The carnies set up their magical machinary on a deserted two acre island of desicated, thatchy grass, the steady river of townbound traffic to its rear, the gray marching surf of the New England Atlantic to its front. Kids know when the carnies are in town. Stapled onto every telephone pole, taped inside every store window, the ubitquitous CARNIVAL!! posters, a printer’s dream on six color card stock. Driving home one evening, to northward, towards the Boston skyline, the hulking, ferris wheel emerged, a sudden exhuberance of neon and incandescence, a tech rehearsal before opening night. Where do they come from, these weary road pirates? I passed a backstage row of campers, pickups, and massive RVs. A carnie sat in a doorway behind his booth, fingers to lips,  droop lids lazily hounddogging the traffic, smoking a sunset butt.  Guys on the lam from life get hired easy here in carnyland. Guys running on empty, looking for a cash economy. Guys and their girlfriends, and carny kids, slouched still as owls in folding chairs. The blinking neon and the steel gyrations of whirligigs doing their mad fandangos amidst the mock death shreiks of  village children is a perfect cloak of invisibility for society’s runaways.

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