Leo was a teenage ringmaster with a bad attitude, a dangerous cocktail of pride, restlessness, and passion.
He adored his title, and he wore it as if it were addressed on his letters like “Sir” or “Lady” or “Father”. The Ringmaster, capital “R”, please. A master of three rings, three stages of performance, three circles of chaos: all at his fingertips like an orchestra conductor. He bore a black crown made of felt, a top hat that gave him the poise of an Englishman but the intrigue of a magician. What could be a better situation for an eighteen year old boy? What more could a proud, flamboyant teenager want than a circus of his own?
And the answer is simple: a bigger, better one.
It was the longest day of the year in the Outskirts of the city of Urbs Fumus. The summer was grueling for a Fumidian, covered in a layer of grime clinging to sweaty skin. But for a member in the Angelone Circus, a short auto ride eight miles away, it was a drunken bliss celebrating the Ringmaster’s nineteenth birthday.
A drunken bliss is exactly how Leo woke up that morning.
Leo stumbled out of his carriage one year older, about the same time that the sun turns pink in its rise. With a smack of his lips that tasted of whiskey and garlic, he began to pace the Backyard, checking for any others before relieving himself out in the open.
As he unzipped his trousers with the motor skills of a town drunk, he wondered how he safely ended up in his own bed last night. There was a vomit stain outside of his carriage door, which he could tell belonged to him just by looking at it. there was even an outline in the vomit splash matching his shoe shape. When Leo placed his foot there that morning, it had fit like a puzzle, the matching splash on his shoe toe completing the evidence. Along with being a drunk comes a game that only a detective otherwise gets to.
As he relieved himself over the remains of a fire pit, contemplating as elegant of a thought as vomit, he realized another soul was awake. Trotting towards him was a beautiful, flat-faced Persian cat, one who was never seen without the company of her human, Luis Bajramovic.
Luckily for Leo’s kidneys, this was not a problem. He already had a feeling his right hand man would be awake by now. Luis swept up his cat and stared at Leo with his judgmental left eye, the other covered by a simple leather eyepatch.
“Don’t look at me while I have my dick out,” Leo growled.
“It’s too small to see with the naked eye,” Luis replied, moving towards the armchairs in front of Leo’s carriage. “It worries me that when you’re drunk, sometimes you forget that it’s out.”
“I know it’s out,” Leo spat, though he teetered slightly as he zipped himself up.
Luis lowered himself into his armchair, which had an ottoman for his cat and feet. Leo fell into his own armchair and swung his feet over the arm, pushing his top hat out of the way. He craved a strong coffee to wash the taste of day-old whiskey away.
The two pulled out their personal cigarette brands. Leo liked Marlboro’s. Luis liked Turkish. The cat glazed over the two, uninterested in the odd habits of humans.
“We have two days. Two fucking days,” Leo said through his cigarette, fanning out his match.
Luis nodded with all the malaise of his sun-bathing cat, exhaling a spout of smoke, “We’ve prepared.”
Leo turned towards the sun, which had quickly become an awakening yellow. It pounded against his hungover eyes. He pulled his top hat down over his eyes, returning to the ancient hangover remedy of darkness.
“Have you?” The Lion Tamer’s question was another hangover irritant.
Leo decided not to respond, knowing Luis wouldn’t push the loaded question.
No one comes to the circus for the Ringmaster, and Leo did not like that.