A faraway and tone-deaf Calliope spreaded her music to the wind. It resounded sinisterly cheerful, like a pre-atomic track. Then she suddenly fell silent.
The big Ferris wheel in Coney Island – rusty, mouldy and covered with seaweed – creaked,
like a huge mechanical eye in the plenilune… you were alone in the ruins of the deserted fun-fair.
The salty breeze gloomily whistled everywhere, mixed with the metal creaks of the corroded merry-go-rounds… you went into a booth with threadbare red curtains, and found an old projector.
Once mounted, the reels, flickering on the stained screen, showed the sexual habits of the most famous Siamese twins in the world, Chang and Eng Bunker. Joined by a cartilage cylinder, at the level of the sternum. The old newsreel explained that they had had 27 children without offending the Puritan modesty of their wives. They used to struggle to lie shoulder to shoulder, while the flesh that joined them laboriously stretched out... they vertically spreaded an old blanket, hanging from a rope, in order to guarantee to the wife on duty the decorous restraint she deserved… their nervous systems were separate, therefore they had individual orgasms and, in the footage, you could see Cheng lie down reading his newspaper and smoking a cigar, while, beyond the checquered tent, two bodies moved… You switched off the projector and went out in the moonlight.
In the ruins you managed to find the caravan of Koo Koo, the bird woman, announced by a washed-out banner in large letters. On the uneven floorboards there were still some feathers and a slightly crooked greyish egg was precariously standing on a low wall… In a ruined booth you found a sword, with the engraved words “EAT ME”. You had never swallowed a blade, and yet you brought it to your lips and let the cold metal slip in your throat.
All of a sudden you started to grow up and up, your chest bones cracked while you got taller and taller, your vertebras dreadfully vibrated like the rattle of a snake, the pain would make you explode, but suddenly everything came to an end… you looked at yourself in a filthy mirror, and you were Jack Earle, the giant.
Swaying on your too long legs, you started to walk through the midway of the abandoned fun-fair, muttering in a low voice… where have you all gone… where have you all gone… and the Ferris wheel kept mooing below the bone moon.
Behind a fallen sign, that advertised Otis the frog-man – the peeled paint made him look like a sort of dinosaur – you found a petrol flask with the words “DRINK ME” written on it… you swallowed it, you took a match… and all of a sudden, breathing fire, you started to grow shorter. With each flare you grew narrower, your legs went back into your pelvis and your neck went back into your shoulders… your legs disappeared, so you walked back to the mirror on your hands: you had lost your body from the ribs down… you were Johnny Eck, the half man. Now, defintely lighter, you started to walk towards the last big caravan jumping from one arm to the other… you were wounded in a hand by a rusty nail that sprouted from the ground… and at last you reached the huge caravan – the sign read “HUMAN ODDITIES” – you already had tetanic spasms… you moved the curtain aside, fighting against your own muscles as they were stiffening. And there, you suddenly saw all your mates.
Ritta Cristina the Two-Headed Little Girl, Grace the Mule-Faced Woman, Betty Lou the Four-Legged and Three-Armed Wonder, Bob the Man with Two Faces, Francio the Living Venus de Milo,
Fanny the Ohio Bigfoot Lady, Ella the Camel-Girl, Dolly, Half Lady – Half Baby, Eli the Legless Acrobat, Sealo the Seal Boy, Alice the Bear Girl, Serpentina the Snake Woman, the Rubber Man, the last of the Aztecs, the Bearded Lady, the illustrated man, the Geek, Hitler’s Brain, the Snow Twins, Carl the Armless Fiddler, Bill the Man with Three Eyes, his wife Milly the Alligator-Skinned Woman, Tiny Lavonda The Smallest Woman in the World, General Tom Thumb the King of Dwarfs, the Horned Lady, Nikolai Kobelkoff the Human Trunk, Mignon the Penguin Lady, May Joe the Three-Legged Child, Martha the Armless Wonder, the hermaphrodites, Lucy the Dog- Girl, Jon the Rock Man, Joseph the Elephant Man, John the Indescribable, Hugh the Ossified Man, the Glass Man, the eunuchi, the Human Pincushion, the plait-man, Ganga and Jamuna the Spider-Women, Gorge the Turtle Boy, the Shroud-Chewer, Eeka the Wild Woman...
They were all there, waiting for you. Everyone in his big, oblong glass container… the smell of formalin was hard to put up with… so this is the end. And here we are, everyone in his own box behind the windows. No more shows, no more applauses, nor magic – the lights, the wonders, the music have all gone – only the acid yellow that preserves us in crystal cabinets – until the end of this absurd Big Top – that we call the Universe. Fighting against the paralysis of tetanus, you climbed upon the only big jar that was still empty. It was waiting for you, and you dived into the formaline with a last, titanic effort… ochre and yellow bubbles in the encircling heat when your heart petrifried all of a sudden… like all the world, like everything and everybody... weird petrified faces in the wall of Time.