It’s a heinous thing. You ride it with do-gooders and sober people, feeling like your life is on track and things are swell. I keep my writing desk on the wagon–a little corner I have carved out, large enough for my MacBook and a mug of green tea. I sit between the AAers (a manic bunch who swarm round chocolate and share a lot), and the triathletes (muscle-bound gods who regularly spring from the wagon wearing speedos and ride their racing bikes several laps around the wagon as if it isn’t moving). It may sound crowded, but somehow there is always room.
Then the wagon crosses into the carnival. Enchanting music pumps forth from some organ grinder and the smell of cooked meat fills the air. The wagon sways and I feel myself teeter. The AAers dump sugar into their coffee and say the serenity prayer. The triathletes go on a buffalo spleen diet. We all cling to the wagon, grasping at things like savings accounts, wedding rings, healthy teeth. We hang on.
But then I look out and the beautiful people are assembling, dressed in silver and stripes, black capes and leather. They are impossibly strong. They are improbably virtuous. They look through the wagon like it isn’t even there, until one of them somehow sees me. She is sexy, divine, in love with life, and she exists to consume. I try to ignore her and pound words furiously into my computer. I look up and she winks at me, beckons me, blows me a kiss. I am stoned upon the sweet tang of desire. I fall off the wagon.
I find myself on the mean and acrid carnival floor. Laughs are cheap, and all else expensive. I see the wagon rolling out the gate, into the picturesque countryside where all the stoops are swept and all the prayers are given. It rolls through that last grassy dale, and I can hear them singing, This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. I give them the finger and take my first hungry look around.
The beautiful woman is gone, but I don’t care. The carnival opens before me. Swindlers dressed as porters lean close in and whisper wonderful lies into my ear. My pockets are filled with heavy coins, and I am filled with sweet lust to spend–just a little. It is unchecked life and I am enamored by the power of it. I want to write about it, to capture it all and give it to the future, but my computer is on the wagon. I’ll find time tomorrow for writing.
I reach into my pocket and pull out some coins. They are gold and each is labeled “One Hour”. I buy a mug of ale. I gulp and I can feel the night winding up behind me. I walk down the main drag, swimming in the sensuality of the party. The music jabs out and the people are fat and happy.
I pass tent after tent with barkers trying to lure me in. I plunge my hand deep into my pocket and feel it engulfed in gold. I spot a show that looks enticing and throw a fistful of coins out as I enter. I am shocked at what I see. It is a freak show. It is an erotic dance of mutants.I want to leave, but I am somehow fascinated.
Siamese twins are kissing and gyrating as the barker eggs them on. Four bare breasts, six arms, five legs, a well stuffed loin cloth, muscle and pale skin. The promise of so much. I am disgusted, and yet I am stimulated. I am stupefied by this and I am incapable of walking away.
I emerge hours later wanting anything and nothing but more. Everything around me is raw and meaningful. The greed, the pollution, the feel. It is humanity at its most honest, and I want to soak in it. I think about writing it, about how wonderful it is going to be to read. How important the underside of life is. And then I hear the orchestra.
Music pours from a tent ahead of me. It is loud and boisterous and hypnotic. I catch a glimpse inside and people are dancing. Clothes are falling off exposing sweat and skin. Smiles, wicked smiles as men and women grind to the music. I pour money from my pocket at the man at the door. I see a hundred Hours issue forth from my hand and I don’t care. I want in.
I plunge in and lose myself. I start to dance and sweat and sway with the party. The orchestra keeps time executioner style, intentional, effective, indifferent. We tread upon each other’s need and trample it into the floor. Our minds switch off and our bodies are free. Oh to capture it all. To do my duty and pay it forward. To chronicle these seditious moments of pleasure in the wilderness. If only I had a keyboard. If only I can remember until tomorrow.
A week has passed when I emerge. I am sticky and dazed and content. It is still night and I sit on a bench and try to regain my mind. The people are loud and oblivious. They walk past me stepping on my toes. I look to see where the crowd is going. There is still another show. There is always another show.
I step in with the crowd….
One Month Later:
I have finally climbed back on the wagon. It found me asleep in a pile of mule dung, broken pinwheel in my hand. I am foul and exhausted, but I have climbed back on. I will shower soon, for there are showers on the wagon. I will brush my teeth, and deposit the single coin I have left into my piggy bank. I will pray with the AAers and I will do some push ups with the triathletes, but first, before anything distracts me, I am going to write in my blog.
Dear readers, I am sorry I have been away.