Money for the Circus 5
Marcus really isn’t sure how long he’s been staring at the poster. The sand in the ring looks so real. He touches the poster with a fore-finger. Wait, is that a grain of sa-
Then the light goes out. He rubs his thumb against his finger in the age-old gesture that means money, but can’t feel anything. Marcus shivers, although the evening hasn’t been cold, at least up to now. He turns for home, perhaps Gran will be asleep in front of the tele. She watches documentaries, says they’re educational, but Marcus isn’t sure how much you can learn from the first five minutes of any programme, if you snore through the rest of it.
Silver Street has street-lights. Only two out of three work and there are lights only on one side. The houses are all terraced, some have ‘To Let’ boards. They're attached to the wall near the roof, so people coming home from the pub don’t pull them down. Others have boarded-up windows, though it’s no indication of whether anyone lives in them. A dog barks in one of the yards behind, then another, then another. Marcus has turned down the hill towards the Rolling Mills. It’s out of his way a little, but he wants to see if the poster is still there too.
Two men are walking in the opposite direction. One is tall and lean and the other is huge. They are holding hands. The slim man is wearing funny clothes. Clothes people don’t wear round here: a hat for fuck’s sake, a top hat. And he’s wearing a shirt with a stiff collar, a coat that’s short in front at the waist and very long at the back. His trousers are tucked into knee high boots. The other man is not so unusual, not round here. He's wearing army-style clothing. Camo trousers and a brown tee. He doesn’t seem bothered by the cool. By the time they’re within a yard of him, Marcus looks away, just because it’s best to do that most times, if you’re small for your age.
And then the tall one speaks,
“Ah, is it you?”
Marcus has no idea how to answer that, but there’s no need, because the big man answers. In a voice like that beardy actor who’s always shouting,
“Of course it is!”
“Yes, indeed!” says the other. He hands Marcus a piece of paper.
“We’ll see you there, yes, I do believe we will.”
The man touches his hat and they are past him and striding quickly away before he looks down and realises he’s been given a flyer for the “Cirque D’Argent”.
A few minutes later, the poster isn’t there on the Rolling Mills wall, there isn’t even a mark where it’s been.