Monday, July 10, 2017

First Word: Ellen Hawkins: Circus


To enter the circus you must first buy a ticket or agree to place a bet or in some way invest in the outcome. Confident that you know what you’re doing, you shove your hand in your pocket, retrieve a few coins and go into the tent. Here, the music rocks while jugglers juggle. Elephants slyly put on their makeup while waiting their turn to lead a parade. Sometime later, you lose at backgammon. You shrug, head for the bar, talk to a few strangers, meet the manager, tinker with the idea of going back to the hotel. But the exit is not where it used to be, and you’re not feeling all that well.
            You awake the next morning to the smell of blood sausage sizzling in a pan. One of the elephants, apparently a good friend of yours, is cooking up a storm in the kitchen. He pours fresh coffee and assures you that you only lost ‘some bitcoins’ at the roulette table and didn’t he and you meet once before in Singapore? You tell him—is it a him?—that you’ve changed your mind about the circus, that you’d rather skip that part of the game, fly back home to Sydney but it seems you’ve misplaced your airline ticket and the price of a new one is just  shy of a million what-nots.  Also, you owe somebody Park Place and must go directly to jail.
            It’s quiet when you surface. The place looks familiar but the rooms are empty. A ‘For Sale’ sign on your lawn is dripping with rain.  You’ve either bought the place or you’re selling it. Something jogs your memory, yes, of needing a current, legal document that will prove that the house belongs to you, or once did. A line of lawyers, briefcases in hand, approach the house. The doorbell rings. You cover your head with a pillow.

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