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Madame Maudelynne and The New Way – preview

Zippy’s Circus was of, but before, its time. It ran under the guise of bringing joy to the families wherever they travelled. But, at its core, it was a business. No more than the selling of fur or farming or stone masonry. Only this business could be trussed up with bells and whistles and flags, literally.

What was novel to the circus goer was ritual to the circus worker. The same performances and the same rotational resurrection and destruction. It was not long before the shine wore off and left the workers hollow. But once they were inside the cave of the travelling spectacle, it’s hard to find a way out. Very few left, fearing the lack of economic safety and often leaving a life behind that they no longer wished to return to. The Circus was to live or die with.

Zippy’s was a thing of wonder with a lithe ballet corp, equestrian assemblage, knife-wielding trio, some of the world’s most dedicated clowns plus outcast performers that did not walk the line of what was deemed acceptable in society but were the very heart of the show. Not to mention the menagerie of pious animals that compromised of runaway snakes, a peacock kept for his sweetness of voice and which was drenched in colour, Boris the two-headed bear and a gaggle of monkeys.

Ringmaster Zippy Jet, real name Jethro Zipporah, led the show around the sawdust filled ring and to where ever he could sense the money coming. He was tall and skinny and his pants never reached his feet and he wore his ringmaster attire everywhere, so people would know exactly who and what he was. Even those who opposed him and his slack morals. Everyone he treated like employees, not family, except Madame Maudelynne who he adored from the moment he set eyes upon. And more so, when she refused to read his tarot citing that he was nothing but a charlatan and a demon, to which he replied, ‘that makes two of us, my dear. Join my troupe or rot in obscurity.’

He rose from his chair in her small reading room and pointed towards the doorway with his hat. Madame Maudelynne put on an air of fluster and faux indignation but simultaneously leant down to retrieve her packed bag from under her table. Whipping off the velvet tablecloth and swinging it around her shoulders like a shawl, she followed Zippy Jet that very second for she had foretold that a clown and businessman of epic proportions would beckon her to follow him into the glamour of showbiz, for which she would be well compensated and well-liked. She made a year’s wages in the following week and it more than made up for the constant vitriol that Zippy Jet’s wife lashed on her. Mrs Zipporah posed no threat to Madame Maudelynne for she did not want the slime of the ringmaster to touch her, preferring to be left alone to her thoughts and her prophecies. Indeed, she found love in strange and peculiar ways that the non-mystical folk would not be able to comprehend.

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A heinous outbreak of cholera tore through the circus and claimed the lives of nearly a quarter of their crew. The village people rejected them for bringing death to the town and the Bible spreaders convinced the townsfolk that it was punishment for the grievous sins that the circus lived in and flashed about to the ticket holders.

Undeterred, but a little broken, Zippy Jet forged on, advertising for new circus members to join the troupe. But it was futile and the circus was quickly becoming more destitute than anyone could have imagined.

One particularly restless night, when the sounds of vomiting could be heard across the tents, the animal handlers succumbed to their death long before their duties were done. The animals, discovering their first taste of freedom, rolled into a newfound bliss amongst the camp. They spread far and wide as they escaped their captivity. Snakes were found for days afterwards crawling through the bedclothes of the townsfolk and it did nothing to soothe the story that the circus was not just cursed but the pure work of the devil. Although the peacock was never discovered, one of the most dutiful of monkeys was found sitting atop a glinting rock, from which he would not move even when beckoned. The rock protruded from the earth, a gentle rise and mound, which, as Zippy Jet claims himself, was where he discovered a fortuitous vein of copper running deep across the earth.

There was some contestation as to who really discovered the copper or found the waiting monkey, but Zippy Jet was adamant that it was him and that’s where the wealth went. The circus disbanded and Zippy died alone in that small, traditional town. Not long after the discovery of copper, he strangled his wife in a fit of rage. Greed had made him violent and cold, the performance disappearing from his eyes and no one stayed by his side.

Some of the performers stayed in the town too, forever trying to fit in to normalcy. Madame Maudelynne even created a home there, keeping to herself except for sharing her potions with those who sought her occult wisdom.

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