Before you fell in with Serena, the snake charmer, your caravan was a sad and quiet place. Now she slides her lips around yours, spits her wishes straight into your mouth. You draw on those wishes, swish them around and swallow them whole. Her last lover, Tiny Bill, an albino dwarf with a heart of gold, has been missing for a month.
“Sad about little Bill?” you say. Serena screws off her bracelets and rattles them like a hymn before setting them on your nightstand. Pauses as if digesting your question, as if it isn’t as interesting as your leg. She slips down on you, everywhere on you and moves her mouth over your dead knee.
When you performed in the main ring, before your big fall, you used to think about the dignity of ropes, how many ropes you’d dangled from thinking about the wrong kind of woman, how many times ropes nearly killed you but saved you instead.
“Not really,” she says, hovering over your knob. “And Bill never did me the way you do me.” It’s been every night this week, this sideshow for your heart. You feel dirty and free of your body, on top of the world. She is the most unwholesome beauty you’ve ever loved and you feel like you’ve found your real act in this world.
You can taste your own saliva as Serena goes higher and faster. You start to burp, but stay completely still. Your peg leg seems to thrill her the most, but it’s pinching you now, setting limits.
“I need to take this off, Babe,” you say, and so you do. She watches you pull it, poised and gleaming. Keeps her face next to it, sniffing the edges of your shiny pink stump smiling from ear to ear every time, as if she’s never seen anything so perfect.
“You ain’t shown me anything I haven’t wanted to see all my life,” she whispers, holding your stump like a snake baby in her arms.”
“Nobody is sinless,” you say, about Bill, but she doesn’t even twitch. Her lips make nests in your hairy back while you sleep and you dream of being a boy again— flying on rope swings over the quarry back home. When you wake up, in the middle of the night, you can hear her gliding right in.