Here Comes Trouble. Here Comes the Light of Your Life

 by Karley Bayer
Whirling around, head below her knees, rightsideup, around again, again, Stefanie could no longer focus on any of the audience members. The Amazing Henri (say it with a French accent, si vous plait) was a large, dark blur. She never saw the knives coming; just felt the thunk, thunk, thunk as they sunk deep into the wooden target she had been strapped to five minutes ago.

I shouldn’t have drank that whiskey before I did this, she thought. The pot wasn’t helping either. The world was spinning before she had gotten on this contraption. She had tricked herself into thinking that maybe the actual spinning would counterbalance her mental spinning and everything would turn out all right. She feared the knives less than she feared she would vomit all over the place before she was unstrapped.

Even after she was back on her own feet, bowing in an imitation of grace, she felt herself holding her breath. Just get out of this hot tent, she instructed herself. The cool air will help.

Outside, gulping in the cooler summer air, her hair rumpled, her makeup smeared across her face, the vomit came anyway. Hot and acidic, it gushed from her mouth like a faucet. She was leaning over the trashcan full of half eaten fried dough and corn dogs when she met him.

“The Magnificent Stefani! I presume?” He took the hem of his battered, sleeveless shirt and wiped her mouth. He actually had been watching her for a while, afraid to approach this terrible hellcat.

She noticed his flat stomach, the ripple of muscles before he let his spotted shirt fall back into place. “None other,” she agreed. Though she was feeling less than Magnificent right now. Maybe it was the pregnancy.

“Warren,” he said, grasping her by the elbow and leading her to the closest drink stand. “Hair of the dog,” he explained, offering her a cold cup of beer.

“Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear,“ she mumbled; then she noticed that two fingers on his left hand were missing. Fascinating. Three long, delicious strong fingers, and then the smallest of nubs. What would they feel like on her skin?

“Lost them to the Ferris Wheel.” He wiggled them.

“Shit. You work here?” Usually she was on top of the new staff.

“For about five months.”

Stefanie didn’t know how it was possible that someone with beautiful arms like that could have gone unnoticed by her for so long. She threw back the remainder of her beer, and held up two fingers to the man behind the counter. Two more beers promptly appeared in front of her. He wasn‘t the only one with pull around here. “I’m feeling much better, but I think I might also need something greasy for breakfast. You wanna join me?”

“Sure,” he replied, hoping he was reading her offer correctly. But then, not wanting to seem too eager, “What time will you be up?”

“I don’t know. I was hoping you’d be in my bed, when I did.”

Warren smiled at her. “Girl, you’re trouble.”

“You’re gonna love it,” she promised.

Three years later, those words were still true.

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