So I’ve had this idea for a book that I’ve wanted to write for maybe the past 6 years about a man who walks into a mental clinic, checks himself in, and is interviewed by a doctor. When asked what’s wrong with him, he begins to tell the doctor a story of a trip he took to the circus as a child. I finally started (if that’s any way to call this) writing it, and have come up with about a page long introduction to the story. So here it is, the beginning of a (hopefully) very long and good book.
The lights are dimmed. The last of the spectators are taking their seats. The smell of dust, popcorn, and cotton candy hangs heavy in the air. A quiet excitement starts filling the massive tent, coursing around like a growing electric current. Behind the curtains outside the tent the anxiety is palpable. The performers are getting ready for the show. They’ve done this a million times, but tonight, like every night, it feels brand new. Different city, same act. Make up is touched up, preparations are finished. It’s time.
Inside the tent the lights are completely cut out. Nothing is visible in the dark. Children stand on their seats trying to see if they can make anything out in the pitch black. A spotlight is turned on, pointing squarely at the center of the middle ring. The talking of the spectators slows to a quiet murmur, and then to nothing at all.
From behind one of the curtains struts out a man in a funny suit. His pants are purple and black stripes. His Tuxedo coat is brightly colored, and he is wearing a comically large rose on his left breast pocket. He carries around a brightly colored cane, as if to conduct a parade of Technicolor birds. He walks with a calm swagger, owning every moment, confident with every step. He wears a black silk top hat, tilted slightly to one side. He steps into the spotlight, and everyone holds their breath with excitement. He begins a slow turn on the spot, inspecting his audience, slowly building the anticipation, milking the moment for all it’s worth. There’s a sly grin on his face, as if he knows something no one in the world does.
He stops on the spot, and loudly bangs his cane on the hard dirt floor, once, twice, three times. He takes a deep breath, and opens his mouth to speak, finally:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls! Allow me the honor of being the very first to welcome you to this fantastic adventure. Prepare dear guests to meet surprise, shock, and awe at every turn, to see the mysteries of the world far and wide, and to embark on a journey of human possibility. Let us take you, dear friends, to the farthest reaches of imagination, to the places of wonder and joy, and let us, finally, entertain you, for it is what we most seek. So now, sit back, open your eyes, and enjoy the show!”
He stops. The silence is palpable once more. He bangs his cane once on the floor, and there is an explosion of lights and sounds. Performers, creatures known and unknown stream in from all sides, forming a bizarre and wondrous parade inside the tent. They converge around the center ring, surrounding the master of ceremony, and amidst this cacophony of lights, sights, and sounds, the circus begins…