Even the elephants

Henry took Wallace to the circus one afternoon to watch the trapeze artists. He told Wallace that they were the closest thing to a god he had ever believed in. The two sat near the front, right up where it reeked like elephant shit. Henry bought a box of cracker jacks and shook out the surprise super-mood ring. It turned fuchsia, which decoded meant wild, which Henry wasn’t sure he was. He tapped it on his knees a few times before putting it in his pocket. The clowns entered in a car, spraying each other with water pistols and turning cartwheels on each other. The audience laughed and cheered, and as they quieted down, Henry turned towards Wallace.

“Wallace, do you ever worry that you’ll never get married?”


“My mother told me once she thought I’d never get married.”

“Are you worrying?”

“My mother’s sister, Auntie Bette, used to always come to visit on holidays. She was old and unmarried, but very elegant looking. Not your typical old maid. But when my father heard she wasn’t dating anyone, he immediately started going through a list of every single friend he knew to see if he could set them up. And Auntie Bette was great about it, always smiling and writing down numbers of men she would never call. But I… I would hate to walk into a room and immediately have people assume that something was lacking in my life.”

“People can be insensitive. I wouldn’t worry it until your forty. Then, you can worry. I think it’s natural, when you’ve made it big, to wonder. So long as you’re not worrying yet.”

“Yeah, I feel pretty silly getting all worked up about it, but why put off for tomorrow what you can make yourself crazy about today. Then it made me wonder if I’d wind up marrying somebody that I didn’t like all that much just because I was afraid of winding up alone. And I’m not quite sure which would be worse. But then again,” He paused to eat a handful of cracker jacks, “I suppose it is completely silly to worry about at this point.”

And maybe it was, but Henry was only eight years shy of forty. When was he supposed to start worrying? Everything was going faster, time was slipping though his fingers faster than peanuts. He stared at the trapeze artist, watching her flip gracefully in the air, spin, circle, curl, dive and miraculously grab the swing and the last possible second before plummeting. He felt a wave of pleasure wash over him.

“She’s so close, so close.” He stood up, tossing peanuts over the heads of children sitting in front of him.

“Hey!” hollered a little girl in a deep scarlet sweater.

Henry grabbed her by the shoulders, “There’s no net!” he yelled, smiling maniacally.

“Henry!” Wallace stood up, alarmed, and tried to push his friend back down into his seat.

The girl screamed.

“Don’t you understand? There’s no net– There’s no fucking net!” He was laughing frantically now, still grabbing the child and spitting caramelized popcorn in her face. He was causing a scene. The little girl began to sob violently, and Wallace tackled Henry. The clowns had to help hold him down while the lion tamer called for help. Children were in hysterics and parents were sticky from their tears and cotton candy. Everyone was shouting. The tall man was trying to maintain some amount of order, but even the elephants looked disturbed.


3 responses to “Even the elephants

  1. hey subway philosopher – where is this from? a book?

  2. Yes. If book means crap I wrote in 2004.

  3. Ah wow, impressive snippet, I’d be really interested to see where you’d have taken this. Yeah, just 299 more pages of exactly that, right?

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