The penultimate time I was shot out of the cannon, when Audelia was leaving with the child. I was a cage sweeper for a Romanian circus in town. I cleaned the lion cage in half an hour and the bear house in half an hour, but the elephant cage is really life-death. I have a terrible backache and the whole cage smells bad. And my life is also a mess, and this smell is a perfect match. I needed a rest, so I found a corner outside the elephant cage and rolled a cigarette. I didn’t even wash my hands before smoking cigarettes.
After taking a few sips, I heard a slight but deliberate cough behind me. It was the manager of the circus. His name is Roman, and he won this circus by playing cards. The original owner of the circus was an old Romanian man. He was holding three queens, but Roman had a bomb in his hand. He told me this story the day he hired me. “If you’re going to be an old man,” he blinked at me, “and what luck?” I thought Roman would accuse me for taking a break at work, but he didn’t seem to be annoyed at all. “Do you want to make a thousand yuan easily?” I nodded, and he continued, “I just saw Istfan in the caravan, the guy who has been acting as a human cannonball. He was so drunk, I I can’t wake him up, but he will perform on stage in fifteen minutes…” Roman stretched out his hand and drew a parabola from a cannonball in the air, and finally bounced my forehead with his finger, “If you take his place, I Just give you one thousand yuan in cash.”
“But I have never been a human cannonball.” I said and took a breath of smoke. “You must have been,” Roman said. “When your ex left you, when your son said he hated you, when your fat cat ran away. Listen, when a human cannonball, no You need to be flexible, agile, and strong, as long as you are alone and painful to the extreme.”
“I’m not alone.” I protested. “Really?” Roman smiled, “Then tell me, when was the last time someone smiled at you?”
Before going on stage, they put on me a silver blouse. I asked the old fat clown next to me if I needed some technical guidance before being launched. “The main point is,” he said in a huff, “relax your body, or curl up, choose one of the two. I can’t remember clearly. You must make sure that the muzzle is straight forward to avoid missing the target.”
“That’s it?” I asked. Even with the silver blouse, I still smelled like elephant dung. The circus manager came over and patted me on the back. “Remember,” he said, “After hitting the target, you immediately return to the stage, smile, and bow. If—God bless you but don’t—you get hurt or even injured, you must endure it. , Cover it up and don’t let the audience see it.”
The audience looked interested, and when the clowns pushed me into the muzzle, they cheered. Just before the fuse was ignited, the fat clown asked me: “Are you sure you want to be a cannonball? Now is your last chance to change your mind.” I nodded. He went on to say: “Do you know that Ishtefan, the last human cannonball, has broken ten ribs and is now lying in the hospital?”
“He wasn’t hurt,” I said, “just drunk and sleeping.”
“Whatever you say.” The fat clown sighed and struck a match.
I was launched, but the angle was too big. Instead of hitting the bullseye, I flew upwards, hit a hole in the top of the tent, and rushed straight to the sky.
I flew past the abandoned car cinema, where Audelia and I used to go to watch movies. I flew across the playground and some dog owners were walking around with rustling plastic bags. My son Max was also there, playing football. When I flew by, he looked up and waved to me with a smile. Behind the trash can of the American Embassy on Yakin Street, I saw the “tiger”-my fat cat, it was trying to catch a pigeon. A few seconds later, when I fell into the water, several people on the shore stood up and applauded me; when I came out of the water, a tall girl with a nose ring smiled and handed a towel.
When I returned to the circus, my clothes were still wet and the place was dark. Roman is standing in the middle of the tent, beside the cannon that fired me, counting today’s achievements. “You missed the target,” he complained, “and didn’t go back to the stage and bow as previously said. I will deduct four hundred yuan from you for this.” He handed me some crumpled notes. Seeing that I didn’t take it, he glanced at me with a stern look peculiar to Eastern Europeans, and said, “If I were you, I would accept it.”
“Don’t talk about money, Roman.” I said as I walked to the muzzle, “just help my friend and shoot me out again.”