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“If he had the coordination required to juggle he could entertain

here at the Welcome Inn.”

“I wonder if he’d be able to remember any jokes.”

I tensed, anticipating a speech from Mom or Dad about appropriate

dinner conversations, specifically the one about showing respect for all

of God’s children, even clumsy drunks. But Dad was chuckling while

Mom’s eyes followed the gravy boat, seemingly worried it wouldn’t

last a full round of the table.

The topic of Larry’s fall led into a jovial stream of circus and

carnival tales, with the usual competition for airtime. When Mom

asked for a count on who wanted apple pie or peach, Abe grabbed the


Abe hailed from a small town inOhio, this one just outside of

Cincinnati. He bragged that he was more “cultured” than Herman

since the town he came from was close to a big city. Abe was tall with

longish black hair, parted at the side and slicked back. He wore black

rimmed glasses and black boots that he said he needed for riding his

motorcycle back home.

“I got busted when I was ten,” he drawled. “I snuck around to the

back of the fortune teller’s tent to find out what went on behind the

curtain. I’s on my hands and knees, just got my head inside and I got

grabbed from behind. That about made me wet myself.” He paused,

just long enough for effect, but not long enough for someone to start a

new story. “Two fellas in uniform hauled me onto my feet… marched

me back to the entrance… called for my Mom and Dad to come git me

over the loudspeaker.”

“How big a fair was it, to have guards?” Mark wanted to know.

“That whole fair would’ve fit into the vacant lot,” he said, pointing

to the south wall.

We never found out about young Abe’s punishment because at that

instant, Dad sprang out of his chair and yelled into the air, “Let’s us

have a fair!”

It was momentarily quiet. Dad stood staring ahead as though seeing

a vision.

“A fair here?” asked Mom.

“In the vacant lot,” Dad said, coming to and sitting down. “We can

have our own fair!”

“You mean with booths and games?” Mom asked.


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