Circus Boy, a short story by StevenHunley. Date added: 2010-02-27. Times viewed: 2327.
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- Intro: Man tries to murder girlfriends lover
When Kristina got her divorce and moved out she needed a place. She found it in Hillcrest. It was upstairs in back, with nine steps up, a landing with a left turn, and twelve more to the top. There the stairway ended, with her door on the right, the neighbors' on the left, who were Tim and his wife Chris. It was cozy, which was a nice way of saying it was small.
I'd stop by after work or school. Sometimes I'd sleep over. That was an accomplishment for me, and I felt rather risqué, not sleeping at home. She had a Murphy bed, a marvelous contraption that folded down from the wall. It creaked and cracked if you gave it much action, which we did whenever we could. Kristina smoked cigarettes, Marlboro Reds. After doing it she'd smoke one. We were young and eager, and she'd hardly finished, (with the cigarette) and placed the still-glowing butt in an ashtray ‘cause I wanted more. The second time the bed was moving so much, rocking and rolling as it were, that the ashtray with the still-glowing-butt fell from where it was balanced, turned over in mid air, the cherry falling on the small of my back. This increased my thrusts by a good number of foot-pounds of torque, driving her wild. I don't know why she referred to them as foot-pounds, I wasn't using my feet. Perhaps because her father was a mechanic.
I was calling her one afternoon to see if I could come over but no answer.
"That's funny, where could she be?"
So, impetuous youth that I was, I went over anyway. Big mistake.
I climbed up the nine, turned, climbed up the twelve, and knocked. She opened the door.
"This is Sean," she said with a flourish, "he works for the circus."
I knew Ringling Brothers was in town, but didn't expect the circus in our love-nest.
"Hi," he said, and we shook hands.
He was tall, taller than me. He was good-looking, and his jeans were skin-tight. He was tan and tattooed. In other words, he was definitely not me. He looked like the lead singer from Nickleback, a handsome guy if ever there was one. To top it off, and I mean top it off, there was on his shoulder a falcon. This circus idiot had a falcon on his shoulder! What could I say? He oozed charisma.
"Whadda you do for the circus?"
"I sell tickets."
It was more than tickets he was selling, I just knew it.
But I had to go to work. I didn't want to go, believe me, but reluctantly took my leave. When I left, Kristina didn't give me a good-bye kiss as usual. That wasn't a good sign. I worked until ten o'clock selling books in La Jolla. When I got off I gave her a call. No answer. That wasn't a good sign either.
So, impetuous youth I still was, I drove over.
I bounded up the stairs. I knocked, no answer. I ran down the stairs and out to the back to take a peek. The lights were on but low. Bad sign number three. I bounded up again. She answered this time.
"Whadda you want?" she said, not removing the chain.
I could see inside, though the door was only open a crack. I saw the low lights, I saw him, his shirt off, tats prominent, sitting on the Murphy bed. I saw no bird. Bad sign number four.
"I want in," I said lamely. That didn't do it.
"Not now," she said, and closed it in my face.
I was hurt, dejected, and rejected. I drove home.
Moms and Pops weren't home. That was good as I needed to smoke a joint and think. I rolled downstairs, rolled a joint, and put on some tunes. If there's anything that can change your emotional outlook it's smoking a joint and listening to music. So I did. Let me tell you about the room. My parents didn't use it so it was all mine. There were the paintings I'd done, (they sucked) and posters all around. There was the bookcase I made in high school, all filled up with the books I'd stolen at work. Now I was kicked back, letting the music create my mood. I looked up and saw the poster of Jimi. He was so damned cool.
"Look at Jimi," I said to myself, the joint half gone, "he's so damned cool."
But then the tune was over. I figured I needed another, so as homage to Jimi, I put on the original Jimi Hendrix Experience CD, and took a hit.
My eyes were drifting over the wall. There was the kukri I stole from Cost less Imports. It was a huge knife from India and used by the Gurkas. It was shiny and large, somewhere between a machete and a Bowie knife, an evil looking blade at best. I took another hit.
"Yeah," I thought while exhaling slowly, "It's a mean motor scooter."
But then something happened I didn't quite plan. My thoughts drifted back to him and her.
Just then, of all things, Hey Joe came on.
I had feelings for this song. It had been done a thousand times in a million ways by others. Only Jimi had the sense to slow it down, to give it drama. He gave you time to think, time to let the words sink in.
"Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?"
I looked at the shiny thing on the wall.
"Hey Joe, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?"
I took the kukri off the wall, feeling its weight in my hand. Right then, it felt good.
"I'm going to shoot my old lady, she's been messin' round with another man."
I knew, as the joint was smoked far down now, exactly what I had to do.
I turned off the stereo, hopped in the car, drove across town, the kukri in my lap. I was ready to go. I knew real and ready equaled ready and real.
I'm up the stairs again. I know I have to go through with this fast, before the mood is lost, before my nerve is lost, before the weed wears off.
"They'll blame it all on the marijuana," I told myself, "the plant whose roots grow in Hell."
I'm up on the landing in seconds, then to the top. I knock on the door. She opens it up.
Here's what happens in a nutshell.
I break through the one sixteenth-inch chain holding the door like a real man. That's pretty impressive. I flash the blade of the kukri. Circus Boy sees it real good, as his eyes turn the size of saucers. Pretty impressive too. Then everything gets a bit foggy, and the rest is only an impression, but here it is:
He hits me up the side of the head. I lose possession of the knife. Then somehow I'm out the door. Then I'm down the stairs, starting with my butt hitting stair number twelve, then my shoulder hitting stairs numbered ten and nine, my right hip careening down stairs numbered seven and six, then plummeted my worthless ass to stairs numbered four, three, and two, eventually landing it on the landing, where else? The stairs not numbered are not numbered because they weren't contacted by my body, it being in the air at the time. So I come to rest on the landing, a crumpled, forlorn, and defeated man. Not so impressive. Then I limp down the remaining nine steps. I think that's how it was.
A day later I'm nursing my bruises realizing I'm out one hell of an exotic knife. I figure it's all over between us. I'll never see her again. But as usual, I'm wrong.
A week later she's taking my calls. A week later we go out. The week after that we're rockin' and rollin with Murphy, and the performance was so good we did a few encores minus the ashtray. I never talked to her about it, never asked her why she took me back. Maybe I didn't want to know. But someone else did.
Chris, Tim's wife asked her one day,
"Tina," she said, "Why did you take him back?"
"Because he's so sweet and because he's still here."
They were having coffee and cigarettes, and she was tapping the ash from her precious Marlboro with the tip of her forefinger, flicking it into the ashtray.
"Besides," she said thoughtfully, "the circus left town."
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