Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Big Show

Photo credit Scott Flanagin

Late at night after a hectic week and non-
existent weekend, the black-blue tv light
flickers against my eyelids: an old-time silent
movie of what could have been

my life. Imagination stirred to an exotic
world where the scent of sawdust under
the red-striped canvas of the big tent is
full and real. I walk “backstage” and pass

bald strongmen lifting giant black weights
like balloons and bearded women in badly-
flowered housedresses. “Little people” armed
with loaded seltzer bottles for squirting un-

suspecting guests pack themselves into
a tiny electric-blue car and whiz through
everyone’s delight. Eyes squeezed
tight, the floodlights kaleidoscope around

me while I breathe in the smell of hay from elephants’
beds and shiver with each
tiger roar. The barker dodges the chaos
of clowns: Please welcome Sasha...

All turn to catch the sparkling path sequined
across my outfit. Ridiculous sleek black stilettos
carry me to my destiny. Fishnet stockings climb
my legs and the men’s eyes travel along for the ride.

The crowd gasps as I take my position against
the rough white board. Slender wrists slide
through old leather straps and my legs spread
slightly to reach the ankle ties. Victor

is fifteen feet away, his bright silver blades capture
the dazzle of electricity in the air. He strokes his
long mustache and gives a wink. I lick my lips
into a pout, and he throws

his first shot. The metal splits the atmosphere
with a whir, and I feel the whisper of the dagger
as it splinters pine near my ear. He knows every inch
of my body. I trust that, but the danger

is exhilarating. I close my eyes, drunk from
the smells, the sound of the crowd, the bulge
of music, the flash of lights. My eyes tighten
with each throw. Adrenalin flows, but I know

it is almost over. The world whirls me back,
my head safely at rest against the crook
of his bare shoulder. Now the only danger: his warm
snores brush my ear and mimic the rush of the knife.

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