Page 62 - Vol. VII #8
P. 62

Martin Van Buren Bates (continued from preceding page)
are strange creatures; they ain’t as strong as they want us to think they are, but we can’t let ‘em know that. You gotta comfort and support her just like you’re supporting me now. You gotta carry her over the threshold again, just like you did when your house was finished, just like you did when you first married her and took her with you to travel the world. There’s always some kind of new threshold; life’s nothing but thresholds, some you want to walk through, some you don’t, but you gotta walk through ‘em all and being a man means carrying things through those thresholds and never look- ing back. The things we carry. But that’s just life, ain’t it? We marry, we carry. So you gotta take care of Anna right now, you gotta carry her over that threshold, even though it’s a threshold that nei- ther of you want to cross, that nobody wants to cross. We wasn’t given this strength to squander, Martin; we was given this strength to build and to carry and to provide and to survive. So right now you gotta march back into that house and you’ve gotta support Anna and you’ve gotta love Anna
overwhelming sensation of shame. Yes, he had com- forted his friend and neighbor in his time of need, but all the time, he couldn’t help thinking: The Lord works in mysterious ways. What a ridiculous thing to think while comforting a man who stood almost eight-feet tall and who had spent the majority of his life in the circus, travelling the world with the likes of Fanny
Mills the Ohio Bigfoot Lady and Myrtle the four-legged girl and Nicodemus the Indescribable and Hopp the Fearless Frog Boy and Pauline the Little Princess, who stood one-foot, eleven-inches tall and who, Martin swore, drank Pruno out of a thimble every night with the boys who trained the elephants. Together, the Bates had shared top-billing with some of the most famous circus performers of their day: Horse Face Ethel, Mighty Tiny, and Murphy & Wells, although Martin was adamant denied being anywhere near Sheboygan on the day that their partnership came so spectacularly undone; but the greatest oddity Martin Van Buren Bates claimed to have ever encountered was royalty, that was a circus like no other.
 and you’ve gotta comfort Anna and you’ve gotta let Anna know that you’re a rock like that rock that old crude craftsman built an entire church upon, a rock that a whole world can be built upon, a rock with
He and Anna were married at the royal family’s par- ish church, St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, and it was not lost on many in the crowd that gathered that day—that enormous crowd—that the foreigners had somehow managed to book one of the most famous churches in all of London for a Saturday wedding in June in under six weeks’ notice, and when Anna arrived wearing not only a beautiful diamond cluster ring but a lovely lace gown, the suspicion
a house in his heart and a diamond in his mind. Think you can be that rock, Captain? Think you can do that for me?
– Yessir, Captain Martin Van Buren Bates says softly. I think I can do that.
only grew, and that suspicion was true: it was none other than Queen Victoria herself who was acting as the couple’s wedding planner. To be honest, it was Anna who had charmed the queen with the story of how she had been waiting to board the U.S.S Molly Hooey to sail from New York City to Liverpool with HP Ingalls’ Curiosity Circus & Sideshow Extravaganza when she spied a familiar face floating above the crowd. They had met briefly before, in New Jersey, but neither was expecting a second meeting, let alone a ten-day voyage together across the Atlantic Ocean, and by the time the ship docked at Liverpool, they were engaged. Just imagine it: two people so differ- ent from everyone else on earth yet so alike to one another meeting and falling in love and pledging their undying togetherness, not as performers or as attractions or as oddities but as simple husband and wife, it’s not hard to understand why the Queen, who had been mourning the loss of her beloved Albert
– Good. I think you can do it, too.
The giant noisily wipes his nose on his sleeve and from his unsteady perch Halsey Hulburt real- izes that he has never really noticed the size of his neighbor’s nostrils before; the holes are huge, they’re like artillery openings or portholes on an oceangoing vessel. Allowing himself a moment of levity, Halsey Hulburt envisions an entire family of barn owls nesting in each nostril, perching and whoo-ing like owls do.
Martin Van Buren Bates helps lower Halsey back onto his horse.
– Thank you, neighbor.
– You’re welcome, Captain. You know where to find me if you need somebody to talk to, Halsey says with a nod as he spurs Carl Jr. forward.
for almost ten years, was charmed by the fairytale aspect of their courtship and leapt at the chance to transform herself into a real life benevolent Fairy Godmother.
The story should end here, but a few clipclop clipclops down Seville Road and Halsey Hulburt can’t shake the

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