This Ludicrous Life

Photo by Edwin Soto on

The electric teeth motorcar humming on a vibe vine in West Hollywoodland and the nails of Dracula scratch at the sides of a red streetcar while people are trying to read, trying to sleep, trying to sip the atmosphere because sometimes things just don’t seem right… Like tonight. He watches the golden oil beads run down the angle of a taut line of plastic thread. A couple of circus freaks are humping beneath the gloss of a red tent. The moon keeps dripping. The humans keep dripping. The alligator boy is eating a sandwich at the pop-up lunch counter.

The oil bead watcher carries a mockup of the moon in his hand as he walks the dusty midway. The carnival has all but closed, a few green and gold lights flicker, a man dressed as a sad clown pushes a broom. The humpers bellow on the release. A short man comes tumbling out of the slit, struggling to pull up his pants, chomping a fat brown cigar. It’s all ludicrous. The world is set to ludicrous speed.

The oil bead watcher takes off down a lonely dirt road toward the town. He waves a hand over the mockup of the moon, and it starts to glow blue. The humping short man goes running past. He’s trying to attain ludicrous speed… But he’s just ludicrous.

The oil bead watcher’s name is Krumble Conway. He was brought forth by the loins of a carnie or two or three. No one really knows. He was raised by psychotic wolves. He doesn’t mind the name because it helps him remain authentic. He tried magic and trapeze tricks and juggling and clowning and mind reading… But he was never good at any of it. The only thing he was good at was operating the rides and communing with the moon. Some of the other carnies nicknamed him “Werewolf.” But he has little to no body hair, the hair on his head is short and knobby, he keeps his face clean shaven. His favorite soap is Irish Spring because it gives him a sense of clean escape.

 As he walks along the lonely dirt road toward the town of Apple City, he feels like swallowing a table saw. The humping short man comes running back toward him at full speed. As he swooshes by, he cries out, “I need more of that delicious woman!” He vanishes into the darkness, an invisible dust cloud heading toward a gallery of carnival lights strung out in the distance. Red, blue, yellow, purple, amethyst, emerald, diamond…

When Krumble Conway reaches a suburban neighborhood on the edge of Apple City, where all the houses look like apples, apples with windows and doors and yards and lights and cars in the driveway… He goes up to one of those apple houses and peers in the window like a creep. It looks like the family is all gathered around watching a movie with a big bowl of popcorn and a scattering of soda cans. It must be a comedy because they all burst out laughing at the same time. Same. They all look the same. Pale white skin. Blonde hair. Most likely they all have black eyes.

Krumble Conway decides he wants to play a trick on them because playing tricks is another thing he enjoys doing and is relatively good at. He sneaks toward the front door, lifts a fist, begins banging. He runs and scrambles into a nearby cluster of neatly trimmed bushes. He has a perfect view of the front door. It opens. A tall man in a bathrobe is looking for someone who’s not there. “Hello!” he calls out. “Is someone there!?”

He gives up. Goes back inside. Closes the door.

Krumble Conway the trickster goes back up to the house and once again pounds on the door. A porch light comes on and illuminates the yard. The door swings open again. “If you don’t stop, I’ll call the police!” the tall man in the bathrobe yells. He slams the door. The porch light stays on.

Krumble Conway waits a while. He lies down in someone else’s yard and looks up at the night sky. He wants to count the stars, but he knows he’ll be dead before he even gets close to counting them all. He thinks he just has a bunch of stupid ideas. He starts to realize he doesn’t know what to do with his life. He wishes a woman would sit on him. He doesn’t want to go back to the carnival but that’s where he lives, it’s all he knows. But then again… An idea.

He goes back to the house and climbs in through an unlocked window. A very small lamp casts a glow about the small room. There’s a bed. Someone is sleeping in it. He quietly moves closer and looks. It’s a scarecrow dressed in farm clothes and with yellow straw for hair and guts. It’s somehow breathing. It must be dreaming of rainbows and fire. The scarecrow’s eyes suddenly pop open. The mouth moves to form words. “What are you doing here?”

Krumble jumps back. “You’re alive!”

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhh… You’ll wake the people. They are very weird people.”

“They must be if they let a scarecrow sleep in their house.”

“I’m a summer lodger. I work in the fields.”

“I work for the carnival. I’m a ride operator… Doesn’t that sound boring?”

“Not any more boring than being a field worker.”

“My name’s Krumble Conway, by the way.”

“Scott Scarecrow. Good to know you… But I think you should leave before they find out you broke in. Why did you break in?”

“I guess because I’m just full of mischief.”

“Don’t you know blind mischief can get you killed?”

Krumble shrugs. “I’m not sure I really even care about that.”

“Sounds like someone’s got a case of the Mondays,” Scott the Scarecrow says with a funny chuckle.

“It’s Friday, dumb ass.”

They then both hear the sounds of animalistic mating coming from another room.

“Oh boy.” Scott Scarecrow groans. “They’re at it again… Every single damn night they do this. I have to get up early for work. Just look at these dark circles under my eyes. These people are killing me with all their damn sex.”

Krumble snaps his fingers. “Hey, I got a great idea. Why don’t you come with me back to the carnival.”


“Yes, really. I’m sure I could get you a job…”

And the door bursts open and there stands a fat teen with bulbous hair and a shotgun in his hands, and he just starts blasting indiscriminately and he’s screaming, “This is for Waco!”

Krumble feels the slugs fill his guts and he senses himself sliding down, down, down, and soon his face is against the floor, and he looks up and sees tufts of straw floating through the air, and it isn’t long before Scott Scarecrow is lying on the floor beside him, the life draining out of his eyes.

Krumble coughs. There’ spittle and blood. He looks at his short-lived friend. “I’m sorry about this Scott. I’m afraid it’s all my fault.” He coughs and there’s more pink spittle. “Everything that goes wrong in the world seems to be my fault. I should have never come in here. Go to Oz and rest in peace.”

The next day Krumble Conway gets out of his silver drawer at the Apple City morgue and walks outside. The sun is shining, and the birds are singing, and he finds the lonely dirt road and walks back to the carnival just as they are loading up to move onto the next town. He thinks about the moon and smiles.


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