His tiny casket was carried from the church by Samson the Strong Man, followed by Billy on his unicycle, Elvin the Stilt Walker, Frederick the Fire Eater, me and Mom. Turns out for such a small guy, my dad had an enlarged heart. Doctors were stunned that he lived as long as he did what with all the bouncing around.
Dad was 10 years younger than Mom, and two feet shorter. Mom said what he lacked in height he made up for in “other areas.” For years I thought that meant his sense of humor. Dad was a real clown. No, I’m serious. He was an actual clown. In his eulogy, Mom went through half a box of Kleenex telling how she’d been seated in the first row for a matinee performance when he leaped into her lap, poked her in the boob and made a honking sound. These days that would have gotten him arrested, but back then the audience found it uproariously funny and Mom, a thrice-divorced waitress at thirty, saw her ticket out doodieville. I came along soon after and just like that, we had ourselves an act.
Rain pelted our little parade as we crossed the street to the church cemetery. Mom wore a clear plastic rain bonnet over her heavily-sprayed beehive, while Frederick’s plans for a flaming send-off only fizzled, but boy did we attract an audience. Dad would have liked that. We’d wanted to have a statue of him erected over his gravestone, but could only afford a garden gnome. Still, it had his smile.
With the star of our act gone, me and Mom said good-bye to our circus family and put down our first roots here near Dad. Once a year, the circus still comes to town and me and Mom don our old costumes and get ourselves front row seats. This year a new young juggler caught my eye and, when he winked at me, I felt my heart tumbling through the air once again.
About the Author: Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her flash fiction collection, “Tender Cuts,” is forthcoming from Vine Leaves Press in December 2019. She lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.