Speech

VI: Moral Hate Circus

I: Moral Hate Circus  II: Moral Hate Circus  III: Moral Hate Circus  IV: Moral Hate Circus
V: Moral Hate Circus

 

-Screamer.

My trance is broken, but not my body.

Still taut.

Painful now.

Ema is speaking to me.

Caelan’s jaw is still moving, but I only hear Ema’s voice from behind me.

-Don’t listen, Screamer, it wasn’t your fault.

I’m not listening.

It’s just your voice, Ema, in my head. Are you even speaking?

-Do you hate right now?

Do I hate? Oh, yes.

-What do you hate? Who do you hate?

I hate Ira.

And I hate Caelan.

And I hate being treated wrong,

differently,

like I’m a fragile doll or a three-legged puppy.

And I hate you for not standing up for me.

But standing back.

Behind me.

And I hate you for that, Ema.

-I am standing up for you. I am right here. I am taking your mind off Caelan am I not? Off Ira?

You don’t tell them about me.

-No.

You should tell them how I hate this.

-No. You should tell them how you hate this. Or else I’ll be giving you special treatment. I know you can do it yourself. So why should I do it for you?

Touché.

-Open your damn mouth, Screamer, and tell them. Make sure they hear it, too.

 

Caelan is still taking.

His voice is muffled and instead of the firm and solid tone his throat is holding, I hear only a shriek, rage-fuelled, angry and hideous, aimed right at me. Bring it to me, let it hit me, yell at me, Caelan, do this for me, do this one thing for me, treat me as I should be, shout at me because I’ve done something wrong, because I’ve done something you told me not to do, you’ve ordered me not to walk around my own circus and go where I want, but shout at me because you’re right, scream at me, don’t keep it silent so I hear it echoed and amplified in my mind, Caelan, Caelan yell at me.

He doesn’t yell at me.

Even when I order him to.

Explicitly.

Caelan!

So I yell at him instead.

I use my talent.

My pure and raw talent.

The reason this circus exists.

I scream.

Long.

Loud.

Hard.

Raw.

Red.

Hurt.

Cause.

Noise.

Sight.

Flick.

Glitch.

Round.

Start.

Hold.

Bad.

Bad.

Bad.

Look at me now!

Look at me now           !

Look

at

me

now!

I have scared off my sweet Isolation!

I have frightened away my backup!

I have shocked my tormentors into silence!

I have ridded myself of my obstacles!

I have prepared an empty path!

I have nothing to show for it, only a bleeding throat!

Look at me now!

I need my sweet Isolation!

I need my backup!

I need my tormentors to be loud!

I need my obstacles to overcome!

I need my crowded path!

I need something apart from my blood to show!

Look at me now!

Give me my sweet Isolation!

Give me my backup!

Give me my tormentors!

Give me my obstacles!

Give me my path!

Give me something to show!

Look

at

me

now!

 

VII: Moral Hate Circus  VIII: Moral Hate Circus  IX: Moral Hate Circus  X: Moral Hate Circus (Final)

V: Can I Make it Snow on the Inside of my Heart?

Only recently. Only recently have I realize that, no, I was not dead. In one part of my brain, I felt disappointed; perhaps I am jealous of the fact that you are something I am not, but perhaps I am annoyed at the fact that I may not meet you in Heaven, if such a place does indeed exist for a bit longer.

I am starved. God knows how long I stayed in the same place. Apparently, I never went into the pond. Apparently, I never touched the water. But I remember it all; the feeling of the water around me and its coolness as it prickled my lungs. I remember it all. The swans, they parted and made space for me to join them. Maybe I was wrong. I do not know what happened. I can recall it as clearly as I can recall the feeling of a young man, sandy blond with worried brown eyes, putting me in the recovery position. He already touched me more than you did, dearest, and I don’t even know his name. I don’t know yours. I cannot remember anything.

He never spoke or, if he did, it was not directly to me. When my eyes adjusted suitably enough to let me see, I saw the face, the eyes, the hair, and I heard his voice in his head. I am not sure, he may have spoken and the voice burned onto my conscious, but I cannot recall his vocal sounds. But I could hear them, low and deep inside me, his kindly tone with worry stitched into it, and the stiff instructions he must have given.

Ambulances don’t just arrive by themselves, you know. They have to be summoned. Clearly, this young man must have summoned it up. Such a kind-hearted, warm-spirited gesture that would, undoubtedly, go to waste. I may not have made it to the pond that time, but one day I will.

My lips are still dry, my eyes still glassy, my skin still waxy and pale. How do I know? I can see myself, sweetie. I float above myself, trying not to go too far, but I am angled in such a way that I am hovering over myself, turning over slowly in the breeze that tip-toes through the window. The hospital workers decided that a window would be best for someone with my ‘condition’. I don’t know what they were saying. Something to do with a psychological disorder, probably. I am not… I don’t believe. Schizophrenia… Depression… Madness… people write endless books about them, countless and countless pages on the causes for, reasons why, and how comes. I do not believe this is right. I do not believe I have a psychological disease. If I do, the last thing I want is people knowing about it.

If I do, I am going to be another statistic, and I am going to be another case study for psychology students to use in their A-level work. Fuck that. I am not crazy, I am not mad, I am not insane.

I turn again, and I am facing the window. I try to whistle, but my mouth does not seem to want to move. I try to look down to see myself, but I cannot see suddenly. The world is black. I thrash out and cry, but no one hears. A flash of white, and my vision is back, and I see the wax figure below me, eyes wide and sweating. It thrashes and cries. I thrash and cry with it. It is not me, anymore. The last time I looked in the mirror, I saw a much different person. I saw a human. Now, I am seeing an animal. Someone rushes over, tries to calm the monster. I remain calm, still rotating slowly. There is no point in me panicking. I have figured it out; I must not try to move; I must not try to see; I must not try to hear. Anything that happens in this bubble of calm around myself, I must submit to.

I have twisted enough to see the ward. The crying of that monster is faint, and sounds like a snarl now. I cannot understand why it is so inhuman now. It is me. I am it. I do not understand…

Maybe I was lying beside the pond for weeks. Maybe I died and came back to life. Maybe for a moment, I blacked out and moved of my own accord.

I need to see the figure again, so I turn my head to the right. White hot pain and blue sorrow slashes through my neck. I don’t know why, but it feels as if my head has been pulled off. But I can see the monster lying on the bed, its head facing to the right and it is screaming, but the noise sounds like it is coming through a radio in my brain, hissing. I turn it down, turn it up. I am in control of that part of me. The pain doesn’t bother me, and it is fading.

The momentum of my head turn has changed my rotation from rotating left to rotating right. I spin, looking out of the open window, my head still cemented in the place where I turned it. The thing on the bed has eyes like large marbles, slick and unseeing, and its chest is rising and falling, pale and sweating. It looks like it is going to die. Its mouth opens and a sigh escapes, and, just before it disappears from my view, I see the teeth, yellowing and sharp.

Is that thing me?

I need to return, sort out the body I call my own. The radio becomes less and less fuzzy and suddenly the whole hospital ward explodes with noise in my ears. Even the nurses’ paces on the tiled floor sound like gunshots to me. I fall, screaming, but no noise is coming out of my mouth. I fall into the body, turning around until it is at the same pose as the monster’s and I feel feeling flood into my fingers, my toes, my chest and I am the monster. Again.

I feel so much worse. It is as if my veins are full of black syrup. I can see them under my skin, pumping, rising and falling. There is not enough feeling for me to lift my hand. It hurts so much, though. Not as much as when you walked away from me, love.

Well, enough is enough. The nurse seems to think so, him standing beside me, ramming a needle into my arm in slow motion. There is a dull, sharp pain and I half expect the syrup to explode out of the pinprick. Nothing explodes. A tube is inserted and the fluid pumped into my lifeblood.

I feel human; I feel pinkness returning to my flesh; I feel the syrup dilute into blood; I feel my pupils dilate instantly. The roar stops in my ears.

I don’t want to close my eyes, though, because I might die. Even if I feel so much healthier.

Why am I scared of death now? You died, and you are not afraid. I wanted to join you, so I fell into the pond. Or, apparently, I didn’t fall into the pond. I do not know what happened, but…

I want to be near you, though dying does not feel right enough.

I must go to you instead.

I pull myself up, my body screaming at me to quit what I am doing and lie down. No, I need to move. No one is around, they have left me for a while, possibly to go off and get some more chemicals to pump into my bloodstream. I take one step, feet numb. I look down, and the foot of a monster is there. Pinker, more flesh-like, yes, but definitely not human. My eyes are dry and my lips are cracked, my teeth visible in a grin. I am coming, lovely. I am coming for you.

Now I am on the grass. I don’t know where I am, but I can feel your corpse calling. Maybe not for me. Maybe you want to keep me away. But why should I stay away? I can hear you, so I can find you. However, there is wood in the way, a coffin, but your call is still harsh and shrill, if a little muffled. I keep walking. I am walking on air, it is lifting me up, numbing my whole body and making me cold. A nice cold. It bites into me more than the cold water of the pond did, but I still recognise that coolness.

Now I am on a road, lurching. Feeling has returned to the soles of my feet and one ankle and I feel the agony I will suffer for another seven miles. The sun is gone. Raindrops fall. A pain in my stomach. It is like sorrow and I want to cry. My tear ducts are blocked. I cannot cry. I try to, but I cannot cry.

I am a monster because I cannot cry.

There is light above me, so harsh through the rain, but it is not the sun. I look down. I have no shadow. It is in my head. The light is breaking the clouds and is shining down on me, but it is in my head.

IV: Moral Hate Circus

I: Moral Hate Circus  II: Moral Hate Circus  III: Moral Hate Circus

Immediately, noise stops and I feel safer. More slack. Ira told me to stay right here. Right here on the earth floor. My hands are still shaking, but my shoulders are still. My mouth is open, a dying vibration emerging. My throat feels raw. There is no more than a ringing in my ears. Ira will be back. I trust Ira to be back. I roll somehow. I lie on my back, and my coughing makes no noise. My eyes move to the triangle of light in the gap in the tent flaps. So dark. So dark. There’s half a moon staring at me. I stare right back. It’s dull tonight.

The triangle widens. Widens slowly. Widens. A woman. Her hair is blond-brown. She is kneeling next to me. Her shoulders are round and when she touches and lifts my head I can tell it is Ema. She feels under my hair. Maybe for blood, then she shakes her head up at Ira who appears to relax. Then Ira gets a box from behind him and puts my feet up on it. They feel so heavy and his hands so delicate, like icing-sugar flowers. Ema picks up a cup of water she must have brought with her, and helps me to drink it. My throat feels rough and, when I swallow the water, I taste blood. I try to cough but all that comes out is a dark and quiet growl that no one except me hears. It takes me days, it seems, to drink it all. It’s so cold.

-Breathe.

-Breathe!

Am I not? Breathing? I close my eyes. Focus. Breathe. No, they’re right. My chest is tight. I am not breathing. Panic! Ema hits my chest. I open my eyes and stare into hers. How am I not breathing? I want to. My muscles are tensed. I’m shaking because of this. Ira yells and runs off, and Ema’s voice is low in my ear, panicking, instructing me to keep calm. Breathe. Why do you keep telling me this? I cannot! Ira! He’s holding something. His voice is quick and rushed.

-Muscle relaxant, Ema, put it in his arm.

-A- alright. Where?

-Upper arm. Quickly! You can see a vein!

-Okay!

A sharp pain into my arm, into a blood vessel. I cannot cry out as I am totally breathless. Then, relaxation. Then, darkness. Then a low, slack-jawed moan. Then. Dark. Re

lax

lax

Re

Dark

ness

Re

Then

I know.

I have to keep still.

Keep dumb.

Unconscious. Apparently.

I hear them.

My nose itches.

But I stay still.

Breathing. Trying not to sneeze.

I hear Ema.

And Ira.

-We should move him. He’s not safe here. What if this happens again? We’re in a bloody field. What if he goes out and collapses again?

Cigarette smoke.

Ira is smoking. We cannot be inside.

-That won’t happen. I won’t let him walk off.

-Maybe we should… talk to him about retiring.

-Retire the Moral Hate Circus?

-No, Ema. Have just the Screamer retired.

What?!

-He won’t like that. Besides, he owns the circus.

-He can’t do it, though. He can’t carry on, clearly.

-But he wouldn’t retire! You can’t expect the Screamer to retire.

-I can.

-No, Ira. You want him to, and you think he will. I tell you now, he will not retire over this.

A sigh.

Ira.

I won’t leave my Circus.

How could you think that! It’s mine. My Circus!

At least Ema understands me.

The scent of smoke dwindles.

Ira’s gone.

Good.

-Which one has cataracts?

-I’m– huh?

-Which one? I raise my hand. Rub my nose. Relief.

-You’re okay?

-Which. One.

-Oh, um, none. I don’t think.

-One does. Which one said he’d seen a blimp? Heckler?

-I think it was, yes.

-Damn. Cataracts. Heckler’s got cataracts.

-Heckler doesn’t have cataracts. Ema’s confused.

-Yes. He does. He saw a blimp.

-So?

Sigh –Blimps don’t exist. Ergo, cataracts.

-How do you– never mind. Um…

-What.

-Screamer, do you know what happened? Can you open your eyes?

-Yes. And

I shrug.

-Can you try to? Open your eyes?

I try.

Fail.

Ema sighs.

There’s an awful lot of sighing happening.

-I’ll try. Don’t move. Ema touches my eyelids. Cold hands.

Pulls them open.

I’m in my tent.

So dark.

So dark! Has she actually opened my eyes?

I laugh into it.

-Screamer? Ema says and the she sounds scared.

-I’m fine. Promise.

I go to get up. Swing my legs to the grass floor.

My stomach turns.

I vomit instantly.

My arms collapse but Ema is there, catching me before I fall.

Into my own puke.

Thanks.

She forces me down onto my camp-bed.

-Just lie here, okay? she says firmly.

I comply.

She leaves.

I’m on my own. Again.

Isolated.

This time, I am not scared of being alone.

I embrace it.

My lover!

Isolation. She touches me and calms me, presses my belly with her strange invisible arms, so I have to sing to her. I consider a song. Then I feel her arm around my shoulders and her breasts on my chest. Her legs between mine. Her invisible hair on my face. I sneeze and I feel her laughter against my ribcage and pelvis. I let my voice out. For her. I let it out loud.

I miss the note completely.

She raises her head, concerned and I apologise through my sad eyes, as I gaze into her transparent ones.

I try again. And she smiles as I hit it. Invisible lips.

-My

-boh-nee lies o’er the

-oh-shi-aan

-My

-boh-nee lies o’er the

-sea!

-My

-boh-nee lies o’er the

-oh-shi-aan

-Oh,

-bring back

-my boh-nee to

-mee!

And I laugh long loud, to my sweet Isolation. She, my bonny, lies over me. On me.

We move, we writhe on my camp-bed, her on top of me, as if we’re in a music video. I move slowly, my hips, my shoulders, my head, humming a loud note, and she is above me, moving the same body parts but in the opposite directions to mine.

-My boh-nee, my boh-nee. I say into her unseen ear. I laugh and laugh at how I’m talking.

Hushed and low.

I speak to my bonny, to my Isolation, my sweet, mysterious mistress.

Her voice exists and doesn’t exist, but it howls silently in my ears as she sings to me now.

It both exists and doesn’t.

It’s hollow and filled.

Breathy and strong.

Loud and quiet.

I can never hear her but I can never block her out.

I grind against her as she touches me with her invisible hands and her voice.

I want to tell her I love her.

Even though I know nothing about love.

I want to tell her.

I love her.

I love my Isolation, so splendid and beautiful her voice is.

I am her bonny.

She is mine.

I am hers.

My sweet Isolation and me.

I will not scream around her.

I am afraid.

Afraid of frightening her.

Don’t go, Isolation.

Never leave me.

 

V: Moral Hate Circus  VI: Moral Hate Circus  VII: Moral Hate Circus  VIII: Moral Hate Circus
IX: Moral Hate Circus  X: Moral Hate Circus (Final)

III: Moral Hate Circus

I: Moral Hate Circus  II: Moral Hate Circus

I walk.

In no particular direction. I just walk.

Maybe I’ll walk into Ema.

Stranger things have happened.

Before I know it I’m back at the main tent. At the back. At the entrance. That’s good enough.

I go in.

The Speaker is speaking. I take a step and sit down in the middle of the walkway to enjoy the show.

-Abortions, the Speaker is saying, -who would? To abort is to kill a human child. Are we killers? Are we? If we trot ourselves off to war, if we raise our guns, if we fire into the body of another and take away their life, are we killers? We are. If your wife or girlfriend, or you, feel something inside, something that’s growing… what would we do with it? If we decide to keep it, we are being true. If we decide to abolish it, what are we then? Saving ourselves a bit of money? Yes, indeed, but we are killers. We want to sever the life this growing embryo could have, we want to–

-You should have been aborted!

-My dearest mother, God rest her, was no killer, my sir. She allowed my life to flourish. She allowed me to speak to you.

-We shouldn’t have to hear this!

-Right, it’s your opinion, not fact!

The Speaker is unfazed by the Heckler, or the other person who spouted words. He’s well-trained.

-Our own Screamer introduced this concept to you, the Speaker continues, -when he came out. He told you we were opinionated. We knew you would not all agree. But, nevertheless, I will continue. A human life can be destroyed by you, if you see fit to do it. You can pick up a wooden pole and beat a man to death. Surely, that’s all you’re doing when you abort your child? You destroy it. You obliterate it. You beat it to death with a wooden pole. Of course, that is merely metaphorical, but it is what happens. You may disagree, but the opinion expressed here on stage tonight, however much you want to deny it, is true. Don’t you agree?

-Bullshit!

This comes from the Doubler. I recognise the accent.

I chuckle.

-Abortion is not about obliterating a baby!

-Sir, tell me, what else is it?

-It’s a choice! It’s the mother’s choice!

-Is it? Then, is Fritzel’s choice to rape his own daughter sufficient to get him off the road to imprisonment?

-No, but he didn’t kill!

-Then you agree, abortion is killing?

-No! How do you arrive to that?!

The Doubler, seated in the second row from the stage, is standing up. Some cries of –yeah surround me. I giggle again, and rock side to side.

Will he begin the Circus?

-Abortion is the mother’s choice!

-A mother can abort her baby?

-Of course!

-A mother can abort her three-year old toddler?

-No! That is killing.

-Okay, my sir, answer me this; when does a child become ‘alive’? Is it alive in the womb?

-Yes…

-Is it alive outside the womb?

-Yes.

-You get rid of its life outside the womb, when it is alive, that is killing. When you get rid of its life inside the womb, when you agree it is equally alive, is that also killing?

-No.

The Speaker smiles patronisingly down. And laughs. Loud.

This is the Doubler’s cue. With a string of amusing curse words aimed at the Speaker, he quits his row. Storms towards the stage. Climbs on the stage. From near the back, on my left, the Heckler jeers him on, starts to get in on the action, climbing out of his seat.

Now, we come to the psychological minority conformity part of the circus. These people, this audience, will follow these two, the Doubler and Heckler. It only takes one more. Soon, people around me are standing up.

I stand up too, and turn in circles, anxious, not knowing where to be.

The sounds are

heightened.

I don’t know what to listen to.

I cannot see.

I cannot see the Speaker,

Heckler,

Doubler

or anyone I know.

I put my hands to my head.

I shake.

Someone touches me on the shoulder.

I scream in my throat. I turn.

I don’t know who they are.

I take a breath, but I am pushed.

Outside I fall as the inside erupts. It is so loud. I lie on the ground, trampled earth beneath my shoulder, my eyes unfocused. I am shaking, jittering, my teeth clattering. I claw at the earth. I can see the person who hit me. I shy away from them, pulling myself along the ground. I feel numb on one side of my body from where I fell. I feel them kneel beside me. I hear them speak.

-Screamer..!

Instantly, I calm. I stop struggling away.

-Screamer, look at me.

I cannot. My head is stuck. My neck is paralyzed.

So they take my head, and turn it for me, turn it to them.

Ira…

-Screamer, we told you not to come in like that. You know you can’t deal with that kind of thing. Look, can you move?

Ira Ira Ira!

-Oh my God, alright. Don’t panic. I’m going to pull you into one of the tents, okay? Don’t fight me.

I cannot move my body anyway. It’s locked. My muscles are taught.

Ira takes my shoulders. I wish I could make it easier. I cannot move though.

He gets me into one of the tents. By the smell of it, it’s the A’Lonzs’ tent.

Ira, huffing, crouches near me again. –If you can get up eventually, don’t. Just stay lying here. I’ll get Ema as soon as I can. I can’t stay with you, though. Jesus Christ, why did you do that you… you idiot. Just… stay right here okay? Blink once for yes. Twice for no.

I blink.

Once.

-I’m trusting you to stay right here. I’ll peg the tent closed so no one can get in. I’ll be right back.

Ira goes.

No!

Ira!

I need a voice!

Any voice!

Any voice of any person I know!

My breathing is speeding up again. I tremble. Ira!

Ira!

The sounds are too loud!

Footsteps are Thor’s hammer!

Yelling is 100 cats’ yowls!

Everything echoes! In my head! Ira! Get out!

Get out!

            GET! OUT!

            GET! OUT!

            GET! OUT! OUT! OUT!

            OUT!

 

IV: Moral Hate Circus  V: Moral Hate Circus  VI: Moral Hate Circus  VII: Moral Hate Circus
VIII: Moral Hate Circus  IX: Moral Hate Circus  X: Moral Hate Circus (Final)

II: Moral Hate Circus

I: Moral Hate Circus

We have a show tonight. It will be an almost-full house. According to Ira, only thirteen tickets had not been sold. He went out earlier, trying to sell them to stragglers, hungry for a good night, but people rarely buy tickets off strange men for shows they had never heard of before.

If he doesn’t sell them now, he’ll attempt to sell them later, on the door. We rarely sell tickets like that, but sometimes we do manage to squeeze an odd ticket out, onto a middle-aged woman with a young child that she assumed she could bring along without its own ticket.

Stupid.

One ticket per head.

A young child has a head.

Fine, if you’re bringing in a chunk of meat with no head. You don’t have to buy a ticket for that.

But for a child, you do.

Dead pig? Buy a ticket.

Beheaded dead pig?

Come on in, come on in.

 

Ira has come back. As predicted, he went out with thirteen tickets, and came back with thirteen. Still, could be worse.

He could have come back with fourteen.

Ira’s other jobs are the lights. And music. Ema directs the light and music, but she doesn’t actually make it happen.

That’s just what a director is.

Tells us to do stuff.

Doesn’t actually do anything.

Laziness.

Pure laziness.

Ema’s lazy.

We aren’t.

We’re the stage.

 

Our performance tonight will be the best one yet. That’s how we all think. Practice makes perfect, yes?

The Speaker’s topic tonight: abortion.

Quite controversial, in some ways.

Abortion.

And parenting.

Parents or to-be parents will, no doubt, become furious.

Before we’ve even started the circus.

Hopefully the mothers will let the Speaker get to the crux of the matter before they swarm the stage, milk-filled, oversized breasts bouncing in anger.

No matter what they call me, I’m certainly not a pornographer. Apparently I make things ‘creepy’.

Doubler’s magazines.

He won’t read them.

Apparently I made them ‘creepy’.

How?

Said the wrong thing.

Acted wrong.

Did the wrong thing.

Made too much noise.

He told me to leave.

I left. Still rambling about flesh.

‘Creepy’, apparently.

He can talk.

He has a fetish, after all.

Sex.

Who has a fetish? And sex? And magazines?

What is the reason?

 

Two minutes.

Ira’s outside, ushering in our anxious audience.

One minute.

I arrive on the wings. Late.

Thirty seconds.

Audience settles, curious to find out what this night will entail.

Ten seconds.

I pull on a velvet suit jacket and Ema adds a puff or two of powder to my face.

Two seconds.

Ira comes in, securing the big wooden door of our venue behind him.

One second.

The lights dim.

Showtime.

 

Two spotlights give out glaring light from their open maws, and it shines down on me.

-I am the Screamer and I will be your host for this evening.

They seem relatively happy. Or, I think they do. I can’t see. Their bobbing heads are much too dark, and the spotlights are much too bright. I stare straight ahead into the abyss that some call the ‘middle distance’.

-It was an almost full house tonight. Minus thirteen. Thirteen people who could have been here are missing out on what you are about to see. There is a reason we only hold the show for one night.

I have to pause here.

I felt a scream rising.

-I guess you could call us controversial.

-Despicable.

-Opinionated.

-But that is what we are. No doubt we are opinionated. We share with you tonight SPEECH you will never hear again… We asked you to supply your own HOT-BLOODED ATTITUDE. Please, attempt to SUPRESS… it…

I see their faces.

They look confused.

I tried to hold in my screams.

I take a minute – exactly a minute – before I speak again.

-Please. Are you waiting for a good night? I trust the topic of tonight’s speech wasn’t DISCLOSED TO YOU on arrival? No. Tonight’s speech is important. Open your ears. Shut your mouths. Those with young children, stop tending to them for an hour. You, in particular, need to hear this.

-Those with fag on their breath, alcohol staining their tongues, you need to take a minute. Get a grip on REALITY because who in their right mind would ever chose fags and alcohol over the SPEAKER, unless they were somehow deranged…

I pause, having realized I have gone completely off topic.

I walk.

Across the stage.

-You must listen. If not to me, to the Speaker. He has your answers. He has your questions. Sir, with the beer there, please put down your plastic cup and pay attention. You don’t look particularly involved.

I look around at him. He stares up at me.

-What are you drinking? Give it to me to sniff.

He does.

I tip it out on stage.

He protests.

I drink in the scent of the beer through my nostrils.

-Ah. Caramel.

I ignore him, stepping right in the puddle of beer. Then I walk back across stage.

Beer footprints following.

-Please, sir. You have a good taste in beer.

They’re not impressed with me.

-Sir, shut up, you’re ruining the SHOW FOR everyone else. The Speaker will come out and YOU will ruin his whole LINE UP and life. Refrain from speaking. I point at him. Stare.

He shuts his face.

-No refunds! I remind them quickly. -Please welcome the MORAL HATE CIRCUS’ Speaker to the stage!

I skip across to the other side of the stage, through the beer puddle.

The Screamer, exeunt.

 

The Speaker. Speaks.

I can hear him from my little area.

We don’t have dressing rooms. Are you kidding?

I have a camping chair.

Only the very best here at the Moral Hate Circus.

I am curled up on it. Suit jacket on the ground. With a cup of water.

Ema always makes sure that I, in particular, am hydrated.

Doesn’t want me to hurt my throat. I like her that way.

Cares for my selling point rather than me.

What a lovely gal.

I am not allowed to speak whilst I am backstage.

In case I scream and disturb the Speaker. It has happened before.

Didn’t end well.

Someone called the police. We had to go outside in the rain, explain to them that I, as the Screamer, screamed accidentally.

They did not buy it, so I changed my expression.

Looked sheepish.

Told them Ema and Ira were tickling me and I begged them to stop. Screamed for them to stop.

Apparently, that is more plausible.

Ridiculous!

Anyway.

Camping chair.

My camping chair.

I am sitting.

I pay no attention to the Speaker’s words. I have heard them at the rehearsal.

I don’t need to hear them again, really.

I don’t abort.

Abortions. Abort!

Oh!

My water’s gone.

I get up, to find Ema. I cannot speak.

Have to get around by miming a megaphone, asking where she is.

The A’Lonz say they saw her earlier, going out to one of the tents.

I mime a thank you.

It is basically a bow.

They frown. But I walk off. Outside.

There are the tents.

Ema’s tent. It’s big and heavy and gets really hot in summer.

I go in, looking.

She isn’t there.

I go around the rest of the tents.

Then I call for her. I am growing anxious.

Where is Ema?

Maybe if I look for Ira?

No.

He’ll be dilling around with the lights.

Ema!

A person, female by her chest, silhouetted against the half-light of evening.

I move.

Towards her.

But then I see it isn’t Ema. Oh, no. Ema’s not got red hair.

Immediately, I begin to perspire.

Why, I am not sure.

She looks lost. Keeps turning in tight circles.

Long red hair twirling after her like a child. Or a lover.

I must offer her help.

I abandon the plastic cup on the grass.

 

She’s taller than me. By a couple of inches.

Was not ready for that.

I stand behind her, wondering. What do I do next?

Announce my presence?

I am the Screamer. That should not be too difficult.

Before I can, she turns.

Seems surprised.

-Oh, she says. -Hi.

-Hi.

-Sorry. I was—

-Sorry what?

-Huh? She is confused.

-Sorry.

-Pardon?

-Sorry. For interrupting you.

There is a beat.

Two.

-I don’t mean to trouble you, she says, -but where are the bathrooms? Do you know?

-No. I mean yes.

-You do?

-I mean, I know there is a lack. Of bathrooms.

She looks horrified. –No bathrooms?

-No.

-Then where do I… you know?

-Some nice moss. In the woods. Just there. I wave my hand in a vague direction.

-In the woods?

-Yes. I make sure I am talking in very short sentences. So I don’t scream in her face. –The woods.

She makes a face. It might be disgust. I am not sure.

-Or.

-Or…? She looks hopeful. –Or what?

-There’s a portaloo.

-Oh, excellent. Where?

I look around. I spy it over by the A’Lonz’s tent.

A dark, upturned cuboid.

-There. You see.

-Uh, okay. Can I use it? Or is it, like, the… the company’s?

-Yes. And yes.

She looks confused. –It’s the company’s?

-Yes. We have never been CALLED a company beFORE. I have scared her. –Sorry. Can’t control it.

She looks positively terrified.

-You’ll be the first. To use it. The portaloo. We never have.

-What’ve you done when you need to… you know?

I blink at her slowly, -Some nice moss in those woods.

Disgust etches itself onto her porcelain face.

I thought she might recognise a joke. No? No?

Moves past me.

Wants privacy.

I call after her, -Have you seen a woman called Ema?

-Uh no, sorry.

Damn.

Square one.

Or, square zero.

I haven’t even got a cup anymore.

 

III: Moral Hate Circus  IV: Moral Hate Circus  V: Moral Hate Circus  VI: Moral Hate Circus
VII: Moral Hate Circus  VIII: Moral Hate Circus  IX: Moral Hate Circus  X: Moral Hate Circus (Final)

I: Moral Hate Circus

This is my Moral Hate Circus.

We hate with reason, hate with compassion, hate with conviction. Do you hate? Stupid question. Everyone hates. Who do you hate? What do you hate? What do you loathe beyond the point you ever thought you could loathe something? Hate enough to kill, set, destroy? Lock on, target. Point. Pull.

This is my Moral Hate Circus.

Welcome to my Moral Hate Circus.

What colour should we have the curtains this season?

 

The curtains are that colour of fresh, untrodden snow because it’s summer here. We dislike the current season. We always wish it was the opposite one. Summer is too hot so we surround ourselves with cold colours. Autumn is too windy so we surround ourselves with heavy curtains. Winter is too cold so we surround ourselves with hot colours. Spring is… well, spring is just unpredictable. So we pin horoscopes everywhere.

Not that we ever read them. No point. Who are we? Not some poxy fortune teller’s parlour. This is the Moral Hate Circus and we are the acts. We are only human. Or, at least, human enough. That is why we hate the season we live in at the moment. Human petty shit. At least it’s moral. The cold could kill us. The hot could kill us. The wind could kill us. The uncertainty of unpredictability could kill us.

Oh! We tried living underground for years but it didn’t suit us. We are only human enough to want, to need the sun on our faces!

Ah, the sun’s too hot. Retreat underground! Retreat! One of my less fortunate acts got sunburned because he went from one tent to the other. My God. Damn U.V. rays. I’ll ban them. When I’m Prime Minister. Ray-bans. That’s what I’ll call my policy.

Ha!

No.

Old-school sunglasses. I have some aviators. Or I did. My act stood on them as he came in, his skin peeling everywhere. He’d been in the sun for literally three seconds. He was in pain and he stumbled. Caught my sunglasses off a table with his elbow and crunched them into the sod with the heel of his shoe. He still owes me.

I never wore them.

But it’s the principle that counts.

 

One of my acts says he once saw a blimp.

I think my act was lying about seeing a blimp. Probably just getting cataracts. Blimp-shaped splodge on his eye. That’ll be it.

I wasn’t aware he had cataracts.

I’ll have to get rid of him. Find a new Heckler.

I’ll replace him. Do two stages. Oh, yes, I’m part of the piece. I am an act. I am not just the owner of the Moral Hate Circus, I am an act. I hate. I morally hate. I morally hate, in a circus. My skill? I can scream louder than anyone else in the world.

I can scream louder than a baby at birth.

I can scream louder than a howler monkey.

I can scream louder than a jet plane taking off.

I can scream louder than a thousand baby howler monkeys on a jet plane as it is taking off.

Guess my name.

 

I’m the Screamer.

The Screamer.

The.

It’s cool. I scream.

All the time.

Well.

Most of the time.

Helps. I’m am erudite at my job, at my act. I am one of nine in the Moral Hate Circus. I own the thing, the circus, but we all look after it. I started it. I found eight talented people, all of whom I both love and hate simultaneously. I want to hug them but I want to squeeze the breath out of them. I want to kiss them but I want to bite out their tongues.

It’s hard in love and hate.

There’s me. The Screamer.

Then there’s the Speaker. He speaks.

Then there’re the A’Lonz Siblings, three of them, two guys and a girl. They act. They’re damn good at it.

Then there’s the Heckler. He heckles. We need heckles. It’s the only way we make the act work.

Then there’s the Doubler. His role isn’t so clear. He doubles the trouble. Heckler puts the pot on the stove, Doubler makes it boil.

How many is that? Seven. Seven in the act.

Two outside of the act.

Who?
Easy.

The Director and Producer. Names, Ema Schopenhauer and Ira Schopenhauer. Ema directs. She’s hellish. If she doesn’t like something, it doesn’t go. On stage. Not in life. We can’t argue on stage. We argue in life. We’ve learned, all of us, to understand her over the years. Now we understand even if we put a foot half a centimetre out of line. Sometimes she doesn’t even talk. Just sits there scowling at us. Or smiling.

I prefer smiles.

It means we’re doing well.

Ema directs the show during practices. Of course we have to practice. We get a couple days to practice before the show.

Now.

Ira Schopenhauer.

Producer. Advertiser. Money raiser.

Con man.

Professional.

Who else would buy tickets? £25 a head. I hear he’s still waiting for Siamese twins to turn up so he can charge them double.

We should put on a sale.

£25 a head, £45 if you have two heads.

It’s a deal. Steal.

Ira has to poster up adverts all over the town we’re circussing in. He doesn’t write ‘Moral Hate Circus’ on the poster though. He just writes ‘M.H.C.’ so it’s less clear.

It’s advertised as, “Entertainment through Speech.”

Such a circus!

No, the speaking isn’t the circus. It starts the circus.

“Controversial Conversations Covered – The M.H.C. Presents its Very Own Professional Public Speaker for One Night Only!”

“Tickets £25… refreshments supplied… please provide your own hot-blooded attitude.”

We do provide refreshments.

Warm beer.

Cocktail sausages.

We get complaints.

We don’t listen to them.

Hot-blooded attitude, that’s essential to our circus.

Oh, and we don’t provide refunds.

Read the small print. Always.

It’s on the back of the ticket.

In Swahili.

We do attract a crowd – mostly it’s people who like speeches and controversial issues. Hot-headed English Graduates. And people who like ‘only available now!’ deals.

Have to admit, I’m one of them.

Something rare. That’s why I’d pick up a record signed by someone I didn’t even know existed. Just because it’s that special one-of-a-kind thing. Pick up a boxing glove owned for nine years by some infamous boxer who’s sweated in it.

It’s mine! All mine.

I collect. I hoard. Eventually, people get sick of me hoarding and steal stuff. I don’t mind. I don’t care what they take – no idea what I’ve even got anymore.

I know the Heckler likes to take things. Shiny things.

He’s like a crow. Magpie.

Stupid idiot misplaced his trailer key because it was shiny. Put it in his secret stash of collectables. It’s a box behind the portaloo.

Everyone knows.

But no one uses the portaloo. Even the girls. Go squat in the trees over some moss, there’s a good lass.

Come to think of it, we only have two girls.

Ema.

And Celile A’Lonz. Her name is pronounced Seh-lee-l.

Celile.

It’s an odd one. I think it’s French.

Anyway.

Two girls.

We used to have a female Heckler. But we had to let her go.

Not sexism. She was just useless.

And she ate my food. My secret stash of food. She ate some. I let her go. Angrily, but carefully.

Didn’t have to pay her.

Gross misconduct.

Bang!

You’re fired!

I win!

 

II: Moral Hate Circus  III: Moral Hate Circus  IV: Moral Hate Circus  V: Moral Hate Circus
VI: Moral Hate Circus  VII: Moral Hate Circus  VIII: Moral Hate Circus  IX: Moral Hate Circus
X: Moral Hate Circus (Final)