Big Old Bald-Headed Momma’s Circus was what it’d be called. Lula could change the name when she came of age, but then Lula could keep it the same too, was BOB-HM’s line of thinking. BOB-HM was first M, then BOM when her thyroid died and she put on pounds. A thyroid was a thingy in your throat, sweet pea. The cancer made her BOB-HM, and the acronyms would stop there.
They cut open the teddy bears not fit for the circus and excised some samples and BOB-HM dyed the stuffing orange and glued it to her head because that’s what the ringmaster’s supposed to do. Lula had a tutu, and that was fine, and blankets were stitched together: comforter, baby, quilt, then carpet, bath mat, shower curtain, old long johns, socks, every fabric they could find for the Big Top.
When BOB-HM’s Henry/Lula’s Dad left he left the ladders, and the scaffolding, and the funny thing that could change the lightbulbs that were so high up. Lula thought Henry/Dad might need these things, but BOB-HM propped the tent up with them anyway. BOB-HM could be so mean sometimes.
For the floor they tore off shingles and threw them to the trampoline that was meant for the monkeys. The monkeys would be trained squirrels, sweet pea. Beside their house was a grand esplanade and beside the esplanade was sea that went way out, to all lands known and unknown. That’s where their customers would come from, in great big ships, so numerous they could be stars in negative space. The ships would be oared to shore and all the men would have stovepipe hats and moustaches and the women would have dresses that glowed even in the night. They’d be led by horse and buggy to the Big Top, real fancy. The horses would be shelter dogs and the buggies would be radio flyers, sweet pea. The mayor would come and everything.
When BOB-HM coughed up blood she had to climb a ladder to the Big Top to wipe her mouth because they stitched their towels into the tent. BOB-HM would turn the blood into water that fountained from the flower on her shoulder and Lula would laugh till snot came out. Lula would have to climb a ladder for that, too.
When the nights stretched their legs and the willows dropped their fronds onto the esplanade, Lula would collect them in great big piles and BOB-HM would wheel over in her clown car (not a wheelchair, sweet pea). The fronds became confetti, streamers, tickets. Anything but fronds.
BOB-HM perfected an animal whisperer whistle, because that’s what the ringmaster’s supposed to do. I wish you could’ve seen it. Bunnies crashing in like waves on the esplanade. Squirrels as numerous as ants. An avalanche of doves, finches, geese. Bears ambling out of the woods on their hind legs, waving both paws the whole walk over. It was quite the whistle.
BOB-HM had to rest so much because that’s what cancer made you do, so Lula held rehearsals. The birds thought they were better than the squirrels. The squirrels demanded more nuts. The bears wanted to eat all the bunnies. Lula set them all straight. The bears learned to dance. The squirrels perfected a juggling routine. The birds sang gloriously.
The night of the show, Lula gave a ringmaster’s whistle. Real loud and clear. She listened to its echoes carry through the woods, out to sea, the willow fronds billowing all the time. BOB-HM would’ve been proud.
Monkeys came–real ones, and elephants, and tigers, and ships gathered on the shore like grains of sand. The moustachioed men escorted their glowing dates, filing out in the thousands to see the show, under the bright red-and-white Big Top, the finest equines to lead them by gilded carriage, past the rows of elephants harmonizing with their trunks, the monkeys atop them waving and smiling big, toothy monkey smiles, past the bears tossing real confetti from the tops of trees, the birds dragging a triumphant banner–the triumphant banner, slicing the bright blue sky with it, the words in big bold letters that everyone everywhere could read:
“Welcome to Big Old Bald-Headed Momma’s Circus!”
So come one, come all, and enjoy the magic that life has to offer here, under the Big Top, at the show to end all shows. You won’t want to miss this one.