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Last time we were together, you showed me the secret to how one worked. But there was something else which in that moment he wanted more. “In a moment.” The kid used the sword to make circles in the air in front of them, then figure eights, then x’s, then finally circles again. Which is where his grandson found him still sitting the following morning.

His knees buckled, and he dropped to sit on the top step, suddenly unable to stand any longer. Electrico was glad Josh wasn’t present to see the weakness which had stolen over him. Electrico heard the love in his voice, but he also heard the exasperation, and knew he should answer immediately.

But in that moment, he didn’t have the strength to walk down to receive it.

Count how often those inviting tent flaps unfolded at the beginnings of his shows, multiply that by the thousands filing in tugging eager children who were then instructed to squat in the front rows, add the host of times he surrendered to the embrace of the electric chair and felt its power pass through him, letting his skin tingle and his hair stand on end, boost it all by the number of slashes he made with his sword while reaching forward to knight the closest kids with shouts of “Live forever! …and a sensation had begun to expand within him which insisted–the words he’d uttered were no con game. No one could go through those motions for so many performances, mouth those same two words that many times, without beginning to believe. There were tears in Ray’s eyes as they parted, which Mr. “The officer said he’d drive us home,” said Josh, gesturing at the police car which had been left idling on the outskirts of the park. Electrico, even as he felt a pounding in his chest. He remembered that claustrophobic feeling, all those doors with no handles. Once they arrived, Josh waved at the couch in the living room. He shouted his grandson’s name, so upset he didn’t have to search for it even for a split second. Electrico suspected that could have been because his voice was no longer loud enough to carry downstairs. “You were looking for this,” he said, his voice as frozen in time as was his face.

Those who’d toured with him, the only ones to whom he could have talked about this and have them understand, had already taken their leave. ) The Skeleton Man, though, hadn’t been that lucky. Not much reminiscing got done, except in their own heads. But those were all gone, all of it, every scrap of memorabilia, each battered souvenir, lost to rundown apartments he’d abandoned with rent unpaid, and evictions which had left his possessions dissolving in the rain, and small-town pawnshops he’d see the once but never again. To that above all those physical manifestations of his memories had been sacrificed, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, as his path narrowed to whatever this life of his had turned out to be. He could almost see them–the faces in the front row filled with amazement, kid after kid shocked to see what coursed through him as he sat in that chair showered with sparks, faces which would soon themselves be literarily shocked as he tapped their brows and shouted in the tent then what he whispered in the small borrowed bedroom now– “Live forever! All these years later, he raised the sword high above his head, and there he was, in front of thousands of people blurred together by memory, forgettable faces with no names to go with them. Electrico saw it then, the face of the kid who’d come back, the face of the kid who’d brought him a magic trick, the face of a kid he’d welcomed into the tent and introduced to his friends, the face of a kid which was also in a former life the face of a friend, a friend who’d died in his arms in the Ardennes Forest in 1918, during the Great War. They were always asking to take off, believing that hitting the road with a carnival was the solution to whatever their problems happened to be. Oh, he’d been tired, and he’d desperately wanted to nod off, but a life spent on the road had taught him that was never to be done.

Electrico had never seen before, at times rocking from one foot to the other, at times seeming about to step over the sword and join him at the top of the stairs. What if you’d fallen off the ladder and broken your neck? I didn’t climb any ladder.” “Oh, grandpa, have you forgotten that already?

But maybe it was neither, and only the trembling that came with the years. you could get hurt, without even meaning to.” As Josh spoke, he was hesitant in a way Mr. This is for your own good.” “What’s this about a ladder, Josh? He hoped it was the former, because the latter…well, that was happening more often now. I can do those things on a park bench as easily as anywhere else.” Josh leaned in more closely to his grandfather, so only the two of them could hear what he was to say next. Closing his eyes and concentrating hard, he remembered. So he meandered until he made his way back to the park–he could remember how to get there, at least–and once there, as he stared out across the grass on which one wasn’t supposed to walk, he again briefly tried to decide which way he should turn next to find his way back to his grandson. But he couldn’t choose, so instead, he sat on a bench and wished, as the darkness settled around him, that he could still spread wide his hands and light up the night. ” said the kid, settling back down beside him in the sand.