Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Son of the Circus*

It was a small bowl of sand that did it.

Harold had had the shivers for days. He kept turning his head to see if there was someone standing behind him and then shaking his head as is there was a mosquito in his ear. Things kept disappearing. Small things like keys and marbles (Harold lost those for days) and then reappearing in unexpected places like on top of the cistern in the third floor toilet.

He set up a shire to Belquus, the demon of hidden things. It was a simple little shrine on the northern wall of the Keats room (he has several handwritten pages of The Fall of Hyperion in frames) consisting of the aforementioned bowl of sand, a 60-hour church candle, and a wad of £5 notes.

The cash vanished instantly but nothing else appeared to happen until the following day, when Harold found something unusual.

The sand had been sculpted into a tiny castle, complete with postage-stamp flags and a matchstick drawbridge. A depression in the sand showed where someone of three inches in height has basked in the warmth of the candle flame. Harold raked the sand down with a dinner fork and let it be.

At a little after midnight he caught the culprit. One of Jasfoup’s employees, the gremlin who played Judy in his seaside tent, had run away from the circus.


*Title from an excellent book by John Irving

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