A Story by LadyRosaline

Only halfway there!


Okay, lets Back up.

The ringmaster was the size of an ant from the trapezeman’s vantage; another ten feet higher and he could touch the canvas ceiling of the Big Top. Even with the ringmaster’s voice belting from the PA speakers encompassing the circus arena, the trapezeman could barely hear what was being said. The crowd, the elephants, the clowns, the ringmaster, all stayed on the bleachers or the sawdust floor below (lucky groundlings). All the circus performers were paid the same meager wage, no hazard pay for the death defying trapezeman"or trapezeperson, or trapezepeople… Now’s not the time. Focus "Speaking of, the only dangers the sad faced clowns might ever encounter are being stamped on by an elephant, or wrecking their comically tiny punch-buggy.

It’s not fair.


Way down below, a pack of circus roadies were busy pulling away the Godsend. “The Godsend” was what the trapeze team nicknamed their safety net, because it was exactly that. In their line of work, people fall. It happens. “To err is human,” right? And when you fall, the safety net saves you: “Godsend.”

The trapezeman was able to imagine the ringmaster’s spiel of bullshit with descent accuracy, even though he was not able to hear so well from the nosebleed:

For tonight’s main event, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, strap yourselves in because you will soon be hanging on the edge of your seat. Our very own Master of Maddening Heights, Darest of Daredevils, Pharaoh of Fearlessness… (The ringmaster could go on for hours; he had a million of ‘em!) Will stop your heart in a web of suspense as he attempts to walk across the high rope… and for those of you who are not yet impressed by the harrows of this challenge, let us raise the stakes, then, shall we? Yes, for thismain event, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, our Terrorless Trapezeman will mosey the high rope… (Drum role, please) WITHOUT THE SERENE SECURITY OF HIS (Godsend) SAFETY NET!

“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, the high rope is…

Is suspended above the circus ring at the staggering height of one hundred feet, it stretches a length equivalent to a Canadian football field, and it has the pitiful diameter of a mere four and one half inches. But the dimensions were not important, at least as far as the trapezeman was concerned. If you can walk a tightrope ten yards, five feet off the ground, you can walk one anchored between two skyscrapers.

The Master of Maddening Heights was put on earth for one thing, he thought: To walk tightropes. That was his niche, his thing, and his teammates thought so, too. Of all the goddam God given talents shelled out every day, why walking tightropes? Not only was he insanely prodigious at it, but, tragically, he had little to no talent for anything else. So this was it. Circus performer had been the only calling which he could answer. But he could not think on it right now. He needed to focus.

Applause thundered from down below, and then a spot light beamed at him. That was his cue. Time to take a little walk.

Go forward.

Only halfway there!

And the Darest of Daredevils froze solid. Not exactly, but he might as well had. All at once it seemed he had forgotten how to walk the rope. Not that he was scared, he just could not, for the life of him, understand how the rope walking process worked. It was like swimming laps in the deep end and suddenly forgetting how to propel yourself through the water, then the only thing left to ensure survival is treading water until either you remember, or drown to death.

The Darest of Daredevils was drowning.

Okay, you can do this, he assured himself none too confidently. Just like riding a bike… speaking of, he could ride a tricycle across a tightrope any old day of the week; he could walk one blindfolded, for Christ’s sake. Why the hell is this happening? He wondered. Wondering won’t get you to the end of the rope, only walking will. Now walk damn you!

He couldn’t

The Pharaoh of Fearlessness was sure beyond all doubt that the next step would be his last step on earth. But to stand balancing at the point of no return was no better. He supposed he’d rather die stepping than standing still, at least with stepping there’s hope.

Here goes nothing.



His heart was banging on all cylinders, now. His nervous system went haywire, each nerve screaming with panic. His Kidneys force fed adrenalin to his veins, an awful prescription considering the circumstance. His metabolic processes’ frantic lifesaving techniques, ironically, were dooming him. Panic is the worst possible spell when walking the rope. When he had barely lifted his left foot to take the next step, his balance slipped and then the horror washed over him. Even the audience had gasped at the sight. He wanted to scream, “Help! I can’t make it! Bring back the net! Return the ‘Godsend!’ Send for God!” But, of course, he couldn’t. Calling for help would only succeed in breaking his concentration and then send him crashing. So he kept his balance… for the time being.

The Terrorless Trapezeman was terrified, not so terrorless as it turns out. As a matter of fact, he was almost certain that "terrorless" is not even a real word. Neither is "darest," come to think of it. He asked himself, why and who in their right mind would commit to something sooo….He decided then and there that when he got down (IF he got down) he was going to give the ringmaster a piece of his mind on many topics: his pay, new costumes that weren't ripping at the seams, nothing to hurry a heart attack, and, last but certainly not least, a new introduction to his act. But now is not the time. Focus. Then quite against his will, his mind travelled backward, back to before he became a damn circus monkey. And why not? Anything was better than where he currently was.

Back up again.

He used to play little league ball when he was 13, or around that age. He hadn't been the best kid on the team, but he wasn't the worst either. He could throw, catch popups and grounders, and hit with the best of them. But there was one moment in his little league baseball career that has haunted him all the way to the present.

It was his job to throw with the pitcher before games. Because he was often the odd man out and more or less forgotten all together by the coach, the coach would always forget to hit him practice balls during pregame warm-ups. So warming up the pitcher became his way of contributing to the team. Besides, it would be nearly impossible to screw that job up? But one day he had found a way. The starting pitcher, a pudgy kid with a big fat cannon of a right arm, threw the ball, and the future trapezeman caught it (so far so good). Then he roared back to throw it to the pitcher and let the ball loose. The baseball went wild and into the dirt before the tubby pitchers feet and rolled past. The pitcher, of course, had to go fetch it. Damn! Okay, it slipped, no big deal. But it turned out to be a huge deal! Every throw he made that day fell short and off target. He'd forgotten one of the simplest executions the human body can make short of breathing and moving one's bowels: throwing a baseball; just as years later he would forget how to walk a tightrope, a talent that came as naturally as breathing to him. "YOU'RE KILLING MY PITCHER!" the coach had yelled. But there was nothing the boy could have done about it. Even if the coach had held a gun to his mother's head and promised that if the next throw didn't hit the pitcher squarely in his mitt... BANG! right in the noggin. If the coach had made that promise, the boy's poor mother would have had a bullet with her name on it. And she would have deserved it, too, for the crime of contaminating the world with a kid who can't even remember how to throw a baseball and whose only talent is walking across ropes.

It had been the worst day of his teenage life... among others.

Go forward again.

That unsightly trip down memory lane cost him his balance... He and the rope swayed, first left then hard right. He fell. "To err is human," right?

The fall lasted long enough for him to realize that he shat himself on the way down, but it was quick enough not to feel embarrassed by it. His body smacked hard against the sawdust floor of the circus arena breaking almost every bone in his body, including his kneck. He lost consciousness.

Go forward.

"How do you feel, Sweety?" His mom asked him. He could never figure out why she asked him questions; he could not talk. Speaking of, he itched like hell in his ridiculous looking body cast and worst of all he couldn't scratch. "Well, dinner's almost ready." It was soup, no doubt. The doctor suggested a liquids only diet on account that his jaw had to be wired shut. "I'll turn on the T.V. for ya," his mother left to tend to dinner.

She was even considerate enough to set the remote control on his lap before she left. He couldn’t change the channel, of course, but he appreciated the gesture all the same.

The dial was set on the Tru Tv network, home of God awful reality shows. Now playing was America’s Dumbest… The former Trapezeman watched without much interest, as the unfunny comedians on the show gave commentary on the miserable misadventures of common Americans. After only one segment and a commercial break, America’s Dumbest… quickly became yet another itch on a long list of itches that he was not able to scratch. He reached for the remote with all his willpower, but the constrictions of his cast would not allow it. So he had no choice but to watch. He watched. And to his amazement the show gave a segment that interested him. It depicted a man walking a tightrope. He was so excited to see it that he ignored the blathering of the talking comedian heads interspersed into the tightrope walking segment. He even found himself rooting for the man to get across. But wait… the footage was kind of grainy, probably because it was a bootleg shot with the video camera of an audience member’s cell phone. Then a shaky zoom revealed the circus performer in greater relief. That costume looks familiar…

Ah, S**t!

It was a video of him standing halfway between the beginning and the end of the high tightrope. As if being there was not bad enough, he was forced to watch it and live it all over again. He could see that the complications were starting. The show cut to one of the comedians, “All I’m sayin’ is, if I’m gonna walk across a rope in the air without a net under me, I better be getting some hazard pay, you know what I’m sayin’.” Hardy-frickin’-har! Cut back to the Trapezeman. He fell from the tightrope and hit the sawdust floor, complete with sound effect of a bowling ball crashing into pins"STEEE"RIKE! And then the clichéd, Wah wah wah music.

He was mortified.

But it’s funny.

If he had made it across the rope that day, the American public would have had no interest in it.

© 2013 LadyRosaline

My Review

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There are some strongpoints that I love and want more of:
I love the idea of a performer having a serious internal crisis in front of hundreds of people before stepping onto a tightrope! The flashback to baseball is great. What else could he be thinking up there? Does he get worried about how he'll retire? At what age is he going to be past his prime? At that point, is the circus going to fire him or groom him to be a ringmaster or make him shovel elephant turds?

I loved the technical detail of telling about the "godsend". Can you include more technical information about tightrope walking? Can you research to find more circus lingo? I like it when I learn real information about an interesting occupation while I'm reading a story.

If you do decide to add more details, I'd love to read it again. :)

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

I really wanted to focus on en medias res plot structure.
I have never even been to a circus.. read more
This is a very interesting story. Your description and use of words are well written and thought out. Your vocabulary seems strong, and do not lose it. I really enjoyed this story with its flashbacks and such.

I really felt as if I was really at a circus!

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

Thank you for reading.

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2 Reviews
Added on April 4, 2013
Last Updated on April 16, 2013
Tags: yips, short stories, humor



Read, write, and be read, but always be yourself, for your voice is yours alone and originality can be found within, if no where else... Writing is an expression. I know, I can hardly read that sta.. more..