Just A Victim of 'Circus'Stance!
Lancer Brat Pack AU Series
Disclaimer: If this were actually an unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted work, I might be nervous…but y’all know I ain’t made any monetary gain off this.
Anti-Piracy Warning: Anyone attempting to abduct any part of this original work will be subjected to severe penalties, not the least of which will be a forced consumption of Johnny Coffee.
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The Lancer boys were so preoccupied with their intent study of the poster on the wall in Baldamero’s General Store they did not realize they were being spied upon. Teresa Stacy hid behind the bolts of cloth, clandestinely observing the brothers. Mama wanted her to make friends with the Lancers because they were the sons of the richest rancher, next to her Papa, in the valley. Mama was also impressed because their Grandfather was an East Coast Millionaire.
Scott was the closet to her in age, he was eight and she would be eight in a couple of weeks. However, she found she was more attracted to Scott’s little brother, Johnny. Teresa didn’t think she had ever seen a more adorable little boy than Johnny, she was sure he would grow into a very handsome man. She turned to frown at her younger brother O’Brien, who was several months older than Johnny. O’Brien looked girlish and prissy in his blue velvet suit with knee pants, frilly white shirt, and black patent leather buckle shoes. His face was shiny with smears of the all day sucker he had been eating, and a large bruise marred his temple. She wished he could be more like Johnny. Everybody loved Johnny even though he was always into something.
Teresa eyed the advertisement that held the brothers’ attention. She smiled wickedly when she realized she had a way to insure the Lancers would attend her birthday party in a couple of weeks. Grabbing her little brother’s sticky hand she marched towards the Lancers, head held high with smug attitude. Stepping up behind the two she became aware they were talking.
Scott and Johnny Lancer stood slack jawed, eyes glazed with eager anticipation, staring at the colorful poster before them. Scott had a death grip on his little brother’s hand, determined the chaos inducing whirlwind would not get loose in the store. Scott was very serious about Johnny not getting into any trouble. In fact, he was making plans to be extra diligent in keeping the toddler out of trouble for the next two weeks because he was definitely going to try to convince Papa and Ha that he and Johnny deserved to attend the advertised event.
“What does c-i-r-c-u-s spell, Squat? Does it spell circus? That’s what’s in the picture.” Johnny’s little body twitched with animated energy. He loved the circus. Ha had taken them to see one in San Francisco one time.
“Yes, it spells circus, Johnny,” Scott replied with an excited tremble in his voice. “The circus is coming to town! We have to be on our best behavior so Papa and Ha will take us.” Scott was just as keyed up from seeing the poster as Johnny, but the reserved portion of his personality attempted to control it, not so Johnny.
“Does it say when it’s coming, Squat?”
“Yes, do you see the numbers?”
“Johnny sees a 2 and a 2 and a 2 and an 8.”
Lifting his arm and pointing with a slender finger, Scott explained. “Those numbers tell the dates or days the circus will be here. They will be here from March 22nd through the 28th.”
Both boys were startled when a voice spoke up from behind them. “Oh how sweet, Johnny knows some of his letters and numbers.” Teresa replied, though secretly she was envious Johnny was much smarter than her little brother.
The Lancers whirled around at the interruption. Scott grimaced at the sight of the little girl that aggravated him to no end with her habit of watching him all the time. He frowned at the ridiculous dress the girl wore. It had so many rows of lace on it you could barely see the pink material it was made of. She had her brown hair pulled back with a dark pink ribbon, and Scott wondered if she realized how big the hair style made her ears look. He snorted in derision when he noted the babyish, feminine suit her brother wore. Not caring for the ‘better than thou’ disposition of the girl, Scott decided to bring her down a peg or two by bragging on his little brother.
“Johnny knows all of his letters and numbers. He’ll probably know how to read before he starts school. Does O’Brien know his alphabet yet?” Scott grinned in sadistic glee when Teresa’s face reddened.
“O’Brien is only three,” Teresa feebly remarked, trying to make excuses.
“He’s been three for a while now, hasn’t he? Isn’t he closer to four? Johnny just turned three in December, and he can recite nursery rhymes and tell stories too. He speaks very plainly, and knows a lot of words.”
Teresa glared at Scott, pursed her lips and hissed, “Well my Mama says children are to be seen, and not heard!”
“Really, you should take your mother’s advice,” Scott retaliated.
“I’m not a child, Scott Lancer,” Teresa stomped her foot in indignation, “I’m almost eight, I am a young lady.”
“Indeed, Miss Stacy,” Scott replied in his best condescending Harlan Garrett imitation, “I am already eight, therefore I am not a child either. I am a young man.” Scott crossed his arms over his chest and smirked brightly at the girl.
Teresa Stacy hated being bested or shown up, and her anger over the imagined public humiliation had her rigid with suppressed rage. Her arms were held straight by her body, fists trembling as she fought the temptation to strike the blond boy. She rolled her eyes and snorted.
“Hey, Squat, Teresa’s eyes looks like cow eyes, when they roll like that.” Johnny turned his attention to her brother, staring at the bruise on his temple, “What happened to your head?”
Seeing a chance to boast, Teresa arrogantly replied, “Oh that, O’Brien fell off his pony during his riding lesson.” Teresa thought that would impress the brothers.
Johnny giggled as he looked O’Brien over, “Him fall off, him not got throwed off or bucked off? Squat, how can that boy just fall off?”
“Apparently he doesn’t know how to sit a horse, Johnny.” Turning his amused glare to Teresa, Scott informed her, “Johnny rides his pony all by himself. In fact he once rode my horse all by himself.” Scott very wisely neglected to include that had occurred after Johnny was lost all night and came home drunk on hard apple cider.”
Teresa swallowed the angry words that wanted to erupt from her mouth at being shown up. She had to be nice if she wanted the Lancers to attend her party. She also needed to get the conversation off of who had the smartest little brother because that was a battle she could not win.
“I see you were reading about the circus. I do hope you like the circus. That is the theme for my birthday party this year. I do hope you will be able to come, Papa is hiring some of the circus acts to perform at my party.”
“We’ll have to ask our father. If we don’t already have plans for the day, perhaps we will make it.” Scott sneered at the conceited girl. “What day is your birthday?”
“April the first,” mumbled Teresa, hating to admit April Fools’ day was her birthday.
“Figures,” snorted Scott with an amused smirk.
“Oh, and just so you will know, I have visited all of the finer stores in town and left a list of items that would be acceptable as gifts. My favorite thing on my list is a porcelain clown doll. I just love anything to do with clowns.”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me,” Scott replied with a disdainful grimace. Scott hated clowns, he of course would never admit it to a living soul but the garish paint colored face induced terror in his heart because he didn’t like not being able to see the true face of the person.
“Come along boys,” instructed Ha as he approached his grandsons, handing each one a bag of candy.
As the Lancers and their grandfather walked off, Teresa grinned as she heard Johnny begging to go to her party. She knew if Johnny wanted to come, the chances of the Lancer family attending was very high indeed.
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On the day of the much anticipated and daily discussed birthday party, the Lancer boys were up and stirring before the chickens. Ha kindly took his grandson’s downstairs to play in the Great room so their father could sleep until his normal rising time and Maria could finish preparing breakfast.
A full thirty minutes before he had to be up, Harlan heard the hollow thud of Murdoch’s boots descending the wooden stairs. Murdoch appeared in the doorway, hair disheveled, wearing the clothes he had worn yesterday. He trudged to the sofa, yawning and scrubbing at his face and plopped down next to Harlan. It didn’t look as if he had even shaved yet, so Ha assumed he didn’t plan to dress for the party until closer to time to leave.
Noticing his father was up, Johnny set off on a round of ear splitting squeals, as his excitement got the better of him. “YIPPIE YIPPIE…we’s going to a party to see the elliefuns!” shouted Johnny as he ran circles around and around the couch, his nightshirt flapping like a flag in a breeze. Scott watched with a yearning look of desire to join the display of undisguised glee, but alas he felt it beneath an eight year old to resort to such toddler antics.
Ha grinned at the exuberant exhibition of Johnny’s uncontainable joy. Papa shook his head and wondered, not for the first time, if Johnny would always be this hyperactive.
Sighing loudly as he watched Johnny’s demonstration of elation, Papa commented, “If I had even a tenth of his energy, I could do the work of ten men by myself every day.” Watching as Johnny seemed to change directions in mid-air and restart his circular journey in the opposite direction, Murdoch chuckled and inquired, “Do you think there’s any hope he’s wearing himself out?”
Ha snorted loudly, petering off with a purring laugh. “Rest assured he’s not wearing himself out, oh no, he’s just warming up!”
“Thanks a lot for shattering my illusions,” grumbled Murdoch sarcastically.
“I hate to tell you son, those weren’t illusions those were delusions,” countered Harlan with bemusement.
“Speaking of delusions, I can’t believe the Stacys have hired part of the circus acts for a child’s birthday party. I think that’s a resounding waste of money!” exclaimed the ever thrifty Scot, Murdoch. “If it had been me, I would have just held her party before her birthday by inviting all the children to attend the circus together, and then having cake and punch at home afterwards.”
“It’s nothing in the world but an attempt for them to flaunt their wealth. Personally, I think if they wanted to spend something, they should spend time with their children. I think it’s reprehensible they leave the raising of their children to a nanny. The oldest son Marcus runs wild about the town, the little one, O”Brien, for lack of a better or kinder word is a simpleton. And that middle one, the daughter Teresa…I have never met a more aggravating child. She has an opinion on everything, she’s bossy and even at her young age tries to tend to everyone else’s business.”
“She’s the one that tries to pick Johnny up at church on Sundays, all the time trying to kiss his cheek?” Murdoch replied with a grimace of distaste.
“Yes, she’s the one. Johnny really doesn’t care for her, and Scott likes her even less because she told him…TOLD him…that she would let him be her boyfriend, even though she thought Johnny was cuter, because Johnny was too young.”
“I am surprised the boys are so excited about her party.”
“We’re not excited because it’s her birthday, Papa. We’re excited because the circus acts will be there so we’ll get to see them again. If they weren’t going to be there we wouldn’t even want to go. Teresa is a silly girl. She takes candy to school all the time to bribe people to be her friend.” Scott informed her father and grandfather.
A deep frown creased Murdoch’s face as he commented, “Young man I hope you haven’t been ugly to Teresa. I won’t tolerate inconsiderate behavior, no matter how aggravating the other person is.”
Johnny ceased his circular journey around the couch to come to Scott’s defense. “Squat not ugly, Papa, Squat just mean.” Johnny grinned happily, a bright earnest glow on his face which was flushed from running.
Scott’s mouth dropped opened at Johnny’s statement. He growled low in his throat, and then huffed out his breath. “I am not mean to her! I try to ignore her…besides how would you know? You don’t go to school! You’re the one that was mean to her. You said her eyes looked like a cow’s… right to her face!”
Confusion tainted Johnny’s face and he cocked his head and considered his big brother’s words. “But Teresa’s eyes do look like a mama cow’s eyes. Johnny gonna be nice at Teresa’s party. Johnny got her a clown picture, and Johnny tied a ribbon on it all by Johnny’s self.
Johnny’s revelation answered the question of the folded piece of paper with the length of red ribbon tied around it. He had shown up with it one afternoon and announced it was a present for Teresa since she liked the circus. He had refused to let the others open it and look at it, as he had declared it had taken him a long time to tie the bow ,which was really a series of knots, one on top another.
“Where did you get a picture of a clown? Did you draw it?” inquired Papa
“Johnny not draw it. It’s like the pictures hanging in Baldy Mares store.”
“Johnny, you didn’t take one of the circus poster from Baldamero’s store did you?”
“No, Papa. Hank gived it to Johnny. Hank said him was getting a wife and Maggie wouldn’t like the picture so Johnny asked for it and Hank gived it to Johnny.”
“I see,” replied Papa, as the mystery of what and where Johnny’s gift came from was answered. “Are you sure you want to give it away?”
“Yes, Johnny not like clowns, Johnny like Indians.”
‘Don’t worry Papa, Teresa will love it,” Scott snickered, “Because she said she loves clowns and it’s from Johnny and you know how she loves him.” Scott’s teasing tone was wasted on his little brother as Johnny didn’t really understand the concept of boyfriends and girlfriends yet.
The morning flew by for the adults but for two excited little boys they thought the appointed hour to clean up and dress for their departure would never arrive. Murdoch, Harlan and Maria were quite amused at how quickly the boys rushed to get a bath and put on their Sunday clothes when they were told it was time to get ready.
By the time the surrey pulled up to the house behind the supply wagon that was headed to town, Johnny was in such an animated state his excited chatter came out as thrilled squeals and squeaks. His body vibrated with so much pent up energy until Ha commented he believed he could crack and disintegrate rock on the mountainside. It was a relief to them all when the smooth motion of the surrey, and being forced to sit still caused Johnny to nod off for his normal afternoon nap. He sprawled bonelessly on Ha’s lap, his left thumb securely in his mouth, his face resting trustingly against his grandfather’s chest. The morning’s early rising caught up with Scott as well, and he soon leaned against his father’s arm and drifted off to sleep.
“I was hoping they would both fall asleep. Now we won’t have to worry about them being tired and cranky at the party,” sighed Murdoch.
Harlan chuckled, “Oh yes, they should be good and rested after an hour nap. They’ll be bursting with energy and excited as well.”
The groan that issued from Murdoch sounded mournful and tired. “Gee thanks for pointing out the reverse of my logic.”
“My pleasure, now stop worrying there will be plenty of adults at the party, and the Stacys have hired several teen-aged girls to supervise the children at all times. Everything should be fine.”
The Lancer surrey left the main road and started down the lane to the house. At measured intervals along the way colorful circus posted lead the way to grand party. Murdoch and Harlan shook their heads over the extravagance. The trumpeting of an elephant in the field next to the house woke the boys from their naps. Johnny shrieked in excitement as the surrey pulled up to the house and he saw all manner of circus folks and animals milling about the rose garden and the field next to the house.
Ha fought to hold on to Johnny’s squirming body as he strained forward for a closer look at the troop of clowns that waited to escort each child to the area where the party was set up. Scott shrunk back between his father and grandfather, trembling slightly at the sight of the garishly painted faces. He sighed heavily as he watched his baby brother enthusiastically greet the grotesque creatures in oversized, bright colorful clothes as he was lifted from Ha’s arms. Scott just could not bring himself to trust someone who had their faces concealed with makeup.
Murdoch sensing Scott hesitation at being helped by the circus clowns jumped from the surrey and helped Scott down. The little blond stuck close to his father’s leg as they walked around the buggy to join Johnny and Ha. Johnny was in fits of giggles as a clown named BoBo pulled candy, seemingly, from Johnny’s ears. The notion of candy had Scott stepping closer to see if BoBo could find any of the sweet treats in his ears. To Scott’s absolute horror the hideous freak pulled a gun on him causing Scott to cry out in alarm.
Scott’s cry of terror spurred Johnny into action to protect his brother. Balling up his little fists, Johnny flew at the clown in outrage. Fists flying Johnny connected with BoBo’s groin three times before the clown was able to stumble out of his reach. The clown fell to the ground with a strangled pain filled squeak, as he hit the ground his finger pulled the trigger of the gun and a white flag with the word BANG printed on it popped out of the barrel and knocked off his red nose. BoBo rolled on the dirt whimpering as Johnny stood over him in righteous indignation.
“Mr. Clown Man,” Johnny stated, remembering his manners about addressing adults, “That’s not nice to scare Johnny’s Squat!”
Seeing what looked like an altercation occurring between the Lancers and one of the circus performers, Cloris Stacy rushed over. Nothing was more important to her than making a good impression on the most influential family in the area.
Scott hid behind his father’s legs mortified that some of the other children might have seen his baby brother protecting him. His embarrassment doubled when he realized Teresa Stacy and her mother had arrived on the scene. Teresa immediately picked Johnny up though he squirmed to be released. Thank goodness Ha diverted their attention from him.
“Is everything all right over here/” Cloris Stacy inquired as she glared briefly at the whimpering clown, before turning her falsely bright smile on Harlan Garrett.
“Indeed, all is not well,” huffed Harlan as he protectively retrieved Johnny from Teresa’s cloying embrace, and then placed him on his hip. “Just what manner of circus personnel are you employing to entertain at this party? Did you see what this freakish fool did? He pointed a gun, albeit a toy one in Scott’s face. And that madam is not a wise idea. The majority of children in this area are exposed to guns daily and it most certainly not appropriate for them to view them as toys and not the dangerous implements of death they are in reality.”
“I am so sorry Mr. Garrett. Of course you are right. It is not a good idea to have children view guns as toys. I shall instruct the acts not to use the play guns in front of the children. Now if you’ll follow me, we have an area in our English garden for the children to play.
Harlan and Johnny followed Mrs. Stacy to the area that had been enclosed with a white picket fence. Murdoch and Scott retrieved Teresa’s gift from the surrey and caught up with them. Murdoch could barely contain his smirk as he came to stand by Harlan and observed as his critical eye inspected the play area. He knew Ha would not release his grandsons until he was satisfied the garden was safe and that there was enough supervision.
“As you can see I have five teenage girls to watch the children, they will see to their safety and needs. We have a canopy tent set up for the adults with our refreshments in the gazebo,” Cloris informed the Lancers.
Most of the children within the fenced area were Scott’s age or a little older. O’Brien was the only child Johnny’s age that was present. Also present amongst the children were the dancing dogs from the circus, dressed in fluffy costumes of ruffles, lace and sequins. The dogs interacted well with the children. Ha finally relinquished his hold on Johnny, and instructed both boys to behave, and then joined Murdoch and Mrs. Stacy over at the gazebo.
Scott and Teresa ran across the garden to join their friends from school. Lupe Baldamero noted where the two children went and then turned her attention to the youngest Lancer. Johnny stood just inside the locked gate, intently watching O’Brien, who had a small dessert plate and was walking around the yard picking up various objects of interest, putting it on the dish.
Johnny approached O’Brien, curious as to what the other child was doing. The closer he got to him the more his nose was assaulted by some unpleasant scent.
“Hi, what O’Brien doing?” Johnny inquired.
Dressed in his pale baby blue velvet knee britches suit and cream colored ruffled shirt, O’Brien was a frail contrast to Johnny. He ceased his task of collecting objects for his plate and spoke to Johnny.
“Be bind yippy yeah yeah!”* O’Brien explained in his tongue strangling version of English. He held the plate in his hand out towards Johnny as though offering him some. (*Me find surprises!)
Johnny’s eyes widened in horror and his nose crinkled in disgust when he realized the contents of the plate was dog feces in various sizes, obviously from the troop of circus dogs milling about the children. The stench from the excrement gagged Johnny as the dish holding it was pushed right under his nose.
“Yucky…that’s nasty, put that dog poop down,” Johnny squealed. His hand flew up to shove it away, but instead his hand connected with the underside of the plate. The dish remained clutched in O’Brien’s hand but the feces took flight, sailing through the air and landed with a plop in the punchbowl set up on the children’s refreshment table under the oak tree.
Teresa was standing in front of the punchbowl in her snow white birthday dress, covered in rows of pale pink ribbons and lace. The excrement splashed down into the crimson red drink and splattered her clothes. She screeched in anger at the soiling of her dress. Standing on her tiptoes to see what had caused the disaster she was shocked and sickened to see dog waste floating in the punch. The color drained from her face, and then a green tinge slowly infused her face. She shrieked shrilly, somewhat like a whistle, which brought all the circus dogs running to her, as if they had been called.
Stumbling across the garden, clutching her stomach as she tried to reach her mother, Teresa’s progress was impeded by the pack of dogs dancing about her feet. The curious sight brought her friends over as well. They were all confused as to what their school mate was doing. It looked like she was performing some unusual dance with the help of the trained dogs. The dogs jumped and twirled around her on their hind feet, tripping her up, she finally let go of her stomach and tried to shoo them away. It was her great misfortune to step in one of the few piles of feces that was too loose for O’Brien to pick up. Her shoe skidded in the slippery substance and down she went. She opened her mouth to scream and a geyser of vomit erupted from her mouth as her stomach rebelled. An explosion of color soiled not only her clothes but also the costumes of the dogs. The spectacular and disgusting display caused an ear splitting cacophony of screams from the gathered children, which brought all the parents, teenagers and circus personnel running.
Teresa’s bitter and vile eruption caused a chain reaction among the girls. They began to gag and cry as their stomachs revolted at the repulsive display, five little girls added the contents of their tummies to the repellent exhibit. The six boys were falling over each other as they scrambled out of the way.
The adults rushed to the rescue, practically stampeding over each other in their attempt to reach the distressed children. In their haste they left the garden gate open. The grownups hurried by Johnny and O’Brien, who stood back watching the big kids scream, cry and throw-up. Normally little boys are intrigued by gross and sickening things but the appeal of the circus animals in the field next to the garden lured them through the open gate.
The two little boys hurried right by the trapeze but the performers did not notice them as they were busy practicing their act. The toddlers stopped first at the pony and cart, but they weren’t that impressed, being children of the west they were quite use to horses and ponies. They did stop long enough to pull up some yard onions to feed the pony.
Next they stopped at the monkey cage. Both boys were fascinated by the simians, around twenty spiders monkeys occupied the large cage which had swings and poles in it for them to play on. Some of the monkeys were hanging and swinging by their tails, while others swung hand over hand across the bars that ran across the top of the cage.
In the corner near the door three monkeys sat picking through each other’s hair eating whatever it was they found. Johnny and O’Brien stepped right up to the bars of the cage to try and see what they were finding on each other. Quicker than either boy could blink a hairy little paw shot through the bars and ripped the lacy ruffles from the front of O’Brien’s shirt. The toddlers stumbled back in surprise and landed on their butts before the little monkey could grab something else. The children giggled in amusement when the simian thief wrapped the length of purloined ruffles about its neck and chattered at them.
Once the monkeys settled down Johnny and O’Brien stood up and started to go around the end of the monkey cage. Johnny stepped on something and it made a clanking sound. He looked down and saw a large round metal hoop with a really big key on it. I had been dropped there by the monkey handler in his haste to join the others in the garden.
“Look O’Brien a big key. Johnny wonder what it opens.” Johnny mused as he held up the item.
“Be wike wions…rrrrrrrr!”* O’Brien replied. (*Me like lions!)
Johnny frowned at his friend and wondered why he didn’t speak the same kind of words he did. He thought maybe he was just a big baby from the way he dressed and talked, but Squat had told him that O’Brien was older than him. Johnny jangled the key ring at the little boy and when he did the monkeys got all excited. He looked towards the end of the cage and saw the big key hole in the door of metal bars, that’s when he realized the keys looked like the ones in the sheriff’s office, now he knew what they were for. He climbed the wooden steps to the door and deftly inserted the key into the hole, but he didn’t have enough strength while standing on his tiptoes to turn and unlock the mechanism, since there were other things to see he quickly gave up, leaving the key in the lock he moved on.
The trumpeting of the elephants drew the toddlers that way. The loud noise of their calling joined the excited chattering of the monkeys. All this covered the slight sound of the metallic jingling as one smart little monkey reached through the bars and easily turned the key in the lock as he had seen the handler do many times. The door swung opened and the monkeys being inquisitive creatures swiftly departed the cage and headed for the large oak tree in the garden.
The boys reached the elephants and when O’Brien realized how big they were he became frightened and ran back towards the pony cart and climbed in. Johnny having no fear of the giant animals walked right up to them.
“Hi elliefun. Elliefuns have big noses,” Johnny commented as he gently stroked the trunk and then hugged it tightly.
Johnny had no way of knowing this particular elephant had been trained to use its trunk to swing people up onto its back to ride. Before Johnny could end his hug the elephant did just that. He was too shocked at being swung up to make a sound, but when he landed in the little box like saddle strapped to the animal’s back Johnny squealed in nervous delight. Johnny’s squeal brought his faithful collie Patty Pat to the rescue. She had ridden to town in the supply wagon and then unbeknownst to the Lancers had jumped out and trailed after the surrey. She arrived at the Stacy ranch just in time to see her little person attacked by a strange smelling animal.
Racing to the rescue Patty Pat lunged at the elephant, nipping at its feet. This quite distressed the big beast and it trumpeted loudly and began to run away from the attacker at its feet. From high atop the elephant Johnny shrieked and clapped as he was bounced about the little box by the lumbering gait of the huge creature. His screams caused Patty Pat to become more aggressive in her attempt to save Johnny.
The elephant ran in a blind panic straight towards the pony and cart. The poor diminutive pony rolled its eyes in fear as the great beast barreled down on it. Its fight or flight instinct kicked in and off it went bouncing the cart with O’Brien in it on its mad dash to safety. The pony tore right through the canopy tent, set up for the adults, the voluminous fabric fell and encased the equine and cart causing them to crash through the gazebo, upsetting the refreshment table. The wreck startled some of the monkeys that had stopped to enjoy the fruit tray, and had then moved on to the gift table where they tore at the gaily wrapped gifts. The monkeys being natural tree dwellers rushed for the safety of the nearest tree, the one in the garden. Some of them still clutched brightly wrapped birthday packages, among them Johnny’s special gift for Teresa.
The elephant continued on its course for the garden, in the process it plowed through the trapeze safety net, which pulled the main poles down and slung the performers about as they clung to the now separated ends of the main wire. The poles creaked and groaned at the rough treatment and extra weight before finally tilting and throwing the performers into an irrigation ditch.
Onward dashed the agitated pachyderm it crashed through the decorative picket fence. The noise of its trumpeting and thundering feet joined the screams, cries and shouts of the children, and adults in the garden who were now under attack from the monkeys. The monkeys scampered about the people stealing hats and hair ribbons and then swiftly climbing up into the oak tree.
The frightened elephant spied its handler, and having never known anything but helpful and loving treatment from him, it headed straight to him, Patty Pat still hot on its heels. The throng of people scrambled madly out of the way, while Johnny shouted and clapped with glee from his perch on top the elephant. As it passed the table the elephant swung its trunk, slapping the punch bowl and sending it into flight. The crystal container sailed a few feet before tipping and spilling its contents of brilliant red punch and sodden dog feces right over the heads of Cloris and Teresa Stacy.
“Dear God that lumbering odiferous beast has the baby!” Ha exclaimed. He marched forward and demanded loudly, “Put that baby down!”
The elephant understood the word down from the act it performed in the circus, so it obediently sat down, Patty Pat still barking at it. Teresa Stacy soaked in punch, dotted with specks of dog mess went into a wailing fit as the last vestiges of her party were ruined as the elephant sat down on the table, flattening it and her beautiful three tiered birthday cake.
Johnny climbed from the box saddle, slid down the elephant’s side right into his Ha’s waiting arms. As soon as he was off the elephant Patty sat down at Harlan’s feet and hushed.
“Did Ha see? Johnny rided the elliefun!”
Murdoch and Scott hurried over to join the rest of their family. “Did Papa and Squat see Johnny?”
“Yes, I saw young man! How in the world did you manage to climb up on an elephant?”
Before Johnny could explain that the elephant had lifted him up, Cloris Stacy quickly assessed the total destruction of her gazebo, garden and her little angel’s birthday party. Not to mention the fact she was drenched through her silk dress to the skin in sticky sugary punch and she reeked of dog feces. She didn’t care at this point how rich and affluent Murdoch Lancer and Harlan Garrett were. Nor did she care one iota for how precocious and adorable everyone else thought that little half-breed brat Johnny Lancer was…she was livid and she was going to speak her mind.
Mrs. Stacy marched over to the Lancers, her face as dark and stormy as a thundercloud. She got right in Johnny’s face and screeched, “Do you see what you have done? You have totally ruined my property and my child’s party. I don’t know why I ever thought I wanted my little girl to be affiliated with a family that doesn’t match the caliber and class of her own…you …you…little half-breed brat!”
Cloris Stacy’s wild harangue ended along with the excited chattering of the monkeys above them in the tree, who had screamed and shrieked right along with her. The crowd gasped and murmured in displeased tones of her verbal attack on everyone’s favorite Lancer and they all moved closer to render help if needed.
Patty Pat leaped forward and sunk her fangs into the irate lady’s buttocks, and Scott stepped forward and kicked her shin as she was gesturing her hands at Johnny in a threatening manner. Cloris threw back her head and screamed in surprised pain, which set the monkeys off again and they began to throw the items they had scurried up the tree with down. Out of the tree floated hats and ribbons and the wooden marionette clown the Lancers had bought Teresa for her birthday. And finally the special picture that Johnny had brought. The monkeys had managed to untie the series of knots in the ribbon he had placed around it, and had unfolded the poster.
All eyes were mesmerized by the poster that fluttered out of the tree. It gracefully sailed about on the light breeze and then silently landed at Mr. Stacy’s feet. It wasn’t a picture of a clown at all, instead it was it a poster for a burlesque show of singing and stripping. The star of the show was featured prominently on the poster as she was a big money maker. Therefore no expense had been spared on the artwork for the advertisement handbills, rendered in startling lifelike quality was the younger but undeniable face of Cloris Stacy, formerly known as Cherry Delight.
The stunned crowd erupted into uproarious laughter when little Johnny Lancer pointed to the poster and loudly announced, “I brought Teresa that poster for her birthday cause that clown looks just like her Mama.”
“Yes indeed it does, my little one,” Harlan drily agreed with a deadpan expression, before turning his eyes sharply on Mrs. Stacy’s, “And I couldn’t agree with you more, we are definitely not of the same caliber or class. I would never let my grandsons demote themselves to your low class status and origins. I find you to be extremely common with an over inflated opinion of yourself.”
The Lancer family, as well as the other guests turned and began walking towards the area where the surreys and wagons had been park and they all loaded up. As the caravan of neighbors proceeded down the road the unmistakable bellow of a male voice could be heard in the yard behind them, along with various animal sounds, and grumbling circus performers. They all stared in shock when a beat up pony and cart flew by with a bedraggled looking O’Brien Stacy in the driver’s seat. Every time he snapped the reins and touched the pony’s flanks with a little buggy whip the pony kicked up its heels, whinnied loudly and expelled gas that smelled of yard onions.
Scott watched the little boy leaving and announced, “Maybe he’s running away to join the circus.”
Murdoch snorted and then chuckled, “I think he’s already been a victim of ‘circus’stance!”
Ha and Papa laughed at his play on words but were soon breathless with uncontainable mirth when Johnny peered back and announced, “Nope that circus not standing no more!”
June 10, 2008