After ten the doors were locked. They huddled below the overpass with the drunk Zamboni driver, the depressed sheep shearer, the geek, the disgraced Prime Minister.
Instructions came in small parts via several, clever, trained animals. At midnight a horse tapped its hoof ten times loudly just below his bedroom window.
The trapeze artist sat at the end of the bar, swaying, each time he lifted the bottle it was a perilous exercise in defying gravity. At the opposite end the lion tamer brushed back her tangled hair.
There was nothing on stage except a single, dirty shoe. The audience waited, barely breathing. Soon, they rasped, soon.
A barrel of fish. A thermos of coffee. The crates were all packed up. The full moon lit the long dirt road.
When they got home, or where they thought home should be, they found nothing but a newly paved parking lot and a man dressed as a clown over-enthusiastically spinning a sign for an exciting brand of dog food.
The next morning, in the center of town, they found the dog-faced boy and the bearded lady passed out, naked, together on a bench.
The tiny thing spoke in a loud, booming voice. Then there was scrambling and digging. Bricks were dislodged. Everyone stepped back.
The stage coach pulled in, empty, each horse painted a different, vivid color.
These tools aren’t meant to be used, she said. She took the hammer from him and carefully placed it back into the cabinet, giving it a small, reassuring pat.
Hours later they found themselves wandering down an empty dirt road dragging the crate behind them.
The dream began in an Italian plaza with a million others. Sticks and hoops were distributed by some unknown mechanism. Then he was off, running down a cobblestone street.
There was at least three inches of fine, black soot on the railings and stairs. At midnight he’d heard those same trucks roll through town.
A deck of cards was produced from somewhere. They were instructed to draw three, randomly, despite their obvious medical conditions.
The band arrived in an old Cadillac. They rolled, stumbled, and fell out of the vehicle. Their instruments were strapped to the car like hunted deer.