On the day 6 of the NaNoWriMo marathon. I hit the road running this year. I didn’t do as much prep as I have in the past and I guess that paid off 🙂 But I’m sure that blogging as regularly as I do had increased my writing focus a lot too. Not mention the intense Ellen Bass Poetry Worksop the pervious weekend that shook up some cobwebs that I didn’t know where there.
I aim to hit 2500 per day by the 2nd week – this year I hit that on Day 2 & have kept that pace up – in fact two 3000 word days already. I’m amazed. When I started I knew where this story had to go but I didn’t know the road it was going to take. The where – without this being a spoiler – is who abducted these children and what became of them.
Setting that abduction way back in the 80’s allowed me to postulate a lack of communication between investigative bodies – but as I was writing I began to wonder why this might be case: turf wars? class distain? So I’m getting to explore some of that territory.
World building how a reality crime show gets filmed has been great fun as well. I say world building because I’m not attempting to create a story that reflects the actual way that gets done. As long as the way I describe it sound plausible I’ll be happy. The novel isn’t meant to replace a Ryerson Course on Making Reality TV. For the show people have to be filmed, interviewed and thus fresh characters get created – I have to keep in mind that each scene adds some dimension to the story though.
Currently I’m having a great time with a Circus Museum – devoted to an east coast travelling carnival. As I started in on that a slew of new characters presented themselves. One of whom is Cora! Queen of the King Cobras – how can I resist that title and where she’ll take me.
As I walked & thought about Cora – now this is how my synapses fire – I came to me that there could be a present day snake handlers church on the east coast – how cool it’ll be to send my hero into that nest of possible vipers? I couldn’t wait to get home to finish the Museum scene so I can get onto the snake handlers.
Here’s a portion of the Circus Museum scene – keep in mind this raw raw raw & freshly written Thursday afternoon:
Dan could smell popcorn even before he had opened the front door of the Circus Museum. As he opened the door, calliope music announced his entry. Man, that must get irritating for the people who work here.
In the lobby he was greeted by the front of a circus tent – a pay booth in the middle its partially opened flap, and two large canvas posters on either side of it. They had to be at least twelve foot high. The ones on the left were for ‘Cora! Queen of the King Cobras’ – it showed a wide-eyed smiling woman clad like a belly dancer charming a king cobra. ‘Cora can charm the most dangerous of poisonous snakes. Think of what she can do with moral man.’
Beside it was one for ‘Sharko – The Fish Man’ A thin man in bathing trunks was half twisting to show the fin on his back, his legs were covered with scales and there appeared to be gills under his jaw. ‘See his scales, his fin. Watch as he dives deep and stays underwater longer than humanly possible.’
On the other side were posters touting first ‘Fireball’ that showed a man putting a flaming touch into his mouth. He was wearing a flame painted costume with a what appeared to a lighting bolt of flame flashing from his crotch. Beside the ‘Fireball’ was one for ‘Madama Cabanalla’: a Gypsy woman staring out at him with a crystal ball floating over her palms. ‘Madama Cabanalla sees all! Tells all!’
(Add description of painting style)
A sign on the ticket booth invited him to ring for service. An arrow pointed to a rope that he flooded with his eyes as it went through a series of pulleys to a fire-station type bell on the wall behind him.
A group came in the door as he was about to pull the rope. Two adults and six children.
Dan pulled the bell rope. The alarm rang loudly for a minute and then balloons shot out of the roof of the ticket booth with a loud bang. The children screamed and laughed. Dan shook his head in amazement.
A man dressed in a red blazer, with a striped yellow vest and black check pants stepped out from the tent entrance.
“Welcome! Welcome.” He reached his hand out to one of the adults. The adult was leery and squinted as if expecting a hand buzzer as they shook hands. Nothing happened.
“Welcome one and all to Chamberlain’s Circus Museum. I am David Chamberlain. The Happy Hippo Travelling Circus has been in my family for several generations since 1899 when Grant and Isabelle H started it. It toured the Eastern Provinces changing with the times over the years until it could no long keep up with the times.”
“You are free to explore the exhibits and the grounds as you want to for free or you can take a guided tour with ME.” He pulled a bouquet of flowers out of his coat sleeve and presented it to one of the young girls in the family group. “The cost of the tour is your soul … just kidding. That’s $10.00 each.”
“How long will that take?” One of the adults asked. “An hour.” David answered.
“Can we Daddy?” one of the children asked. “Can we?”
“Is there a children’s rate?” The man asked.
“Only if their feet never touch the ground.” David answered. “And their hands don’t touch an exhibit.”
Dan laughed at David’s spiel. He saw that it disarmed the parents of the children who reluctantly paid the admission fee.
“And you kind sire?” David asked Dan.
“I think I’ll explore a bit first. It might be quieter.”
“I hear you.” David nodded. “If you want the printed guide to the exhibits that’ll be $5. Which you can pay to my lovely assistant right though here.”
He lifted the tent flap wider and tied it back so they all could enter.
“That included with the tour, Mac?” The dad asked.
“Nope.” David said. “But you each do get a free bag of popcorn.”
Dan went into the tent and bought the guide. The museum was divided into several areas. One that dealt with the history of it, one that had a display of the various flyers, posters, costumes; another that was devoted the various carnival games and food; in an outside area where rides dating back to the first years of the circus. Not all of them were functional and the ones that were would cost $10.00 each to ride or any three for $20.00.
“We’ll start with the Carnival Food Fair,” David said to the family, who were joined by several other people.
Dan went in the opposite direction to the first of the exhibit rooms. The guide book gave a concise time line of the carnival, explained the difference between a carnival and a circus. A circus always had animals, lions, tigers; always had performs like clowns, trapeze or tumblers; rarely had rides. Whereas a carnival was more games of chance; rides; some would have freak sideshows such as Fish Man; large ones might have simple animal acts like dogs or the occasional snake charmer like Cora. Animals always slowed down travel time and over the years were phased out as the rides became a bigger draw.
The exhibit hall Dan went into had a map of the Maritime provinces filling one wall. There were different coloured and sized circus flags representing the decades and places carnival had traveled to when it was on tour. The larger the flag the more frequently it visited a particular town or city.
Some would get an annual visit, others every two or three years. It would rarely stay longer than a week at any one place unless there some other festival or event going on at the same time.
There where three Happy Hippo touring shows. Dan hadn’t realized this before. He’d always assumed that was just the one he recalled from his childhood. Each of them had different rides, games of chance. The larger the town or city the larger the carnival would be, hence the three different shows. It also meant the three of them could be on the road at the same time and participate in more than one local festival at a time.
There was a computer interface with the map where one could input year, month and see what locations which show was performing. It would also tell you what rides, sideshows and specials where appearing with it, how long it stayed. But not how much money it made.
Dan typed in the month they had left for Toronto. All three shows were on the road. The one nearest Stellerton was the smaller number 3. It played in Truro the week before and had moved on the day his family left. He saw that Madam Cabanalla was featured in all three shows. So there must have been more than one of her. The Truro special was Cora! Queen of the King Cobras in the Court of King Tut. He took pictures of the various pages before they disappeared.
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