The Circus (working title)

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Intro to a new short-story I am working on.

The word ‘party’ had the same meaning as ‘circus’ to me. Yet I stood there, stooped in a doll-house doorway, clutching a miniature bottle of wine and shrunken flowers. I rang the bell with my scythe-like finger, but noticed the door was ajar. As I entered, I knocked over side-table heirlooms, elbowed hanging picture frames and scuffed the freshly painted hallway walls. I heard boisterous chatter soften in the kitchen as the other guests felt my Jurassic Park footsteps approach, their gin and tonics clinking violently in their hands. All moisture evaporated from my mouth. My tongue, the size of a T-bone steak, became as arid as Bolivian salt-flats. 

Roll-up, roll-up, the tallest man to ever live had arrived. An ironic cheer rose up as I stepped into the harsh light of the kitchen; hands scurried for smartphones to text, to snap, to WhattsApp. My attendance had to be documented immediately.

It was rare that I made a public appearance these days. I still took the odd bung for a television spot. A chat show here, a small role in Doctor Who there. But I had sworn to never accept another invite to a house party. They always followed the same depressing format.

After the initial excitement of my arrival, once everyone had taken disappointing selfies in which it was impossible to frame both their animated grins and my huge sullen face, an awkward period followed. My novelty wore off and everyone returned to the conversations they were having before my nine foot frame entered the room like a praying mantis.

Normalcy resumed and I was left alone, the flowers I brought wilting in my cumbersome hands. People seemed aware of me in the corner of their vision, and they stole reaffirming glances between grasps of Dorrito’s and scoops of punch. But no one felt urged to converse until they had drunk enough to throw their inhibitions overboard. That’s just how these things went.

‘Don’t you drink, mate?’ asked a surly gentleman, dressed in untucked shirt and jeans. He had a larger-than-average forehead (the most prominent feature of the human face from my viewing gallery).

‘There isn’t much point,’ I replied. ‘I would need to drink every unit of alcohol under this roof to feel the slightest effect.’

‘Oh. That’s a shame.’ And with that he left, grinning excitedly with story to tell his friends.

I had already spotted the drunk girl at the party. There was always one. She was hanging onto the kitchen worktop like she was riding out a storm at the bow of a fishing boat. I knew she would approach me soon enough. I braced myself. 

My mother convinced me to go tonight. You see, next month is my twenty-second birthday and that held quite some significance to me and my family. Robert Wadlow, the previous tallest man to ever live, had the same affliction as me: an overactive pituitary gland which pumped out abnormal levels of growth hormone, as if stress-testing the human body to discover it’s breaking point. Robert Wadlow did not stop growing until the day he died, on July 15th, 1940. He was twenty-two years of age.

Given the significant improvements in medicine since the early 20th century, my outlook was more optimistic than my mothers. But you know what mothers are like. They worry. I feel good, though. Healthy. My legs have been in pain since I was fifteen, but that is understandable. Human joints have not evolved to manoeuvre a man of nine foot. That’s why I just enjoy lying on my bed (three King size mattresses pushed together) with a good book. But my mother insists I should, ‘Get out there and enjoy life’. She is kind enough to omit, ‘Whilst you still can.’

So there I was. At the circus/party. Enjoying life. 

I knew what my mother really hoped for. Before I die, she would like me to find love. But what woman in their right mind would like to take me home to meet their parents? The logistics alone would be impossible. My home has been painstakingly tailored to my extreme ergonomic needs. Normal houses were like booby traps to me.

There are other ‘giants’ in the world. The tallest woman alive lives in China. I have met her at several Guinness Book of Record events and gala dinners. She seems very nice. There are often nudges and winks from corners of the media that we would make a lovely couple (to sell newspapers). But she lives very far away from London. And I don’t speak mandarin. 

In truth, I don’t really find exceptionally tall woman attractive. As an additional kick in my tusks, I seem to have been cursed with the aesthetic tastes of a normal sized man. I’d like nothing more than to take a normal girl out for dinner and treat her like royalty. Someone with an average-sized forehead, if I’m being picky. 

Whilst lost in my thoughts, I had taken my eyes off the drunken girl. Where had she gone? I was not prepared for an ambush. 

I felt a tugging at my trouser leg. It was her. Her head flopped backwards like broken doll as she looked up at me, her eyes squinting at the powerful LED kitchen lights. Her feet yawed and her mouth hung ajar. I think she desired to speak.

‘Are you okay?’ I asked. 

‘JUsT…juSt how BiG is your…’ She pointed just below my belt, which was at her eye-level.

‘I think someone should take you home. Who are you here with?’

‘I Don’T neeD to Go anyWhere.’ 

Her final syllable was garnished with a fountain of bright pink punch, regurgitated onto my tailored suit trousers like a child’s squirty bath toy. I backed away in reflex, knocking over confectionary and cold pizza which splashed into the lurid vomit pond expanding on the white-washed wooden floor.

A hush fell over the party. News spread quickly of what had happened and guests from every dark corner of the house came rushing to the scene. Someone could not contain a snorted laugh, which set off an ear-bursting guffaw from the raucous crowd. People were doubled over, some were crying with laughter, others looked in physical pain from abdominal exertion. One man fell to his knees, begging for mercy, asking for it to stop, please stop, he couldn’t bare the torture a second longer. The circus was in full swing.

I’ve read about how normal people would like to ‘disappear’ in situations like this. Just fade into the shadows and never return. This is not a trick I will ever be able to pull.

With everyone’s eyes locked on my next move, I edged around the sea of vomit which was beginning to dry around the edges, causing a tacky pull at the sole of my size 38 shoes.

I made my way to the bathroom, the only sanctuary at a house party. But it was occupied. I could still hear the dying crowd as they wheezed their final whimpers of laughter. 

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