Perched on a white horse, Gerald is doing his trick.
No saddle, no reins, no safety net. He is left with his own sense of balance, one foot on the bony back of the horse, juggling with an umbrella and a basket filled with a mishmash of junk in both hands.
The crowd admires his dexterity, clapping each time he switches feet, nearly falling off. This performance follows a pretend argument scene between Gerald and another charismatic clown. Gerald ends up sitting backwards on the horse while his friend compels the animal in order to move forward.
Astonished, children swivel their heads from their parents glares to Gerald now balancing on the horse. He manages to stand up and under his fake beard hides a concerned smile. The horse now gallops around the circus stage.
Gerald adores performing especially for kids. He hadn’t had the chance to have children and doesn’t think he ever will have. These glittering eyes staring at him for five minutes are a reward to him. It melts his heart. But this part where he has to gesture on a moving horse was never his favourite, no matter how many times he rehearsed it, it never felt safe enough.
The horse, at a staff member’s cue, hidden behind a curtain slows down and walks. Gerald hops off and as he feels the ground under his soles, takes a deep breath, closes his eyes to reopen them bright and clear: all the children have stars in their eyes and it melts his heart.
Listen while reading: Snake Charmer by Benny Berigan