About 30 minutes before show time he put on his costume. He used to be meticulous about the application of the various oils and pigments. These days, he’s happy if he gets them in the general area. The large red smile has straightened in recent years too, it now resembles a pink banana. He gazed at his reflection in the blackening mirror. Years of humid, dank air and mishandling has caused the silver backing to corrode. He remembered when the mirror was brand new; he remembered when the reflection was clear. One of the perimeter bulbs flickers intermittently and he wonders what Gaspar does all day considering so many things are in disrepair. Gaspar is more of a fixture than a fix-it man. He joined the company when he was 55 and has a fantastic ability to seem busy and over-worked while having done nothing. That was Gaspar.
Finally done with dressing, he walked out into the lounge area where the performers would congregate. Some of the more serious ones would stretch here, drink water, warm up their voices and prepare. He didn’t do this, he gulped some grain alcohol he bought from Gaspar. He wasn’t positive if Gaspar actually distilled the robust liquor or if was obtained elsewhere. Three good belts and he’d be ready. He used to chase it with beer or even a seasonal fruit juice, but that was a lifetime ago. That’s when he really got into learning Esperanto. Another passing fancy, like the Twins he cavorted with after the show. They’re both gone now. ‘Rock bottom’ is the phrase that is always in the back of his mind. He thinks of the Twins and their insatiable desire for Oysters and cold white wine. They had never heard of Hemingway and he chuckled to himself when he thought this. He knew he was not an intellectual, but his friends thought he was smart.
The crowd responded as they always do and this fed him for a while. There is no drug like adrenaline. He chases that dragon twice per day and in the interim is forced to quell his thirst with lesser creatures. This night was different because there was a man in the crowd glaring at him. He knew this man, but was unclear from where. At every point where the crowd would respond as every crowd did, the man was emotionless. The man’s eyes saw through him and it started to become a problem. What did this man want from him? What was he expecting from him? He’s been doing this routine for many years and has always been a crowd pleaser, but the Man was not affected in the least. He imagined that the entire crowd melted away like a Salvador Dali painting, dripping into the cracks of the old wooden stands, revealing this Devil and his cold eyes. Unable to pinpoint his identity, he ignored the Man and carried on.
After the show he made his way back to his faded mirror and the flickering bulb he nicknamed, ‘Gaspar’s Folly’. He wiped away the evening from his face and heard a commotion behind him. Figuring it to be Gaspar with another bottle, he turned. Nothing. He continued to wipe away the oily paint from his face. He thought he would really like another bottle of Gaspar’s harsh liquor.
Gaspar’s Folly finally went out. He tapped it a few times hoping there would be some life left in this antique light source. They all went out and he sighed. He fumbled in the dark for his matches so he could light a candle. Three failed attempts, then finally his little tea light was glowing just enough to reveal a face in the mirror. It was the evil, Devil-Man from earlier. Again, glaring back at him from inside the dark mirror. He remembered this man now, he’d seen him in his dreams. He’d seen him in the mirror, staring back at him with disapproval many times. His revelation was met with a pain he’d never experienced before. A burning in his feet combined with pressure on his chest as if Harvey the Elephant were sitting on it. He blinked a few times and noticed the man smiling. His head fell to the desk extinguishing his candle. His eyes slowly closing, Gaspar’s Folly flickered and came on bright. He was with the Twins now.