Prologue

As The Exposer passed the cookhouse a low moan beat against her eardrums. They were force-feeding Betsy-the-Four-Hundred-Pound-Baby again. She always put up such a fuss. It might seem odd; why employ a Four-Hundred-Pound-Baby who didn’t like to eat? Big Al, the show’s ringmaster, (or showman as he liked to be called), insisted her shame made Betsy the best in the business. Other shows just went for fat and jolly, but not Big Al. He was a visionary in his own way.

The makeup tent was empty. She slid her hand into the cold lard. Her teeth ached from the chill. The battered can once held the freshly roasted beans of a Rippeli Bros Coffee sampler; most of the name had dissolved away under a greenish tinged layer of rust. The only letters still legible were p-e-l-i. Seemed like the tin had been with the show forever. Somebody started calling the pork fat inside Peli, and the name stuck.

The heat from her fingers melted the fat. The Exposer lifted out a handful, trying not to inhale the rancid scent. The gold-flecked pancake covering her skin came off with the help of a fresh rag. Pork fat removed body makeup swiftly, but left behind a greasy veneer in its wake. She’d have a proper scrubbing before bed, anyway. At least it wasn’t suet, far more disturbing on the flesh. On those days, even after a proper cleansing, the stench of slaughtered lamb still oozed out of her pores. The Exposer dug a long strand of electric blue hair out of the can and shuddered. She could always tell who had been in the dressing room last by the marks they left in the lard.

As troupers in a show with performances seven days a week, twice on Saturdays, they constantly took makeup on and off. Big Al didn’t see why he should burn away his profits buying barrels of cold cream, when with one thin dime he could have a runner pick up a pound of lard at the local butcher shop. Wise in the ways of management, he knew best. The show hadn’t reached meteoric heights by having a dummy at the helm. No sir.

The showman fancied himself the spiritual leader of oddities. He had special gifts. Ways to see into people, and find their significant essence. He found it locked inside his performers when they didn’t even know it was there. Folks were just plain lumps of coal ‘til he got his hands on them, and turned them into gemstones. That’s what he did for her, and every last person at the show. She had to be grateful for that, didn’t she? If Big Al felt it necessary to cut corners for certain things, it wasn’t her place to judge.

The Exposer plunged the rag into a basin of water, wiping away all traces of the glittering mask reserved for her stage act. Someone had pinned a postcard to the shawl she wore around the lot: Come to my office after the closing, we have business to discuss. –BA.

She gazed at her face in the mirror; it was not an innocent one. Show folks, they’re clannish, this crew more so than others. She had done things on behalf of the show. Sometimes people make choices in the name of family.

The Exposer pocketed the postcard. They sold hundreds of them at the concession stand. This one featured Big Al beckoning passersby to experience the wonders inside. But the first time she had seen one of these cards was long before her days as a headliner.

 

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Day 17, Somebody Get Me a Valium With a Michael Phelps Chaser

The story of young Beauregard Fritzen’s road to the Olympics is a bumpy one. On the boy’s eighth birthday Pocko, his turtle and only friend, was struck down by polio. At age twelve, Fritzen’s neighbor’s milkman was blinded in one eye by a wayward spoon, leaving Beau with an incapacitating fear of pudding. At age eighteen directionless and despondent, the boy developed a severe addiction to string cheese. This had little to no effect on anyone except his roommates who were forced to share a bathroom with him and really would have appreciated it if the guy used a little air freshener every once in a while. Yes, if it weren’t for that wealthy patron who fashioned a pair of braces for Pocko out of gold plated paperclips and some duct tape, Beauregard might never have realized his dream to one day become an Olympic — insert name of sport here. Continue reading

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News of My Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Hello my online pals. This is going to be short. I wanted to let you all know I am decidedly not dead, although occasionally lying in a pool of my own disoriented drool.

Have you missed me? No doubt you all have a long list of terribly urgent questions to ask, things like: Where are my witty albeit odd posts? What the hell is up with me? Have I learned how to spell judgement yet? Has that much needed growth spurt I’ve been waiting for my whole life finally arrived? Things of that nature. The answers are soon, I really couldn’t say, no not yet, and if anything I’m shrinking, in that order.

As some of you know, I have temporarily moved in with my parents until I get myself and my finances straightened out. They’ve been incredibly gracious and accommodating, (er…hi mom, see you at the breakfast table tomorrow morning…) But after living alone for over twenty years it’s been a bit of an adjustment. And I may have inadvertently put several of my synapses in storage along with all my worldly possessions. Which has made composing anything other than a few dirty limericks rather difficult.

Sidebar, are you aware that limerick is a much debated word in etymological circles? The simple explanation is that it comes from the Irish city of Limerick. That some gaelic poets with an axe to grind jousted in verses with a limerick metre. (We all know how belligerent those wordsmiths can get.) But the word was first documented in England in 1898 and was popularized by a man named Edward Lear in a book he wrote entitled “The Book of Nonsense”. (How sad are you that you have not published a tome called “The Book of Nonsense”?)

I will heretofore refer to this as the Post of Nonsense.  You know I recently came across my first draft of an About page for this blog. It read as follows: “I am not processed cheese, I am not processed cheese, I am not processed cheese. If I were anything I might be a chocolate souffle, but alas I am not that either. I am however computer illiterate and very sassy.”

True story.

Where was I? Oh yes, the origins of Limerick. Others speculate it comes from the ditty “Wont You Come Up to Limerick” sung at stag parties when a drunken fellow, let’s call him Bob, encouraged his mates to come on up and do a kind of cross between rap and karaoke.

Still others speculate that a lady from Wheeling had a remarkable feeling that Bob and his buddies were spending far too much time at the pub and needed to buckle down, or they’d soon be spending a lot of alone time eyeing ye herd of sheep, if you get my meaning.

To sum up, I am working on a few things. I apologize for leaving you hanging, and as of this writing I am definitely not processed cheese.

xo -Madame P.

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In Which Madame Paradox Dives Off A Cliff

As a general rule the David clan is not what one would call outdoorsy. We don’t hunt buffalo, or jog, things of that nature. As you can see from the adorably undead pallor in my bio photo I don’t go tanning often, and generally avoid staying in places without electrical outlets. I prefer George Clooney to Smokey the Bear. Although to be clear, if Clooney’s in a tent, I’ll hug whatever tree you want. Continue reading

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Mr. M.

Hilary Kline, Photographer

“Here’s your dinner Mr. M.,” the nurse’s aide said. She wore a My Name is Brandi tag on her pink uniform.

“Brandi of the Billings High School Basement,” I said. “Might you have a pitcher of Hippocras hiding in the back?”

“Eat your peas, hun,” Brandi said, heading back down the aisle of hurricane refugees, her orthopedic shoes squeaking along the linoleum.

Orthopedic shoes. Now there was a worthless invention of the twenty first century. I tried to imagine subjecting Morgan Le Fay to an eternity wearing a pair and snickered.

The woman was a notorious shoe slut.

Continue reading

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The Lily Eater

In the waiting and the wanting there came a silence, where the rustling leaves were muffled, and the birds ceased to sing. There, inside that muted instant, he rose from the water, a man like no other. His flesh so thin and tender you could see the webbed veins pumping blood beneath. Continue reading

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Step Aside Angelina, He’s Mine

Apparently it is award season here on the interwebs. Not something as pedestrian as the Golden Globes or the Oscars, mind you. No friends, I mean award season in the land of blogs, and I have been given the Liebster Award by not one but two of my incredibly supportive online writing pals. I’ll get to that part in a moment.

First, you should know as a newly crowned celebrity they naturally provide me with both trainer and stylist. If I’m understanding correctly these two perform some sort of Rumpelstiltskin-type maneuver that sucks the fat out of my thighs transforming it into the gold that pays for the one of a kind Vera Wang gown I am currently wearing on the virtual carpet. But let’s get to the important part, my date for this ceremony. As this is my delusion of grandeur lets forego the polite niceties and just admit that it’s Brad Pitt, shall we? The fact is, once he realized the utter bliss he could experience with Madame Paradox, Angie-whats-her-name paled by comparison… Continue reading

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Welcome to Paradoxia, Leave Your Valentines at the Door

I saw a Whitman’s Sampler heart discarded on the asphalt this weekend. Obviously someone’s pre-valentine’s binging has gotten out of hand. Is it any wonder? No holiday short of New Year’s has more pressure and expectation dripping off its hungry jowls than the beast that is Valentine’s Day.

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The Infernal Humanity Tank

Once again the blog LitStack: For the love of all things wordy has provided me with some inspiration. However, I must confess I broke the rules this time. My flash fiction challenge is double the length it’s supposed to be. What can I say? The story just kept escalating and I didn’t have the heart to stop it. As for how this dark subject matter appeared. I can only assume the photo prompt combined with several days of jury duty intensified my usual madness. Behold what the American justice system has wrought.

THE INFERNAL HUMANITY TANK

Not a drop of oil remained. Beneath the city hunger and dissatisfaction throbbed. The Patriarchs had no use for a blissful society.

Workers plastered a new sign across the walls of the courthouse. Killer bees have been sighted in this area. You may die soon, it read.

Continue reading

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How To Win Friends And Influence People

New Year’s greetings, friends. I haven’t posted any fiction in a while. My twitter pal @ChrisGNguyen sent me a link to a flash fiction challenge using a photo prompt. (You know how much I love those photo prompts.) I must admit I wasn’t feeling inspired by this one, but then of course some weird bit of silliness began to take shape in my warped brain. So the photo below is courtesy of the blog Litstack; for the love of all things wordy. If you’d like to write your own piece, publish it to your blog and leave the link in the comments over at LitStack’s flash fiction challenge. Enjoy.

How To Win Friends And Influence People

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Open one of them old timey costume places so families could come in and play dress up. With authentic get-ups like cowboys, flappers, snake-handlers, gangsters, and his personal favorite, French maids, it was bound to be a big hit. But then some Buddhist fella decided to build a monastery down the road. Turns out the kinda tourists that go visit monks aren’t all that interested in flashback photos. Continue reading

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