Passage
Jeffrey S. Callico


He got his shoes shined then went to the circus. It was his first circus. His parents had never taken him as a kid. He had shiny shoes now and was going to the circus. It had come to town, the circus had come to town and he was going.

The woman at the gate took his ticket. He was alone. There was no one with him. No one would have gone with him since he knew no one who liked the circus, at least not anyone close enough.

He entered the arena and took his seat. He watched the people come in and take their seats. Most of them were parents with children, some walking alongside, others on fathers’ shoulders, still others in the arms of mothers, barely old enough to understand the meaning of anything, much less a circus.

Once everyone was in, the place darkened. Twirling lights started up and a booming voice echoed in a permeating manner.

WELCOME, EVERYONE, TO THE BARNUM AND BAILEY CIRCUS!
AND NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER HESITATION,
YOUR RINGMASTER EXTRAORDINAIRE,
RICHARD JARNIGAN!

He loved the circus. It was more spectacular than the advertisement promised. He was pleased despite the high price of the ticket and the circus afforded him memories he kept with him until his death.

Ten years later, after he had died, a woman named Margaret married a man six years her junior, and thought he was the best thing since shredded cheese. The man she married happened to be the brother of the man who went to the circus then died with circus memories. When they arrived at the hotel just after the wedding reception, he told Margaret about his brother.

“He never got a chance as a kid to see the circus live,” he said as Margaret listened intently, although she didn’t expect to hear about her new husband’s dead brother’s love for the circus. “Frank finally got his wish.”

The next morning, Margaret and the man she married took off for Spain, and they never mentioned Frank again.

Two years later, Margaret died of an undetected brain tumor. The husband was more than devastated. He wept like a child at the funeral, and for the next six weeks sat in a recliner watching television. The only time he moved was for normal activities the body dictates.

In less than a year, he died as well. The autopsy showed that his heart inexplicably had stopped.

“Sometimes hearts do this,” the doctor said. But he was speaking to no one the man knew. It was only the nurse, who nodded and turned away, back to her reports, thinking of nothing but what she would do when she got home, and how she would spend her evening, yet another one, alone.


              “I only went to a circus once. The clowns weren’t that funny.”