The Other Shoe

The Other Shoe


Several of you have asked about the state of my CIRCUS. Thank you for that, I appreciate the concern.

I painted a picture of my chaotic behind-the-scenes life in the post “Acceptance” back in August. If you’ve not read it, the following may seem odd, perhaps as though I should seek professional help.

You’d not be wrong. It’s all odd. And I likely do need a pro to play around in my head for an hour at a time at least twice a month.

Sometime after writing “Acceptance,” more and more rings were added, and I decided from that point forward to capitalize the entire word given its always-in-my-face status. I was waiting for it to pack up and leave town, but this seems more of a permanent gig.

So, the CIRCUS.

Here’s the update:

The long, metal bleachers are empty except for me. Remember, no one wants to buy tickets to this show — I couldn’t even pay anyone to watch. I put my top hat next to me. The brim has a hole and a couple of singe marks from where I lit the concession stand on fire, and the tails of my tux are tattered. My feet ache. My head hurts. My soul is weary.

I try to catch my breath, but it’s not coming yet.

Some would say I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. All tensed up and ducking.

That’s accurate, but this is more precise: I’m waiting for the next showing under the Big Top.

Yes, yes. Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. Witness drama, drama, drama, like you’ve never seen before. We can’t make this stuff up, folks! Hurry, hurry, hurry!

But, before the announcer tries to sell seats for the next round to a nonexistent crowd, I wait. And try to catch my breath behind ribs crushed with sadness and exhaustion.

And as I long for the next breath, The Ring participants are catching theirs.

A dozen monkeys in bright red vests are lined up front-to-back in Ring One, each one picking nits and examining the coat of the monkey before him. The monkey in the front of the line picks at his own toenails with an intensity any pedicurist would envy.

Over in Ring Two, the poodles crashed their unicycles into the clown cannon, the wheel of one cycle till spins, giving off a squeak. The dogs pile in a heap. A couple of them snore and chase rabbits in their sleep. I look a little closer and can see a purple-haired clown hanging from the end of that cannon. At first I thought it was Little Miss Muse, but she’s otherwise occupied behind the tent with some other author’s muse—the Sultan, I do believe.

We’ll have to talk about that later.

Ring Three smolders from the mishap with the cannon in the last act.

We won’t talk about that later.

The elephants crashed hard in Ring Four, all their ball tricks and trunk swinging wearing them to the bone. They sleep lying on their sides. I watch them breathe. A yellow-haired clown sleeps on one elephant, enjoying the rhythmic rise and fall of the pachyderm’s rib cage.

My tightrope walker finally extricated herself from the wire where she’s been hanging upside down for months. She sits on the support scaffolding, propped against a pole, dangling her legs in the air. A snore erupts from her tiny frame, and her chin hits her chest. Her head bobs back against the pole. Her legs never stop moving.

Opposite her, on the other high-wire support platform, a problem brews.

It’s a clown.

An Awake.





By the look of his posture, he needs no nap or grooming or downtime. He’s all oxygenated.

He’s good to go.

He perches on the platform's edge and swings his feet through the air. His pants are striped in primary colors. His shirt is polka dotted in reds, yellows, and blues. He wears a striped tie as wide as his beefy neck. A black curly wig is topped with a blue hat adorned with daffodils on one side.

I hate daffodils. I’m allergic.

He knows this. 

He catches me staring at him. A wicked, red grin creeps over his white face and he cocks his head at me. A daffodil falls from his hat and flutters to the CIRCUS floor.

He’s taking off a shoe. A shoe wider than his thick thigh. His footwear is grungy with the dust from Ring Four where the elephants do their thing.

On second thought, perhaps that’s not dust…

He holds this one giant shoe out past the platform in midair.

And he waits.

I don’t know how long he can hold that stance, maybe minutes. Maybe weeks, given the amount of backup padding he’s packed onto his skeleton.

And I wait with him.

Waiting for that shoe to drop.

Because when it does, that monster clodhopper’s gonna land right on the poodle pile. The dogs will rise and mount their cycles. The slumbering slob atop the elephant’s ribcage will saunter over and light a fuse, sending the purple-haired clown in the cannon across the Rings. The sonic boom will startle the tightrope walker back to the wire, where she’ll hang for who-knows-how-long. Her wail of surprise will wake the gray giants, who will gather up the line of monkeys in their trunks to escort them to their starting positions.

The announcer will come over the shorting-out speakers, voice garbled… “—ep right up. Step right up.”

And the second showing of The CIRCUS will begin, whether or not I’ve had sufficient time to mend my tails and patch my top hat.

Or breathe.

In the meantime, just as before, I’ll laugh when I can, rest when I can, write as much as I can (if I can get Little Miss’s attention away from the Sultan), and be grateful for all the blessings in my life.

I’ll use that joy and rest and creativity and gratitude to mend wounds and put one foot in front of the other.

I may even call in a pro to play around in my head for an hour at a time twice a month. Sit on a big, comfy couch for a while instead of these hard bleachers.

Because my CIRCUS ain’t over.

…That fat clown still has another shoe.

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