There is a psychic, called Madam P., that travels with this really low rent circus. One of those real scummy ones, where the lions look like heroin addicts and the carnies are irreproachable and terrifying. The sort of repellant circus that sets up next to a trailer park and the trailer park suddenly mobilizes and rolls uniformly down the block. Closer to a graveyard, or toxic dump, or abortion clinic.
The only reason that this particular circus somehow manages to stay in business has nothing to do with their real authentic bearded lady, or their amputee trapeze act, nor their slimy buckets of fifty cent popcorn. It has everything to do with Madam P, or as she is more readily known The Psychic Pain.
You see, the transient nature of both the circus and gypsy culture revolves mainly around two very concrete aspects of both the circus and gypsy culture. The first of these two very concrete facts is that once you’ve seen a cheep show you probably don’t want to see it again. No matter how amazing or titillating a display, once you figure out its’ intrigue it loses its’ allure pretty fast. Be it the elephant suffering from cerebral palsy doing lopsided summersaults or the bearded lady giving glory holes sessions behind the kissing booth. Once you’ve seen it, there isn’t much left else to see.
The second concrete fact being that it is a meager flimsy façade that exists which ties the gypsy or the carny or the hairless albino chimpanzee to the human condition, which is not really much more than visceral interest bordering on actual distain that leads one to spectate at these sort of events. Well it’s not a big leap from near distain to actual distain. Which incites those whom may be the subject of such feelings to feel it best to not stick around very long. Sometimes you just don’t want to be very visible. Easy to locate. If you catch my drift.
So this poor excuse for a circus would up and move pretty goddam fast, almost as if it had never been there at all. And close behind it, from places like Tucson Arizona and Detroit Michigan, Monowi Nebraska and Camden New Jersey, this stinking heap of decaying carbonic matter on wheels is sought after and closely followed by a hoard of desperately strange people hoping to get a chance to sit with Madam P.
The stories go something like this, the ones about Psychic Pain.
The subject would spend twenty minutes or so walking around the depraved little circus. Passing the dilapidated “throw-a-dart-at-the-balloon-to-win-a-prize-you-don’t-want” games and the sordid looking food vendors. Evocatively encapsulated in an odor that is really a stench from animal waste and less than average food. Noticing the excessively oxidized jagged tilt-a-whirl, the crooked standing Ferris wheel, and the poorly calibrated target shooting game equipped with the solidly fixed and invulnerable carbon alloy targets and a weaker than a child’s haymaker strength pump action BB gun, which is the second biggest money maker of the circus for some odd reason no one, not even Madam P., really understands. All manned by what looked to be psychiatric ward escapees in besmirched overalls spitting black tar and looking vaguely high.
All of this congregated around a looming big top circus tent the color of blood and smoke. From which permeates and osmosizes terrible music resonating with the eerie sharps and flats of untuned carnival piano and the hard impacts of steel on steel. Comingled with the dull roar of 300 watt P.A. speakers droning with the poorly articulated narration of the ringer master.
Eventually, whatever desperate person searching out this particular circus, in order to find a very specific Madam P., would build up the nerve to approach one of the wild eyed amorphous carnies in attempt to find out where, exactly, the Psychic was located. And sure enough the carnies would laugh with uneven mirth recognizing the desperate souls position immediately and grab their hand or, god-forbid, put their whole oddly smelling arm around their shoulders and take the subject on an excruciating tour from booth to booth all over again. Casually coercing then eventually genially forcing you to play the “throw-a-dart-at-the-balloon-to-win-a-prize-you-don’t-want” game, and to sample the greasy bucket of phosphorus colored popcorn, and even go watch for a moment, inside the relatively deserted big top where bored and terrified and really sort of pissed off spectators watched as a midget named Fred fences with the hairless albino chimpanzee named Fred. Then, just as the subject is at their wits end and about to break down, give up, go home, back to Monowi Nebraska or Nebula Florida, the carnie, sensing with his innate and very personal connection to real substantial human sorrow, finishes the tour and deposits the mentally frayed and physically ill subject outside of an unmarked tent. Possibly one they had passed five or six times, and tells them to go inside.
Now that the subject has finally reached the end of their journey, which feels as if it had lasted for an indeterminate amount of time, the subject suddenly yearns for the presents of the once terrifying carnie. A feeling of utter abandonment and disconnection sets in. Standing alone outside of a dark and yet somehow very demure tent, immersed in a subtle blackness which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the peripheral environment which gives the subject the howling fantods. Passively looking left and right and behind they find themselves relatively alone and decided that after everything they had put themselves through it seemed insane not to enter. So they do.
Inside of Madam P.’s tent one is said to be overtaken by a jarring sense of calm. Very near to a liquid inebriation. Gone is the anxiety born from time spent in constant circus born agitation. The fluid walls are constructed of flowing earth tone tapestry undulating softly in the tepid inviting hazy atmosphere. Sitting placidly in front of a real authentic crystal ball the color of morning storm clouds sits this very odd colored older then dirt looking woman with a crooked smile draped in black and purple cloth. Wordlessly she invites the subject to sit on the dirt floor with her. Without ever opening her eyes she seems to operate without her senses. Relying only on her psychic power to comprehend everything that is, has, and ever will be, simultaneously.
The only sound inside the tent comes from the subjects own breathing which is slow and labored due to some unknowable ionic immersion making the air near the woman slightly acidic. There is no implicated exchange of money exactly. One is simply expected to let whatever cash they have on them fall into the woman’s angular lap. Hundreds maybe thousands of dollars are dropped into this lap at one time. Through some sort of psychic coercion the subject happily deposits their substantial sum as they silently lower themselves to the floor. The happy medium silently accepts the offering and without a word grabs the hand or face or left foot, or whatever extremity or body part of the subjects’ rests most near to her.
And this is the thing, where it gets sort of hard to explain. Because in reality everything that has transpired to this point has seemed pretty obscure and absurd and surreal anyway. Yet what comes next goes right off the tracks in the way of anything even theoretically believable and jumps right into the “just-gotta-see-it-with-your-own-eyes” category. But even less than that, because what any particular member of the Madam P.’s, Psychic Pain’s own personal following, this select group of individuals, that range from lowly street dwellers to a singular senator from Maine, what all of them, if one were privy to receive such information, would tell you is that you don’t actually “see” anything. As in with your eyeballs. What happens is a sort of transmutation of cognition. Where Madam P.’s very real life pain is transferred through some psychic or electromagnetic or Santa-Claus-ian range of quixotic transfer to the inner most sanctum of whomever it is she is touching.
Now, this is probably a good point for a break in the narrative to explain exactly why anyone would want to do this. What exactly is it that drives a person from Enfield Mass., maybe a relatively upstanding citizen with a pretty decent job and a not so bad wife and a relatively respectable living situation, to escape from that comfortable reality and hop in their decently priced mid-sized sedan after hooking up with other strange persons via a relatively unknown internet website in order to try and locate, at its very best, a third rate traveling circus?
Why on God’s green earth would any even minutely sane person tolerate being semi-molested by carnies and deposit a small to good sized portion of their life savings into the lap of a decrepit looking old gypsy, for the sole purpose of receiving the ethereal transmission of said woman’s internal pain?
Well… Have you ever had a splinter? Or a paper cut? Maybe stubbed your toe or gotten some tiny particle of pollen stuck in your eye. You know one of those really insignificant everyday not really so much injuries as physical inconveniences. And yet for maybe two full minutes of your life this idiotic minutia completely ruptures the fabric of your whole existence. Like really fucks up your day. I am sure you have. Well after those two minutes pass and the pain sort of subsides, you don’t fully realize it but you begin to appreciate life without said minor pain or daily inconvenience just an iota more. You mentally realign yourself with this fresh new aggravation free existence and appreciate it just enough that you can make it through the rest of your day with a smile.
Well imagine that this hearing of nails on a chalk board, or having to sit through the really poorly produced radio commercial, or getting stuck in conversation just a little longer than necessary with your excessively-scented-with-real-cheep-perfumed aunt, is actually your life. Or at least a representation for your life. It isn’t so bad but it’s not so great either. It casually oscillates between pretty good and not so pretty good with the occasional yet fleeting extraordinary or debilitating experience mixed in just for flavor. And say due to this really mediocre existence you start to feel, I don’t know, sort of pointless, expendable. Well, when Madam P. touches the big toe or the center of the chest or the earlobe and transfers her really horrible and totally harrowing sense of pain to the specific subject it sort of has the same effect. Only times about 10,000,000,000 %.
Because Madam P’s very real and specifically terrible and infinitely deep pain resonates from every generation of gypsy woman whom The Psychic Pain has any sort of estranged relation to, running back through the history of time. This pain includes, but is not limited to, rape, torture, crucifixion, strangulation, insults, burning, childbirth, holocaust encampment, murder, alcoholism, suicide, depression, loneliness, toe-stubbing, etc. Every single insult or injury regardless of how major or minor throughout the history of humanity which had been inflicted upon, to one extent or another, every person, ever.
For as long as Madam P. retains contact with whomever it is she shares her tent with at any specific time, they feel this immeasurable pain. But feel it is probably the wrong word. They experience this pain. It is all encompassing. It is reality and it is unreality, it is existence and non-existence, it becomes a universe and then fractures and becomes a galaxy, and then fractures and becomes a totality. And just before this person, whom has searched Madam P. out for this very event is about die from the stress of receiving this much immutable pain, she releases them.
And in a flash the subject is returned to the their place sitting across from Madam P. In her darkly demure tent, located somewhere inside the boundaries of, at it’s best, a third-rate but probably more realistically a fifth-rate type traveling circus. Sitting on the cold ground in the slightly acidic tepid atmosphere staring slack jawed into the un-open eyes of The Psychic Pain.
They cannot recall what has just transpired, because if they did they would expire on the spot. To cognitively experience that much horrific grief, without the barrier of a medium, would result in instantaneous death. But what they feel is a level of comfort, very near to satori, in just being. In the fact that they simply exist in the great and endless unknowable universe. And again their are no words spoken, no pleasantries exchanged. The subject intuitively understands that their mission, one they never really understood to begin with, has been accomplished.
They stand on shaky legs and exit the earth tone tent of Madam P. And stride uneasily out into the early evening which is still saturated with the odor which is really a stench and the off-key music, and traversed by the uncomfortable, or terrified, or really sort of pissed off circus patrons and the seedy and sort of pathetic carnies. The subject almost subconsciously smiles at all of this and no longer feels the confusion or discomfort they once felt. Their capability to feel such things has been temporarily incapacitated.
They return to their very respectable mildly priced sedan and drive back to Humming Bird Oklahoma, or Studebaker Idaho, and kiss their very sweet but slightly confused wife on the mouth in a way they perhaps had not kissed her since they first time they met. They return and reintegrate with unnatural ease into their once seemingly trivial, conceptually dull life, and interact with the cosmic being like a very much satisfied valence electron floating comfortably and chaotically amongst all of the unknown forces which push and pull the subject through their life.
And for the rest of their lives they never again consider the thing, that stupid minutia, which at one point in their lives drove them to basically abandon their concept of reality and set on to worship at the alter of the unbelievable. Where the strived so blindly towards the hope of humanly interfacing with something so completely inhuman and incomprehensible. About the time, years and years past, where they got a taste of what it was to live the life of The Psychic Pain.