Lonesome Liz on YouTube

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Jonathan Austin, fire juggler & magician

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Death's Prologue

Death:

Enters, lights shift, fog continues

They call me the Grim Reaper for a reason.
Imagine spending all your time
and when I say time, I mean all time, eternity, forever,
only seeing the end of things.
It’s boring. Imagine a life where nothing surprises you.

Life, (sighs/laughs). I miss so much by missing life.
I never get to be the life of the party.
I’ll never have a once in a lifetime experience.
I can’t bet my life.
I couldn’t do it to save my life.
No one ever tells me to have a nice life.

I hardly ever get any appreciation.
Why don’t you tell one another to have a nice death once in awhile?
It’s even more important you know.

By the way, I come here often.
This place is a damned-near soul assembly line.
Yep. It was a courthouse, jail and hangin’ ground.
They hung people in a closet by the kitchen, behind you there.
Every now and then one was innocent. I got to keep those.
He hates that.

We were busiest after the War.
Nothing breeds mortal sin like a reconstruction.
The Devil didn’t hate that a bit.
He delighted in the South’s devastation.
He loved it so much, in fact,

he made this place his Richmond home.
Here at Gallery 5, the Devil is Judge, Hangman and Coroner.
Once people were hung here, they hung here.
They’d die, then realize they’d been in Hell all along.

You are their demons.
You are their tormentors.
Mortal sin, that’s what does you in.
When Judge Devil comes, I hope he doesn’t find you guilty.

The Devil

Devil: It’s hard these days; it really is,
to be the Devil. You just don’t
have any idea. I feared
it would come, I did. I did.
God kept changing his mind, to start with.
That’s why I left you know, well,
one of the reasons.

First, I was just a serpent, you know, the one in the garden?
That was ok. I mean, I knew everything and that was cool.
I didn’t lie; I didn’t say it would make them God. No,
I said it would make them like God.
Oh God I could go on for hours about that one.
I better shut up. I lost an arm and a leg over that.

But then, then, I wasn’t so bad the next time the heavy stuff went down either.
No, I was cool as a cucumber.
Job, some tortured man always takes center stage.
Good old Job and there I was, Satan, the adversary.
I didn’t say do all that to Job.
Nooooo, I just said, “I bet Job would give up
believing in this God business if all that went down.”

Then Jesus, well, Christ he just about put me out of business,
though there were booms during the Crusades and Inquisition.
Now there’s irony. That’s what God is, ironic. Believe that.

You think it’s easy to find souls these days? Hell no. It ain’t easy.

People sell their souls when times are bad, sure
but way more of them actually
go through with it when times are booming.
Boom towns, for example,
80% Hell bound no question.

But the Depression? Slim pickings. Slim pickings here too.

Anyone want to make a deal?

Lonesome Liz Sells her Soul

Barker:

Step right up! Come see this!
It’s damnation of Lonesome Liz.
The way she came to this ghoul filled jail
like Faust, is a tragic tale.

Sound wind

The wind blows low. The air grows cold.
Watch, look, she’s selling her soul!

Liz: I curse the Heavens, the Stars and the Sun.
I vow I’ll see the Devil’s work done.
I promise to spend the rest of my days
keeping the damned in unquiet graves.
If I can only have what I want most,
the command of the hands of a legion of ghosts.

Devil: You won’t regret it, be assured
I’ll join you with a ghost who takes the damned on tour,
a Midway Boss from long ago
who runs what we call Satan’s Sideshow.

Sound, screams join wind

Barker: She’ll get her wish. I sense a few
damned souls uncollected, is one of them you?

Devil: What Liz doesn’t know yet but will soon know well
is that she’s soon going to Hell.

The Fun House Mirror

Midway Boss: I’m in charge of the Midway here.
That mostly entails instilling fear
in passers by
and making damned souls cry.
Though occasionally I cover up
unexpected death and such.

What do you see
when you look too close?
What will you be
when you’ve had an overdose of fun?
One thing is certain.
The closing curtain
won’t make you forget.
All of the regret
in you is here.
All of the fear
and the ugliness too.
It’s true.

We are not all shadows.
We are not all dreams.

Though conjured in screams
of near-madness
and all kinds of badness
we are not just ghosts.

We are most
actual.

We are your darkness, your sorrow, your pain.
We see you again and again and again
in dreams and on the street.
We are a complete
nightmare.

The Barker

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
come one come all,
you will be amazed.

You will come eager,
leave dazed.

Raise the edge of the curtain there.
Scared?

Look up at the tightrope walker's dance.
Come in, see the Siamese twins from France.
There's a snake charmer waiting behind that screen.
And, an awful scene
takes place in the lion tamer's room
at half past noon.

Step right up!

See the acrobat and the lady with three eyes?
And me, I've guessed your age, your weight, your lies.
I'll whisper them with hollow whistling sounds
while carnival lights spin round and round.
See the acrobat and the lady with three eyes?

The midgets pick pockets.
The man at the Ferris wheel has unkind designs.
The knife thrower's on the edge of his mind.

Step right up! Step right up!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
come one, come all!
You will be amazed!
You will come eager!
You will leave dazed.

Step right up!

Conjurini

Stefani: He was once the toast of England and France
the Great Conjurini!
There was even a dance
named for the way his assistant would sway
during a certain smoke and mirrors trick.
Barker: He became sick,
struck down mid-second-world-tour.
It didn't matter that he'd done it before.
All those cancelled shows
left his ratings rather low.
That's just the way it goes.

Midway Boss: It was all the fault of a slender young girl.
She'd made his eyes roll and his toes curl.
She'd made him so ill he'd almost gone blind
but looking back, he didn't so much mind.
It had just been that good.

Barker: Everyone said he should
find a new gimmick and burst forth anew.
They claimed it wasn't just that he knew
the secrets of magic and sleight of hand
but rather the way to trick any woman or man
into believing whatever he chose.

Stefani: Everyone knows
that most of what happens is of his design.
That's why he's always on the sidelines
whenever something goes down.
Even the clowns
don't dare laugh
when he passes.

Midway Boss: He refused everyone's advice.
He didn't listen, he didn't think twice
just went on being Conjurini.
He doesn't look like you should take him lightly.
He really is actually rather frightening,
though fiercely attractive.
It's almost psycho-active.

Barker: He can escape any trap devised.
He very much seems to have x-ray eyes.
He can disappear quick as a flash
and then even quicker appear back.
He sometimes flies through the air.
He’s sure to give you a terrible scare.
His Assistant exudes both wonder and fear
whenever he so much as ventures near.

Stefani: It clearly isn't just the slicing in two
that makes her smiles so seldom and few.
No one really knows
much about the situation.
Or the nature of their relation.
Barker: No one has ever seen anything like him.
He has a gaze that could dim or brighten
the most skeptical crowd.
His voice is deep and loud.

Sound, laugh, lights flash.

Midway Boss: His hands flash like carousel lights.
He seems to summon the very night
with his fingers.

Sound, laugh

His laugh lingers in a bone chilling way
long after he's gone away.

The Ghosts of Edgar Allen Poe and Elmira Shelton

Barker:

Step right up! See a ghost you know!
Mr. Edgar Allen Poe.
He hovers behind his would-be bride
who doesn’t notice he’s at her side.

J.B. as Poe hovers around Stefani.

Midway Boss: It was many and many a year ago in a kingdom by the sea,
that a maiden there lived whom you may know

Elmira: by the name of Annabel Lee.
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child in this kingdom by the sea.

Midway Boss: But they loved with a love that was more than love
Poe and Annabel Lee.

Elmira: It wasn’t a kingdom by the sea,
it was here, by the river.
I didn’t die particularly young either.
I’m shut up here by the river Edgar.
I can’t get to you, I can’t ever
be in your arms, there was so much harm done.
When you died I was one of the few who knew
what had happened to you.

Barker: They said he’d ruin your reputation.
That’s why your brother’s hated him.

Elmira: Sometimes I felt like I did too.
But I never did, I never did.
I couldn’t do anything but love him, it
is hard to wait so long. It’s hard to be alone.
Do you know what it’s like to be alone?
Not only your heart but your soul
never gets over it.

Barker: But your love was stronger
by far than the love
of those who were older than you,
of many far wiser than you.

Sound waves

Elmira: And neither the angels in heaven above,
nor the demons down under the sea.
Can ever dissever his soul from the soul
of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

But, in death, I’ve kept us apart
because I died without forgiveness in my heart.
My brother’s killed him. I couldn’t turn them in.
I’m damned. I died in mortal sin.

Hands soul to the Devil

It all came too late. Fate made it I, not he
who walks by a tomb beside the sea.

End waves.

Midway Boss: The angels, not half so happy in heaven
went envying her and me.
That was the reason, as all men know in this kingdom by the sea
that the wind came out of a cloud by night
chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

Elmira: It’s hard to be alive but harder to be here.
I’ve forgotten how to dream.

Sound scream

I’ve grown insensitive to screams.
There isn’t any sleep here.
The place is full of fear.
You see how he loved me so.
How I loved back, you’ll never know.
I made up my mind to forget,
to put it in a box and bury it.

Sound waves

Elmira: But the moon never beams without bringing him dreams
of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
And the stars never rise but he sees the bright eyes
of his darling, his darling, his life and his bride;
in my sepulcher by the sea.
in my tomb by the sounding sea.

Start cello

Midway Boss: And thus the sad soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonley,
haunted by ill angels only.

The Midway

The Midway Boss: The Gaffer and the Gaffer's Mark
eye the merry go round warily.
There has been no apparent end
to a sudden, maniacal spin
that began about an hour or so
ago.

The magician has been trying to intervene
but quite a scene
has begun to erupt through
the Midway.
It's spinning so children can't get away.
Maybe Madame Ugly can stop it with her face.

Midway Boss: The lion looks restless in his cage!
A man walks on coals while another swallows fire!

Midway Boss: I made the Four Legged Lady freeze
mid fan kick while the clown played tricks.

The Half Lady cries.
So do the children
as the merry go round spins
then stops in a lurch, as if surprised.

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
See one who was once a beautiful girl
and is now the ugliest in the world!
She’s gruesome! She’s grisly! She’ll terrify!
She’ll make you want to tear out your eyes!

Madame Ugly

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
See one who was once a beautiful girl
and is now the ugliest in the world!
She’s gruesome! She’s grisly! She’ll terrify!
She’ll make you want to tear out your eyes!

Madame Ugly hands her soul to the Devil, but Death takes her.

Madame Ugly: I was once a beautiful girl.
Now one glance makes straight hair curl
and stomachs and eyes turn in disdain.
No one knows my name.
Just call me Madame Ugly.

I was a happy wife when it started to fall,
it being my face, chin, nose and all
seemed to swell then collapse from within.
I went to doctors again and again
but there was nothing they could do.
I got ugly and uglier too.

And the rare, weird poison that mangled me so
gave me fierce headaches and other woes.
I not only never looked good but never felt good either
and sent my own children into screaming fevers
each time they looked at my face.
I left them with their father and went away
to a place where no one cared.
Only the bravest who see me dare
go back to look again.

In defense of others, I’m not kind
and half the time acted half out of my mind.
Maybe it was the weight of my bad luck.
Just like the joke, I made a face and it stuck.

The Ghost of Evelyn Byrd

Barker:

Music box sound.

Step right up! You’ve never heard
a tale so sad as Evelyn Byrd’s.
They say she died of a broken heart,
and is damned to spend eternity apart
from the one she loves.
She carries sorrow like a glove.

Evelyn hands soul to the Devil.

Evelyn Byrd: I loved him. I loved him so that I could not breathe without him.
Being alone was suffocating. Waiting, waiting, waiting
for something that would never come.
I came undone. It was like the sun went black.
I cried so much I almost lost my eyes.
I was engulfed in waves of sorrow.
I declined to join tomorrow.
I died instead, it is said
of a broken heart.
I died of being apart.
Apartness is a cold, empty place,
where everything wastes away.

I could not stay without him.

There is nothing worse
than the first morning you wake without your soul.
With him I was whole.
Without him I was desolate and each breath
reminded me that he was gone.
I was so alone.
I wanted to go where waiting might not be as bad,
where I might not be sad
or at least might not feel it anymore.
I’m sure he died thinking of me.

So I walk and wait by the garden gate.
I walk and wait.
I walk and wait.

The Snake Charmer

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
Watch a venomous viper, lulled by the charms,
that Death the piper holds in her arms.

Snake music starts. Death plays recorder.

The Snake: He'd learned it from his father who'd
learned it from his father who'd
learned it from his father and so on.

He claimed to whoever would hear
it went back a thousand years.

Most people weren't taking but so much risk.
Not only did the snake get used to it,
to the drone of the pipe and the closeness of the basket,
but most charmers took out the poisonous aspects
of cobras and then took out their fangs for good.
Not this one, he didn't think he should.

It was a good thing he understood
how to administer anecdotes.

One time when he smoked
too much opium he got a wild hair
and set the snake loose through those tents over there
then passed out so anecdote was never applied.
It's said about 15 people died.

It was hushed up quickly, they were just roustabouts
but I lived in fear of being found out.

The Tattooed Man from Borneo

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
See the Tattooed Man from Borneo.
He’ll chill you to the bone when he smiles just so.
He's quite a fright, with spikes in his nose,
rings through his eyes and eyes on his toes.

Tattooed Man hands his soul to the Devil.

Tattooed Man:

No one knows where I really came from
or got my love of pain from.

My native tongue
is clearly not exotic.

I often fly into a fearsome rage
and rattle the bars of my Borneo cage
reducing children to shivering bits.
No one who sees me likes it.

I was a castaway
on a ship that was to carry me away

from unspeakable crimes that remain unspoken,
committed on some far more Northern coast than
Borneo. I just liked it so kept it as my own.

It’s generally thought that I’m from France
and my ship wrecked so I took the chance
and disappeared.
I was feared
by the natives I found
so stuck around.
I dined every day on enemy stew
and executed grisly tortures too.

The Midway Boss:

So he says. Though no one fully believes him,
they have to admit they can easily see him
doing any of the above.
He doesn't exactly inspire love.

The trapeze artist shudders noticeably.
for what? It's rather hard to see
until she casts a wayward glance
at the Tattooed Man's hands.

At first sight she looks like she might
go suddenly insane.
Then she looks like that again.
and again,
and again.

The Fortune Teller

Barker: Step right up! Don’t hesitate
to find if you will meet the same fate
Do you think she’s real? Do you dare?
Find out for certain? Beware,
you might find in truth reason to be scared.

Tarot Reader: I’m not pretending.
I can see the beginning
and ending of all I wish.
There's no hiding it.

I went blind at age nine
suddenly and unexpectedly
and lost a finger in an
unfortunate accident.

But I shuffle like lightning
it's almost frightening.
I describe your lies with each card
I put down. It isn’t hard to do.
It astonishes more than a few.

I know exactly what you’re saying,
whether you say it or not.
I knows who came, who went
who hadn’t and who had a lot.

Sometimes I just wander around
muttering ominous phrases,
pointing fingers at sideshow stages,
inciting numerous tears and rages,
stirring up trouble in animal’s cages
and sometimes I’m nowhere to be found.

It's generally thought that I’m unstable
and that I use my powers for ill when I am able.
I frequently give the evil eye
to passers by.
I have pockets full of charms
for good and for harm.
I draw strange figures in the air
and sometimes sit with a frightening stare.
Scared? Beware! I can see your secrets.
My mind is sharp and quick as any whip.
I know your innermost fears.

I am immune to tears.
If you want to be saved
you’d better behave.

The Sword Swallower

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
See the Sword Swallower while he still has life!
He defies death each time he picks up his knife.

The Sword Swallower: I ain’t never spoken,
never once, not one
word, frozen
and mute as a statue.
I’d stare right at you
with eyes that defied
you to question
my talent for expression.
“Was it the frog in his throat
he had meant to kill?”

Had some thing surprised
or otherwise
made me slip unawares?

The stares
were discouraged
but no one cared.

A crowd pressed close around
the gruesome scene.

Tightrope Walker: The sword swallower seemed
horrified.
His eyes
light-bulb wide,
his mouth a frozen gash,
his throat slashed,
like a samurai’s belly
after hari-kari.

The gore
was unimaginable.

No one knew
what he'd meant to do
but the result
was certain.

Curtains.

Hellbound Train

Sharpshooter’s Assistant: Two outlaws have fallen on the floor.
They’d drank so much they couldn’t drink no more.
With guilty consciences and fevered brains,
they died and took a ride on a Hell-bound train.

The engine was made of murderer’s bones.
Their blood shone in the light of glowing brimstone.
For fuel, a hundred demons shoveled bones.
The furnace rang with a thousand groans.
The boiler was filled with whiskey and fear.
The Devil himself was the engineer.
All you’ve seen and more, in unquiet graves,
once beautiful people who thought they were saved,

from all walks of life they glowed with fright in the night.
All chained together, they were a gruesome sight.

The train roared on at a furious pace.
Hellish fumes licked the damned’s hands and face.
Wilder and darker the country grew.
Faster and faster the engine flew.

Louder and louder the thunder crashed.
Brighter and brighter the lightening flashed.
Out of the distance came a ghastly yell.

Ha! Ha! Ha! We’re almost in Hell.

Sharpshooter’s Assistant: The passengers wailed and shrieked with pain.
They begged the Devil to stop the train.
But he cackled and clapped and danced with glee.
He laughs and delights in misery.

Devil: Ah ha! You’ve done the work for me!
You’ve known me a while. Now you’ll be seeing more of me.
You’ve paid your fare. I’ll carry you through.
After all, shouldn’t we both have our due?
Your flesh will waste in flames that roar.
My demons will torment you for ever more!

The Ghosts of Church Hill Tunnel

Death: They’re stuck in the muck inside Church Hill Tunnel.
There was a loud rumble.
The walls caved in and then
They were buried alive.

Frank: I don’t know how many of us there are
stuck down here, no one ever took our names.

Becca: It rained.
They built the tunnel too close to the river.
All night and day we lay here and shiver
in the cold, dark damp of Chimborozo.

Kristen: Don’t come too close,
bad things happen here.
Fear is just the start of it.
We are part of it,
the dark that lies inside your eyes.
We’re stuck there.

We like it when you’re scared.
Beware, especially in October.
If I were you, I wouldn’t come over.

Becca: What is it about the grave that makes people afraid?
You would be amazed at how quiet it is.

Kristen: You would be surprised
at how weird it is to no longer have eyes.

Death

Barker: Look around while you still have breath.
Look around, you’re quite near Death.

Death wears many masks.
Gasps and rasps scuttle
in my wake like flakes
of sound chipped off of sorrow
pouring bucket-full’s of borrowed
time. There are signs
before and after me. I come
and you become undone.

It’s really rather disturbing
to look at me.
Like the sun,
I blind.
Your mind
won’t last
in my grasp.

Sometimes I’m beautiful.
Sometimes I’m merciful.
Sometimes I’m doubtful.
Sometimes I’m horrible,
terrible, unbearable,
I’m un-scareable.

You won’t stop me,
not with guns or gaze,
not with water or blaze.
I come when I come.

Sound banging on door starts

It’d be best if you forgave me.
I’m doing you a favor, see?

The Ghost of Gallery 5

Barker: Step right up! Come and see
the most notorious ghost of the gallery.
He’s one of the few here who isn’t damned.
He really died an innocent man.

The Ghost of Gallery 5

I didn’t do it!
I didn’t do it!
I didn’t do it!

But I hung right here.
The fear was unimaginable.
The whole thing was unimaginable.

You’re not going to believe this.
After all this time, I don’t believe this.
I don’t know which was worse,
what happened last or what happened first.

They found her dead.
I’d lost my head.
But I didn’t do it!

I thought, someone will prove it, someone will!
Still, death came, she was so cold, so chill.

The whole thing was absurd!
There are not words
for how it feels to die with no why.

I died an innocent man.

They caught him the day I died.
Two men from Richmond went up and I
begged the hangman to stay his noose
till the train from New York had set it’s caboose

on Main Street.

I kept scratching at the window, still
I sat all day there with no sill
to lean on. I scratched and scratched, thinking
I could scratch a hole out of the sinking,
Desperate, desolate, harrowing feeling
that each breath upon my last was stealing.

They caught him and he got away.
I died an innocent man.

No one can help me now.
Fear swallows the hall you creep through.

Sound banging

Help me! I’m trying, see,
to get out of here,
dying to get out of here.

Let me out of here!
Let me out of here!
Let me out of here!

The Tightrope Walker

Barker: Step right up! You’ll be amazed
at the Tightrope Walker’s lack of grace.

The Tightrope Walker:

Have you ever felt your mind slip?
Ever almost taken a quick flip
over the edge of stable?
Were you able
to regain your balance?
Did your perception make allowance
for what it was losing fast?
And if it did, did it last?

That's what I do every time
I step on to the high, tight line.
I make it look like a game.
Barker: You’ll be certain she’s insane!
Tightrope Walker:

I twirl through the air
like a mad dervish set a-spin
by a whirly gig second wind.
Barker: She defies the imagination!
She really is a vision!
Midway Boss: It's no use saying a word about it
she will not accept
the good sense of a net.
Tightrope Walker: Even the Midway Boss pointed out
that while she saw what I was about,
she had serious doubts
I'd be more to her dead than alive.

I’m twenty-five.
Kind of old to be pulling such tricks.
In spite of the fact that I’m used to it
I simply don't have the skills.
If I don't at this point, I never will
be light as a feather or on my toes.
But I keep on taking an anything goes approach.

I never look afraid at all.
I leap across the high, thin line,
turning cartwheels all the time,
then flip backwards so quickly everyone says
it's a miracle I don't fall on my head.
Instead I somehow walk the line.
Midway Boss:

It's just a matter of time
before you lose your mind.

Tightrope Walker:

Have you ever felt your mind slip?
Ever almost taken a quick flip
over the edge of stable?
Were you able
to regain your balance?
Did your perception make allowance
for what it was losing fast?
And if it did, did it last?

The Ghost of Mann Page

Barker:

Step right up! Step right up!
Their sorrow has rung throughout the ages.
Meet three from the line known as the “Black Pages”.

Mann Page

The curse rises each night anew from long buried bones.
Each generation must atone for ancient misdeeds.
There is greed in the dead,
a need to keep people away from their beds.
They have no rest. So think it best
to see that we don’t either.

No one knows when our curse began.
Some say it all started with Ann Boleyn.
We were on the court that did her in.

Others say it reaches as far as the Crusades
when a knight named Rowland first earned the name Page.
It’s origins lost in some Genni’s bottle
he brought back that brought blackness and trouble.

Whatever the origin, forever through the ages
our line was known as the “Black Pages”.
Not blackhearted, no rather in the black shadow of hell
It echoes like the knell of an ever toiling bell.

Lightening struck Rosewell three times.
Bad luck then struck like the grind of bones.
Sounds of anguish ran through the very stones
it was built upon.

I am gone. We are all gone,
sucked down into the mirey muck
Of all our crumbled glory, all our bad luck.
We saved the nation, harbored Bacon,
helped with the Declaration of Independence’s very first draft.
It didn’t last.
We shone brightly but fate cast her dice
and wasn’t nice.
The Black Pages walk in Shadow through the ages.

The Ghost of Judith Page

Barker:

Step right up! Step right up!
Meet Mann’s love who died at nineteen.
In hopes of absorbing the sound of his screams
of sorrow and rage, Mann Page
built the finest home in the land, it is said.
He named it Rosewell for his sick rose who was dead.

Judith Wormley

There was such profound sadness when I was gone.
I could feel it, though I no longer had a heart.
We were part of one another.
He used to be mine, he never met another
who he loved quite the same.

He married a woman with my name.
His parents made him. It was the sensible thing to do.
They thought too that she would be a distraction.

His reaction seemed like madness.
It was really sadness.
He built a a house as magnificent
as our love had been.
You could stretch eight bayonets across the stair.
There was nothing like it anywhere.
Each part a work of art,
each more beautiful than the last,
it was a temple to our past.

He built with such frenzy he fell down dead
in the entry way. They say
God struck him down for his excess.
That’s what the Bishop said as he crossed his chest.
Perhaps that he died of that is so
but what other’s don’t see that I know
is that it was above
all an excess of love.
Excess of sadness
at losing all gladness and sunlight.
We shone brightly, like diamonds
but fate wasn’t nice to the Black Pages.
We walk in shadow through the ages.

The Contortionist

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
See a girl who can move in ways
that will astonish and amaze!
She can bend in the most unnatural ways.
She’s certain to dazzle and amaze.

The Contortionist: I’m tired of the jokes people make
about not getting bent out of shape.
You wouldn’t believe the questions –
I keep people guessing.

I’m here because I don’t want a normal life;
that and because of the Knife Thrower,
there was an incident
or two, or maybe three.
I was far from innocent, you see.
And I didn’t want a normal life.

I had beautiful, long, Rapunzel-like hair;
like Lady Godiva, it’d be all I’d wear
sometimes. It made my act attract
more attention than I could stand.

There was a man
or two or maybe three.
One night, finally,
I’d had it. I blamed
above all else my glorious mane
for causing me such heartache and woe.

So…
I cut it all off while the tightrope walker walked
over head.
That night I’d wished I were dead.
I’d had my heart broken for the 100th time.
Most suspected the Midway Boss undermined
the whole affair.
Whatever the case, it undermined my hair.
I pretend and grin and then

I pretend to grin again.

The Ghost of Chimborozo

Barker: Step right up, next in the Sideshow
is a soldier from Chimborozo.
He died far from home, he died all alone.
He can’t seem to find his way out of our play.

Battle, gunshot sounds

Ghost of Chimborozo: They brought me here because they thought I’d get better.
They brought me to this place, this place where death
is the least of your worries. They brought me here to live.
That’s funny. I always thought that was funny.

I don’t have time to speak in rhyme.
I’m goin’ home. I know I’m goin’ home.
I just want to get there.
I don’t want to talk to you.
I don’t want to be here.
I didn’t want to be here.
Here I am anyway.

I was in Petersburg, a place already full of ghosts.
I knew when you died you hung around.
I didn’t know I’d stay here.
I don’t want to stay here.
I don’t want to be here.
I just want to get there.
I just want to get home where everything is ok
and alive. Everyone was alive.

I saw hands and feet thrown in that river
‘till I couldn’t see the river any more.
I saw whole arms and legs too.
One day they were mine.

The Sharpshooter and his Assistant

Barker: Step right up! See the meanest ghost around.
The man they once called Hoodoo Brown.
No matter what you did or who warned you
You couldn’t escape him. He’d be your judge and coroner.

The Sharpshooter’s Assistant: He pretends it was the rodeo
but some of us know who he really is.

Billy the Kid was scared of him.

He's much older than he looks.
He spends his off time reading books
in Greek and Latin too.

He sees right through everything.

It's a sight to see him sling his guns.

Everyone stands frozen to the spot,
breathless with each shot.
He's intense like that.

His hat has holes from outlaws bands
and has escaped many an Apache's hand, as has he.

He broke free,
some say from Alcatraz.
Then he hid in Juarez
till it all died down.

What "it" was has been found
to be an unapproachable subject.

But it's clear that he loves it
when his horse hits a gallop
and his guns blaze.

You would be amazed
at what he can do.

You'd believe all the rumors true.

But, when you really get to know
the man behind the astounding show
if you ever do
you'll see it all different
but still think it's all true.

The Lady With Three Eyes

Barker: Step right up! Step right up!
Come and see a gruesome surprise!
Look in the young ladies’ eyes.

The Lady With 3 Eyes: Even when I was young, children believed when I said
I had eyes in the back of my head.

But I don’t.
Just the one here - dead
center like the statues
in India.

It doesn't shut or cry.
No one knows why.

It doesn't see clearly
or nearly
as far. A dim star
set in skin pale and pitted
like the moon.

People are always tempted
to poke it.

I’ve tried hats
and things like that
to hide the eye
but it gets too dry
under cover - sad fact.

The fortune teller
is morbidly fascinated;
and is sure I can ward
off the evil eye and other charms
intending harm.
I would have been beautiful
So I’m told.

The Knife Thrower and his Wife

Barker:
dice!

Step right up! Step right up! See the Knife Thrower and his Wife! Though sharp as razors he tosses blades like

The Knife Throwers Wife: His eyes get dim and far away
he laughs like a small boy at play
and he winks and whispers to the knives
as if they were alive.
No one heard.
I soon stopped saying a word.

The Knife Thrower: I'd always joked and called her cat
because, I pointed out that
she clearly had at least 9 lives.

She used to close her eyes
each time I threw.
She knew
I'd miss one time;
the streamlined
arc of the blade would sink
before she had time to think.

She got used to it.
She usually wasn't hit.
But sometimes I drank
and the steely knives sank
just barely into wood over skin.
Then I'd do it again

Sound knife fall, Jayme scream

and again

Sound knife fall, Jayme scream

and again.

Sound knife fall, Jayme scream

Laughing at the spin
of half reckless knives, then
hurl another with abandon.

Sound knife fall, Jayme scream

Everyone wondered if I'd planned it.

She'd been saying I wasn't right for weeks.
For weeks more she just wouldn't speak
at all. She'd flinch with each knife-fall.
She cringed when she heard the Barkers' call.
Barker: Step Right Up! Step Right Up!
See the Knife Thrower and his wife.
She rather convincingly looks like she fears for her life.

The Knife Thrower’s Wife: His vision bleared.
His thoughts got weird.
The Knife Thrower: I raised my arm
intending harm.

Sound knife fall

The Knife Thrower’s Wife: He lost his grip.
He slipped
past the edge of reason.
The Knife Thrower: It’s wife slicing season!

Sound knife fall

They both fell in a slump.

Epilogue

The Midway Boss: It's all quieted down
but for the sound
of the survivors settling in.
As early birds tuck in
there's a gypsy laugh, then,
a burst of flame and a laugh again.

Madame Ugly: Rumor is there's a new Sword Swallower coming.
The Midway Boss: Everyone's taste for Knife Throwing is running
out. That's the third time one's turned out
to be more than apparently doubtful.

The Devil: Wonder if the next swallower don't take more than a mouthful,

The Midway Boss: The acrobats jeer
at the Elephant Man out of habit.

The Magician's rabbit
changes from white to red.
The man who bites off heads,
thank God, went to bed.

He has a terrible problem with alcohol.
He often smashes rats against the wall

in a fevered frenzy.
Someone screams. He
laughs viciously.

It's hard to see
but the gypsy man with the blue-black eyes
gave the Tightrope Walker quite a surprise
back there behind the Ferris wheel.
And to the left the Gaffer makes a deal
with one of the Roustabouts.

The Lady with the 7 Veils
and the Elephant Man
ran off with the Barker's bite.
Over to the left there,
behind that curtain,
I will divine the night.

I don’t tell the future,
no, it's the night itself I read;
while primal popcorn bursts
and cotton candy spins
of dim and din
and games no one wins
drift up to dim the moon
and wither the trees.

The man biting heads off of rats turns
to eye small children with an ominous glare,
a carnivorous stare
and there - look - over there
the Bearded Lady Weeps
while the animal keeper sweeps
and the Fat Lady sings.

Brass rings
fall in rust-dulled clinks
on to the candy sticky ground.
The carousel spins round
with a madness and mind of it's own.

The Sword Swallower groans
as if he's met with accident.
A few stragglers shuffle, spent
on the dreams of jugglers and gypsy's.
You’ve been here before.
And you will be once more.

Repeat God’s Gonna Cut You Down – exit out with Conjurini still juggling fire.

The Tightrope Walker

The Tightrope Walker
Kristen Kirkley

The Tightrope Walker

The Tightrope Walker
Kristen Kirkley

The Contortionist

The Contortionist
Stefani Zabner