The Carnival of the Goat Man
Part 1 appears|
in this issue.
Darla was looking in the first enclosure where they had all types of dead animals in jars and stuffed by what looked like amateur taxidermists. We saw the two-headed snake in a jar of yellow liquid. The Alien baby looked like it was rubber floating in a cloudy jar. There was a stuffed rabbit with six legs, a fat bullfrog with a snake’s tail that looked like somebody had glued it on with Elmer’s glue, there was a cool-looking Tiger’s head fixed with fake long saber-tooth fangs, a bat with the head of a parrot called the Vampire Macaw, and a human skull with many stuffed snakes attached to it with a sign claiming it to be the ancient skull of Medusa.
The girls squirmed at each new sight but most of this stuff was too fake to scare anybody. The next section had a fat lady sitting in a giant lawn chair eating grapes. She had a full beard and long patches of hair growing from her armpits. She wore a mini-skirt and her legs had more hair on them than my Dad’s. She saw us and yelled at us, “Come here you handsome boys!”
Darla and her friends stepped back away from her and Joey replied, “Dang, you’re hairy.”
We laughed and the fat hairy lady made an angry face at us, saying, “You wish you could come up here and sit on my lap, don’t you, little boy? You couldn’t handle a real woman like me.”
The girls ran past her and we followed close on their heels with the fat hairy woman laughing and eating grapes. We saw cages with all kinds of weird chickens. Some had feathers covering their eyes and some had feathers on their feet. Some had bulbous red growths on their heads and there was one rooster that didn’t have a tail at all. We saw a deer skeleton with spikes sticking up along the backbone like extra sets of antlers. The tent got darker and darker as we moved through it and I figured it was getting darker outside too.
The girls screamed and backed into us. Willow bumped into me and I could feel her trembling. The next exhibit had scared her. We pushed through with the girls cowering behind us.
He sat on a big stump and he scared the hell out of me just looking at him. He was an ugly guy with a face like a demon or a gargoyle. His skin was as black as tar. He was a Goat-man. His legs were covered in thick black fur and he had heavy hooves cloven like a goat.
Even if he was fake, his face and eyes were evil looking and he never said a word. He looked at us like he wanted to kill us right there. His eyes moved from each of us and his fists clenched and unclenched as if he was striving to control his hatred of us. He suddenly stood up; growling like a monster, and we ran like the Devil was chasing us, past him and far into the tent’s hallway.
We ran down the hallway and stopped suddenly in front of another lighted exhibit. This time it was another monster, but he was chained up. It was a fat hairy man with a fake bull’s head on his shoulders. The sign read, “The Last Minotaur.”
He jerked on the chains that held his arms and snorted underneath the heavy bull’s head. The man-monster lowered his horns at us and thrust them towards us while pulling on the chains. The girls screamed and ran on but we knew this guy was putting on an act.
The girls had stopped almost at the last exhibit before the exit door and we caught up to them listening to some voices. They were staring at the famous Siamese Twins. This was not faked. We could tell these two girls were really joined together. This was definitely freaky.
The girls were Asian with tiny slits for eyes and long black hair. They were joined at the base of the neck. They only had three arms and the middle arm poked out of a hole cut in the front of their dress. The Twins were sitting in a double wide rocking chair. The left hand was writing a letter and the right hand was sewing with help from the middle hand.
The sign listed their names as Bussaba and Phueng and the meaning of their names interpreted as flower and bee. So their parents must have decided that when they were joined together that they must go together like a bee to a flower. They looked identical so I guessed you just had to know that flower was left-handed and bee was right-handed or vice-versa.
I had no clue as to who was Bussaba or Phueng. The Twins looked at us like we were the ones that were the freaks. One of the two heads spoke to us, “Are you finished staring yet? Haven’t you ever heard two heads much better than one?”
Markus smiled big and replied, “Are you the lady with the three boobs? Maybe you have four boobs?”
Joey pitched in, saying, “Show us your boobs!”
The girls got embarrassed and ran out the exit. I stayed behind even though I watched Darla leave. I was curious as to where this was going. I also thought about the tattoo magician, Croan, who could be waiting just outside to grab me when I came out.
Bussaba and Phueng smiled and stopped writing and sewing. One of them said, “You want to see booby? We have nice big boobys. You see booby you pay money.”
Markus smiled bigger but I got nervous, thinking maybe I should have left when the girls did. Joey asked, “We got money. How much to see those boobs? How many boobs you got anyway?”
The right head said, “You count how many for yourself and see boobies for twenty dollar. You like our boobies. We not disappoint boys. If you have more money we show other Twin’s parts under dress.”
Markus laughed, saying, “More money, how much to see everything?”
Joey, snickered, “Hell yes! We want to see everything you Twins got. You show us and we’ll pay. Now, what’s the price for the whole show?”
The Twins laughed and smiled and seemed to be enjoying our little bargaining session. I saw them suddenly stop smiling and I heard a deep voice intrude upon our conversation, saying, “I see you young boys like to see naked women flesh. It seems one of you has already seen and heard... maybe too much.”
It was Croan. He stood blocking the exit. He had the horsewhip in one hand and the other was in his pocket. He was wearing a black top hat and his tuxedo. The tattoos on his face made him look even more evil.
We turned to run back the way we came but our way was blocked by the Goat man. He stood over six feet tall and his fists were still clenching and unclenching. His black face was hidden in the shadows but his jagged teeth and wide eyes shone like white beacons of unearthly light. He looked as if he wanted to eat us alive.
I was so scared and Markus and Joey were scared too. I looked at the Siamese Twins and they looked scared too. Croan yelled at the Twins, “Go on, get out of here, you two!”
The Twins stood up and I saw that they had two thick legs under their dress. They walked stiffly and awkwardly and disappeared behind a curtain. I was about to jump into their exhibit and leap through the curtain. It seemed to be the only way out but just then we all heard a loud commotion outside.
Croan grimaced and told the Goat man, “Don’t let them go anywhere, Maqui!”
The big Goat man took a few steps closer to us and I could smell his nasty stinky body. Croan peeked out the exit and I heard him screaming, “What the hell? Stop them, you idiots!”
Croan went out the exit and I wasn’t waiting around until he came back. I dashed out behind him followed closely by Markus and Joey. I heard the heavy thumping of hooves trotting on the ground behind us and knew the evil Goat man was coming.
Outside in the bright lights of the carnival, it was night now and the moon was low in the sky. I could see all the rides lit up like Christmas lights. I heard the noise and saw that the commotion was coming from a moving crowd of people near the pony rides.
I saw Mrs. MacRaken leading a charge of church ladies and they were swinging their signs like weapons, knocking clowns and carnies in the head. They attacked anyone that tried to stop their march across the carnival.
Croan shouted orders to many of the clowns and carnies. He tried to organize a line of resistance to stop the advance upon the main office trailer. We ran past him and around to the side of the mass of marching women where Darla and her friends stood huddled together by the Tilt-A-Whirl.
I could smell popcorn and cotton candy but the memory of the smelly Goat man still stung my nostrils. I looked back at Croan and the giant Goat man was standing right beside him in the line of fire from the marching women, swinging their signs like war axes. The Minotaur showed up next to them too.
I saw the trailer front door open and Dorothy stepped outside on the small porch. She was wearing clothes this time, a sequined gold skin-tight outfit and the white gloves and boots. She yelled at Croan, “What is going on here?”
Croan ignored her and cracked his whip, shouting, “You ladies need to stop right there before somebody gets hurt!”
I saw Mrs. Shire step in front of Mrs. MacRaken and hold up her hands. She stopped the march and then pointed one long manicured nailed finger at the tall Goat man, screaming like a banshee, “Look, sisters of the Lady of the Tide! It is a demon! I told you this place was a pit for Satan’s work! We must drive them from our town! Our work is to save souls and rid Texas from the foul corruption Lucifer tries to bring here!”
Dorothy covered her eyes, and then closed the trailer door, retreating inside. The church ladies raised their signs high and charged, at a stumbling trot, directly at the line of clowns, carnies, Croan, the Goat man, and the Last Minotaur.
I heard sirens and saw a police car come barreling into the carnival grounds. The car drove right between the two opposing groups. Sheriff Toaff stepped out with his pistol drawn. He fired off two shots into the air and shut his siren down.
The church ladies stopped their advance, and Croan had disappeared with the Goat man and the Last Minotaur. The clowns and carnies looked around for their leader.
The sheriff spoke calmly to both groups and the clowns went back to their jobs with the carnies. The church ladies left the carnival grounds but held their signs up high, walking back and forth on the road.
Dorothy came out of her trailer and talked for a long time to the sheriff. She was so short and the sheriff was a big man. From where I was it looked like he was talking to a little girl, and then they both went into her trailer. I was standing next to Darla and Joey said, “Wow that was cool. We almost got to see a battle royal!”
I said, “Yeah, we also almost got eaten by that Goat demon.”
Darla and her friends were still shaken and headed for the cotton candy booth. Markus followed, talking to Stephanie. Willow stayed behind and was standing next to me and Joey. Joey asked me, “You still want to ride the rides?”
Willow looked at me, tucking her unruly strand of hair back behind her ear, and asked, “Butch, would you ride the Ferris’ Wheel with me?”
I glanced at Darla buying cotton candy and replied, “Sure, Willow, let’s go.”
When our seat on the Ferris’ Wheel reached the highest point we could see all the way to the duck pond. The moon was higher in the sky now. The air was cooler up here and a soft breeze rustled Willow’s hair. That unruly strand of her hair blew across my face and I could smell her sweetness. She reached across and grabbed my hand, saying, “It’s scary up here so high.”
I could see across the road behind the marching church ladies and I squeezed her hand, saying, “Look, there’s Croan and those monsters.”
That’s when the church exploded. Willow leaned into me and buried her face in my chest and neck. Flames shot high into the sky and glass and wood rained down all over the road and parts of the carnival grounds.
I saw Croan jump into a pickup truck, the monsters jumped in the back. The truck roared away down the old dirt Canebrake Road. The church was burning and then I looked back at the carnival trailer office. Dorothy came out and she was wearing a big button up shirt and her gloves and boots were gone. The sheriff came out behind her, tucking in his shirt and buckling on his gun.
The Ferris Wheel didn’t move anymore. The carnies were scrambling to get away and we were stuck up here. Willow hugged me and we watched the church burn to the ground long before the volunteer fire department showed up. The church ladies had tried to battle the fire with their signs and Mrs. MacRaken got her hair nearly all burned off because she got too close and her sign caught on fire.
Willow took her glasses off and tucked them into a pocket in her sweater. She looked up at me and I noticed how pretty her eyes were. The church was black and smoldering and the fire truck had pulled away. Willow turned to me and pulled my face towards hers. We kissed. I will never forget that night. I will never forget my first kiss.
Dorothy rounded up a few of the clowns and carnies and began shutting down the carnival. We walked away from the Ferris Wheel and held hands all the way to the duck pond.
The next morning the carnival was gone.
Copyright © 2009 by Doug Hiser