The Circus Murders


“I’m not going to the circus this year, Dad.” And Fructose meant it.

Dad took the hookah from his mouth and sat straight up. “What?!?”

“I’m not going to the circus this year. I don’t ever want to go to the circus again!” Fructose threw his car keys down on the sofa, where they bounced and landed on the living room carpet.

Dad looked heartbroken. “No circus? Why the hell not?”

“Do you remember what happened last year? Mom got eaten by a lion! And the year before that? Uncle Ray was crushed by that elephant! Do you remember the year the bear got loose, cracked your vertebrae in half and put you in that wheelchair?!?”

Dad looked down, almost surprised, almost as if he’d forgotten he was paralyzed. “Was that how this happened?”

“Do you remember when the clown went nuts and started shooting into the crowd and killed my fiancé?”

“That clown saved you from a bad marriage...”

“Do you remember when the tent collapsed and put Tommy in a coma? Do you remember when Aunt Christie choked to death on a candy apple and the bearded lady just stood there laughing? I’m starting to get a phobia about the circus, Dad... I just don’t want to go anymore.”

“Welp, that’s your choice,” he said, taking a long drag on his waterpipe, “but if you don’t go you’ll miss the puppets and the horses, the dancing bears and the clowns... you’ll miss the trapeze artists and the tightrope walkers. You’ll miss the whole show!”

Neither of them spoke as the apple smoked slow in the hookah bowl.

Dad added with a wink, “And you’ll miss the cotton candy.”

Fructose sighed, agitated. “And what happens if you don’t survive?”

Dad smiled back. “Next year you go without me.”

Fructose stared into the smoke, hypnotized. A smile unfolded on his face and he bent to get his keys. "Let's go to the goddamn circus."


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