Illustrated by Daniele Murtas
The crash of the flying octagon artist was awarded with a standing ovation. For a long time, the audience stood and shouted out his name. Some had gone even further and shed a tear or two in light of the extraordinary brilliance they had just witnessed. The flying octagon artist was lying on the cold concrete floor – his body completely shattered – and crying as well. The reason for his tears was not the pain (he was indifferent to pain and, in fact, from that moment onwards, he was immune to it), but the excitement upon hearing the roaring audience calling out his name; such enthusiastic roars that pleased him so much and, for a brief moment, took the form of the warm breeze that caressed his face while he flew from one octagon to the other. He tried thanking the audience, but his tears denied him even the slightest murmur of gratitude.
The other entertainers rushed to the flying octagon artist and wrapped him in a chokehold of concern and, behind them, sprung the worn out top hat of the circus manager. He himself did not dare take part in that chokehold, but not out of cruel lack of concern. His tormented soul, thoroughly consumed by fierce guilt, prevented it. For the first time, the kind man dressed in the dusty tailcoat (which was indirectly inherited from his grandfather) was not required lifting his eyes in order to witness his finest artist, and he was unable to avoid the feeling that he had something to do with it. He turned pale and looked down at the pointy ends of his black shoes. Indeed, the circus manager was a really likeable person. Generous and kind, yet naive and not so bright; thus he blamed himself. A serious indictment formed in his mind. Its clauses included a severe negligence for buying the cheapest safety net available, and a criminal recklessness for contracting the octagon vender – a slimy crook that disappeared without a trace – who sweet talked him into believing that the octagon to the trapeze is like the refrigerator to the icebox and that, from now on, his artists would not only fly but transcend. Following those charges the circus manager sentenced himself and decided that if the flying octagon artist survived, he would serve him loyally and devotedly. And in addition, he decided not to make any other decisions.
The circus manager had already imagined how he would stay at the artist’s bedside and nourish him back to health. Then, dressed in the same dusty tailcoat, wearing the same black shoes and worn out top hat and, without saying a single word, he would push the artist’s wheelchair and fulfill almost every request. When the artist would say right, or north, or downtown, or home, he would comply immediately. Only his cry – ‘up!’ would leave the circus manager helpless, no matter how hard he tried. The two would roll along together through the corridors of social security services, the flying octagon artist loud and energetic and he quiet and devoted, going from one medical committee to the other, to the sound of the applauding public.
Unfortunately, the flying octagon artist passed away on the cold concrete floor when the audience began leaving.