Elysian is an acrobat who works in a circus, but sometimes Mr.J makes him do other works since they're quite tight on money. Elysian doesn't have any problem with that, he does everything for the ones he loves...or?

Through Kaleidoscopes

Rotten; it always smelled rotten. He couldn't tell what emitted this scent, but he'd grown used to it by now. Rather, he couldn't do without it; this was the scent of familiarity, of home. And it was spreading a cosy feeling of tranquillity and joy within him.

Elysian bent slightly forward on his round stool, put his small hands between his legs; he was tired. His muscles ached a bit from the hard training, but it would soon be okay. He lifted his head up, tearing his eyes awayfrom the light brown hard-stampeded ground when Mr. J's round form came close, lifting his chin up with a graceful, pinkish and fat finger. Mr. J looked at him in silence from under his bushy black eyebrows, his cockroach-black eyes piercing into Elysian's deep blue oceans; he needn't repeat what he already told Elysian a thousand times before.

Elysian felt his cheeks turn pink and warm; he knew what would happen, he knew what Mr. J wanted. He nodded slowly, smiling broadly, his subtle pink lip-gloss glistening in the ochre-colored light radiating from a pair of white candles. He had work to do, and not the kind of work he usually did. But it wasn't something new; he'd done it before.

Elysian knew that in the circus it didn't matter what your real name was or where you came from. The only thing that mattered was the name Mr. J gave you and how much the audience loved you. And in this case, how much your costumers loved you.

He got up, his tiny frame barely reaching up to Mr. J's shoulders. His height was an advantage in his work. Not only because it madepeople think he was a child, but also because it made him into a freak, someone to watch.

"Take care of yourself, you hear me? And don't pick his pockets; I don't want him to come complainin' to me, understand?" Mr. J instructed in his strong Italian accent, his hand on Elysian's bony shoulder. He turned away from Elysian to the red-and-white-striped wall of the tent and lit a cigar.

Elysian had never seen him without a cigar. Even when Mr. J was in the toilet or when he was showering; hell, even when he was fucking, he smoked cigars. "If he were to come back complaining to me, I'll toss you out by your ear into the street where your mother left you to freeze to death."

"Yes." Elysian nodded slowly again and started walking out of the tent as he heard his master mumbling to himself in some language Elysian didn't know. He was already used to the smells of the cigar and sweat that always surrounded Mr. J; it didn't bother him anymore. Besides, the smell of The Rotten was stronger.

Elysian's strawberry-blonde straight bangs that lay diagonally across his forehead before the big curly, crispy mess, shonein the brilliance of the lantern he held high up beside his head to light his way to Jacqueline and Bette's trailer. The lantern exposed bright green flowers painted on pink background on the wallof the trailer. He stepped up the few iron steps to the plastic door and swung it open; stumbling in as he accidentally stepped on the long velvet cape he wore. He recovered his balance and closed the door.

"Elyse, honey!" Bette got up from her seat in front of the toilet-table, white paint hiding her delicate features. Her dark hair was set up in a shabby bun, small strands of brown hair caressing the sides of her face and pale neck. "What's up?" she asked absent-mindedly while still applying make-up.

Elysian threw his cape on the bed in the corner and walked up to the toilet-table. He took Bette's white powder and applied it to his face, the powder flying around. "Nothing special..." he mumbled, not noticing the slight anger in his voice.

"You already look good! Good god, Elyse! You don't need that much powder! Your skin is already fair." Bette snatched the powder away from Elysian, frowning. She was stressed and didn't have much patience. She got up and started changing her clothes, her sweet perfume filling the air as her clothes were shook out before she put them on piece by piece.

Elysian snatched it back, pretending to apply more powder while he actually didn't need any more. "At least put some red on my lips!"

Bette took some lipstick and brushed it harshly on Elysian's lips with her fingertip. "That's good enough," she decided, continuing to put her clothes on.

"Ah, that cancer-rat! Why do you even care about him?" Jacqueline shouted as she came out of the toilet with a fast pace, just as stressed as Bette were, if not more. She rummaged through a pile of clothes and dug up a light blue children's dress for Elysian. "Come here!" she bellowed, making it clear that they had no time for him; the show would start in twenty minutes. But Elysian had other work to do tonight, work that paid off better for Mr. J than walking on ropes.

"He's not a rat!"

Elysian pouted theatrically. He didn't like it when the girls bullied him, but if he played along, they'd also care about him more, since they thought he's so cute. He knew well how to get his will through.

Jacqueline and Bette put Elysian's clothes on him, swirling him around and around, their hands making him dizzy. "He's got cancer, and you will get it one day too!" Jacqueline continued; her voice barely audible as everything spun in Elysian's head. He stretched his hands up. He knew how Jacqueline loved to tease him, but he couldn't put a frown on because of the uncontrollable laughter. He wanted to shout "I will not!" just to play along, but it came out as a mumble. He fell down off the chair when they stopped and crawled up, stopping in front of the golden-framed mirror for a last look. "Glitter! I want golden glitter in my hair!" He glanced at Bette, pleading. Parting his red-glossed lips slightly and putting on a passionately sad expression worked on Bette, who had a weak resolve when it came to Elysian. Of course he got what he wanted; Jacqueline's olive brown hands ruffled Elysian's strawberry hair impatiently, rubbing in the glitter. She smiled as he gave them both a kiss on the cheek, threw the cape over his shoulders and strutted out of the trailer.

A long shadow on the ground made him halt. There was a tall, broad-shouldered silhouette standing there in the dark alleyway between the tents. Elysian couldn't distinguish his features, but he knew who this was.

Elysian smiled subtly, knowing that the man was doing the same.

He took the lead, taking the man into a rather small tent. The man Elysian called Sir sat down on the bed in the tent, loosening his tie and taking off his hat at the same time. He also took off his black business-coat and placed it beside himself on the cream-white sheets.

Elysian hesitated to walk in. He stood behind the pearl drapery and let his fingertips create waves in the blue-and-green glistening, fake jewels that made up a peacock tail. "You know what this flower is called, Sir?" He lowered his head so that his lips touched the small blue flower he was spinning between his fingers. His black mascara-covered lashes touched his round, plum-like cheeks. He looked up at Sir, who said nothing. He loved to create such perfect moments, to enchant people. To make them obey his every whim. He couldn't suppress a smile as he saw the man's expressionless brown eyes staring back at him. "It's a forget-me-not...You knew that right?" Elysian broke the spell as he walked into Sir's arms. "Isn't it beautiful?"

Sir enveloped his arms around Elysian, taking him up in his lap. Looking up at Elysian's face that was concentrated at the flower, he begged: "I want you to stay with me."

Elysian wrapped his lips inside a sad smile. "But you know that I'm free like the canary and cannot be caged...?" He knew he'd leave with the circus company in two days and would probably never see this man again.

The man called Sir gently put him on the bed. He kissed Elysian's crimson lips softly, the red copying itself on his lips like blood, and traced the pale skin down over Elysian's chest, pulling the boy's clothes off.

Taking the man's head into his tiny hands, Elysian kissed him. "But I do love you," he whispered, his deep blue eyes making the man's head spun. He let his hand hungrily traced Elysian down to the place between his legs, making Elysian gasped.

"Not the rope this time...I want to hold you."

The man didn't listen; he took Elysian's wrists forcefully in one hand and tied them hard with a shimmering, yellow plastic jump rope.

"It hurts..." Elysian complained, letting fake tears gather at his eyes. "Sir..." He felt Sir take his head and kissed his hair, leaving golden glitter on his dry, cracked lips and the rough, clean-shaven chin.

Elysian smiled faintly. He knew he had his lover under control, despite the illusion he was creating about himself being the one under control. The feeling of the man's tongue tracing down Elysian's torso made him shiver. He gasped, pushing his chest up toward the man. "Sir...!" He tilted his head back and happened to bite his tongue when his lover swiftly thrust into him.

The man kissed him, his tongue licking Elysian's blood away inside his mouth as it fluttered around, caressing Elysian's tongue. And then with a firm yet gentle grip on Elysian's throat, he stopped Elysian's breathing for a brief moment, making him light-headed.

"I'll get cancer and die too," Elysian thought, the hand pressing on his airways and stopping his breathing. "I'll get cancer and my body will become weak like his. I'll get this cancer that he has from him, and there is no way for me to escape." He gasped, his eyes wide, and his own semen warm on his stomach as it coated him when the man let go.

Elysian lied silent as the man loosened the rope and kissed his reddened wrists before lying down beside him on the bed and wishing him goodnight with gentle kisses.

He couldn't let go of his fears. He couldn't get rid of the feeling that he wanted to flee. He wanted to escape his whole life. But where was there to go? The feeling made him nauseous. And there were no guarantees in death either. There was no escaping this, there was only this, and this was all there would ever be. Perhaps this was The Rotten, perhaps this was what emitted that smell he hated so.

The thoughts dissolved as sleep pulled over him. He felt Sir's manly arms wrap around his small body and made him warm.

"Mr. J?" Elysian turned slightly backward, toward the man in red double-buttoned jacket. "Why is that cat so thin?" He pointed to the gray half-dead cat on the ground, his head still turned to Mr. J.

"It's got cancer," Mr. J said nonchalantly, spitting beside his feet. "Come now, Elyse. It's dark; Bette will worry." He put his arm around Elysian's small shoulders, guiding him.

Elysian's eyes were still glued to the cat as he walked away from it. He noticed that the cat's eyes looked hazy.

The sheets were stuck to Elysian's clammy body when he woke up. He felt unsafe; he longed for Bette and Jacqueline's soft and warm bodies to entangle his limbs with. He couldn't stand this place any longer. He should stay, but he wanted to go and so he did. Turning his head and glancing at the man beside him, he rolled off the bed. He walked silently yet fast, swiftly throwing the cape on his shoulders and cloaking his naked body. He couldn't stop glancing at the man lying on the bed. Elysian slowly closed in on him, looking at his face.

Calmed, his heart rate down, the pain shut out; Sir looked serene.

Elysian leaned forward and placed a shallow kiss on his mouth. And then he gathered his clothes from the floor into his arms and ran out. He felt the body liquids flowing down his thighs, tickling him as he ran like a shadow between the tents.

The stars hung close to the Earth, as if being glued on a glass surface in the sky. Elysian noticed that he'd forgotten his lantern. The darkness scared him, forcing the vision of the cat's dark blue hazy eyes on him everywhere. Those staring eyes that probably hadn't seen anything at all, craving him. He wondered what the dream had meant, though it didn't make sense to him. He quivered from fear and the cold.

Swinging the whining door open carefully, he got into the trailer and let his clothes and cape slipped off of him with a faint rustle around his bare feet on the red, well-used carpet. Elysian crawled over Bette on the bed to lay between her and Jacqueline, who woke up and took Elysian into her arms with a grunt.

Jacqueline's chocolate breasts felt nice and safe under the thin, see-through white gown. Elysian felt her chest jump up and down quickly under him as she chuckled softly and sleepily. She dug her fingers into Elysian's mass of strawberry-blond, crispy-curled hair, which was now lying on Jacqueline, reaching her bosom.

"You got scared?" she whispered mockingly.

Elysian didn't answer, but only tightened his arms around Jacqueline.

"Do you love him?"

Elysian thought about the question for a moment. He surely didn't dislike Sir. Sir was nice. Sir bought him things and hadn't done anything bad to him. And what did it concern Elysian was that he had a wife and children of his own and was, at the age of 35, nineteen years older than he was?

He wanted to say yes to Jacqueline. He wanted to say he loved Sir, and that he loved Jacqueline, Bette and Mr. J too. That he was doing all this, and would do more for them. Because they were the one who'd given him a home when his own mother had thrown him out. Her shouts and violence still haunted him even though, in this place, all he'd received until now had been promises of silence and loving caresses. Therefore...he wanted to say he loved them.

"I love no one." He shut his eyes and dug his head into Jacqueline's breasts. He felt the laughter die away in her chest under him, her grip tightening on his head and shoulders as if to pull him nearer, closing an invisible distance between them. Keep him safe and give him maternal love that he would never experience.

Morn wasn't far away though, and it soon stroked Elysian's bare back through the window with warm and gentle rays. He slept through the day, his skin warm from the sun. He didn't feel it when Bette and Jacqueline left him for work.

He was shook awake by Bette who was gently putting clothes on him while he was still half-asleep sitting on the bed, his eyes closed.

The sky outside had already darken, it was Elysian's day.

Bette whispered to Elysian what he was to do today as she splashed water on his face kindly enough not to fully awaken him. "Be careful," she warned worriedly as he stepped out of the trailer and headed toward the main tent, which was round and typically enough, red-striped.

He was blindfolded as soon as he set foot into the tent, hearing quieted-down chatter around him, probably from the audience. The carpet under his feet felt smooth and silky, the music making him light-headed as he danced compulsively, his body moving gracefully. He'd mastered the trick of not walking on the eggs by now, carefully putting his feet down without letting the audience see his caution.

He could hear the private audience speaking in the background, laughing, wishing for him to fail, but he danced and he didn't step on the fragile eggs lying on the carpet. He didn't want to be punished, but he knew that he had to fail eventually, for the sake of entertainment, and he would have to take the lashes against his back.

The tent smelt of The Rotten, but it wasn't coming from the eggs around his dancing feet; it came from the people, from their lust and greed.

And then it came. He had been too much into the music and had not been careful enough; he stepped on an egg. It cracked, hurting his foot as he swiftly jumped aside, realizing with horror what was to come.

Elysian felt Mr. J's gentle hand bending him forward and meekly exposing his back just to let the whip tear him apart. Once, twice;the audience was enchanted, their breaths locked in their chests. Three times, four times, five times. Enough. His knees gave for his weight and he fell down, a loud groan escaping his throat. Mr. J took offhis blindfold and Elysian felt his affectionate moist lips against his forehead.

Was this the moment the promises of silence and loving caresses would break? Was this the moment his pain would return? Was this the moment he'd let the lies be exposed to his consciousness or would he continue to believe? He didn't know. He didn't want to know either. He didn't want to know what the smell of the Rotten was or where it came from. He didn't want to know why his heart weighted so much and his feelings were so unbearable. He wanted to accept it all, because whatever this wasn't, it was at least home.

Everything is so rose colored to us when we look through kaleidoscopes. But who knows how the people who live in the universe inside those kaleidoscopes feel?

Purple Pen of the Demented: Thank you baby.