by Robert Scotellaro
Behind the Calliope
For my birthday my wife gets me a circus of her own making—seats me by a rooster juggling act and a rainbow walker, who keeps falling through the color blue. A clown comes out and pantomimes the sinking of the Titanic, and just before the hundredth soul goes under—I take my restless feet and wander. Find my wife behind the calliope with one of the windjammers from the band blowing a breathless oom-pa-pa against her lips.
"Stop!" I shout. "Show's over!" And the tent pole tumbles; tent pegs flying out like bats. The whole mess folded in a flash and carted off. My wife and I construct a silence in its wake which shatters glass. Yet still I think of the roosters fondly—their feathery snow.
I'm getting my wife a county fair for Christmas. With an old-time Ferris wheel and a guy to: "Guess-your-weight". Where a hot number works the cotton candy—the paper cones with sticky, graceful twirls—I just can't wait to meet.
The day they stole my father—the sky would have been black and low enough to bruise a man's shoulders. He must have been weak from the flu, a buckle beating, or a bad back—too weary to resist.
The car, I imagined: black, or a hunter's green Caddy with a shark's-teeth grill. The blacktop a chain pulling it/him along south—blacking out from the heat. His captors in the back, on either side, smoking cigarettes and laughing. Forcing him, later, to remarry—the gun metal singeing his shiny black hair.
All those miles piled up behind him—one screeching crash after another. The black heart, my mother said, he took with him—far and safe enough away—it couldn't hear a thing.
Robert Scotellaro's short fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in: Dogzplot, Willows Wept Review, mud luscious, Ghoti, 971 Menu, The Laurel Review, Storyscape, Battered Suitcase, Red Rock Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Macmillan collections and others. He is the author of several literary chapbooks, two books of poetry, and the recipient of Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. Born and raised in Manhattan, he currently lives in California with his wife and daughter.