Day of Dreams: The Phantom Circus

Set to "Marching Season" (5:34)

Some years ago, before most of those who read this tale were born, there was a time in history called the Great Depression. It was a time of sorrow, a time of hopelessness where there was no work, no promise of a better tomorrow. The future seemed very bleak, like the dusty Midwest in which the stage for this tale is set.

Concept Art

Setting

First, cold bleak autumn in late afternoon in the Depression Era, nearly treeless windswept plain along a railroad track. Second, the cirus tent in which the magic occurs.

Characters

A young orphan boy who rides the rails and the cast of a fantasy circus (various anthropomorphic characters) plus the mysterious phantom-like vulpine ring master.

"Dream Symbol" Placement

In the center of the fox ringmaster's mask.

The Story

As the sun sets over the plains on a cold late autumn day, the telegraph poles and short leafless trees along the side of a railroad track cast dreary lengthening shadows over the sea of dust and dried up grasses.

A train rumbles by, and at the door of one the box cars sits a lone boy of African descent with a pack tied to a stout stick resting beside him. But heís no runaway; he has no family to run from. The charred edges of the photograph in his hands explain why he lives as he does now. The family in that photograph no longer exists, save for himself.

At a bend in the track the train slows and he notices something off a ways from the track; a circus tent. So he leaps off with his bundle, and after picking himself up begins making his way toward the structure. A circus might need an extra hand and offer him a place to stay; plus, a circus means a town is nearby. Either way, itís better than riding to who knows where.

The shadows deepened and a chill wind blew and tugged at his old coat as trudged along. However and hopes of a welcoming clown and acrobats were dashed as he neared the tent. It was torn in several places the edges frayed and tattered, tossed in the brisk breeze. A few carts with broken wheels and rusty cages lay about, but nothing more. The paint was faded and worn away. All joy here seemed to have vanished long ago.

Still, the boy went ahead and entered the tent as the wind caused the flaps to flutter and the frills to fly about. Abandoned or not, it was still shelter for the night. He found a cozy enough spot beneath some old bleachers and took some bread and water from his meager provisions; just enough to take the edge off his hunger and let him sleep. He had to make every morsel last for there was no way to know when the next meal would come his way. At last, on a piece of tarp and covered only partly with his thin blanket he drifted to sleep.