There was only one thing people in town could talk about for the week previous: “The circus is coming.”
It was whispered and wondered at when posters seemingly appeared on every wall, pole, and piece of miscellany you could find on the main road. If you knew to look, you could catch a man walking hear a noise and jerk his head to look behind him, as if a caravan full of exotic animals and striped tent cloth might take him unawares. It was just behind the eyes of the kids who went through their days blank faced, because what joy could an activity have, when you know what’s just days away. Oh yes, the circus was coming.
“I don’t truck with none of that stuff,” grumbled Henry as he set another fencepost in place. He wasn’t the sort to need to hear his own voice, mind you, but the neighbor girl, Wendy, couldn’t stop gabbing about it.
“I once saw an Eastern mystic who charmed a snake out of a basket using just his flute, or pipe, or something.”
“Don’t believe in it,” Henry said, eyes raised no more than he needed to insure he wouldn’t strike the young thing with his hammer.
“It’s true! The snake sort of stood straight up in the air, like he was hanging from a rope that you couldn’t see.”
“Probably a puppet or somesuch.” Henry ignored her attempts at miming the snake’s ascent.
“I don’t think so. Anyway, that man, he also laid on a bed of nails.”
“Nails, you say?” asked Henry as he pulled some out from between his lips.
“Oh, yes. He must’ve been magic to do something like that!”
“Or mighty tough,” Henry mused to no one in particular, while he rolled the nails between his fingertips.
“He’s tougher than you, I’ll bet! And they have men who’re stronger. And a lady who’s got a bigger beard than you, even. Bet you’d like to see that.” Henry did not respond, which could’ve been a good omen. “Well, I hope I’ll see you there!” she said waving, as she trotted back inside.
Yes, the circus was coming. But right now, Henry’s fence needed finishing.