Cancer Circus and Me


Chapter 1


By Leonard William Zajicek


The rap on the side of my son's trailer woke me with a start. Why it should this morning, I really didn't know. As I became aware of the new day I heard the dance upon the metal roof of my trailer as the rain fell upon it. It was going to be one of those days, when trucks and people were up to their ass in mud. This is why they called it a mud show and it became evident when I pushed back the curtain on my window and looked out.

The elephant was reaching up with her magnificent trunk, sucking water from the top of her canopy. I soon saw the colors of all the different rain gear emerge from the "sleeper" as the roustabouts came to life to move the circus each day to the next town, their footwear already covered with mud, and the sounds of swearing as each man did his assigned job. I looked up at the calendar as I poured coffee from the thermos I always filled the night before. Then it hit me why this morning was different.

September 26, three days after my birthday. It jumped out as I was brought back to that Tuesday three years ago when the rattle of different sounds woke me. I was in a hospital in Milwaukee, lying in the comfort of a warm clean bed, awaiting the operation on the cancer that had invaded my bladder. As I looked up at the window decorated with all the cards of well wishers, I could hear the rain pelting against the window and the association of that day and now became apparent. The sound of the elephant trumpeting as she stepped up into the animal trailer brought me back to reality. The other animals were being led into their places, each making their protest known - the whinnies of the ponies with their hooves slipping on the wet ramp, the camel with his slobbering mouth reluctantly finding his spot, now the goats and the llamas next.

The roar of the diesels filled the air as each truck coughed to life. I poured another cup of coffee and watched the spinning of tires slew mud over men and machines. Cussing was now the language spoken, as the tractor was brought over and chained up to the animal truck. With the show's Bobcat pushing, the big load eased its way to the gravel road and gave bite to the truck's tires. Well, no local tow trucks today, and the boss man will be happy. The cook house was already gone and now all the show trucks were on the road. The trailers still on the lot were silent as they were of the performers. Their work did not start until an hour before the show. As for me, my work day was not until eleven o'clock when I would meet with the sponsor and "settle up" for this day's performance. So, I could sleep in if I wanted to.

As I got dressed and packed my trailer for travel, I climbed out and stepped into the mud to start my truck. As I looked across the empty lot, I saw the number two clown walking with his pointed stick picking up all the debris left by the customers from last night's show. As he traveled across the ground, his ragged little dog sniffed and bounced along behind him. I now looked over at the organist's van and saw him crawl from the open door, lean against it and take a leak. He and I became good friends and we would meet in the next town for breakfast. As I pulled off the lot, I heard my tires spin, yet with enough traction to get me on the gravel road and out to the highway. The rain had stopped and I could see the sun starting to project it's beautiful glow across the sky. I looked and said to myself, God, I'm glad I'm alive.


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