Cancer Circus and Me
By Leonard William Zajicek
As I pulled into the lot, all faces, including the animals were upon me. I knew most of them, having met them when they played the midwest. Most of the performers were gone and only a few workers were kept over the winter to work. The owner and all inquired about my health as soon as I stepped from my truck. With cowboy hat and boots decorated with cow shit, I saw my son and as we walked toward each other, I felt the warmth between us grow. The words of "Father" came from his lips and we shook hands as always. Jim always calls me "Father", Dave calls me "Dad" and Dan, lovingly, "Pa".
After all the hello's, I was given a "spot" on the grounds where Jim hooked up my water, electric and sewer connections. We then filled the coffee pot and talked of family, friends, back home, and my health. James had that concerned look when I told him of my cancer, but I reassured him not to worry as I didn't have time for that sort of thing.
We unhooked my truck and went to town, six miles away, to the only restaurant, where the menu was filled with Mexican foods which Jim likes and I have trouble with. After that we went across to the mini-mart where I stocked up on groceries to fill my fridge.
When we returned to the lot, a "good night" between son and father was exchanged and I went to bed. As I lay there, happy to be "home", a new sound invaded the silence of the desert. The awesome howls of the coyote crept into my ears and now, for sure, I was out west. A grin upon my face, which came often since I left my past, assured me I had done the right thing with my life.
As sleep overtook my total self, I slept for nine hours, a rare occurrence for me and I surely appreciated it. I was awakened in the morning by the sounds of hammer and saw, got dressed and walked through the lot where Jim was feeding the elephant. I asked if I could help. He smiled with that big grin of his and introduced me to a large shovel. Being quick of wit, 1 took the wheel barrel in hand and replaced the cow shit that decorated my boots for the elephant dung that was abundant. I then thought, with a smile on my face, "this cowboying in Arizona ain't all it's cracked up to be"!
After many trips, I finally got "her" area cleaned up to satisfaction, and realized all the flies within five miles came to welcome me.
After that, the owner came to me and asked if I wanted to work, if 1 felt up to it. I assured him I was feeling fantastic and looking for something to do so, in some small way, I could pay for my "spot" on the lot. Being a carpenter of the amateur kind, I took on the job of building an office and ticket counter in the second-hand trailer that was to become the "candy" wagon. I had to use a lot of material from the old, damaged trailer because of funds. As the weeks passed, a lot of "atta boys" and an occasional "Oh, shit" remarks, I realized it was time for another check-up.
I still had insurance coverage from my old employer and through local inquires, found a good urologist in Mesa. I went to see him and a cysto was performed and the old routine of going to the hospital after finding small tumors. After that he suggested chemo treatments to which I agreed. This would be six visits where the shiny tube was pushed up into my bladder and the chemistry of research would be injected into my body. It was getting to the point whenever I saw a soda straw, my pecker would creep up into my crotch to hide.
The time went by and activity on the lot grew each day. Performers who had been given contracts started arriving and all felt the anticipation of the new season. Last minute preparations were made and in a week we would be on the road. I had an appointment with the doctor with a cysto scheduled as it was close to the three months again. As I thought of the probable outcome, I also thought of missing traveling with the circus for a while because of another operation. This was a sad time for me and the first time in a long time that I had felt this way. When I went to the doctor, with legs spread and the dreaded tubes finding their way into me, I lay awaiting the inevitable sound of the doctor to tell me again of the growths within. After an anguished few minutes which seemed like hours, he flipped on the lights, grinned and said I was clean - no tumors! I put my head back on the pillow and wondered if I was dreaming.
This was the first time after all those cystos that I came up clean! My first conscious thought was to jump up and tell the world I was O.K., call the kids, friends and everybody I could think of that I was clean! When I finally came back to reality, the doctor said I must continue my follow-ups because of the type of cancer I had, but for now, there was nothing. As I drove back to the lot, alone in the truck and singing , anyone who saw me must of thought I was nuts.
As I pulled onto the lot blowing my horn, all came running to see what had happened. Jim, of course, led the pack and could see by Father's expression I had good news. After all the slaps on the back, hand shakes and kisses (from the gals of the circus), we opened the cans of soda with no straws and beer and celebrated late into the night. As I walked back to my trailer, I
looked skyward and never saw so many beautiful stars or heard the coyotes sing a happier song. Holy Buckets, am I glad to be here and find the peace of mind and body for the first time in many years. I'm going to travel with the circus!