Chapter 1 Excerpt [1]

It was the beginning of Spring, a time for the carnival to wake itself from hibernation, with men having labored hard through the late Autumn and chilly Winter to complete all of the King and Queen’s requests.  Flowers began to appear on empty green stalks in gentle pinks, deep reds, bright yellows and oranges, dreamy blues and striking white, their patterns pleasing to the eye.  Rousties were busy fitting wrought iron waste baskets with black trash bags, finishing decorative iron posts off with incandescent lamps, and applying the final coat of sealant to ensure that the wooden benches would have a solid defense against the erosion of the ocean.  Another crew had been assigned to ready the carousel for its first run in a number of decades.  Each man was hand-selected for their expertise and knowing how to keep the antique in prime condition while making certain that it operated with as little down time as possible.  The horses received a gentle rub with oil so that their finely crafted details glimmered in the sunlight, a pair of women brushing their new manes and tails while a couple of men secured iron shoes to their wooden hooves.  The Calliope had also been slightly adjusted to keep it in tune while it played late into the night, the mechanical orchestra never missing a beat.  A third team still labored on the breath-taking wooden roller coaster, the smell of its rich burgundy wood mingled in the air with the distinctive odor of freshly greased tracks.  The workers were determined to meet the deadline to have a train depart from the immaculate hand-carved station on opening day.  What would be better than to hear its roar off in the distance, along with the merry melodies of the carousel as they blended with the usual noises that filled the midway?  It had been expanded on the once neglected land, offering a step back in time for any able-bodied adult who could want to delight in the variety of old-timey games, foods and attractions.

Meanwhile, Jesse and Sacha had joined the other Carnies in the cook tent who were patiently waiting for breakfast.  They stood at the end of the line, making certain everyone else had a full plate.  A few had tried to offer their place, but were politely refused, as it was more important for everyone else to receive their meals first.  Sitting across from each other, Jesse and his wife quietly ate, their minds drifting as they thought of days passed.  Sacha had known sobriety would not be easy for her husband, but they had battled his addictions together, cutting out excessive use of drugs and alcohol.  She also noticed that James had not emerged once since she saw him tear the head off a chicken during the Blow-Off three weeks ago, and she wondered if the alter ego had vanished completely.  (Incidently, the Geek had to be replaced with something else, which certainly caused her curiosity to heighten.)  Had he learned to control his other half as Dean had?  Or was James looming beneath the surface, waiting for the right moment to take control again?  The latter was a thought that she often had but did not express to Jesse, as there was no need to call attention to the matter.  She soon forgot about it entirely, and focused instead on getting to know who her husband really was.  He had fallen deeper in love with Sacha, though unsure at times how that could be possible when he was already devoted to her.  Having someone to hold during the night gave them both a certain amount of comfort which had previously been missing.  A permanent bond had formed between them, which grew with each passing day and brought them closer together.  Sacha rarely left Jesse’s side, and the couple was constantly seen with their hands interlocked, as though letting go would separate them forever.  It was important that they were viewed as partners and recognized as equals—one not better than the other—and no one ever dared to argue with the decisions that they made.

When breakfast was finished, Jesse and his wife decided to take a stroll around the newly blooming garden, casually passing a joint between them.  No one had said things would be simple, and Sacha had known that from the beginning.  Success on such a large-scale was new to them both, but she took to it quite easily.  With her husband performing beside her, the acts were something that came naturally, and they played off each other’s wit so well it seemed rehearsed, when in reality it just happened that way.  What else could be expected from the duo?  With much determination and a whole lot of heart, they had worked hard to fulfill their position.  Having their own show was no longer a dream, but rather a richly rewarding reality.  However, neither of them forgot what it was like to be on the other side of the stage, an observer bursting with curiosity and questions for those that proudly displayed unbelievable skills on stage inside of a canvas tent.  Treating others with kindness earned respect, and it always kept them coming back for more.

Jesse easily regained his confidence, having Sacha to thank for giving him a push in the right direction.  Her undying fidelity proved to be useful motivation, and it was always good to have that affirmation when he was down.  He loved her from the moment they first met, and the time spent together seemed to be an endless celebration of their union.  They survived rough times without allowing personal conflicts to mix with business.  Jesse had also learned that he could trust her with things he told no one else.  Sacha always listened with an open mind, never passing judgement or reacting strangely, as she loved him no matter what, and even though James had been kept at bay, she would not feel any differently if he were to come back again.  Every time she looked at him, Jesse knew that her intentions were true.  If they had conquered the past year despite all of the obstacles that had been thrown their way, than it surely was meant for them to be together.  Nothing else had felt so right to Jesse—except for being a Carny—and having his wife there every step of the way meant the world to him.  A life without her was a life not worth living, as no one would ever be able to replace such a rare and unique woman.

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