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Anna Jane McIntyre

The Ringmaster

The Ringmaster

No no no no no no no.

Rewind, selector.

I’ll begin again.

There are two ringmasters. One tall, one small. The two ringmasters live in an old hoity toity hotel in the city. One lives on high in the attic, the other en bas, dans le sous-sol. Let us call her Josette, let us call him Federic. Josette lives in the attic and when she looks out of her window all she can see for miles and miles are rooftops, chimneys, smoke, birds, the sky and in the distance the traffic, the bridge, the river. It is quiet. She likes it. City sounds are muted and quaint by the time they reach these heights. She sips mugs of tea, smokes Mexican cigarettes and wonders at the dreaminess of it all. In the mornings, before her daily callisthenics she charts the clouds: cirrocumulus, altostratus, cumulonimbus.

In contrast, when Federic looks from his window he sees the sidewalk. He sees legs, gum, shoes, boots, puddles, taxi wheels and newspapers. He sees city feet, city dirt, little city dogs and discarded city things. Federic starts his day breakfasting late at the local café. He reads his horoscope, considers his dreams, drinks two espressos, interprets the grounds and eats a big fry-up. He chats with the local hoods and bookies, makes a few bets, makes a few calls and then ambles in to work.

They own this building. It is a time-share for people like them. At two o’clock each day the circus performers meet in the ballroom on the 2nd floor to work out their nightly routines. Federic is the louder of the two. He is like a bull. Short man’s syndrome people whisper. He moves quickly and sometimes shouts. He sees everything. He whips between their legs, calves, thighs, barking orders. He is delicious. When he talks to you, you find yourself mesmerized, looking at his lips and eyes, forgetting he is four foot nothing and thinking I could just eat you up (cannibalism being the highest expression of love). He carries a glittering bullhorn and a large set of keys, which dangle and clank, announcing his presence always. He is lively as all hell and perceptive too. Like the time he figured out the three strongmen were pissed off just because they smelled different. His sensitivity is legendary. He weaves amongst them all, linking and reinforcing their togetherness.

They have an interesting relationship these two. It is not clear what it is. Is it sexual/open/exclusive/sometimes/always/ familial/platonic/ professional?

In any case, they make a good team.

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