had a love/hate relationship with The Geek…
We were circus people. I was one of
the many show-kids. In Gibtown.
A little Florida community of freaks, carnies, circus
performers, con artists, show animals, and mystified crackers.
We all called this poor wobbly
We weren’t heartless, we never
called him “Geek” to his face. Plus we tried to avoid his face.
One girl said rats lived in his beard. I wasn’t gonna check. The
Geek was textbook ugly. With every factory option. The full
package. Odor. Visually offensive, filthy clothing, chewed
tobacco, the works. Had hideous scars from dread diseases. A
face full of revolting. A lingering rank stench. Filthy
unhygienic, long, greasy, disgusting hair. The rednecks called
him “hippie” The Hippies called him “hillbilly” He was neither.
He was a geek…
The Brush simply loved The Geek,
when he didn’t hate him. The Brush worked The Geek to death.
Only he didn’t die. He just coughed up more phlegm, wobbled a
little more than usual, stank a little more intensely, and kept
on working. Not rocket science. Just boring, stupid, endless
drudgery. For which he received no money. Only an old show truck
to live in. And cigarettes and food. Mostly cigarettes. Hardly
any food. And beer. Somehow The Geek managed beer. Us showkids
could get a sixpack by paying for two. Ask The Geek. He’ll get
it at the Tropicana. Behind the playground. If you could stomach
the reek. Better get another six, it’ll help you forget the foul
odor. And the ugly to match.
Gibtown was a trap for some. The
Geek was trapped. The Brush was a way out.
The Brush offered The Geek a job. A job with the promise of pay…
The Brush was a Circus man. A
Showman. A great Showman. An artist. A scholar. A great mind. A
broke Showman. Trapped in Gibtown. Shipwrecked. But surviving.
The Brush could paint. Not houses. Not cars. Not park benches.
Not things. The Brush could paint thoughts. Well, pictures of
thoughts. And words. Pictures and words. The Brush was a show
artist. A banner painter. He could create a banner where the
picture and lettering layout conjured up an irresistible desire
to see the object it described. A master banner painter.
Only no-one was ordering banners. Too many around. Good used
banners and those damn stock O-Henry banners. Starve making
banners. Lotta carnies need signs. Circus kinkers need props
decorated. Work around for a painter.
Gotta get on the road…
The Brush didn’t want The Geek
around at first. The Geek found The Brush. The Brush was
lettering a piece for old “ Col. Specs” at the Bluegrass winter
quarters. The Geek started handing The Brush stuff. The Brush
was on a ladder. The Geek didn’t wait to be asked. When The
Brush needed a Fitch,
there it was, The Geek knew. When The Brush handed a brush to
The Geek, The Geek cleaned it. He didn’t need to be told. He
wrapped oily paper around the quills. Like he knew the drill.
The Brush asked, “ you ever work in a sign shop?” The Geek
mumbled something about before he became a lush..
The Mighty Blue Grass Shows didn’t want him, so The Brush took
To the lot in Gibtown. The lot with
only a power pole. No water. No sewer. The Geek could live in
the gutted Mack. Piss in the woods. Drink some more. Pass out…
The Brush woke
The Geek at daybreak.
Dig a doniker pit. Sounds simple. A
pit. With a shovel. A pit for The Brush’s house trailer to drain
water into. Told The Geek, dig here, The Geek asked how big, how
deep. This big and I’ll tell you when it’s deep enough. The
Brush started a job. Went to town for paint. Stopped at the
Had a few at Starkey’s bar. Got home late. Went to bed. Heard
the damnedest sound. Coming from outside. Took a flashlight, had
a looksee. Clods of dirt hitting the trailer. Coming from a hole
in the ground. Eight feet down, up to his ass in water, still
digging. The Geek.
The Geek was gonna make The Brush a bundle…
The Brush was framing a show
for The Geek… Actually, The Geek was framing a show for The
Brush… More precisely, The Geek was framing a show for The
Geek… A Geek Show… for The Brush to exhibit The Geek in.
A Geek Show…
That is how he came to be called
“The Geek”. He was going to be the geek in The Brush’s Geek
Show. The Brush painted some sensational banners. Geek Show
banners. Taught The Geek to glom.
Had a glomming geek. A glomming geek who looked the part. This
was gonna be good. Traded some work for a twenty by twenty top.
Taught The Geek to put it up. Framed a banner line
from old sign lumber. Good looking show. Million dollar paint
job on a pile of crap. Looked great. Had The Geek convinced he
was gonna be a star. An actor born to the role. On a carnival
show. High status. Gonna get your own trailer. When the money
starts rolling in.
The Brush booked a route…
A good one. Show painter and back
Free priv and green to boot.
Things were looking up.
First jump was hell. Lotta miles and
did I mention The Geek stank. Finally on the lot and in the air
and The Geek wants some money. Unprecedented. Not gonna start
drinking are you? The Brush didn’t like it, but The Geek had
worked all winter, framed a show, and seemed to be looking
forward to opening the next day and acting. Like a geek.
Probably needed some beer and other necessities.
Figured it was ok. Gave him ten…
Next morning, as the show was
getting open, we all heard The Brush raising hell. Sailors
blushed, women swooned, flowers wilted. The Brush had traveled
far. He knew how to swear.
“Why were you so mad at The Geek, Brush?”…
And a thoroughly enraged Brush
bellowed “Cause the miserable, no good, drunken, wobbly kneed,
stupid, halfwit, simpleton, reject from a diaper factory, got a
took a shower, and went to town and got a haircut, a shave, and
a new suit from the mission, and now he’s reporting to work
looking like a respectable banker!”