More squatters

When I got back to the house I heard a strange noise behind the house—a forest noise I hadn’t heard before. I pushed open the front door and was greeted by the sharp scent of a bing cherry pie in the oven.

‘Smells delicious,’ I said to Cathy, who presided over the kitchen.

‘Thank you,’ she said without looking up.  ‘Say, your friend arrived.’

‘My friend?’

‘He said you were expecting him.’

‘What?  Who?’

‘The little man with the funny voice who has spent the last hour with his head in the pantry.’  Her loose blond hair framed her amused smile.  ‘Don’t tell me you don’t know him either?’

‘I can’t imagine who you’re talking about.’

On cue, a bearded man entered wearing a double-breasted red coat with gold buttons.  His polished boots climbed knee-high and he held his black top hat under one arm

‘Ah, my friend,’ he said.  ‘So good to see you.’ 

‘Fuco!’

‘The show must go on, my friend.  And it will.’

‘I hope you left the lion outside.’

Fuco chuckled.  ‘I could not ignore an invitation from a friend such as yourself.’  I looked sidelong at Cathy.  Oh yeah, THAT friend.  As I looked at Cathy I remembered something. Fuco was here, but was he alone?  He must have ditched Meg by now. Meg was awful to travel with—he’d of found that out early on.  

‘So you’ve brought the circus to Poscataw?’ I said.

‘Yes.  It is a new show and here we have the grand debut, to the wonderment of all.’

The circus?’ Cathy said. ‘I can’t wait to see it. We’ve never had a circus here.’

‘See it you will.  But wait.’  The mechanisms of Fuco’s brain begin to churn.  ‘Let me see you…’  Fuco looked Cathy up and down as if sizing her for a new dress.  ‘You would shine under the big top.  Your skin is perfection.  Will you join us?’

Cathy looked to me for help. She shrugged, turning back to Fuco. 

‘I don’t think I’m cut out for that sort of thing.’

‘You are sure?  We might be famous.’ Fuco showed us all his teeth.

‘I’m flattered but it’s just not my thing.’

‘Alas.  What shall I do now?’

‘Well Jackson will help if you need someone to stick swords into.’

‘Such wit!’ Fuco said.  ‘I shall go on without you, though it pains me.’

‘You mean to tell me it’s just you running the circus?’ Cathy said.

‘Oh no.  My beautiful assistant.  Where is she now?’ Fuco projected his three-ring voice through the house.  ‘My darling, where are you?’  I heard the sound of shuffling feet and Meg appeared from down the hall.  ‘My dear, join us.’  Meg glided past Cathy and me to take Fuco by the arm with the casual gait of someone who’s at home.  She wore a gypsy ensemble: flowing sapphire bellbottoms and a matching top.  The fabric was sheer and sown with gold thread.  It moved with her body and didn’t hide that she wore no bra. 

‘The gang’s all here,’ Meg said.  She smiled from face to face. I felt a twinge of jealousy seeing her on Fuco’s arm, though it simplified things that she was taken.

 ‘So where’ve you been, Fuco?’ I said.  ‘Where did you go with the circus?’

‘Ah, my friend.  I fear we were not well liked along the coast after the event in Biloxi.  These people are so very hard to please.’

‘I suppose they are.’

Somehow I couldn’t imagine Poscataw giving Fuco much warmer of a reception.

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