Training the New Act

June 16

It’s been two days since I went to the circus.

I have not left.

Finally managed to get my goddamn phone back from those three hooligans. Screen’s cracked in the corner but it’s still usable. I still don’t know how they got the drop on me.

I don’t have any signal but I know they still have my charger somewhere, and there’s an outlet in the corner of their trailer. If I can get even a bar I can call 911 and I’ll have a SWAT team here to save me. In case I die before help is found, my name is Evan Randall. I’m a doctor. The clowns kidnapped me, the act with the three teenagers, the juggler, the crying girl, and the acrobat. Show these bastards the full extent of the law.

June 19

Still no signal, but the girl had pity on me and gave me back my charger. She tried to insist that the juggler boy did something to my phone. That I’ll never be able to call for help.

I can’t believe that. It’s not stuck on airplane mode, it just isn’t getting signal. I will get out of here. I will. They’re only kids, it was a miracle they got the drop on me in the first place. I’m a full grown adult for god’s sake. I can outsmart them.

June 20

The girl’s name is Dixie. The Juggler Boy is Charlie. And the Acrobat, their little ‘leader’ and probably the reason I’m in this mess, he’s James. Just so whoever finds my body knows.

Go easy on the girl. She remembers to feed me and unties my ankles so I can walk to the bathroom.

She only gives me candy though. Candy and pastries, I have not tasted a savory thing in days. Any drink tastes like bubblegum and carbonation. I feel weaker every day. I know I’m losing weight.

June 26

I don’t think you’ll be able to find me.

The day after I made the last entry, kids were gone all day. I heard the sound of the tents going down, animals being led into trailers that are probably nicer than mine, and then they returned, at least Charlie and Dixie. James wasn’t anywhere to be seen. The kids pulled down the shades and made themselves comfortable at the table playing a card game.

Then the trailer jolted and now we’re moving. I don’t know where we’re going. We still haven’t stopped even if James has returned. I don’t know when he came back. I don’t even know how he got in, I must’ve dozed off. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Blame a diet of sugar, no proteins or any real nutrition.

James is talking about beginning training tomorrow. Dixie’s worried that I won’t make it through. Charlie isn’t concerned. Says I have real potential.

I’m scared for what tomorrow brings.

July 3

I’m going to die here.

I feel like a giant bruise, I don’t think that’s just strawberry icing I’m puking up anymore. Dixie convinced them ‘training’ today would just result in backwards steps instead of progress.

My body hurts. I’m not a teenager anymore. I can’t bend and jump like James. And whenever I can’t do their tricks, James hits me with the paddle.

Charlie laughs hysterically whenever it comes down. Dixie hides her mouth behind her hand, but that fucking bitch is giggling too. It’s higher pitched than Charlie’s. I can hear it.

They’re just as violent with each other, or at least they make it look that way. Charlie stole James’ paddle and started beating him with it, while James whooped and hollered and dashed around like he was on fire. But there wasn’t any permanent damage, even if it sounded like it.

Pretty good actors.

They’re going to kill me.

July 13?

It doesn’t hurt anymore.

The pain stopped as suddenly as it begun. The bruises are gone. My broken ribs are mended.

When Dixie woke me this morning, she saw they were gone and was ecstatic. She immediately woke the others and they danced around in a circle. James gave me the day off. Charlie kissed both of my cheeks and hugged me tight, telling me how proud he was that I made it through the first step.

Dixie brought me popcorn. And a corn dog. And an apple. And corn on the cob. And peanuts.

The first things I have had in days that aren’t so sickeningly sweet. She even gave me a bottle of water along with the bubblegum drink. I threw up after eating too much too fast, but she kept my ankles untied so I made it to the bathroom this time, at least.

She hasn’t retied them either.

After they fell asleep on their bed, I made a line for the door. It’s locked, tight, and if I body slam it I’d wake them up.

I don’t know how this is happening. I’m not even entirely sure about what day it is anymore. The calender app on my phone’s glitched out. Keeps crashing. The shades area are always pulled too. So all I can do is guess.

But it doesn’t hurt anymore. I think I can make it.

July 16?

James is talking about his time in the wars.

That’s right. Wars. Plural. This boy can’t be any more than eighteen and he’s claiming he’s been to war.

It must be a technique to fuck with my brain even more. He’s talking to Charlie and Dixie over a glass of lemonade, about how many times he nearly got blown up. How many bodies he found in the camps. Dixie would rub his back and pour him more lemonade, and as an afterthought would pull a small bottle of clear liquid and spike the drink. I’m thinking it’s vodka.

James seems dead serious when he babbles about chambers and hell on earth and bodies, so many bodies. He’s crazy. He has to be.

Training’s getting easier now. Charlie’s teaching me to juggle. I’m shit at it. But he says he doesn’t want me to be good anyway. He’s the juggler, not me.

I’m their Grumpy Man.

I don’t know what that means. I don’t. I don’t want to. I’m not going to stay here.

????

I don’t know the day anymore.

I’m sharing the bed with the kids.

Dixie had a nightmare. She woke up sobbing, talking about how she didn’t see the tent and she jumped, but she couldn’t stop falling, and the ground never got closer, and… I felt bad for her.

She reminded me of Myrtle before my bitch wife took her in the divorce. I got up and sat next to her, rubbing her back and hushing her quietly. The boys seemed surprised, but they didn’t object. Their bed took up half the trailer. There was always plenty of room for me.

They’re all asleep around me now. Charlie’s sprawled on top of me, murmuring and rubbing his face against my chest. His fire truck red hair tickles my nose. There’s just too much of it and it sticks out everywhere. I would cut it, but it’s so soft.

Dixie clings to my right side. Like a child would cling to a teddy. Maybe if they let me out of here, I can win one for her from one of the carnies. She’d like that.

Even James rests his head on my left shoulder. I can see so many scars under his make up now that it’s mostly been smeared off. Repetitive cuts on his arms. A puckered scar on his neck. One of his teeth are chipped. If I crane my neck up, I can see marks on his back. Like someone beat him with a belt.

I know self harm and child abuse when I see it. I’m a doctor. See it a lot. He’s a kid. A tough kid.

But only a kid.

I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.

But I’m not sure if I can leave anymore.

What if these kids need me more than the rest of the world does?

December 2

I left the trailer when I woke up. The door finally opened for me.

I got the date from a passing strong man.

It’s been half a year. I can’t believe it. I can’t fucking believe it.

Right now I’m hiding behind the fried Oreo cart. They aren’t parked around some town, right now they’re dead smack in the middle of a forest. There’s a light layer of snow on the ground, not the season for performance. The wild animals roam free, from the zebras to the lions to the tigers and the bears. Oh my.

I’m free. I can leave now. There’s nothing stopping me. No one’s giving me a second glance, a half starved, pale man in ragged clothes and bent over his phone. I can hear a river not too far away. If I follow that, I’ll find people. That’s how it works in the books.

I’ll finish this diary once I’m back in civilization, hooked up to an IV on a hospital bed, and when the kids are in custody. I’ll tell em to go easy on them. They’re just kids.

December 3

I’m back in the trailer.

I got to the river before I stopped and turned right back around.

What do I even have waiting for me? My wife’s left me. My practice was going down the tubes anyway. What’s the point.

Dixie was sobbing at the trailer door when I ran up to it, shaking and out of breath. She looked up, her pink and blue makeup smeared down her face.

She never looked happier.

She clung to me. Begged me never to leave again.

I promised I’d stay. I’d never leave her again.

They need me more than anyone else.

December 25

I’m looking at my new uniform. Compared to my kids, it’s drab. Dull.

But that’s exactly what they need with their Grumpy Man.

Dixie is helping me with my makeup now, she doesn’t ask why I have a diary. She’s a good daughter. Respects her father, doesn’t question me.

Charlie and James though, they’re rascals. James hit me so hard with the paddle, I felt my spine snap. I laughed so hard on the ground, I can’t believe what a scoundrel he turns out to be! Oh I’m totally fine, it’s just a broken back. I can live with that. Charlie’s more subtle. Puts salt in my lemonade, whoopie cushions or pins wherever I’m about to sit. What a hoot.

I can’t act so amused when we do our first act though, in the spring. I have to be grumpy, upset, act like I’m scolding them. Then I’ll get whacked with the paddle again and backflip away, and away, and away.

Even my make up makes it look like I’m pouting.

I love it.

Merry Christmas, one and all! I think I’ll get James a new paddle for Christmas. I’ll whack him with it first, talk about turning the tables! Not too hard though- I love him too much for that. Charlie will get a red nose that honks, he’s always wanted one. And Dixie will get a stuffed bear. After I win it, of course. Damn games are rigged.

May 16

Our first show went so well. The people loved their Grumpy Man and his children. I think we even surpassed the Wicker Brothers! Note: I found out they are not ACTUALLY brothers. They’ve been married for seventy nine years. James presided over it, declaring them husband and husband. What a goof I am. I’ll get them an anniversary present to make up for my blunder.

Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with this diary. I just don’t find the time anymore, being a Clown and all. Although I’m planning a surprise.

Dixie needs a sister. She’s the only girl in this family of boys. In the audience today, I saw a girl. Maybe a few years older than her. She was fascinated with the show, even if her mother wouldn’t get off her phone. I would like a balloon artist, and this girl had long, thin fingers. She’d be perfect!

I’ll approach her after the show tomorrow. I made sure she was coming. Even gave her a free ticket. Not one to her mother though. That woman will buy her own. She’s not welcome in our act, but this girl will be.

People would really think we were actually father and daughter too-

She has my eyes.

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