This section will have very small hints of the oddities of the Last Chance, and its citizens.

Notes: The Last Chance Traveling Show has existed for perhaps centuries. Stories will be set in different decades, and perhaps different eras. Time lines may be loose, because these are special people, and the rules don't always apply to them. It lookes rag-tag, but always surprises the people of the town it visits with its variety of attractions. Many of those attractions aren't quite what they seem. The Last Chance is, you see, a refuge for all the unnatural creatures who are slowly being crowded out of the greater world. There they band together, offering each other love, support, and protection. Especially protection. You don't want to mess with a Chancer.

Notes: These characters are my own mixture of faun/incubus/succubus. It's good to be the author.


A Last Chance Traveling Show Story

by Fannie Feazell

1937--Alabama, near the Louisianna border

Merlene Coggins threw her hands out and grabbed at the posts of the headboard. She jerked them back when her fingers were bruised as the board banged vigorously against the wall. Instead she clutched at the sweating back of the young man above her and shrieked with mingled pleasure and pain as he again drove himself into her.

Merlene loved her husband--really she did. But Earl was almost twenty years older, and his giddy-up had never had that much up in it. The bi-weekly wrestling sessions in bed had long ago slowed to more like once a month, and it really WAS more wrestling than anything else. It'd be over before Merlene knew it had started. Once she woke up in mid-thrust to realize Earl had gotten the urge, but hadn't bothered to wait for her to join him. Then Merlene would be left--sticky and burning--while Earl drifted off into a peaceful, snoring sleep (no doubt smug in the false knowlege that he'd once again satisfied his Woman).

In any case, Merlene hadn't EXACTLY been looking for a tumble when she visited the the carny that had set up on the outskirts of town earlier that week. Earl was off on one of his long sales trips (it wasn't easy to make a living now that the economy had gone kaflooy, but Earl tried hard, and Merlene hadn't had to give up much--not many MATERIAL things, anyway). Merlene decided to amuse herself by taking the money she'd been saving for a new hat and visiting the carnival. She didn't make arrangements to go with any of her friends from the church or the garden club--this was to be her own, personal little adventure.

And so it had been. The carnival wasn't exactly impressive, but it wasn't bad for an enterprise operating during the Depression. There were maybe three dozen tiny aluminum trailers and old fashioned box wagons clustered together a short distance from the small temporary street formed by a double line of tents and sheds. There was even a small ferris wheel, a 'parachute drop', and a tiny roller coaster that racketed and roared with alarming speed.

And there were carnies--more than she would have expected. All her life Merlene had heard how odd carnies were, how you could always recognize one by their lack of hygien and generally sinister air. She recognized them simply because they were strangers. None of them looked particularly exotic to her. Well--MOST of them didn't.

Dmitri had been running the parachute drop, and when he saw Merlene trying to decide if she wanted to go on it, he offered her two rides for the price of one, "Because such a pretty lady deserves some sort of discount."

Merlene was immediately entranced. He was a little taller than she, and his body was sturdy, but not bulky. His complexion was a clear, light olive, marking him as a 'furriner'--judging from his name, what Earl would most likely call a 'wog'. Merlene wondered how such an ugly name would could apply to such a beautiful young man. His eyes were large and liquid, as dark brown as chocolate syrup. His hair was almost as dark--thick and curly, worn brushing his collar. And his smile--oh, his smile. White, strong teeth, and a dimple winking faintly on his left cheek. He couldn't be far into his twenties, and Merlene was approaching forty. Just the way he looked at her, with such open admiration, made her panties damp.

"I never could do that," she'd protested. She gave him a flirtatious sideways glance. "If the men want a show, they can go watch the hootchie-kootchie dancers."

"Oh, but none of them can compare to you. If I can't give you a ride..." and his tone here had been suggestive, "let me buy you lunch. I know the reputation carney food has, but believe me--our vendors are clean and good."

She'd agreed demurely, and he'd called a pudgy little man (surely not even five feet tall) to take over his post. He'd bought here some sort of meat dish cooked on a skewer and took her to a small grouping of card tables and folding chairs that had been set up beneath a shady tree. They talked as she ate--she about how exciting it must be to travel all over the country, he about how lonely that life could be.

Before lunch was over, it was decided that Dmitri would walk over to Merlene's house that evening ("Come through the woods--it's shorter that way." She didn't mention that he'd be less likely to be seen, but she assumed Dmitri knew that.) and have a home cooked meal--and some... conversation.

Merlene left the carnival earlier than she had planned. She took the two thick Porterhouse steaks they'd been saving for a special occasion out of the freezer to thaw, then rode into town for a few more items--ice cream for dessert (since she was too nervous to bake), the most perfectly shaped and sized potatoes for baking, bread so fresh that it was still warm, and a bottle of wine. Not cooking sherry--wine. She'd been given a questioning look by the owner of the package store, but she'd smiled and told him that she wanted to really welcome Earl back when he returned home.

Home again and she went through the house like a whirlwind, making everything that was already clean shine. She ironed a set of her best sheets--the linen ones she'd gotten for her tenth anniversary--and sprinkled them with lilac scent after she'd made the bed. That was when she was absolutely certain that she was going to have sex with Dmitri if he showed the least inclination. Before she'd only been considering it--but now she was committed. In fact, a little voice whispered in the back of her mind, if he isn't as eager as you hope, there are a few tricks you can show him to pique his interest.

Somewhere along the way that same little voice whispered to her that he might not come. Maybe he just made a habit of flirting with all the lonely housewives that he met along the way. This time that little voice was met by a wall of stubborn certainty, though. At sundown, Merlene put the steaks on to broil and the potatoes in to bake. She'd taken a shower and washed her hair earlier, and now she sat at her vanity, carefully applying make-up. She regarded the results. Instead of being caught up in the tightly curled style that was so popular these days, her dark hair hung around her shoulders in loose waves. She frowned and finger combed it quickly, and the few gray hairs disappeared. Her make-up... She wasn't too sure about that, since she usually used very little, but she thought she'd managed to look more like a movie star than a woman of loose morals. Then she shrugged, thinking, "Well, I'm planning to cheat on my husband with a stranger half my age. I guess I AM a woman of loose morals."

The last of the sunlight had faded and the sky was going from dark grey to black when the knock came on the door. Merlene caught her breath, then forced herself to walk slowly to the front of the house. She straightened the dress over her hips (no girdle--a sure sign she was out for trouble), smoothed down her hair, and called casually, "Who is it?"

The answer from the other side was cheerful, "Just a poor, wandering stranger, looking for a little company and kindness."

She opened the door, and her breath caught in her throat. He was so beautiful. The rising moon threw just enough light to put shadows in his dark hair, but glint off his white smile. He was wearing fresh pressed pants and a crisp white shirt--one that was open at least three buttons. A scent drifted to her--warm, woodsy, and a little earthy, and she wasn't sure if it was him, or just the normal scent of the outdoors. She found her voice and said, "Well, come in, stranger. You can find both here... and maybe a little more."

She let him in and shut the door. "Come on back to the kitchen. How do you like your steak?"

"Steak?" He sounded a little surprised, and not as happy as she'd hoped he'd be. "To tell you the truth, I haven't had it often enough to develope an opinion. Just fix it the way you do for yourself. Ah! Baked potatoes!" he said as she carefully removed the crispy brown globes. "And I think those are green peas in that pot. I'll have a feast tonight."

She arranged the potatoes and peas on the plates and got out all the condements, giving the steaks a little longer to cook than she'd planned. "Are you one of those vegetarians? I'd think that a strong young man like yourself would need meat and potatoes--and lots of it."

"I'm not strictly a vegetarian, but I don't eat much meat. It just doesn't agree with my system." His smile was sweet. "

But I know that nothing you'd fix for me would do me harm."

She finished setting the table, and he was delighted by the bottle of wine. "I hope you don't mind if I had a little more," he said, pouring another glass half-way through the meal. "But I've had wine since I was... What's the expression? Knee high to a cricket?"

"Grasshopper. Your mother let you drink young? You barely look old enough now."

He took a deep swallow of the ruby liquid, the muscles in his throat working strongly, then smiled at her again. "It's a custom among our people. It's almost like mother's milk to us."

The dinner progressed, but Merlene could never have said how long it took. Dmitri was such a charming and interesting conversationalist that the time flew by, and she hardly noticed that he barely touched his food. The most wonderful thing about him was that though he could tell stories of exotic and far away places, he was more interested in hearing about HER. He wanted to know everything about Merlene.

There came a point in the conversation where Merlene said hesitantly, "I... I AM married... for some time now."

Dmitri nodded, but his expression remained calm, and uncondemning. "To a good man, I'm sure. You wouldn't have chosen a bad one. But he's, perhaps... I'm not sure how to say it. Too familiar? He comes home from work at the same time, never more than five minutes late or early. When you go to church or to the movie, you sit in exactly the same place, unless someone takes 'his' seats--and then he grumbles." Merlene found himself nodding. "And you make love on Saturday nights."

"Not every Saturday night anymore." There was a hint of bitterness in her voice.

This time Dmitri's voice was sad and wise. "He has committed the sin of many good men. He has become complacent." Dmitri leaned over, and the smooth pads of his fingers rested lightly against her cheek, his voice falling to a whisper. "He doesn't appreciate the wonders that Fate has blessed him with." Merlene's hand drifted up to cover his, and he turned it, twining his fingers in hers, palm to palm. "For you ARE a wonder, Merlene. You're a beautiful woman filled to bursting with sensuality, warmth, and desire that you need so much to share--and you're being denied that. It makes me sad."

Merlene had never thought about her situation this way, but Dmitri seemed to make it all so clear. Earl only tickled the surface of her sexuality, and left her feeling as if she were about to explode. She'd never been with anyone else, but had known instinctively that something was missing. She'd seen the smug looks and dreamy eyes of some of her friends, and she'd been envious. She knew better than to try to spice things up with Earl--he got antsy if she did more than kiss his cheek without him making the first move. But this man... He had an aura of KNOWING, and of not only accepting her interest, but an eagerness return it.

She stood up and whispered, "Come with me." Her voice dropped and she looked into his eyes hesitantly. "If you want to?"

"Want to?" It was no more than a breath. Dmitri stood, his free hand slipping around her waist and pulling her close. Merlene gasped in pleased shock as she felt the warm firmness of his crotch against her thigh. "Bless you, Merlene. I NEED this. You have no idea how much." He leaned over, and Merlene closed her eyes for the first kiss. To her surprise she felt his lips against her ear, and she shivered as the unexpected intimacy of the simple touch brought her nipples to firmness. "You're giving me life, Merlene--nothing less. And I will give you all that I can in return."

What came next was sometimes hazy in her memory, sometimes crystal clear. The short walk to the bedroom, hands entwined. The way he ran his hands along her arms and across the back of her neck as they made their way to the there. Then the way he slowly, slowly stripped her naked, lavishing every bared inch of skin with kisses and caresses. She had wanted to leave the lights on, anticipating the glory of his body, but that was one thing he'd denied her. "Only in the dark, Merlene." He smiled. "Don't you think I should be shy about at least one thing?"

Still, enough moonlight filtered under the shades for her to see the smooth, muscular planes of his chest as he removed his shirt. She was stretched out on the bed, waiting eagerly to see the rest, but again she was denied. He left everything else on, crawling up over her naked body. But what he started to do with his hands and mouth made her quickly forget that he was wearing more clothes than most men around here did when they had to work the fields. The pleasure grew so quickly that she was sure she was going to actually have an orgasm without having to wait for her partner to get a 'second wind'.

But just as the warm, clenching was about to start, Dmitri stopped. He knew exactly what she was going to do, because he grabbed her wrists as she started to grip his hair and pull his face back down to her throbbing sex. She felt something odd--her fingers brushed against what felt like two hard, rounded plates on his scalp--but he was speaking quickly, distracting her. "Sh, don't fuss, sweet lady. Calm down just a little. Let it build again, and it will be so much better--so much... stronger." There was a strange longing in his voice.

Eyes closed, panting, she let herself slide slowly down the peak she'd been climbing. Her pulse speeded up as she heard the sound of a zipper coming down. Her legs were parted even farther as he moved higher up her body, covering her completely. She reached down urgently, and what she found brought a gasp of admiration. While it was true that she'd never seen many male organs to judge by, it was clear that Dmitri was more than well endowed. Then he proved it by slowly thrusting inside her. It seemed to go on forever, till she was so full that there was a slight ache. When he stopped he still wasn't completely inside, but he began to work his hips slowly, pushing in a little farther and a little harder each time.

Soon she was clutching at him, throwing her hips up to meet him, fornicating with an enthusiasm she'd never felt for her husband. She found herself moaning steadily, muttering pleas and thanks that were near sobs. It was so good. It was so beyond anything else she'd ever experienced. She could feel his passion rising with her own. While he was never ungentle, he handling became firmer, more commanding. They were both lost in the increasing intensity of the rhythm.

That was why they didn't know Earl had returned till he opened the front door and called, "Merle, baby, Daddy's home early!" Merlene was so caught up that she wasn't aware of it when he walked into the dining room and saw the remains of the meal. "Hey! Are those my steaks? Merle, who the hell did you feed my steaks to?" But when the coldness crept into his voice, she started to come out of her haze. "WINE? Who the hell... None of your friends drink wine."

Dmitri had been aware of the traveler's return from the moment his wheels hit the drive. Usually that would have been it--he'd have been out the bedroom window before Earl made it down the front hall. But it was so close, so close--and he needed this one so much. He'd been deliberately holding off her fulfillment so that he could get the most out of this experience. A truly intense orgasm--one that involved the emotions as well as the body--would be more nourishing, and hold off the hunger longer. Unattached, willing women weren't as common around the carney as some people thought, and he was uncomfortable with the married women. With a free woman it was an even exchange, but with a married woman it felt as if he were using her. Still, if he didn't receive the female sexual energy he needed soon, he was going to reach the critical stage--the stage that would make it dangerous for him to be around any female.

He knew that Merlene was riding the razor edge of fulfillment, and that there was a good chance that it would take Earl at least a minute or two to figure out something was going on. If those few seconds would just be enough... He'd escaped from the very grasp of men before, sometimes leaving clothing in their hands. If he could get loose, no one--no one human--would ever be able to catch him. As long as Earl didn't walk through the door with a gun in his hand (and he had figured those sort of odds a long time ago) he could afford just a little more...

The dim light from the hall door was suddenly blocked out, and there was a roar. "MERLENE! YOU SLUT! I'M GONNA THROW YOUR CHEATIN' ASS IN THE STREET BUTT NEKKID, JUST LIKE YOU ARE--AFTER I BEAT YOUR BOYFRIEND TO DEATH!"

Time to go.

Dmitri got off of Merlene so fast that it almost seemed like he transported. Earl blinked and the dark skinned young man (another sin to add to Merlene's transgression) was no longer screwing his wife, but he blinked and the guy was on the other side of the bed, shoving the already raised window sash even higher. He pointed, bellowing, "You think you're gettin' away like that? I may look big, but this shit is going to make me move like Jesse Owens." Then the moon came from behind a cloud and he got a glimpse of the stranger's face. The emotion there wasn't derision, anger, or even fear, but... a kind of sorrow. "What... what the... Why aren't you running, chicken shit?"

"It wasn't her fault," Dmitri whispered. He told a lie he'd told before to save other women. "She was just being kind enough to feed me, and I forced myself on her." Then he turned and was out the window, moving with a speed... Later Earl would convince himself that it had to be an optical illusion, like in the old silent movies when they sped up the film to make everyone scurry at impossibly mad speeds.

By the time Earl managed to gather himself enough to run to the window, the man was out of sight. There was the faint sound of rustling that meant someone running through brush or dead leaves, but for his soul he couldn't tell which direction it came from. He knew with instant certainty that he'd never catch the intruder. Hell, a pack of bloodhounds would probably have a hard time finding and catching up with him.

The sound of heaving sobs caught his ear and he turned back, hand raised with palm rigid, ready to deliver a righteous beating. He hesitated. Merlene was curled into a little ball, her tangled, sweaty black hair curtaining her face. She was whimpering, "I couldn't help myself."

Earl slowly let his hand drop. There was hope in his voice as he said, "You mean you couldn't stop him? You couldn't stop it once he... once he started to get moren' friendly?"

That hadn't been what Merlene meant at all, but a tiny flicker of hope sprang up in her heart. Still not looking at Earl, she gave a tiny nod. "Aw, baby..." She felt the bed dip as Earl sat beside her. Her husband pulled her into his arms, and she had to fight the urge to stiffen. Instead she made herself wrap her arms around him, curling tighter to him, crying harder. Earl petted her hair clumsily, saying, "I knew it. You was fightin' with him, twisting an' cryin'. You never do that durin' sex. An' look at your knuckles--all banged up and scraped. You got in a few licks, didn't you, sugar? Bet he's got some scratches in places he won't want to show his mama." There was a kiss dropped on her head. "I'm so sorry I didn't trust you, hon. He was someone from that damn carney, right? They're s'posed to leave town tonight, but I'll call the sheriff now, and he'll..."

"NO!" Merlene didn't have to fake the anguish in her voice, but she hid the panic. Earl made a questioning sound, and she knew she'd have to give him some reason he'd accept, so she wailed, "I can't tell anyone! Oh, God, Earl. I'd have to tell everything that he did to me. And... and everyone would KNOW. They'd stare and whisper and act all sad and sympathetic, but they'd be thinking I deserved it. Or that I'm just too stupid to live, letting him into my home. I... I was only trying to be... kind."

"Sh, honey, sh. We don't have to tell anyone if you don't want to. I'll stay off the road for awhile till you feel safe staying alone again, okay? And I won't try to... you know... till you tell me you're ready."

That's the best present you've ever given me, Earl, she thought. She sighed and snuggled her face against Earl's slightly convex, softening gut, remembering the smooth, taught planes of Dmitri's belly. "Yeah, I feel safe with you, Earl. Real safe."

It would be awhile before she realized how lucky she was that her husband bought the lie Dimitri told. How generous he'd been--protecting her instead of sprinting off to save his own ass. Right now all she could do was think sadly, He's gone. I'll never see him again. And I didn't even get to come.