Ringling and Pavlov's Cirque De Freaks

The ticket man smiled as he stamped my hand. His mouth said ‘have a nice time’. I smiled back and turned to the red and yellow striped tent flap opened by a floating, white-gloved hand.

The glove connected to a tall man in the shadows who stared above me at nothing. Looking ahead, I spied the ring, lit by 3 spotlights and took a breath of awe. People stood in clumps between the ring and I, so I wove around them to get closer.

I found a seat in the middle so I could see the ringmaster. The man stood in the center, but only held a tiny bell and waited. In my excitement, I hadn’t torn my eyes from the circus floor, but now I looked around, confused.

The people had stopped moving. I blinked, but they did not resume. They all had no expressions, not a smile, not an open mouth. Mannequins all, save me. The ringmaster’s eyes met mine; both sets full of astonishment and fear.

Lions, tigers and monkeys leaped from the ends of the tent as the ringmaster’s eyes became sorrowful. Neither of us could hear my scream.

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