It’s the last day of the summer tour which means I’m running away tomorrow. No more pickled punks, no more Albino Twins scaring me half to shit as I sleep, no more Bearded Lady tickling my neck with her wiry whiskers, makin’ my stomach boil like a pot of potatoes. I had it memorized: Glenwood to Macksburg to Lone Tree then gone. Finger-drumming a beat to it, I repeated it each night as I hay-slept in the back of the old pick up. Glenwood to Macksburg to Lone Tree then gone. Towns that didn’t have no colleges, no car dealerships, no street lights. Daddy said we was too raunchy for places like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Said they would kidnap Dog Boy, Giant Ginny, Reptile Man and take ‘em to doctors. He said the smarter people was the more scared they was. But it was our job to show people what they was scared of. And then they be better off for it. We was helping people.
Only time he ever hit me was when I asked, They better off, but what about us? I’m no genius, but I know I ain’t no better off eating scraps from the paying patrons, and I ain’t no better off sleeping with no roof, barely washin’ once a week and letting the Bearded Lady touch me how she does behind the tent.
I’m no genius but maybe that’s why I ain’t no chicken shit neither. I ain’t afraid to skim fifty cents when I brought the ticket box to Daddy every night. And I ain’t afraid to pack my clothes in a pillowcase, sleepin’ on it ‘til it’s time, lie to Momma when she asked why my clothes wasn’t on the wire. And I won’t be afraid tomorrow to sneak out after breakfast, saying I was going to go piss behind the pecan tree, and just keep walking. Not saying goodbye to nobody.
I’m no genius but I know enough to get to highway 80 and from there I could hitch, maybe get a ride from a trucker, one of those big rigs carrying something like a million TVs or stacks of basketball shoes, or maybe get a ride from a family heading to the lakes for end of summer vacation, sit in the back with a boy and his sister playing car games. I could hitch all the way to Peoria or if I was lucky maybe even Chicago. I could learn to play jazz. Play drums like Buddy Rich. I could join a band.