Gaspard lay on the ground, letting the pain and shame pulse through him. Outside the tent, shouting, uncertainty. People ran this way and that. The noise beat in time with his body.
The wind was picking up. It wasn’t a constant blowing, but sudden gusts that shoved one aside or threw the dry soil about. Gaspard shielded his eyes. Already his ears and the bottom of his pockets carried a fine layer of dirt.
In a world of vagabonds, loners, and freaks, Ringmaster Folley was followed for a reason. America’s interest in freak shows and carnivals had gradually decreased
Francine dragged her bags into the door of Daniel’s trailer. One on each shoulder, she got stuck in the jamb, struggled.
Two cows stood together in a makeshift corral. Both were underweight and unmolested by flies, as if the flies knew it wasn’t worth their effort.
“Austin,” Hank said. “Rural enough to pull in the yokels, urban enough to have a large population. This is your city.”
Emma stood on the platform, stark white leotard studded with sequins that reflected beams of light to all angles, starry pinpricks that lit the dark tent above and the crowd below.
Gaspard pushed through the crowd. Le Petit was at the mouth of the tent, keeping the cast and crew at bay, though several made attempts to peer in when the wind blew the corner of the tent flap open.
Gaspard balanced the knife on his finger, at the handle just before it met the blade.
Three towns in less than two weeks. Francine had only been with the carnival for a short while, but this seemed unusual, even to her. They usually stayed most of a week, setting up Wednesday or Thursday for a weekend stay.
The coat was new. New to Gaspard anyway. Clean lines that hung well on him. Sharp lapels. Brown. The same brown as the dirt, the sky, and the last twenty towns they passed through. Absolutely uncomfortable—at least his balls fit in the pockets.