Stories written after hearing Elvis Depressedly’s New Alhambra
thou shall not murder
The parking lot was gravel and thin silt and dirt. Strings of loose rope lights hung from long thin poles stuck into the ground. The yellow bulbs flickered and fluttered in the wind like bees in the dark. The gravel crushes beneath feet, as groups walk through the lot toward the Tholsul Brothers’ Circus. Standing by the gate a sign says, “Home of the Chickasaw County Flying Bear” in bold letters. Through the open gates hangs another message proclaiming, “Welcome, we are a gift to the Earth!” Kids run around cheering, laughing, screaming, and holding balloons with faces painted, in awe.
They arose from the worn beds and pulled open the tent flap into the cold, still air. In between morning shivers, yawns, breaking wind and rubbing eyes, each man makes his way to the various tarps strewn across the flat plains. Weeds sprout up variously through the dirt. The strung up lights sway in the morning and the sun is pink between the clouds. The tents are kept together like suburbs across the empty plain. Dirt and gravel whisk away in the wind. When the tents all stand, billowing, the workers disappear (and so does much of the food and alcohol).
May 3rd, 1954
“The sign’s colors freshly painted bold, and in steady hand script, bore the phrase ‘Chickasaw County Flying Bear.’ Inside, the candy-striped canvas leaked water from the previous night’s rain. Water plunked into buckets and the sound echoed through the tent between conversations. Popcorn was spread everywhere. It clung to the dirt underneath the grandstand seating and on top of the seats in squirrel-like piles. Crowds simply wiped off the seats. Then they waited. A cool wind swept through the large flap. There was an anxious silence.
From the side, music started and thickly filled the tent. He entered.”
The boy’s eyes sat just above the table, looking at the cards laying face down on the purple tapestry. The black backs of the cards shined under the hanging light, hiding the sheened, inlayed design. Her finger and thumb tapped the end of the table. He looked past the cards up at her. Her hair hung in strands shook loose from the purple wrap around her head.
Her hands moved. The boy’s eyes widened, shook, and left and spoke to no one. He hung a black cloud over the park, simply flowed past everyone, trailing like the ends of a robe.
rock n’ roll
To the side of the big tent where the Chickasaw County Flying Bear Stage is being set up is a smaller tent. Inside, a number of seats are set up facing a sheer, lilac curtain. Adults fill in. Music starts. A flowing white robe slides through the curtain. Orange hair trails behind her as she spins in fast rhythm. She slips the robe down to her elbow, revealing a back and body covered in intricate tattoos, the colors soft and design natural, flowing with her body. After several spins, slowly, the music ends with her poised—one foot out and raised.
His boots trip on blades of glass. Each step flutters behind the last through the park. He is watched. Parents eye him as he sways past. He walks comically large in rhythm, as his speech slurs in un-understood phrases. His shirt clings to him, covered in mud, colored rust brown, and almost black at the creases. As unaware kids pass him, he jump-steps towards them and shouts—not a word, but a guttural cry. The face paint smeared around his eyes, white covering his cheeks fading, blurs their vision of what he is. He laughs and, falling upright, stumbles forward again.
His mouth bubbled before he surfaced. The noises dulled underneath and the lights poked through. He popped up into the shattering sounds of the circus. She who threw it still stood poised from the throw, smiling. He who fell pulled himself up and sat back up, dripping. He spit water from his mouth.
The next boy stepped up and readied himself for the throw. The man splashed back down and let the water wash over him. The sounds lulled. Through the tank, he looked at the boy. The light outlined him and his smile beamed through the dark water.
new heaven, new earth
The swinging yellow lights shined down onto carnival goers as they left. Moths collected by the glow, buzzing and humming. Workers reappeared to take down the show. The big tops flailed as they fell, deflating. Stacks of rope and pipes and fencing and boards began to appear and grow and grow.
The moths grew on the lights until the generators shut off and the poles were taken down. Silence fell over them, darkness too, besides the moon and the swing of the lights and whoosh of boots and sharpness of breath. When the work finished, the night vanished in the sun.
wastes of time
A face blue with paint, trailed through the remnants of the park: the deflated canvas. His gait of long, laboring, lurching steps kept him upright. He held his eyes closed, smudgy with black circling them. His breath strained as he approached the animal cages. Most slept peacefully. Others paced. Others watched him as he lay down and curled up next to the cages, his breaths slowed an he soon was asleep.
Sprout of grass wave in the night and the wind tries to carry them away. With the wind comes the flapping sound of the tarp. The sound offers him respite.