What Some Animals Will Do | David Henson
For weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Fortune and their young son, Bobby, had been looking forward to the circus coming to town. True, it wasn't one of the big shows, but it was a real circus nonetheless with trapeze artists, clowns, and trained animals.
Mrs. Fortune purchased tickets online as soon as she saw the announcement in the local paper. She almost wished she hadn't told Bobby about it because he bugged his parents mercilessly. “How much longer? Tomorrow? Is it coming tomorrow?”
Finally, the day arrived, and the family drove to the fairgrounds at the edge of town. The big top was a little ragged, and Mr. Fortune thought the ringmaster seemed unsteady and slurred his words. But Bobby was thrilled, and that was the main thing.
Everyone cheered as the acts came out one-by-one — the Magical Car of Endless Clowns, The Death-Defying Francona Family, and more. Too soon it was time for the finale, Ellie The Tightrope-walking Elephant. Turned out the ringmaster was also the elephant trainer. After he introduced the act, he disappeared and returned a few minutes later wearing a big game hunter’s outfit and coaxing Ellie along with a cattle prod.
The elephant lumbered up a ramp and onto a thick rope strung a few feet off the ground. About halfway across, she teetered, and the ringmaster / trainer raised the prod slightly. Ellie immediately trumpeted and swung one leg out. Bobby gasped. Mrs. Fortune squeezed her son's hand and whispered “Part of the act.” Ellie then regained her balance and completed her trick to thunderous applause.
Later that evening at supper, Bobby said “I bet it comes in handy for an elephant to be able to do that in the jungle.”
Mr. and Mrs. Fortune could only smile at the cute remark.
David Henson and his wife have lived in Belgium and Hong Kong over the years and now reside in Peoria, Illinois. His work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net and has appeared in numerous print and online journals including Fictive Dream, Pithead Chapel, Moonpark Review, and Literally Stories.
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