The Freak Show

It had been raining all night. Lisa was wide awake, waiting for the right moment. It was unlike Lisa to sacrifice sleep for anything but tonight it was different. If her plan worked, she would be able to permanently shed her identity as the lizard-toed girl from the Circus and start a new life.

The interviewer had agreed to pay her a huge sum if she helped him with the exposé he was writing. She just had to give him some inside information on the inhumane practices that were prevalent at their circus. On one hand, she was scared of the ringmaster. What if he found out? He could punish her brutally. But on the other hand, if she did her job discreetly, she could take the money and disappear. She could even get the surgery to remove her lizard-toe. This was her golden chance to free herself from the hell hole where her deformity had been exploited for public amusement for 16 years.

The interviewer had suggested her to click photographs to make their story more credible. He had even given her a small camera. “The trick is to always keep the flash off” he had warned. Around half past two, as the guards slid into a deep sleep, she decided to creep out. She was sure that nobody would be able to hear her footsteps in the rain. She came to the big tent where all the appliances were kept. She took photos of the pills and the dead crows in the refrigerator that were reserved for the next day’s meal. Suddenly, she heard something explode in the neighboring tent. She ran out with her camera. She knew what the sound meant. The ringmaster was performing his daily ritual of punishing performers with the lowest scores. Lisa managed to get it all on film. Then she ran to her room as fast as she could, holding her camera tightly to her bosom. She just had to wait now. On Monday, when the interviewer would come to the Circus again, she would hand over the camera, take her money, and flee. She could finally leave behind all her agony.

The ringmaster had caught a whiff of what Lisa was up to. If her long talks with the interviewer weren’t proof enough, he had also heard Lisa’s lizard-toes flapping outside his tent on the night it had rained heavily. The whispers of Lisa possessing a camera had also reached his ears. Something had to be done. If Lisa had photographic proof, the operations at the circus would be exposed. He needed to find the camera and destroy it before it reached the interviewer.

The next morning, he decided to host a breakfast for the entire crew where he would ask one of the clowns to create a distraction. That would allow him enough time to sneak out to Lisa’s tent to find the camera. The Cowboys came wearing their large hats, the Contortionist walked in with two pretty girls on his arm. The animal guard came in with an exotic local snake. But the ringmaster was most looking forward to seeing Kero – the ugly, nose-less dwarf. He was the only one who’d do anything the ringmaster asked, without a question. 

As told,  Kero started creating a distraction, and just as the ringmaster was escaping the tent, Lisa saw him. She sensed he was up to something. Everyone was engrossed in Kero’s act, so Lisa picked up the exotic snake and went after the ringmaster. In her tent, she confronted him while he was searching for the camera. She asked him to leave or she would release the snake on him. He was furious, he hurled abuses at her for betraying him. She couldn’t take it anymore. She let go the snake and it bit him. The poison didn’t take more than 30 seconds to spread all over his body. He fell to the ground, moaning with pain. Hearing the loud noise, all the crew members rushed to Lisa’s tent and saw the ringmaster lying on the floor, wailing in pain. The animal guard told Lisa that the snake poison was fatal and would kill the ringmaster in the next 24 hours. But only Lisa’s bite could save him as she was the cold-blooded lizard-toed girl. A glint of hope emerged on Lisa’s face. This was her best chance to negotiate her freedom and make the ringmaster pay for his deeds. A plan popped in her head.

The ringmaster’s lips had turned black and his eyes had become white. He was quivering with pain as he cried, “help me, please help me!” 

“I can help you ringmaster, but I demand freedom in exchange,” Lisa announced. A collective gasp echoed from the crowd.

The ringmaster didn’t have much choice. “I will not stop you, but you cannot publish those photographs, Lisa. It will expose me and I will be put in prison. Don’t do that. I fed you all for so many years.”

She was finally being given the freedom she desired, but if she didn’t publish the photos, this man could continue his unethical establishment. Nobody deserved the torture of this circus. It was time the ringmaster faced his karma.

“We all earned for you, Sir but you treated us horribly. I am going to publish those photos. Your filthy act needs to be exposed to the world. I will not let you die today of poison, but you will live with regret, every day, for the rest of your life.”

Everyone in the tent shrieked and clapped as Lisa picked up the ringmaster’s hand and bit near his wrist to extract the snake poison. Later that day, the police arrested the ringmaster as the crew rejoiced in their newfound freedom.

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