12 – THE OTHER CIRCUS & THE MAN’S RETURN

Earlier Jingle had wondered something. While he had been helping build the Big Top he had seen the unbroken forest that surrounded the clearing and had wondered who, if anyone, would use The White Heart Carnival & Circus.

He had no idea there was so much life in the world.

He also had no idea how varied that life was.

Snail-people carried balloons and slithered towards the Ghost Train, half a dozen children in tow. A lioness sat while her cubs bounced madly on the Haunted Castle while her Lion husband chatted with a slender Cheetah neighbour. Here a tiny monkey sat on his coiled tail licking candy floss from mucky fingers while over there something that looked like a sea-urchin giggled as he watched his parents argue about some domestic issue.

Everywhere Jingle looked another miracle caught his eye. Every time he thought there could not be a stranger sight he saw one as he turned his head. Why would they be here? He wondered. Why would anyone want to go to a circus when they lived in something so amazing each and every day?

It was then that Jingle saw Him, or thought he saw Him, half hidden in a crowd making their way into he Big Top, each filing their way passed a chimpanzee dressed as a clown who accepted their payment and gave them a ticket in return.

Jingle ran over and the chimp, which was called Nigel if memory served, nodded and let him through. Inside the huge tent the lights were trained on the seats and the ring in its centre was in darkness. Jingle searched the rows of benches but did not see Him and wondered if he had seen Him at all.

As the last few customers filled the highest seats the band began to play, a quiet drum roll that grew until trombones began a fanfare. The lights that covered the centre ring came on, illuminating a man dressed in top hat and tails stood beside an elephant adorned with a glittering net of jewels across its back.

“Welcome!” Shouted Alan the Elephant, and the crowd roared their approval. The lights and sounds blinded and deafened Jingle, the whole spectacle more than he could have imagined. “To The White Heart Carnival & Circus!” Alan completed and a parade of acrobats stormed the centre ring, tumbling and flying through the air as if they could float at will.

For a moment Jingle stood and watched, his search forgotten. The acrobats were followed by jugglers and the jugglers by clowns. As each stepped into the light they began their act, circled the centre rings and then disappeared back into darkness only to be followed by something equally amazing.

Jingle walked down closer to the centre ring and watched for a time. He then turned, intending to continue his search, and looked straight into The Man’s eyes.

The Man watched the spectacle of the circus with wide eyes and open mouth. In his hands he clutched a half eaten hotdog. Beside him there was an empty seat and Jingle moved over to it and sat. The Man did not take his eyes from the entertainment in the centre ring and didn’t seem to notice when Jingle sat.

“Evenin'” Jingle said.

“Evenin'” The Man replied.

“Do you know who I am?” Jingle asked and The Man looked over at him, thinking for a second before a smile spread across his face.

“Jingle!” The man almost shouted, provoking a few looks from people sat nearby. “I think I’ve been looking for you.” He continued and then his smile faded and he frowned. “I’ve been looking for something at least.”

The Man moved closer to the blue nosed reindeer.

Jingle smiled. “It doesn’t matter.” He said and the two of them watched the circus’ opening presentation in silence.

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