Feb 24, 2011


The weather was starting to cool that day. They were working the last of the state fairs and local festivals before going south for warmer weather. Nicholas had some time to kill before he had to work, so he watched the crowds.

High school boys strutted around in their varsity jackets, intent on impressing their girlfriend or their buddies. They went on the carnival rides and knocked over rigged milk bottles to win prizes for their girlfriends. One arm around their girl, the other arm used for casually eating chili dogs and cotton candy. Seeming confident and care free, Nicholas wondered what it was like to be them.

He always stayed behind the walls and tents erected to separate the customers from the living quarters of the sideshow performers.  Watching families with children, he wondered what it would have been like to have parents. All he knew of his family was that they left him at the hospital. He was never taken home. If he had once been wanted, it was before his face saw the light of day.

As Nicholas watched young couples laugh and flirt with each other, he wondered what it would be like if people were not afraid to touch you, as if his appearance were a disease that he would contaminate them with.

“People watching?” said Grace.

Nicholas shrugged.

“Will you walk with me?” she said.

They walked aimlessly and in silence for a few minutes. Grace had begun coming over to Nicholas’s trailer almost every night. They would watch a monster movie and stayed on their own end of the couch. Then he would walk her home. Nicholas found that her presence was somehow comfortable and disconcerting at the same time.

Once they had reached the edge of the camp she said, “Will you take your mask off?”

“Why would I do that?” said Nicholas.

“How else am I supposed to kiss you?” she said.

Nicholas stopped walking. Grace turned to look at him. He seemed to be searching for what to say.

“I don’t think you would want to,” he said finally.

“I do want to,” she said, looking at him intently.

“No,” he said.

“What do you think is going to happen?” she said.

“Why is it so important to see what I look like?” said Nicholas.

“I want to know that there’s a chance,” she said.

“A chance for what?” he said.

There was always gossip and rumors among the sideshow, and among the carnies they traveled with. Many people speculated about why Grace would spend so much time with Nicholas, especially when he seemed so indifferent to her.

Most assumed that she was using him, but from there the stories varied as much as the tellers. Some speculated that she was crazy, or just looking for some novelty in her sex life.

“Would you rather I left you alone?” she said.

Nicholas took her hand in his.

“I don’t want you to go,” he said.

1 comment:

  1. (slowly chanting) Action, action, action...