Vision I

His face was beet red and bloated. His whiskers and sideburns had some grey in them. I watched him while he talked on his cell phone in the bus station. He told his friend he’d spent the season working with Smokey’s Greater Shows. Oh good, I thought, a carnie! He was on his way back home; in the middle of a five hour layover. I overheard what he was saying a bit more intently. He’d had a good season and he was doing “real good”.

There was something in his voice that led me to believe curiosity was covered by worn basketball shoes and greasy jeans. I was convinced that his eyes, glassy from the previous night’s excess, observed things hidden from my line of vision. He seemed like a “what the hell” kinda guy. He had to be, right? Why run away with the carnival in mid-life if not for an adventure, to have an experience, to catalogue an alternative path?

He wasn’t handsome at all but the inflection of his speech broadcast smart. I want to know what smart knows. I want to hear what it says, in all its abrasion and discomfort. I watched him pace and chain smoke cigarettes outside. I went out there too.

He was an affable guy. He’d worked with Smokey’s Greater Shows twenty years ago. He went back this year because there was no work in his hometown. He had to get thehelloutathere. The season was over and he figured he’d do odd jobs until the spring when Smokey’s had asked him to come back. He was proud that he’d been offered a job the following season. He felt better than he had in a long time, lost 30 lbs. while he was working.

We spoke briefly. I had to suggest that perhaps he could write about his experience over the winter, contrast his past experience to his recent adventure. He was confused. I did not elaborate on my vision for his future.


About elroyjones

Married, no children, responsibly self-directed, living happily.
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18 Responses to Vision I

  1. Loving it! I need to do posts about the crazy characters I have met in my travels. You are leading the way again.

  2. judithatwood says:

    I would have loved to hear him tell stories about his life! And so good of you to approach him — so many people wouldn’t, out of fear, or snobbishness, or whatever. I’m very proud of you!

    • elroyjones says:

      He was an interesting guy. I wanted to know more but I couldn’t intrude. I’m absolutely certain we have had some common experiences.

      • judithatwood says:

        I understand what you mean! Someday I’ll write a little more than I have so far about being made to ride on the methadone quitters’ bus; It turned out that these were my people all through my 30s!

      • elroyjones says:

        I loved the methadone bus post, loved it!

  3. Doug says:

    Wow. You’re riffin’ the romantic tonight. And well played. And I hum along. Sing-song about street cred. But I notice I’m not recollecting the lyrics like I used to. Mixing up a verse or two. Set ways and happy days and high octane sippin’ whiskey have tattered that sheep-skin. That hard earned Phd in Street Wise fading. Post grad passé.

  4. gkinnard says:

    Every time I start to read your stories and my hand lifts off the mouse and my arm gets comfortable on the chair’s armrest; suddenly there’s no hurry at all to move on to something else. I love your writing—especially your character descriptions!

  5. Amen to all of the above who got here before I did. We’ve had guests for the past week, and they seem to need to be paid attention to.

    • elroyjones says:

      Me too. I was a guest, a paying guest but a guest all the same. I had a manic posting session last night after having been away for a little bit. Hope you had fun and made the time out of the cellar count!

      • Richard Daybell says:

        Everyone else is off shopping, I’m out of the cellar and all alone. I’m making it count.

  6. Peggy says:

    Awesome! It’s one of those moments when you observe someone and just know there’s so much more to them than what you see. And, you just have to explore it and starting up a conversation is such a natural thing to do. Right on.

  7. You run into them once in a while. The guy with padlocks for earrings or the woman with filmy eyes that, for whatever reason, hold warmth that’s hidden behind their exterior. Huh. Makes me wonder why I think it’s hidden, not obvious.

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