When The Lights Go Down

by Slim Price


Time is turned around a little in our world.  The day runs from about ten in the morning to close to midnight depending on the crowd. There is no thought given to a "day off".  The idea is almost alien actually. There’s a common story about a new carny who asked “When do we sleep?”  and the answer came back, “When the seasons over!” 


Now though, the lights are mostly off, there’s no music, and the carnival day has ended. We sit quietly in front of the closed top. The night is soft with a gentle breeze.  The leftover scents of a good hard days work are in the air with muted voices barely heard in the background. Our quiet is mostly a reaction to all the noise and glitter of the day.


It’s odd but the canvas that most lots are made of usually feels more secure than if it were a permanent structure. More than likely the fact that we are all of the same breed and respect one another is the reason.


There isn't really a feeling of work here.  Instead it’s more a way of life. There is no envy for the “nine to fiver's. "Townies" are a different breed from us. We're made up of a few close uncritical  friends, our own community loyalty and the sense that all of us would band  together to support each other. In ways I think the carny life is more civilized than that of the “real world.” 


Politics are more or less unknown, and caste is never an issue. There is good and bad among us of course as well as pettiness, generosity and all of the human differences but overall there is the feeling of  tribal closeness.  We sit together, nobody saying much, because there isn't a  need. I enjoy playing my harmonica, and no one objects. None of us has a past other than the one we present to each other today. I'm glad to be “with it”......


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