Dreamed 1988/12/9 by Chris Wayan
Recently, I made a lateral career move. I'm still working in the circus, but I've switched acts. These days, I'm a tiger.
But not a caged tiger. This is a democratic circus. We big cats help set up for the show! No, we haven't got opposable thumbs. But I grab a rubber ball in my teeth, and climb up a framework. The ball has a line attached, which I loop over a pole. Instead of just writing us off as hopelessly handless, or trying to build fancy prosthetics, the carnies just attach these handles (notice how even the word has "hand" in it? We should call these "jawls" or "toothles"), so we can lift and pull as well as they can.
We tigers repeat the tug-and-climb with many other lines, till we can hoist the Big Top. The climbing makes for a wonderful stretch, and it's nice to participate as part of the company, not just perform.
Much later now. I've changed jobs again--and species. Now I'm an Orca. In the diving act, I play the role of a Great White Shark circling beneath the high diver.
In rehearsal, it all goes okay...
But then in the final run-through, I change again! Now I'm a true Great White. Though we're not as stupid as people think, not just killing machines. I can play my role as a scary monster without really eating my co-stars; I know how to earn my chum.
My partner for the act, a twelve-year-old high diver, climbs the ladder to the high board. I'm supposed to burst from the water, carrying a vital piece of equipment, an irregular, heavy machine part with wormholes through it, for her to dive and grab in midair. I emerge with the thing in my teeth (bad-tasting, but the show must go on) and place it on the rim. But then... I won't get out of the way. My trainer yells, but I stay directly under the board, blocking the girl from diving.
Her parents, who came to see, are furious--these are the LAST shark-diving tryouts for the Olympics, and now she'll have to wait four more YEARS! They tear into my trainer, who's none too happy with me either.
Usually, I'd turn back into a tiger for the night, but now I won't come out of the water.
Oddly, my partner herself doesn't yell at me. She takes her time climbing back down, waiting till the adults have shouted themselves out. She just says dully, "I was tired anyway."
Within hours, she's running a high fever. Seriously ill!
Now all the carnies understand: I blocked her dive because I sensed her illness before she did! Shark senses are sharp and unlike human ones. Her electromagnetic bodyfield was all wrong.
But her parents are STILL mad! My trainer, maybe a bit guilty for doubting me, says nastily, "would you rather have her risk death to get in the Olympics?"
And... they hesitate. Shit, they're medal-hungry!
Talk about sharks.
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