|Carnies: Sense of Wonder: Series 1
Author: DontDoThugs PM
Favorited Over 30 Times! - A teenage girl who becomes pregnant out of wedlock is sent by her severely religious parents to live with her uncle in his Tennessee mansion, where he houses numerous members of his traveling carnival. The longer the girl learns about the unique & sometimes dangerous members, the more free she feels from her rigidly normal home life.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 21 - Words: 99,537 - Reviews: 53 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 03-03-13 - Published: 03-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3005230
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: This story is rated Mature due to content featuring male/female and male/male pairings and violent situations. It was originally posted in 2008 as the first story I had written after a 3-year hiatus of writer's block. I began it shortly after moving to a new home and getting away from abusive relationships, hence the darker tone of the story. Despite never reaching high marks with readers, it is still my favorite work I've ever done so far. I re-posted this story under other user accounts in 2009-2011 which caused some confusion from readers who believed it was stolen. This is my original account and where the story was posted first and where it will remain from now on. It is loosely inspired by the drama Fur (2006) with Nicole Kidman. The title was originally Carnes (2008).
There are so many details that led up to this day. Some of them I've forgotten, some of them are still as fresh in my mind as if they happened a minute ago. I always play it out like a movie, watching the pictures and people and events in my imagination, sometimes changing the scenes so they fit better, or changing what I said or did so it would have a different outcome. Doesn't matter what really happened or what was said or done, because it all happened the way it did, and today was the day that I would leave my home, my parents, and my entire life behind because I made a mistake and I was being punished for the rest of it.
I could go on and on about the little things, the scenes, the moments up until now, but to sum it up, I was a seventeen-year-old high school student raised by overly religious and sexually repressed parents and I tried to understand the truth behind the so called sin with the first guy who paid attention to me.
Luke Dunmeyer was a nice guy computer geek with short jet black hair, amazingly soft blue eyes, and a special order pocket protector. He said hi to me once, and I couldn't get over those damned ocean irises that seemed magnified through his glasses when he looked at me. My parents will tell you differently, but the fact of the matter is that I jumped Luke. He confessed that he had been with one girl before me, and I confessed I needed a man and he had some experience so he should be the one for me. For a geek, he sure had a big chick magnet package when he undressed in front of me, and we shared a night together that was at least for me a painful, awkward, and mostly embarrassing experience.
I knew enough to understand the consequences of sex, besides that I would be damned for all eternity like my parents wanted me to believe, so I told Luke to use a condom and he did. Turns out fate decided that my first and only act of rebellion would be met with the ultimate consequence, and after getting sick and missing my period, I fled to a nearby county to find a doctor who wouldn't tell my parents, and he revealed the ugly truth: I was pregnant.
Sadly, even a doctor in another county has no meaning for privacy in an area of small towns, and eventually, my parents got wind of the tragedy I had created for them. I told Luke what happened before anyone else did, and he was willing to help me and even marry me if it came to that, but my father was so irrationally angry, he turned everyone against him, and Luke and his parents were driven out of town. I knew I would never see him again.
Hefram Chapfield is my father, a buzz cut, brown eyed, straight faced religious type complete with the dark clothing, the permanent stink eye and the looming figure. My mother Abbey has the same long brunette hair, sleek features and brown eyes that I do, and I always thought she could've been a model or a photographer, not the quiet and innocent wife of a man that everyone in our religion feared, and everyone non-religious in our town despised. He always said pessimistic things about everything, and frankly I never got along with him, nor did I really see him as a father to me. The only time he ever said anything nice was when he told my mom, "That dress defines your figure as less plump than the other things you wear."
I had no other family, except for my uncle that came to visit often when I was a kid. He was actually my father's brother, Trumbly, his name equally as odd and I always wondered what damage my grandparents had when they picked their kid's names. Anyway, Trumbly was pessimistic like my father, but not as religious and daunting, and Trumbly had green eyes instead of brown, which I found to be more appealing and trustworthy. He was also the opposite of my father because Trumbly worked for the traveling Carnival.
Trumbly & Reinhearst was a big name Carnival in retro days. It was created by my uncle and some business associate in the early 1970s, and even though modern times doesn't speak to the Carnival world like it did way back when, apparently my uncle made enough money to matter, because my father's strict religious and personal views were shoved aside when my uncle visited, and I noticed that our money troubles always got better for several months after he left.
My uncle wasn't outwardly strange, if you didn't count his 6'5 height an oddity, but he still gave himself the Carnie Freak title because he had an extraordinary talent of imitating just about any sound effect known to man. He was also good at imitating voices, much to my amusement as a little girl, and he would tell me stories at bedtime about some of the wild adventures he got into and the amazing people he met, but he never once brought those people to visit me, probably due to my father's insistence that business should never mix with personal lives.
When I turned fourteen, my uncle stopped coming to visit, but whenever we struggled, the bills suddenly got paid. I don't know if my father talked to my uncle about what had happened to me, or if the decision was made spur of the moment, but five months into my pregnancy, my parents sat me down and my father explained that I was an abomination and I was going to live with my uncle Trumbly. He was always very thorough in explanations because my father hated follow up questions, but he made no mention of how long I would be gone, and that was a very obvious sign to me my new location may be permanent.
I lived in Georgia, and my uncle lived in Tennessee, so the car ride up there was a long one filled with awkward silences and my frequent bathroom trips. I cried in the stall at one of the gas stations, and that was about all the emotion I felt about leaving my parents, my school, and my life behind. I didn't have any real friends to write back to, I didn't have much to show for education either, and I was actually kind of excited to be with my uncle, but my father apparently saw this idea as the worst punishment he could possibly give to me, and I let him believe that.
My uncle had a nice house at the end of a really long dirt road in the middle of nowhere, and he used to tell me that he needed lots of rooms in his almost mansion because traveling Carnies stayed with him all the time. He never told me, but I learned from researching books at the library that Carnies were more often made up of homeless people that were banished by their families, and I liked to think that my uncle took those people in and gave them a life where they were accepted. I wondered what they would think of me, being an outcast like them, but not from the same troubled ground. Would they hate me for not being a Freak? Would they banish me too? If there was anyplace I wanted to belong, it would be with my uncle, because he was all the hope I had left.
When my father pulled up to the house, it was quiet and morosely drenched in shadows from the giant trees around it. I kind of felt like I was on a farm, except that the house looked moderately decent despite its age and the yard was pretty well kept. When I got out of the car, I saw an elephant in the yard chained to a huge iron pole, and I noticed a giant clown shoe was hanging out of one of the windowsills at the side of the house. They would prove to be the first signs of what was to come.
"Liz! Oh Liz, welcome!" Uncle Trumbly shouted from the front door.
I hadn't realized he was even standing there until he yelled. He looked like a tall and lanky alien as he rushed down the ten front steps and scooped me up in an awkward hug. I was only 5'5, so I felt like a dwarf underneath his huge hands. He smelled like onions and old car oil that has been sitting in the sun too long. It was a nice breath to take in for me, considering that my parents thought perfume was made by the devil to tempt people sexually and they otherwise spent no time concerned with scent.
Trumbly let me go and shook hands with my father, then my mother. I hadn't really thought about it until then that he never hugged my mother before. She took her hand away and looked down at the ground like she regretted that he didn't. I wondered if my mother was as desperate to be touched as I was when I took my first kiss from Luke in exchange for letting him do whatever he wanted to me. It sounds dirty, but a geek really doesn't have a whole lot of ideas on what he wants to do, even when given the opportunity.
My father leaned in and whispered something to Trumbly that I didn't hear, but I'm sure it was probably something along the lines of, "Take care of her. Don't let her sin. When she gives birth to the bastard child spawn of evil, make sure it goes to a barren but loving family and don't let her lay eyes on another male until she's married."
I was actually a little surprised when my father took my suitcases out of the trunk, placed them on the steps, and took my mom back to the car without going inside or staying for a while. Trumbly didn't seem the least bit confused by the action, so I assumed my father did have some underlying unease toward his own brother and kept him at arm's length. My father got into the car without looking at me or saying good-bye, but my mother stopped and turned to face me for a few lingering seconds before she got into the car too, and I think I saw her wave to me before my father pulled away and I was left alone wearing nothing but a faded oversize pink dress and carrying only two suitcases and a developing baby in my womb.
"Let's get you inside before it rains," Uncle Trumbly stated, grabbing my suitcases. I looked up at the sky, but there was barely a cloud. My uncle's pessimism was different from my dad's in that he was almost funny when he made unappreciative statements that normally didn't make any sense, or weren't directed at anyone in particular.
I followed my uncle inside, and found once I got through the door that the place was on the border between a cluttered mess and fairly decent housing. I could smell some casserole from the kitchen to my left, but when I glanced through the open doorway, I could only see the dining room, complete with a huge wooden table and over a dozen chairs. Straight ahead was a large winding flight of stairs, and to my right was some kind of family room with a giant TV and a huge couch covered in various handwoven blankets from different eras. Trumbly was already halfway up the stairs and I attempted to follow him quickly without hurting myself, but I noticed the TV was on in the family room and there were three little people watching it. At first, I thought they were children, until I noticed the man in the center had a cane and the woman to his right was wearing a pair of white lady gloves.
Trumbly turned abruptly to the right at the top of the stairs, and I had to glance around as fast as possible to drink in everything. There were probably two dozen rooms on this floor, most of them closed, but I could hear some muffled old time music coming from one, and I was sure there was hissing coming from another.
"Move fast, move fast! Don't want you to be late, now," Trumbly ordered me along, again using his illogical pessimism to hurry me as if we really were missing out on something.
I smelled the distinct whiff of incense when he reached the end of the doorways on the right side and Trumbly turned sharply to the left, entering another hallway. There were a dozen rooms on either side of this hall, but they were quieter, and I wondered if anyone even lived back here. Trumbly reached the end of the hall and started up what should have been a flight of stairs, but now it was converted into a dark blue ramp that remained stable but kept me at a forward angle when I walked up after my uncle. He reached a dark blue door with an eye hole at the top of the ramp. I found that odd, considering that this was not an apartment complex and the eye hole should be on the front door of the house.
Trumbly knocked twice, and I noticed his hand was shaking a bit. I hadn't seen him in a few years, but time had caught up with him, and I observed some gray hairs on the side of his short blond cut.
"Gordy, my niece is here!" Trumbly shouted, then he opened the door without waiting for this Gordy person to come and open it for him.
There was a strong rush of hot air when my uncle opened the door, and I almost fell backward a little from the strength when I stepped inside. The room was humid and musty, regardless that there were three wide open windows letting the outside air in. I saw two beds on either side of the room, one made of cheap steel and one with more sturdy black iron. Trumbly moved swiftly to the iron bed and put my suitcases down on it, so I assumed that one was mine.
I noticed a door across from the other bed that led to a bathroom because I could see the shower curtain from where I was standing. I noticed the shower curtain was also blue, and I wondered if this Gordy person really liked that color. There was a really old vanity dresser against the wall to my left, with a huge mirror and an odd display of makeups and powders on one side, and combs, razors, shaving cream, towels and two blow dryers on the other side.
I breathed in through the humidity and caught the scent of wet hair. I also realized at that moment that some of the heat was coming from the open door of the bathroom, like someone had taken a shower a short time ago. My uncle breezed past me and stated before he left me alone, "Got paperwork to do and no time to do it! Supper is at eight!"
He slammed the door shut before I could ask him what time it was now. Judging from the hot summer sun still perched high in the sky out the window, it would be hours before I saw a meal. I clutched my stomach and wondered if I should sit down or wait for my super fast uncle to come flying back in and at least tell me he's glad to see me, when a male voice from the bathroom called out to me, "You Liz?"
The voice sounded thick and handsome, and probably near my age. I couldn't help but find it humorous that my uncle would choose to leave me with a male when my father probably proclaimed that it should never happen. I answered the stranger's voice, "Yes, I am."
A man did step out from the bathroom, and at first, I thought he was in costume.
He was completely covered from head to toe in long, thick brown hair, except for the outline of his lips and his pair of big green eyes. I knew he was completely covered because he was totally naked, but I couldn't see anything indecent under all that hair as he walked over to the vanity and grabbed a brush. His hair was mostly dry except for on top of his head, and he used the brush to settle the stray mess, then proceeded to brush his chest and shoulders, and I knew for sure he wasn't wearing a costume.
I watched him carefully while I walked over to my bed to sit down before my feet started to swell. In certain parts of the room, when the light was hitting him just right, the man my uncle called Gordy could actually be seen underneath his body of hair, and he was very well built in front and from what I could view of his backside. He caught me looking when I sat down and turned to face me, asking, "Do I bother you? I could put something on."
He sounded like I had every right to be agitated with him, like people told him all the time he was an anomaly of nature and he shouldn't expose himself, but his concern seemed more appropriate to the hair than to the fact that he was by all technical terms naked. I shook my head and asked, "You have that condition, right? Where the hair grows all over the body?"
He didn't seem upset that I was asking the obvious, but answered kindly, "Yeah. Don't call me names like wolf man or animal or any of that crap, 'cause I get enough of that at work."
By work, I knew he meant the traveling Carnival. He turned back to continue brushing himself and I asked, "Could I call you Beast?"
This time, he faced me with a little less kindness. I clarified, saying, "My great grandfather was in the traveling Carnival and he had a friend with your condition. His friend saved his life so they were really close, and everyone called him Beast out of respect."
Gordy's agitation subsided and he asked, "Did they call him Beast because of the hair?"
I responded, "No, they called him Beast because he could drink half a barrel of beer without passing out."
Gordy smiled, and his teeth were brilliantly white against his dark hair as he replied, "Sweet."
I didn't know it at the time, but that word was one that Gordy used more often than absolutely necessary. It would soon become known to me as his catchphrase.
"Hey, you want me to show you around?" Gordy asked, grabbing a pair of jeans from inside the vanity dresser to put on.
I agreed, thinking I would meet everybody and venture into every room of the mansion, which sounded more fun than sitting upstairs until dinner, but Gordy's idea of "showing around" was actually restricted to certain rooms, and he started with the floor just before our room, the one where I thought very few people were staying.
He took me into one of the rooms with a broken and rusted letter B hanging off to one side of the door. When we entered, I saw only a simple bed, an end table with a basin and a broken mirror, and an extremely ancient looking man sitting in a rocking chair by the slim open window straight ahead of me. The man didn't turn to face us, nor did he even seem to be aware that he was alive.
"This is old man Schmitt. He was like, some legend with fire back in the thirties when the Dust Bowl made Carnies turn tricks on people to make money. He accidentally blinded himself in an accident on stage and set fire to his tent, killing three people and his own wife. He went into this trance like state and hasn't been out since."
I gasped and thought of how awful it would be to kill somebody you love, when Gordy snickered at me and said, "I'm just kidding. He's blind because of cataracts and I think his wife died of pneumonia or something."
Gordy received a spiteful glare from me, which only made him laugh again, but Schmitt didn't look our way, so I asked, "Is he really all trance like?"
Coming to sit at Schmitt's bedside, Gordy answered, "Yeah, from what anyone can tell. Trumbly thinks he had a stroke or something, because Schmitt just woke up one day and he was like this. I heard he really was a legend with fire, but I never got to see his show. Trumbly swears Schmitt really could eat fire, without water or oil or anything protecting his mouth."
I observed Schmitt from the opposite side of Gordy, and I could see the old man was completely unaware of our presence by all outside appearances. I mentioned, "Maybe he needs to get some."
Gordy snorted and asked me, "What?"
"This girl at school, her mother worked in a nursing home, and her mother would say that the old men were either really raunchy or totally catatonic because they didn't get any," I explained.
"You do know what any is, right?" Gordy asked, leaning forward.
I scoffed and pointed at my belly, saying, "Of course I do!"
Gordy saw my point and went on, "Well, I'd get him a lady, but they don't really like me."
He glanced down at his long haired body, and I noticed he actually looked kind of handsome with a pair of jeans on. It defined the muscles underneath all the hair better, and he reminded me of some handsome werewolf kid from a bad teenage horror film.
Trying to make Gordy feel better, I sighed and replied, "I would do it with Schmitt, but getting any is the whole reason I'm here."
Gordy forgot about his self-esteem for a minute and gawked at me, asking, "You would do it with a thousand-year-old man?"
I shrugged, saying, "It's not like I would get pregnant or anything. Besides, I don't want to be one of those choosy snobs who makes everybody feel bad."
Gordy smiled at me, and I got a sense that he was interpreting something else from what I was saying, and he was really warming up to me. I tried to change the almost affectionate moment by shouting, "Oh my God! I have an idea!"
I stepped in front of Schmitt's line of vision, and Gordy watched me intently while I explained, "Maybe Schmitt just needs a look and he'll be fine. I'm like, huge right now because my top is growing with the baby, but it could perk him up."
Gordy looked at me with confusion and I pulled down the straps of my dress and my bra to reveal my overly developed upper half. I had noticed the drastic change in top size as the baby was growing, and with little to show for me before, having what the guys at school referred to as a "decent rack" made me want to show it off to someone, even if it were a catatonic old man and a hairy young adult.
There was a long moment of silence where Gordy's eyes nearly popped out of his head and his mouth dropped open almost to the floor, but Schmitt didn't make a move.
"Damn it! He's not doing anything," I pouted.
"Sweet!" Gordy said, smiling broadly while he continued to stare at me, ignoring Schmitt altogether.
I got uncomfortable very suddenly watching Gordy's big green eyes consume me like a steak dinner, and I covered up again. Gordy instantly became self-conscious again, and looked away from me, saying, "Sorry, I shouldn't have been staring at you like that."
I was about to tell him it was no big deal when Schmitt burst into a fit of high pitched, dusty laughter, and Gordy and I forgot about our awkward moment and starting laughing with Schmitt. He didn't get up and move about, but just kept laughing, and after over a minute, Gordy and I looked at each other like maybe we had made a mistake.
Gordy stood up and took me by the arm, leading me out of the room. I asked when we were safely in the hallway again, "Is he going to be okay?"
"I think so," Gordy said, closing the door, but we could still hear Schmitt's muffled laughter.
"I want you to meet Darla," Gordy said, and he led me down to the end of the hall.
He knocked on another door that was heavily damaged, and it looked like someone had tried to expand the frame from the sides and built a handmade version of a door to put in this rounded out frame. When a woman's voice said, "Come in," and Gordy opened the door, I saw the reason for the expansion.
This room had no obvious furniture, just an open window to my left. The reason was that most of the room was filled with person. A person, to be exact. The middle aged woman with long dark locks and a set of sparkling green eyes was heavier than any person I had ever encountered before. There were signs of a bed underneath her, and she was wearing a beautiful evening gown, but I couldn't deny the thought that this woman probably couldn't stand up and move about on her own.
"Darla, this is Trumbly's niece Liz," Gordy said, motioning to me.
I glanced back at him, and Gordy stepped off to one side to let Darla take a better look at me. I noticed that he was still acting a little awkward, and I wondered if he really was still holding onto my reaction of him staring at me in Schmitt's room.
"Hello, child! Come and give Darla a hug," she said.
I happily stepped forward and wrapped my arms around whatever part of Darla I could, hoping she wouldn't be offended by my novice behavior toward a person of her size. Being up close to her, I could smell the scent of daffodils, and I noticed that she had a very beautiful face lined with lipstick and blue eyeshadow. She let me go and observed me up and down, saying, "Aw, you look very beautiful, young child."
I got self-conscious, saying, "Actually, I just feel kind of fat."
Darla and Gordy both looked at me, and I realized my condescending words. I tried to correct myself, saying, "I mean, not that fat is bad...I just...I don't..."
"Don't try to correct yourself, child, I know what you mean. I was pregnant once myself. Such a shame your parents would abandon you over a miracle of life," Darla said kindly.
I smiled and remarked sarcastically, "Yeah well, my dad believes that if that miracle of life is done out of wedlock, it's not a miracle at all."
Darla shook her head and clicked her tongue, saying, "Well now, you won't find that kind of treatment around here, child. Anyone treats you any less than a miracle, and you come straight to me or Gordy here, and we'll set them right."
Gordy smiled at Darla, then looked away when he caught me gazing at him. I was imagining what it would be like to have him as a personal bodyguard, and people would believe he was part animal and they would run away instead of saying bad things about me. It kind of felt nice.
"We should go now, I've got some more stuff to show Liz," Gordy said, and he took me by the arm again, gently leading me out.
I waved good-bye to Darla, and she called to me, "Come back and see me now, child! I love gossiping with the ladies and I would sure like to hear what you have to say!"
When we were out in the hallway again, I asked Gordy, "What did she mean when she said you would set people straight? Would you like, kick someone's ass if they called me names or something? Are you some kind of a black belt fighter or a self-defense know-it-all?"
Gordy laughed under his breath and answered mysteriously, "I guess you could say that."
I became more interesting, asking, "Really? You could beat someone up for me?"
Gordy kept laughing but wouldn't answer me. He seemed to be more amused by my intrigue than anything. We reached the end of the second hallway, and I looked over and noticed a young woman about my age standing at the top of the stairs. She was beautiful, with long curly blond locks, a set of piercing green eyes, a perfect model like figure and face, except for one minor flaw: she had a long and elaborate beard.
Her beard stood out against the ballroom dress she was wearing, and at first I thought she was wearing a necklace of some kind, so I concentrated a little too closely, and her green eyes narrowed sharply. She shouted at me angrily from where she was standing a few yards away, "What the hell are you looking at?"
I was startled by her sharp tongue, and I took a step back, blinking rapidly. Gordy told the girl in a more irritated tone, "Ali, this is Trumbly's niece, Liz. He told us she was coming today and she's never been around Carnies before, remember?"
Ali softened a little when Gordy spoke, and I caught the hint that she had feelings for him. Whether he shared those feelings or not, I couldn't tell, because I didn't get to look at Gordy's face before Ali started on me again, "She was staring at me like I'm some kind of Carnie Freak!"
Gordy scoffed and replied, "Ali, we are Carnie Freaks."
She pointed at me with aggravation and continued arguing, "I am not a Freak when I'm not working, and I refuse to be looked at as such in my house!"
"I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to offend you. I just thought your beard was something else," I tried to recover.
That only made Ali more upset, and she countered quickly, "Oh, so you are so put off by my beard that you would rather it be something else!"
I shook my head, but couldn't come up with the words to stop Ali's assumption of me. Gordy sighed heavily and replied, "Ali, you're putting words into Liz's mouth. Mazzy told you to work on that in our last group session."
Ali put her hands on her hips and continued to stare at me, shouting, "Oh great! Now she's going to think I'm an unstable Freak because I go to therapy!"
"What? No! I..." was all that would come out of my mouth.
Gordy took me by the arm and pulled me away with a little more strength than he had been using before. I followed him with no problem, not wanting to hear Ali continue her tirade of rage against me. When we were safely back in the hallway, Gordy said, "I think that's enough showing around for one day. You'll be meeting most of the folks here during supper anyway."
He didn't sound very delighted when he said that, and I began to wonder what was in store for mealtime with a house full of such diverse and sometimes touchy people. Maybe my father was right, and this place was the worst punishment he could give me.