Patty was still dealing with the emotional shock and pain of the eve of her 25th birthday, when her father unexpectedly collapsed and died of a heart attack. It had been just over two years since her heart broke as her father lay dying in her arms.
Aside from the emotional void in her life, Patty was also left with a young cousin to take care of and a circus to manage. Under different circumstances, Patty would have thought of leaving the circus for Pops to manage on his own, but the elderly ring master had become progressively senile with each passing year. She was sure that Pops was suffering from Alzheimer’s. It was sad to see him in that state, often forgetting where he was and who he was talking to. The only time that the feebleness and uncertainty of age seemed to melt away from his weathered face was when he was under the big top, directing people’s attention to the feature acts of his circus, the way he had for nearly fifty years.
Now, Patty was managing the traveling circus and all of the business that was involved with it. She also carried on the family tradition of organizing the circus’s troop of entertaining clowns, including herself. In recent months, Patty had stepped up the schedule of performances in order to accommodate more spectators. The show went from one matinee and two evening shows each weekend, to now doing one matinee and two evening features every Friday and Saturday. The circus performed each week in a different city.
It had been one of those hot July matinees that the circus had just finished performing that had left Patty sweaty and winded. She smeared her brilliant white grease paint across her forearm with what felt like sheets of salty sweat pouring down from her hair.
She took another deep breath and wiped away more sweat as she stood, then turned to survey the procession of happy spectators driving away from the dusty lot.
As her eyes squinted under the harsh Texas sun, she raised a hand to her brow in order to block the harsh rays and get a better look.
“One, two…two fifty,” she said to herself under her breath.
Patty estimated the number of people who had attended this matinee to be about 250, good for a matinee, especially at fifteen dollars per ticket plus refreshments. If they could double the attendance for both of the evening shows, the expenses and wages for the week would be more than covered.
As she surveyed the final cars pulling from the fairgrounds, she was approached by a beautiful wisp of a girl—Alison.
Alison handed her a cool bottle of water, dripping condensation onto the dusty earth below.
“What’s up cuz?” said Alison.
“Not much, just thinking about business,” Patty responded.
The conversation brought Patty quickly back to reality from her previous daydreams.
“Wanna go into town tonight?” asked Alison.
“Sorry, can’t,” said Patty. “I’ve gotta check the receipts and the take from the door. Then I have to update my books and make sure all the payments are in order.”
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