A Story in Progress: Darkness Falls on Endurance, Part Two

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Earlier that week…

Corabelle Sills stood offstage and watched her father deliver his opening night speech. Where were they this week? She glanced at the poster tacked to one of the wooden posts holding up the curtain. Endurance. Corabelle sighed. “Well, that’s perfect,” she muttered.

“What’s perfect?” Andy Sills stood behind his sister, also watching his father and waiting for their cue. Amos introduced his kids at the top of every show, theorizing that folks liked to spend their hard-earned money on a family venture. And Amos Sills’s Traveling Tent Show was, most certainly, a family venture. Even the mystifying Omar the Great, Seer of the East, was his brother-in-law, Cyrus. And the farthest east he’d ever been was Galveston.

Corabelle nodded toward the poster. “Endurance. That’s what this whole thing feels like–one long, insufferable test of endurance.” She watched her father command the crowd with his imposing personality and booming voice. “I hate him, you know,” she said.

“I know,” her brother said. “So do I. Has he picked one out yet?”

“Sure,” she replied. “You know how fast he works; fourth row, fourth seat left of center–the blonde with the shy smile. The rest of the crowd doesn’t realize he’s playing directly to her.”

Andy craned his neck to get a glimpse of the girl. “Funny how they always look like Mother. But thirty years younger.”

“Yeah,” Corabelle replied, as she watched her father’s charm work its magic on the girl. “Downright hilarious.”

***

It’s going to be a good week, thought Amos Sills as his eyes came to rest on a young woman in the fourth row. Amos turned his full attention to the girl and shot her a dazzling smile. It was a smile that, truthfully, would have been at right at home in a Pepsodent advertisement. The girl blushed, as they always did. Yes, thought Amos again, with even more confidence, a very good week, indeed. Amos would approach her as she exited tonight and present her with one of his signature boxes of chocolates, plus a week’s worth of free passes. Hopefully, she’d return to the show every night–preferably without her male companion–and he’d get a chance to know her better. The male companion eyed him suspiciously. I’ll have to tread carefully there. That guy could be trouble–she may not know what I’m up to yet, but he does.

Still, with all these thoughts and plans formulating in his head, Amos never missed a beat of his presentation. And why should he? He did it every night of the week, forty weeks of the year. It was pure gold and he had it down pat, or so he thought until he stumbled during his description of Omar’s act. Just as he started the tale of Omar’s apprenticeship under one of the great mystics of the Orient, another face in the crowd caught his attention. His heart started racing again, but not in such a good way this time. It was several seconds before Amos realized he had stopped speaking. He quickly picked right back up where he’d left off and the audience soon forgot the momentary hiccup. After he finished his speech he searched the audience for that face, but it was gone. Maybe I imagined it, he thought. Well, he certainly hoped so.

***

“What just happened?” Andy asked his sister.

“I’m not sure,” Corabelle answered. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say our dear father just saw a ghost.”

***

After a few shots of whiskey, Amos convinced himself he’d imagined the entire incident. It wasn’t possible, end of story. He grabbed a box of chocolates and stationed himself at the exit, just as the show let out. As the young woman and her companion from the fourth row approached, Amos stepped in front of them.

“Excuse me, Miss–it is miss, isn’t it?” Amos asked.

The woman blushed again. “Yes,” she stammered, as the man to her left pulled her closer to him.

“Miss,” Amos continued, “if I’m not mistaken, you were sitting in seat 4G tonight, were you not?”

“Yes. I think so,” she answered.

With a flourish, Amos produced a card from his pocket with 4G printed on it in bold, black lettering. “Well, tonight is your lucky night. We just had a drawing backstage and you won! May I present you with a signature Amos Sills box of chocolates and passes to the show for the entire week? Please return as our guest. Every night, if you wish.”

She accepted both the candy and the passes from Amos Sills and smiled, ear to ear. What a night! Lorraine Anderson couldn’t believe her good fortune.

(to be continued)



Categories: Extra Dry Blog

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