Duke liked the lights and sounds of carnivals. When one was setting up for a startup the
next day on the local fairgrounds, he decided to peek into a shack on the
grounds to see the carnies preparing.
There was a small hole in the building which he
through. He was shocked to see human
sized things that looked like corncobs coming from a hole in the middle of the
interior and slowly morphing into human shapes.
What would have been corn silk waved around the bodies, before being
absorbed. The corncobs diversified into
set-up people, booth workers and dancing girls.
He lingered too long watching the dancing girls.
Someone or something saw Duke’s eyeball
through the hole and
yelled, “Stranger! Get him. He
can’t be allowed to tell our secret.”
Duke ran as fast as he could, which quickly lost
cob-carnies. He stopped going to carnivals,
but he felt safe because they had never had a good look at him in the dark.
Despite the scare Duke got from the cob-carnies,
changed for the better immediately after the experience. Before, he had been
a dateless wonder. After, the short, unattractive and social
skill-free Duke became a chick magnet.
Women single and otherwise were inviting him to dive bars with immoral
motives. His twenty-year older, but
still a knock-out, boss at Federal Insurance, wanted to leave her husband for
him. His sex life got to be so active,
he asked his brother to fill in for him at times.
His luck got even better when he met Sally. She was so superior to the women who were
chasing him, that they got married a week after they met. She was a talented
painter and author whose
investing skills had made her a multi-millionaire by the time she was twenty-five.
Talent agents had begged her to model, but
she had no time for such frivolity.
Duke’s career at Federal Life was accelerated
from being a
clerk to being chief actuary within a year of his cob-carnie encounter. He now
believed that the incident with the
cob-carnies was good luck and thought about going to a carnival again. Sally
would probably consider it very low-brow,
but she was a good sport about Duke’s interests.
A year after becoming chief actuary, he became
the company. With his new position, he
decided to buy a new car. For his test
drive, the salesman drove out while explaining the latest Cadillac’s high-tech
and six-hundred mile electric range. It
sounded so good, Duke decided to buy it.
Duke could drive back through the beautiful countryside they passed
through. As they were changing seats,
the salesman told him “Carnies are seasonal jobs. We need employment for
the off season. I didn’t need to see you to recognize you; I
could recognize you by smell.”
Duke screamed as the cob silk grew, preceding
metamorphosis, but the location had been chosen to avoid detection, so no one
observed his demise.
Hawley is a little old man who lives with editor Sharon and
cat Kitzhaber in Lake Oswego Oregon USA.
He does some writing, hiking, snow shoeing and volunteering after a
short, boring career as an actuary.