternoon of the tar-and-feathering, he had managed to escape the attention of jealous boyfriends and husbands. The worst that had happened up until then is that one night; he had escaped from a lover’s bed because her husband had come home early. Freddy climbed out of the bedroom window, onto a tree branch. The branch broke and Freddy fell and broke his arm. But he managed to escape as, upstairs; his lover was making love with her husband who was unaware as to what was happening on the ground or, better still-for Freddy-what had been happening.

Freddie was caught one more time after that –and it was the last time. Technically, it was his last lover who was caught- by her husband. He had come came home drunk to find his wife, on her knees, swallowing Freddie’s sword.

The husband gave his adulterous wife an unadulterated beating. He went bezerk. He pummeled her body and face: blood and teeth went flying everywhere. Freddie stepped up to stop this monstrous display of violence. But with one punch, the husband, who was a grizzly bear of a man, knocked Freddie out. He then took out his short fellow and urinated all over Freddie’s face. As he was doing this, his wife tried to escape. She nearly made it. She was just about out the front door when her husband pulled her back into the house by her hair.

Later when Freddie came to, there was a crowd of local men around him. These men cheered and whooped and hollered and laughed; they made an all mighty ruckus. The noise they made almost drowned out Freddie’s blood curdling screams as boiling tar was poured over his naked body. Almost.

The pain was so intense and prolonged that Freddie left his body; he found his astral body flying-floating over a field of yellow daffodils ‘there as yellow as joy’ he thought. And then BANG! He was back in his body and he was crying. But he didn’t cry because of the torture of the tarring –like the men thought. No. at least not only because of that. He also wept for another reason.

I accompanied Donna and Lucy Lake to Freddie's funeral. All the carnival folk were there. It was a sad day.

6. What Is The World Seeking?
Moonshine, memories and emotions flowed throughout Freddie’s wake.

Mr. Mephisto the Clairvoyant began to wax philosophical.

”What is the world seeking?” he drunkenly asked everybody and nobody in particular.

“What is this world seeking-he continued on-when it allows a fine chap such as the likes of Freddie Longfellow to die in such an abominable and mendacious a manner, I think it was Schopenhauer who said ...”

All of the sudden, Johnny Bull the Strong Man leaped up and grabbed Mr. Mephisto by the throat. For some reason, unknown to me, there had been bad blood brewing between those two for a while.

“I’m sick of you, Mephisto you and your thinking your better than us with all your fancy book learning” he snarled.

“I assure you, my good man, your accusations are both perfunctory and prosperous. I certainly do not think that I better than anyone body else”

This was a lie. A lie that Mr. Mephisto himself believed. He truly was a snob who thought himself superior. But he was nothing but a phony, a scamster, a grifter in self denial of his true nature.
“What this world is seeking is the end of nonsense” said Olga to diffuse the tension.
“No, Olga, sometimes nonsense is good for the world”. said Mortimer.

The adults drank and everybody told stories about Freddie.

The next day, I was back in my cage with the crowds gawking at me. I wondered what the world was seeking, as Mr. Mephisto had put it. I didn’t know what THE world wanted but MY world, the carnival world, the freak world, needed a new sword swallower, and wanted an end to the depression, and the dustbowls, and a new town to perform in.

In the world across the water, a man named Hitler had once again violated the Treaty of Versailles.

7. Because Of You
Time passed, a few months in fact, and one balmy spring morning when the carnival was in Philadelphia –a city that had been hit particularity hard by the Great Depression; there was a lot of hardship, hard luck, heartbreak and misery there-Morty, Olga, and I were in our trailer. I had been reading William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! but was interrupted by one of Morty and Olga’s arguments.

Morty and Olga were one of those couples who loved to argue. And by ‘argue’ I don’t mean that they put forth reasoned propositions in defense of a stated hypothesis. No, by ‘argue’ I mean a raised voice, insult flying, crockery hurling row. If you didn’t know them and you witnessed one their arguments, you’d believe that they were on the brink of divorcing or murdering one another.

But they had been friends since they were little kids; they became lovers during their teens, got married in their early twenties and remained married lovers in love for the next sixty three and three-quarter years. Their arguments became less physical and more subdued as they aged, but they never did stop arguing. This is where I differed from them. I love reasoned debate, philosophical discussion, and scholarly discourse. But I’m not keen on quarrelling, bickering, and the like.

A lot of the time, Olga and Morty’s arguments were about Morty's gambling.
“Look at the fine mess where in because of you and your damned gambling. Are you a moron, a fool, an idgit? Don’t you know that there’s a depression on? How are we supposed to…?”
“Shut your mouth, woman, I didn’t hear you complaining, last time when I come in with the winning, you just downed that expensive wine I bought, like a cat that hadn’t had a drink for nine lives. And….”

And then the argument would be on for young and old.

8. Candle In The Mist

The Carnival travelled through Pennsylvania to New York State. In New York City, Morty won big at a game of pinochle. On one of our days off he treated me to a movie, the latest Judy Garland movie, ‘Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry’. Olga couldn’t come with us because of her weight; she gets out of breath real fast when she walks.

The 1930s was a time when guys wore hats and wearing a hat helped disguise my Neanderthal-like features which meant I could walk around the city without being noticed.

The movie was keen. I really enjoyed watching it. When it was over, Morty suggested that we go get some ice-cream cones. As we walked to the ice-cream parlor, Morty and I shot the breeze for a while and then fell into a comfortable silence.

I had the biggest crush on Judy Garland and I began to daydream about her as I walked. She and I were at a swank Hollywood party, I was resplendent in my tuxedo and she beyond elegant in a ball gown and long black velvet gloves. We danced a waltz. Pretty soon, the flames of my romantic imaginings had become conflagration. I took off my hat and let the wind blow through my hair and I felt wonderful.

And then I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window. And the conflagration turned into the feeble flame of a candle in the mist of my mind, then this fragile flame went out entirely and reality punched me in the face. I’m ugly. I had as much chance of flying to the moon as I did of dancing with Judy Garland (or any girl for that matter). My eyes began to well up but in the 30s it wasn’t only thoroughbreds that didn’t cry.

Morty put his right hand on my left shoulder.

“Looks like your eyes are sweating, kid” he said.

When I was a little boy, if anyone asked if I was crying I would say:
“I’m NOT crying my eyes are sweating!”

Morty was letting me know that he knew that I was upset but he wasn’t going to break my balls about it.

“Oh yeah, guess who was at the pinochle game the other night” he asked.



I guessed three times.

“Leonard Marx”


“You might know him as ‘Chico’

“Chico Marx! Wow! Is he as funny in real life as he is in the movies?”


When Morty and I arrived back at the carnival, Big Tony and Olga were waiting at our trailer. Big Tony had a telegram in his hand. He gave it to me. I read it. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My mother, my biological mother who had given me to the carnival 12 years ago wanted to see me.

9. Everybody Loves A Winner

Night was falling; I was tired from my day out with Morty. I couldn’t think straight. I told Big Tony, Morty, and Olga that I needed to sleep. I climbed into my bunk. I closed my eyes but, for some reason, I didn’t fall asleep straight away and I heard the three talking outside.

“I truly hope he decides not to see her” said Olga.
“That’s he’s decision” said Morty.
“I know, I know but she’s evil. She was all nice, pleasant, and charming when things were going her way but when they weren’t…”
“People change” said Morty.
“I did some checking with some connections I got and it doesn’t look like she’s changed, if anything, she’s gotten worse: she’s been in jail a few times for whoring, bootlegging, grifting, and the like.” Said Big Tony.

Big Tony must have read the telegram before he gave it to me. But back then when you were 15 years old you had no rights. Many years later, decades actually, my son read my 14 year old granddaughter’s diary because he was worried about the crowd she was hanging around with. She was very angry and let me know in no uncertain terms that he had invaded her privacy and she gave him the cold shoulder for a fortnight. The thought of reacting in such a way with Big Tony didn’t even enter my mind. He probably would have given me a backhander and if I complained to Morty about it, he would have given me the belt. And they were decent folk- that was just the way things were done back then.

“I can still remember her stare. It was like a reptile, a snake, a rattlesnake. Cold. No emotion. Calculating and soul-devouring. I’ll never forget it as long as I live, that’s why we decided to take him, to get him away from that woman” said Olga.
“I know”. said Morty and Big Tony in unintended unison.

I can’t remember falling asleep but I must have because I was awakened by the sunlight and the sounds of the carnival: the banging, the clanging, the whipperwhooperwhirrling, the merry-go-round, the Ferris wheel, the crowds, children, adults, the elderly, the beautiful, the ugly, the saints, the sinners, the infrequent DING of the test-your-strength machine. The roar of the lions, the trumpeting of the Lucy the elephant. Squeals of delight. Screams of fright Gasps of shock and horror. The moans and groans of the ghost train. The moans and groans of lovers. Weeping, laughter, birdcalls.

“Step right up!” “Step right up!”
“Hurry, hurry! hurrry! Knock down the tins and win a kewpie doll for your cutie!”
“C’mon, c’mon try your luck, test your skill. Be a winner. Everybody loves a winner!”

And the laughing clowns, their mouth ever opened, turned their mechanical heads ever so slowly to the right and then to the left.

10. Sky Full Of Butterflies.

Sometimes life is a sky full of butterflies and then there are times when those butterflies fly into your stomach and optimism becomes pessimism, joy becomes dread.

The thought of seeing my biological mother filled me with great apprehension. I was ‘packing shit’ about it, as my Aussie friends like to say. But it was something that I felt I had to do. I had a lot of questions that I wanted answered.

I sent her a telegram telling her that the carnival would be coming around her way in about 12 days time and that I would see her then.

That evening, in my cage, I really put on a show for the crowd. I was a WILD beast and they loved it. I felt the butterflies leaving my stomach and they began to fill the sky once more. Everything was fine. No, better, everything was great. And then the sound of three gunshots rang across the darkening sky.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

And the butterflies became ravens.

11. Ghosts in the Machine

A crowd had gathered to see the nightly, “Dagmar the wolf-woman show. At the point when Donna Lake was to switch places with her sister Lucy…

Bang! Bang! Bang! The three shots that had turned the butterflies into ravens.

Bessie the elephant trumpeted. The lions and tigers roared. There were screams. And in amongst all the ensuing commotion - two townies, two brothers, Earl and Jeremiah Magilacuddy spoke to each other in desperate tones.

“You shot the wrong man, Earl, you shot the wrong man!”
“What are you talking about? That’s the guy. Tall feller, long hair”
“Yeah but our guy doesn’t have a missing ring finger on his left hand. Billy would have mentioned that.”
“Oh fuck, Jeremiah oh shit. What have I done?

They had come to kill the rock spider that had molested Earl’s eight year old son, Billy. Instead, Earl had shot Stan “The Man” Lake - Donna and Lucy’s father.

Everybody at the carnival took the news of Stan’s death hard, real hard. Especially Lucy, You could tell by her pinhole pupils that she had been hitting the opium pipe. She had picked up the habit when she, Donna, and Stan had worked at Dr Lao’s Circus, not that Dr Lao had anything to do with it.

But there weren’t enough opiates in the world to dull the pain of her father’s passing, her papa, her agent, manager, confidant, and her friend. Her mother had died during child birth.
Her sister had not taken any drugs.

“I want God to show his face so I can spit his eye” said Donna.
“How can it be that a good man like my father can be shot down like a dog but his killer gets to live another day?” she continued on.

The pervert, who had molested Billy, got his comeuppance. The law caught up with him and sentenced him to death by hanging. But that wasn’t good enough for the mob that had gathered. They sprang him from jail. They hung him from a tree until he was unconscious. They revived him and then they tied him to the back of a car and dragged him for a mile or so –then they tied his each of his arms and leg to horses, four horses in total and the horses pulled him apart. Finally, he was fed to Earl and Jeremiah’s hogs.

A year later, almost to the day, Jeremiah died of a heart attack and Earl found God and confessed to killing Stan Lake; he was sentenced to life in prison. He wrote to Donna and Lucy and they forgave him. After fifteen years, he was paroled and spent the rest of his life as a minister.

I came to the carnival when I was three years old. Donna and Lucy were like my sisters; Stan, like an uncle. I cried when I heard that he was dead and again at his funeral. Vale, Stan Lake, gone to become one with the spirits and ghosts in the machine that is our carnival.

The carnival continued on to the next town. A town that was closer to where my biological mother lived. The ravens had turned back into butterflies and they were flying up a fury in my stomach

Yes, soon I would see my biological mother Angelina O’Connor nee Verglas, a woman who had sold me to the carnival when I was three years old and whom I barely remembered. A woman who many said had a heart that was as icy cold as her maiden name.

But now it was Christmas day and there’s no Christmas celebration like a carnival one. We were a multicultural troupe and not everyone was a Christian but everybody got into the spirit of the yuletide; especially, which I always found sort of amusing, the atheists. They didn’t believe in God but they seemed to love Christmas the most.

It was all about food, food, food, fun, music, dancing, food, singing, dancing, laughter, food, and reflection. Toasts were raised for Fred Longfellow and Stan Lake.

Did I mention the food? Christmas lunch consisted of traditional North American fare and dishes from the homelands of the carnival workers who were migrants or first generation Americans. It was the time of the Great Depression but there was an overabundance of food. The women folk of the Carnival were culinary miracle workers. Back in the 30s, cooking was woman’s work and they did it well, no, they did superbly…some better than others. Donna Lake, for instance, couldn’t cook to save her life. My ‘adopted’ mum, Olga could have been a professional chef. Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Stead, The Tattooed Lady was a dab hand at making sweets.

One thing that made all this food smell and taste much better was that Big Tony allowed, encouraged, the local poor –be they single down-and-out hobos and tramps or families out of luck- to come eat with us carnival folk.

One local woman hadn’t eaten for 6 days and her sons, 8, 6, and 5 had only eaten stale bread during that time. She was a proud woman who didn’t want charity; so she and her boys paid us by singing us a beautiful Polish Christmas carol called "Przybiezeli do Betlejem” ("To the Town of Bethlehem")

I watched the three boys sing with their mother and I thought of my mothers. The one I considered to be my mother, Olga the Fat Lady who had given the Complete Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes for Christmas and my birth Mother who I would be seeing soon.

13. Throw Away the Key

Three children, two girls and a boy, all about 11 years old - all dirty, grimy and snot-nosed, stopped at Olga the Fat Lady’s stall. She weighed 570 pounds. She had stayed with the carnival while Dusty and Mortimer had gone off a few days ago to see Dusty’s birth mother. Olga had a bad feeling about it all. She couldn’t help but think that something would go, or had already gone, horribly wrong.

“Golly! Look at that lady she’s as fat as a pig” said the boy.
“No she ain’t, she’s as fat as an elephant”! said girl 1.
“No, she’s as fat as a whale”, said girl 2
“Yeah, she’s a big fatty fat fat blubber whale”! said girl 1
“Blubber whale, blubber whale show us your big fat blubber tail” sing-songed the boy.

All three children danced about and chanted the boy’s childish ‘blubber whale’ insult and made grotesque faces.

“Can you imagine her poor husband and kids; if she sat on them she'd squash them’.
“Yeah, they’d be squished dead!”

“She ain’t got not husband or kids, who’d married big fat blubber whale like her, who’d love her? Who’d kiss her”?

“She’d probably eat them!”

The crowd laughed at the children’s antics. The only person didn’t laugh was a largish woman who had just arrived from visiting the bathroom. She was the children’s mother. She gave the boy a swift, hard kick to his coccyx and backhander to his right ear with her large hand. He started to cry. She grabbed the girls by their ears.

“Children apologize to this lady at once! If I ever find you behaving in such an impertinent manner again, I’ll put you all in box and throw away the key! And for god’s sake, wipe your noses”!

The children tearfully apologized and Olga accepted their apology. She knew without doubt that her husband and son loved her, so the children’s words hadn’t hurt her, besides she was a professional.

That evening, Big Tony came with a telegram from Mortimer:

“Dusty’s mother dead. Murdered. Back in 2 days” .

It began to snow.

14. From My Window
John Shaw was the lead detective on the Angelina O’Connor murder case. During his investigations, he came across her diary. He opened it and began to read it.

January 20, 1925.

Today, I looked from my window and saw the widow Beasley coming towards my house. Olive Beasley, She is a good, honest, decent, hardworking, god-fearing, salt-of-the-earth type. I despise her and envy her calm manner and goodness, her ability to feel feelings and emotions that I can’t. For the past few weeks I have waged a subtle campaign to send her insane and ruin her reputation. When I’m finished with her, men will avoid her and women will want to slap her. She will be run out of town or into an asylum or, even better, she’ll kill herself. Why I am doing this to her? Because I can’t abide her decency, because annihilating her might give me a moment’s pleasure-but mainly just because I can.

My Name is Angelina O’Connor and I live in Cimarron County, Oklahoma. I don’t feel sympathy, empathy, guilt, remorse, or regret. To be honest I don’t feel much at all. I am a liar and a manipulator. Inside of me there is an ice-cold black-hole of nothingness that is sometimes filled with envy, rage, and hate. I have no feelings nor emotions but I can act as though I have them, when the occasion calls for them; when it’s beneficial for me to show them –like the time when I put on the waterworks at my idiot husband’s funeral. And, recently, after I sold my son to a carnival, I came back and lied. I acted all distraught and hysterical said that my son had gone missing –that I feared that he had stolen by gypsies or taken by a pederast. The sheep in this county believed me.

I know, instinctively, what people want and need emotionally and I give it to them. I become their perfect friend or lover. But not too perfect, lest their “this-is-too-good- to be- true” alarm bells go off. No. I am very good at what I do, excellent in fact. I am a beautiful woman who’s charming and likeable. I select my prey, I seduce them into loving me and then I destroy them.

When the widow Beasley knocked on my front door, I opened it. I greeted her with a smile. I told her what a lovely surprise it was to see her. I complimented her on her dress and offered her a cup of coffee. As we drank our coffees and chatted, I looked at her fat pig face and wanted to gorge out her eyes with my teaspoon. I smiled at her and she smiled at me.

Senior Detective Shaw turned the page and kept on reading.

15. Empty Room
Sometimes, Senior Detective Shaw, John Shaw, had to go to an empty room in his mind when he was investigating certain cases. The Angelina O’Connor murder was such a case.

It, the murder, had been grisly, gruesome, and bizarre. Angelina had been found lying on her back on her living room floor. Her throat had been cut. Her left breast and heart had been removed (and both were missing.) Her eyes had been taken out of their sockets and placed on the palm of her right hand. A large swastika had been carved into her abdomen. Next to her body, there was a big cast-iron bucket which was filled with various animal blood and had a ram’s head in it. Shaw was glad that Dusty had not seen this ghastly spectacle.

Shaw went to that empty room in his mind whenever he wanted a different perspective. The room never stayed empty for long, eventually it would fill with hunches, visions, clues, and answers.

He drove back to the police station and went into his office. He sat on his armchair and injected himself with a 7 percent cocaine solution (just like the one his boyhood hero, Sherlock Holmes used) and then he utilized the meditative techniques –the ones that he had learned when was a Buddhist monk, living in a monastery in Tibet- in order to enter the empty room.

Once again the room in Shaw’s mind didn’t stay empty for long. This time, the blood bucket with the Ram’s head in it appeared. The ram opened its eyes. It smiled a toothy, sinister grin. And then it started laugh – a mocking, maniacal laugh, then it stopped laughing and began to cry, to sob, to weep, and wail. Then, finally, in a tenor’s voice that had a sheep-like timbre to it, it sang Vesti la Giubba, the aria from Ruggiero Leoncavallo's opera, Pagliacci:

Recitar! Mentre preso dal delirio
non so più quel che dico e quel che faccio!
Eppure... è d'uopo... sforzati!
Bah, seti tu forse un uom?
Tu sei Pagliaccio!

Vesti la giubba e la faccia infarina.
La gente paga e rider vuole qua.

E se Arelcchin t'invola Colombina
ridi, Pagliaccio e ognun applaudirà!
Tramuta in lazzi lo spasmo ed il pianto;
in una smorfia il singhiozzo e 'l dolor
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto,
ridi del duol che t'avvelena il cor!

Yes, hunches, visions, clues, and answers always came. But didn’t mean that Shaw always understood them and this was a time when he didn’t. But he knew that in time he would

16. Wild Is The Wind
January 1938
The Merrie Melodies cartoon short Daffy Duck and Egghead is released.

The March of Dimes is established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt .

Frances Moulton is named the first female president of a U.S. national bank.

The German War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg marries Eva Gruhn in Berlin; Hermann Göring is best man at the wedding.

Benny Goodman and his orchestra become the first jazz musicians to headline a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City .

King Farouk of Egypt marries Queen Farida Zulficar in Cairo .

Thornton Wilder 's play Our Town is performed for the first time anywhere in Princeton, New Jersey .

The Niagara Bridge at Niagara Falls, New York collapses due to an ice jam. *

Detective John Shaw investigates the murder of Angelina O’Connor (nee Verglas)

Mortimer “ ‘Mortie’ – The Bearded Lady” Fitzpatrick and Dusty “The Ape-Boy’” O’Connor return to Big Tony’s carnival.

John ‘The Human Skeleton’ Hope plays his the slide guitar and sings a song that he is working on
Wild is the wind that brings you a lover
And wild is the wind that takes her away.
Wild is the wind, brother, oh, wild is the wind.
It stirs up the dust and brings on the rain and rust

“Hey, Olga, what’s another word for brings?” John calls out.

17. Be Still
Winter turned in spring.

“Close your eyes”
“Why? What’s going on? What are you up to?”
“Be quiet, woman, be still, and close your eyes”

Olga closed her eyes. Today was her birthday. She knew that Morty had asked her to shut her eyes because he was going to surprise her with a present but she pretended not to know what was going on to tease and torment him in a fun and loving way.

It was the Depression and Morty was a gambler who had just lost big time. There was no money for presents. So Morty and I ‘borrowed’ some roses from a townie’s garden. He chased us for miles, shooting buckwheat pellets at us. It must have been a shock for him to see an ape-boy and a bearded transvestite stealing his roses. And I laughed when, as he was running, his floral dress flapping in the wind, Morty said,

“Man, the next time I go flower stealing, I’m not wearing a dress!”

Morty put the bunch of roses in Olga’s arms and she opened her eyes. A big smile covered her face and tears ran down her face. She was very happy. She was that type of woman. Loving and emotional. I remember once when I was about 8 years old I found a rock, just a plain old rock. I wrapped in some paper and gave it to Olga as a present. By her reaction, you would have thought that I had given her a diamond.

“C’mon, Ma, it’s just a rock!” I said as she covered me in a shower of hugs and kisses.

“It doesn’t matter; it’s a beautiful present from my wonderful boy, so kind, so thoughtful, I love it!”

And she, to this day, proudly displays it on a small table in our trailer.

As for this birthday, Olga’s 36th. Morty and I made party hats out of old newspapers. Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Stead, the Tattooed Lady came around with a cake she had baked. And soon all our carnival friends, our family had come around to wish Olga a happy birthday. There were too many people for our small trailer; so, a few long tables were set up and we all had a grand old time. It truly was swell.

18. The Hill
Senior Detective John Shaw often dreamt of the Hill. And, ever since he had been working on the Angelina O’Connor murder case, he had been dreaming about the Hill more and more.

In fact, it had become a recurring dream. The Hill was big, huge, more mountain than hill. In his dream, Shaw would be walking along a dirt road in the countryside. After a mile or two he would come to the Hill. It was a green grassy hill. At the foot of the Hill there was a square sign that said “The Hill”. An oblong sign read “Climb me” and another sign that was shaped like an arrow proclaimed “The Answer”.

Shaw would begin to climb the Hill. On the way up there were signs of all shapes and sizes. They had messages such as “Keep going”, “You can do it”, The Answer is at the top”. “You’re nearly there”.

But every time he almost got to the top, something would happen and he found himself back down at the bottom of the Hill. A gale force wind might blow him down. Sometimes he would trip on something or other and down he’d go. Other times, torrential rains would pour down and poor Shaw would slip and slide and come tumbling down, down, down.

In dream time, Shaw would spend years, decades climbing and re-climbing the Hill. He would begin as 37 year old man, clean shaven with a crew cut. His hair would grow longer and longer as would his beard, and both would change from brown to grey and from neat and tidy to wild and woolly, feral. His bones became brittle. His teeth fell out. He had to climb the Hill with aid of makeshift walking stick, made from a post of one of the signs. He never made it to the top but he couldn’t stop, He was compelled.

In dream time, he was hundreds of years old. Every muscle, bone, and fiber of being exploded with great pain. Every movement he made felt to him like he had been kicked in the groin, poked in the eyes with a jagged stick, punched in the stomach, and stabbed in the heart with a rusty knife.

He kept on going, kept on trying; he would nearly make it to the top. He could see the top, he could smell the top. He could almost touch the top. Almost. But, always, always, something happened: Bang! Wham! Whack! Back down at the bottom he’d be.

He would burst into tears and shake his feeble fists at the heavens above and shout:

“You bastards could at least give me a boulder”!*

And then he would laugh and laugh until he awoke from the dream.

19. Sweet Dreams


It was a bright sunny day when Senior Detective Shaw began re-reading the dark pages of Angelina O’Connor’s diary. This time he was reading it closely to see if he could get any clues as to who murdered her.

Shaw had met some ice-hearted broads in his time as a law enforcement officer, but this O’Connor dame was a real piece of work. As he read through the diary he couldn’t help but think that she deserved to be murdered. She had it coming. But the thing was did she deserve to die in the way she had been: not only murdered, but tortured and mutilated as well.

He put his personal thoughts and feelings aside and continued to read the diary as objectively as his professional training allowed.

March 15 1925
George Smith took me to a fancy restaurant in the city last night. George has been courting me for the past two months or so. He prefers demure, chaste, ladylike women; so, I have been that for him. And it has worked. He asked me to marry him. That’s great news. He’s a rich, gullible moron. I plan on taking everything he has.

As he was putting the engagement ring on my finger, he had big, goofy smile on his stupid face. I looked at the ring, at its big diamond and smiled. He began to speak, to declare his love for me. I smiled and pretended to listen.

A fantasy came to me. In the future, after I had swindled and robbed everything from George, I would arrange (on a significant day such as our wedding anniversary) for him to find me with two strangers, two men: one in front of me and one behind me, and me in the middle like a suckling pig on spit roast. I would take the front man’s manhood out of my mouth, as the other man continued to ram himself into my behind, and I would look into George’s shocked and hurt face and tell him that I had never loved him, that I could never love a weak, pantywaist of a man like him.

My fantasy must have ended at the same time as George’s declaration of love for me because we were both silent and smiling.

He drove me home in his automobile and walked me to my front door. I allowed him to kiss me on the lips. He put his hand on my left breast. I removed his hand.
“Not until we’re married, George”.

He apologized and I kissed him on his right cheek.

“Good night, darling, sweet dreams” he said, and then he turned and walked to his car.
I went into my house. I pulled George’s wallet out of my handbag. I had picked his pocket on our way home. I hated my father and I’m glad that he was killed in prison, the only good thing that man did for me was to teach me how to pick a pocket.

And I haven’t forgotten about the Widow Beasley, she’s got hers coming but good.

There was knock on Shaw’s office door. He put down the diary. After he had attended to his visitor, another detective. He began to think about George Smith, the name was familiar, and then he remembered that last year a local business man named George Smith had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Shaw suspected, highly, that O’Connor had something to do with it.

20. Take Me With You
The carnival arrived in Denver. The following morning, Morty, Olga, and I drank coffee together in our trailer. We usually ate breakfast. But, this particular morning, none of us had much of an appetite. We could see from out of the trailer’s windows that the grey of the sky matched the grayness in our hearts. The events of the past few months and the general hardship of the Depression had brought our morale, of all the carnival folk, to an all time low. And then we heard a strange voice.

“Take me with you”, the voice said over and over again. It sounded like a woman in distress, in emotional turmoil, hysterical. She had a Bostonian accent.

We three went out to investigate. And, up in a nearby black walnut tree, we saw her. She was a Hyacinthine Macaw. She was about three foot in length. And she was a burst of bright blue against the drabness of the day. She was primarily cobalt blue with daffodil yellow circling her eyes and on her face, running down both sides of her beak. She seemed to smile at us and then she continued

“Take me with you”

“I wonder where she learned to say that” asked Morty.

“I don’t know, maybe she was owned by an actress who …”

Olga was interrupted by the crowd that had gathered to see the parrot. Everybody wondered what she doing in Denver. And why did she speak in a Bostonian accent?

Olga extended her right index finger and whistled. The parrot flew down onto Olga’s finger. Olga had a way with animals. They trusted her.

“Hello, pretty girl, I think we’ll call you, Hyacinth”.

Hyacinth smiled and began to sing:

“You are my sunshine my only sunshine
you make me happy when skies are grey
you’ll never know dear how much I love you
so please don't take my sunshine away”

The crowd, which was made of carnies and townies, clapped and cheered.

For the next few days, Hyacinth flew around the carnival. She seemed to like Bessie the elephant the best. She would often land on Bessie’s head.

When it came time for us to pack up and move to our next destination, Hyacinth called out

“Take me with you"!

And we did.

21.Maybe Tomorrow. (I Had A Little Robin Part 21)

Every Sunday night at 7.30, we carnival folk, even Hyacinth the parrot, would gather around Big Tony’s trailer and listen to our favorite radio soap opera, Maybe Tomorrow.

Maybe Tomorrow was set in an unnamed US city, somewhere in the South, at the time of WWI. It told the ongoing saga of two families: the poor, hard-working Jones clan and the rich, powerful, Lovelock dynasty.

In the cliff hanger that ended the last episode, The Lovelock patriarch, Leopold Lucretius Lovelock III had been shot in the chest by his eldest son, Leopold Lucretius Lovelock IV. It had come to pass that the junior Lovelock discovered that the senior Lovelock was having an affair with his (the son’s) wife. After the shooting, the son left his father to die, and he fled the city. The father was found by his younger sons, Lance and Lawrence, and they were able to get the old man to a hospital.

All of the Lovelocks (except for Leopold Lucretius Lovelock IV) gathered around the patriarch’s bed. There was the patriarch’s wife, Laura, and the aforementioned sons, Lance and Lawrence, his eldest daughter Lucretia and her children: Ludwig and Leah. His youngest daughter, Lysander, was not at her father’s side because she had been kidnapped by pirates who had killed her husband, George, while they (Lysander and George) had been on a honeymoon cruise. His youngest son, Laramie wasn’t at his side either. He was MIA, somewhere in Europe, presumed taken as a prisoner by the Hun or dead.

The latest installment of Maybe Tomorrow started and we were once again drawn into the world of the two families with all their trials and tribulations, heartache and woe, skullduggery and shenanigans; glamour and decadence. We loved it.

Around 8:10, the show would break for a musical interlude. During this time we’d eat, drink, and chat –usually about the show. The convoluted plot points would be explained and argued over. And Big Tony would turn the radio’s dial to see what was playing on the other stations. He would then turn the back to Maybe Tomorrow once the interlude had finished. But on this particular night, October 30, 1938, he found another broadcast and we all agreed that the dial should be left where it was.

22.Beauty (I Had A Little Robin Part 22)
Reader, I’m going to tell you something that I rarely mention. I have psychic abilities. I seldom say anything about them because they mostly take the form of premonitions that are often silly, inconsequential and, more often than not, can be explained away as a matter of coincidence.

Some examples might be that I will dream what dresses Olga and Morty will be wearing the next dar. Or I could be doing something or other and the name of a new, unreleased

song by a famous singer will come to my mind and the next day, a song with that title, sung by that very singer will be playing on the radio. Also, many times, I will think of a person, and I will receive a letter or telegram from them or that person will happen to be in the town where the carnival is playing.

Last night, I dreamt of Freddie Longfellow, and today a woman arrived at the carnival to audition to be our new sword swallower. She’s also a fire eater.
Her name’s Olive Street and she is a beauty- a dead ringer for Louise Brooks.

To be continued

Friday, June 15, 2007

MY Live Journal

Monday, April 30, 2007


My NaPoWriMo 2007 Thread

Gort, Klaatu Barata Nikto.

Monday, January 29, 2007


My Little i

I spy with my little i
something beginning with 100
green bottles sitting on a wall. When
the last bottle falls,
the veggies shall lie with the lollies. Red
will feel as if it were brown. Blue
shall wish it were purple.
Knock, knock jokes will become
knock, knock conundrums. Death
shall ride a pale pogo stick,
as Space plays Frisbee with Time.
And my little i will find a decoder ring
in the Coco Pops of enlightenment.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]