The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. Poised on the platform,
smooth wood of the trapeze already in hand, Bat Segundo glanced down for a
moment at the circus ring. Puffs of sawdust followed the promenading poodles
like will of the wisp; in the centre the ringmaster staggered slightly as he
held high the amazing galleycat -the cat that could eat its own weight in
terrapins and still come back for more.
He forced his eyes back up, looking straight, painfully into the dazzling
lights, and breathed in deeply, palms slick on the trapeze. His bunion
ached, as it always did when he was nervous. Why had he looked down?
"Why did you look down?" his mother used to say. "It's always a mistake to
look down". In the brightly painted caravan that was their home his mother
did nothing but snark; only at night, as they performed in the circus ring
did she smile, bright lipstick smiles that gleamed under her outstretched
arm, not for him, but for the crowd that gathered to see the family show:
The Amazing Flying Batman, The Stunning Soaring Woman and (in small letters)
The Airborne Babe, Bat Segundo!
Bat Segundo gripped the trapeze more tightly, so blinded by the lights he no
longer saw them. He wasn't a babe any more, oh no. He was the show.
"Drop everything and give me ten...books," The Amazing Flying Batman would
shout to Bat Segundo at training time. Books one day, chickens the next;
once it was heffalumps and the worst day of all ten bags of sand from Egypt.
Bat Segundo would have to drop to the floor of the ring and do press ups,
counting with whatever his father chose while his mouth filled with sawdust
and his tongue dried so he could barely speak. "One book, two books, three
"Let's hear you loud and clear," his father would say. "Your mother wears
army boots lined with concrete and hangs from the trapeze for hours to
strengthen her arms, surely you can manage a few press ups. Not good enough,
do it again!"
Bat Segundo was a good boy; he always did what his father said.So when The
Amazing Flying Batman fell to earth, tumbling from high in the circus tent,
in front of the crowd and amid a terrible muddle of ropes and trapezes,
nobody thought it was Bat Segundo's fault that the Two Man Triple Flip
Somersault went so badly wrong that night.
Even when The Stunning Soaring Woman was found at the bottom of the tank
where the galleycat's terrapin were bred, with little flesh left on her
bones, but still wearing the concrete-lined boots that had prevented her
from climbing out, nobody thought of Bat Segundo.
Nobody thought of Bat Segundo. Until now. He breathed in deeply. Both hands
on the trapeze. Up on his toes. And launched himself into the future.
Wow, this is actually better than quite a few query letters I get!
Scoring to come