Entering the park, he felt familiar here. People passed without seeing him. Some looked at him, like they were looking at a wall.
A syringe cracked and the plastic body of it split under his boot.
Dreamers and schemers.
A mother and son passed him, and the boy looked backed on passing, only for his mother to clutch his hand closer in a sign to move more quickly. He smiled at the boy, and the boy smiled back.
A skinny teen rushed past with shoulders up, and bumped him, and turned and swore…”Fakkk, maannn”
He shook it off and plodded on, along the path and he saw a tree, stopped and looked out front and up the asphalt path, and then back from behind and were he had come. And then hurried and slipped swiftly into the wood.
He had come to this park for a very long time; when he was a young man he had walked with a beautiful young woman on his arm. She was desperately in love with him. Her long hair up in Gibson girl, a long blue silk dress with a bustle… she is dead now, long dead. Dust in the wind of this park.
He played as a child for years in this ancient playground. Spinning around and around on that heavy steel and iron merry-go-round, the paint layers, red and blue, flaking of a thousand years.
He was there the day the park had opened, “How long ago was that?”, he thought. His mind went further back to when the park was a wild place, raw natural and naked in front of the sun. Sweet new-green leaves, and every breath of air was breathed for the very first time.
Unzipping its front and slipping inside his light dirty orange polyester tent. He sat down in the damp, on a little canvas artist stool and putting a painting, therein against a tattered cardboard box of hodge podge, and clinkity clack. And he rested.
His mind drifted to a time, when a circus arrived in the park, no one had ever seen a circus before. They don’t come here anymore…circuses. Real circuses with fortune tellers and pony rides. Real hot dogs in a bun with mustard and a pickle.
His eyes filled with the visions of it all; the gaslights, and the smoke, the flares and morning after smell of fireworks from a night before. A mist and the entertainers and animal sounds and the; swirl and swirl drawing him ever in, deeper ever deeper.
“Are you alone young fella?”
“No I am never alone.”
“Would you like to see a magician?
“Yes I would please.”
“Ok then, follow me my young friend. And be dazzled and amazed at the Universes, greatest, living, magician. Now…being as it is Tuesday, you are lucky…also as it is the first Tuesday in the month makes it even more lucky. “Luckier! What a lucky, lucky boy!”
For you see, the great magician only frequents here, the first Tuesday of the month of March. Or is that the second Tuesday? Anyway…he is here today for your satisfaction and won’t be back for another year…or two… and who know were the circus will be then?…right?..follow now, quickly, keep up young fella.”
They arrived at a small booth no bigger than a large; two large cardboard boxes, with a little peak on top. The front door open of the booth like a flap. And the boy entered, under the outstretched arm of the Barker. “Voila!” he said.
The old man stood in the dark, still for moment. In what felt like a massive room. He couldn’t tell from sight. Adjusting his eyes. Adjusting his weight for his lack of sight. Centering himself for the possibility of the unexpected. His eyes adjusted to the lack of light. The strong smell of wet saw dust and road apples.
He liked horses. He like horses a lot.
Ahead of him in the darkness, he heard a voice. It beckoned him and he followed, slow, shuffle in the dim towards the sound. “Step right up, come closer.”
“And what would you like to see?
I am the Universes greatest magician, and there nothing I cannot conjure up. Well it is not really conjure…it’s, magic. This gig is sort me practicing my chords. Ask of me something extremely difficult, even impossible.”
The old man answered, “You’re the magician, show me something I have not seen before.”
“Ok.” said the voice. “How about an elephant balancing on the stem of an apple”
“No…I have seen that..I can do that my self.”
“Alrighty then. How about a whale in gold-fish bowl?…hm. How about that, would you like to see that, young fella.?”
The old man looked into the magicians eyes, as he moved closer to him, as he had done so many times before. Those blue circles sparkling with excitement for what he was expressing. The enthusiasm of his… presentation.
The old man blinked and he turned and looked at the painting against the box. He leaned over and picked it up. He studied it for a moment, he had seen it so many times. It was a very old painting. He couldn’t remember when he made it.
His eyes moved over the surface, carefully scrutinized it’s ever detail. And then he stopped and saw something, something vague. A shift in the color, not anything noticeable on a first glance, he had not noticed it in earlier lookings.
“What is that?” he thought.
“Why haven’t I noticed that before? And then, he walked right into to the painting.
The path lay before him, a sunrise to his left, meadow flowers of yellow and white and insects flit and buzz by, all along his way. Moisture and a dew on the blades. Up ahead, a slight incline of a meadow rises. In front of it a fence line of grey wooden rails. And at the top of the meadow stood a little thatched white-washed house, with a dog out front wagging it tail, eager, staring in his direction…prancing. Ready.
And he moved on and looked to left and heard the sun sizzling as it rose slow in the morning air.
He came to a fence line and an old gate, that swung both ways. Rusty on a spring. He passed through and then saw the dog bolt out towards him like a whippet out of its gate. And race and race ever faster towards him. A smile broke on his face. He was happy… and he bent down and caught the happy dog in full stride. It wasn’t heavy. The dog’s excitement caused it to slip out of his arms and landed on all four with a yelp, and it bounced forward and the two strode on toward another door, on the front of that house…