A manuscript shared with the group during the writer’s 2014 workshop attendance.
by Molly Garris
The harsh, bright carnival lights blind the girl as she runs past the Ferris wheel, makes a right at the fun house and stumbles past the freak show to the back of the snake charmer’s tent. Pausing, she looks about to make sure that she is alone, then quickly slips through a small tear in the dirty canvas.
Olga is caressing Franz, her largest and favorite boa constrictor as he slithers over her bare shoulder and down into the warmth of her lap. Her silk robe slips open as she lifts her legs onto the ornate chaise longue.
The air is thick with the smell of snake, smoke and sweet perfume. Five large cages containing the rest of Olga’s performing partners line the back of the tent.
Olga, who has almost as great an affection for opium as she does for her boas, is contentedly indulging in both pleasures simultaneously. Her hooded eyes catch a small shape slipping into the back of the tent and hiding amongst the cages. Olga gives no indication of this new intelligence as she continues to smoke and stroke.
Lazily, she lights a cigarette. As she tosses her lighter back onto the cluttered dressing table, she runs long, tapered fingers through the thick black hair cascading down her shoulders. The ornate mirror standing at the foot of her couch reflects her opulent, partially clad body. The bars of the cages cast dark shadows across the girl’s pale skin.
Leaning forward, Olga selects a mouse from a black lacquer box on the dressing table. The hungry boa raises his head from her warm thighs. She teases the snake, dangling the squirming creature in front of the open mouth. Franz is poised, ready to receive his victim. Hard, bright eyes follow the creature’s futile attempts to escape the pincer-like grasp of Olga’s long red fingernails. Finally she drops the mouse and in an instant it is gone, reduced to a bulge in the otherwise smooth outline of Franz. A small gasp is heard from the back of the tent. Olga’s full red lips curve into what could be mistaken for a smile.
Her pleasure is interrupted by the sound of heavy feet and a distinctive male odor. Three men enter the tent. As she advances to meet them, not wanting them to defile her sanctuary further, she recognizes the fat man, the flame eater and the knife thrower. The former pushes himself forward, oblivious to Olga’s involuntary expression of distaste.
“She’s run away again! l’ll teach that little bitch to mind! Just like her mother was. This time l’m gonna teach her a lesson she won’t ever forget!”
“Now don’t upset yourself Tony” says Olga in her hypnotic voice. “I’m sure she’ll turn up, though I can’t see what you need her for. “Why, she’s no more than a mouthful.”
The flame eater is sweating heavily in the pungent, stuffy atmosphere. “Yeah, let’s go. She ain’t worth the trouble!”
The knife thrower is already halfway out the opening of the tent, having watched Franz slither across his feet on his way toward the cages.
“Sure, leave the kid alone for a while. She’ll get hungry and come home”.
After seeing the men out, Olga sings to herself as she returns to her couch near the dressing table. Ignoring the scuffling and muffled cries in the back of the tent, she reloads her pipe and smiles at her reflection in the mirror, touching herself in secret places.