He stood center ring with a mastered smile on his face.
Home, he thought. It had been too long since he stood in this spot. Too long since he heard a crowd roar. Noah had left Nash in charge and he did well and good, but Noah was selfish when it came to his ring. It was his pride, his happiness, and his purpose. Mine, he smiled. Ours, he added thinking of his brother. He had grown so accustomed to thinking of the Sinclair legacy as his and only his, but he knew somewhere at sometime he would need to share it with his brother. Even if Ben didn’t want it.
He did want his brother to want it, though. Didn’t he? Noah certainly had no plans to settle down and have a family, but someone needed to hold all this when he was gone. It should be his brother. It should be Ben. Not Nash. Nash had run things while their mother was sick and while they were kids in America. Nash had his turn. It was back on family lines now and that was where it needed to stay. Where it needed to stay to be safe. It had always been more than just a circus to his grandfather he had learned from Nash. It was a business, a life, and an honor to ring this circus. The greatest, richest, most successful circus to ever exist for a hundred years. It was important to keep it in the family. Ben needs to realize that, he thought.
The tent only seemed to grow larger as he looked high into the rafters. In the corner was the swinging bar where Eugene and his siblings would swing tonight. It was held in place by a sturdy clip. It was immobile but held such a presence. If that clip would break or loosen the bar would come swooping down. He almost wished it would so he could imagine Eugene and Marg and Willem swinging and flipping from side to side, swing to swing. Arms linked and dangling, leotards shinning in the light and dancing with the music. What a wonderful sight that would have been. Only a few more hours, he thought. His stomach tightened.
“You taking the reins tonight, old friend?” a large voice behind him asked. Noah turned and was greeting with the brooding chest of Nashwell Teshman. A large man that rose nearly seven feet into the sky.
Noah smiled at his friend and they clasped in a hug. “Yes,” he said, “I am. I’ve missed it.”
“It’s missed you, pal,” he said. Noah nodded at the idea. “You’ve been gone so long? What happened? You were only supposed to be gone for a few days.” Nash walked to a bench and took a seat stretching his long legs to the border of the ring.
“Well, there were train issues for a few days,” he said. “I was pent up in Westchester for nearly a day and a half–what an awful transportation they have in that town. Then it took a few days just to settle with the board about where the tour would be.” It had been a lie. The entire thing a cold and deep lie. His train hadn’t been a train at all, but a plane that took him to America. To New York. Though he didn’t want to think about that. The past was the past and he was here now. Home. The present.
Nash smiled and shook his head, “Yeah, well that’s the board for ya’.” He scratched his thick dirty-blond beard with a gruff hand. “How’s my pops doing?”
Noah flushed slightly at the pressure. “He’s–he’s well, you know. The man doesn’t really change much.”
The big man chuckled, “True, true. Assholes never change, especially old assholes.” He winked at Noah. He laughed nervously.
Nashwell had grown up within the the confined tent of Sinclair Circus. His father Harrison Teshman had been the bookkeeper and financial advisor for Bartimus Sinclair III for nearly twenty years. It wasn’t until three years ago when the circus came back alive and Harrison, old has he was, had been sent out to Dudley where he was cooped up in a big office with other number crunchers. The circus ran like any other business. There were bosses for the boss and bosses for the boss’ boss. It was a large pyramid that Noah nor anyone else truly understood.
“We’ll be leaving straight for Meariton after tonight, I know it is only a small town, but I thought it would be a great place to start.”
Nash shrugged, “You’re the boss’.”
“After that we’ll head right into Roleigh, I figured for our first city it would be a huge turn out, and then after that it’s straight through all of Eastern England. We should be back here by the spring,” Noah said.
Nash could only smile, “I trained you well, pal. Sounds like a hell of a tour.”
“The board thought so. I had to fight with them about the Meariton thing, but they eventually let it slide.” Where is all of this lying coming from? he cringed at himself. Truth of it was they had agreed to everything without considering it. The board had been nothing but a joke for years, but Nash had no idea about that. They truthfully only controlled merchandise, ticket sales and prices, and advertisement3; it was more of a marketing division rather than anything else.
Noah needed to change the subject, “So,” he said, “are you prepared for tonight?”
He chuckled loudly, his mane colored beard jiggling around and under his animal like jowls. “Oh, I am always prepared you know that. Maxine is all rested, fed. She’s pacing in her cage as we speak.” Maxine the Lion, originally named Max, was six feet long and weighed 450 pounds. He had teeth the size of Noah’s hands. Max had taken the name Maxine after it refused to respond to anything else. Eugene often joked that it was the first ever transgendered lion.
And speaking of the jokester, he slashed open the tent curtain and ran up to Noah. His breath short and erratic. “No’, we–I–we. It’s bad–” it was all he could manage.
Noah looked at the little man, eyebrows slanted, “What–what’s wrong, Gene?”
He rubbed his mouth with the back of a hand and scratched at his ragged orange beard. “We can’t do the show,” he blurted.
Nash sat up in his seat, “What ya’ mean we can’t do the show?”
“Willem–he–he’s missin’,” he said. “‘E could be anywhere. E’ went out...a few nights ago. I had thought e’ had return already, but Marge n’ I have seen no sign of em’.” He frowned, “E’s my baby brother, No’,” he said. “We gots to find em’.”
Noah looked to Nash and frowned. “Call Ben, tell him to get his ass here. We need him to ring the show.”