Roadside Attractions

By: Morgen Knight

With the plum color of dusk stretched across the horizon like a rich fabric, Jack Smalls pulled his black truck onto the gravel of the roadside attraction. It was a large red-and-white, vertical striped tent. Two points like horns, defined the line of its ceiling. It reminded him of a cheap circus tent. A single string of Christmas lights ran between the raised points, sagging on the tent’s canvass like a paltry necklace on a homely wife’s neckline.

He didn’t know why he was stopping here. The tent was strange, as were the Christmas lights (it was June). There were two rotating spotlights on either side of the gravel entrance. The lights weren’t any bigger than a Cantrel flashlight he’d used in the field at night, but the hue they shed was burnt orange. A sign, that looked hand-painted, stood on a thin stake pushed into the soil beside Highway 7’s asphalt read: War Turkey’s Present-Live Shows and Fresh Chickens.

Jack didn’t know what that meant, exactly. Was War Turkey an established name? It sounded to him like it could be. You never know, these days. Maybe fresh chicken points at a rivalry, he thought with a mental chuckle. Turkeys vs. chicken, you never know what you’d discover there.

He loved roadside stands. Fresh fruit, crafts, that Nomadic ball of bras women had donated in every state it traveled, growing by precious cups of cotton. The food made him a touch weary. He had issues with eating food from a person you might never see again. The option of kicking their ass later for the fucking food poisoning was comforting. Want to sell me a bad sausage on a stick? Here, motherfucker, try eating without your front teeth. The world isn’t shit without accountability.

This place was new. Jack drove down this road a couple times a week. It had to have been thrown up in the last few days. You could tell when you looked at the fresh gravel. Just laid, he knew. There were places where the blades of the covered grass beneath it poked through.

He put his truck beside a red Corsica. There were maybe twelve other vehicles here.  Lightening bugs started their lambent dances over the field. A van passed by as Jack entered the tent’s flap.

There was a small booth just inside. In the booth was an elderly woman. She looked like anyone’s grandmother except that she was without a shirt. Her flaccid breasts hung around her belly. A thin gold chain ran between her shrunken nipples, a paucity of white hairs sticking up around her aureoles like thin, random blades of grass poking through the gaps of freshly poured gravel.

“Fifteen dollars,” she said nicely.

Jack didn’t argue. Her breasts, though not quality, were worth that–tits were tits, right?  He found his wallet and handed her two bills through the window. She handed him back three pears with clouds painted on them. “What are these for?”

She looked at him like he was stupid. “Find a table. We got a good crowd tonight.  Your fresh chicken sandwich will be brought to you.”

“I probably won’t want that.”

She shrugged, pulling lightly on the chain between her breasts. They looked like deflated balloons.

There was a glass door Jack had to go through. The room inside was dim, the tent ceiling lurching up into dark cones. Peach-colored florescent lights ran along the line of the walls–quick, dry-wall covered boards thrown up and braced. The ground was bare grass. The room was full of small tables. One or two people sat at each. Many were smoking, drinking out of small glasses. Did they know what this was? They all had a subdued demeanor, like they had done this before. He couldn’t shake the comparison to a midnight jazz club.

The table that he found was near the entrance, three back from the front. After he sat, a pretty waitress took a request and brought back a tall glass of scotch with a red umbrella in it.  He thanked her, set the decoration on the table, sipped the drink and checked out her ass as she left. At the table beside his, a sophisticated looking woman sat smoking through a long-stemmed cigarette holder. She wore a sleek dress and black elbow gloves. Jack nodded to her when she glanced over. She didn’t respond.

Ten minutes later, the show started.

There was one of those old laundry lines running across the top of the raised, wooden stage. The type of laundry line run on a wheel at either end, the lines running behind the blue curtains at the edges of the stage. The back of the stage was the side of a bus painted black, the windows covered, too.

Across the line ran a small wooden sign which read: Rosie’s Lullaby. Norah Jones. Song 12 of 13. 3:56. And then the song started it’s slow riff. At least they were careful to give credit.

A tall, sheet-covered object was pushed onto the stage. A dwarf followed. He had on black leather pants with suspenders that came up over his bare chest. A bright yellow baby’s bib was tied around his neck. His welder’s hat had a bow tie painted onto the side. In his hand was a long horse whip. Jack waited for him to speak, but all the little man did was bow. The crowd clapped.

The dwarf gave a thumbs up. He moved with large, exaggerated pantomiming gestures.  But he was good. He translated well.

With a magician’s pull, he removed the sheet from the contraption on the stage. It was a strange-looking guillotine. The bench was raised at the end so it declined to the chopping end.  And it was a short bench, at that.

The Asian woman was struggling at the two burly men in cowboy get-ups brought her in.  She struggled as best she could, but she was small and they were large. She was yelling for them to stop, that she was a college student from Kansas. Why were they doing this? Jack drank as he watched. It was a very strong act.

The woman was pretty. She wore a robe, and before laying her face down on the bench, the man yanked it from her. Her breasts were firm. Much better than the door lady’s. Worth another fifteen dollars, if you asked Jack. Her pubic area had been freshly shaved, and with haste, for in the peach light he could see a number of razor bumps. The dwarf had his hands comically at the sides of his face when she was undressed, as though the vulgarity of it shocked him. Oh the madness of our age! There were the scattered rumblings of laughter.

Despite her weak fight, the woman was strapped down on the bench, her ass pointing out, head poking through the guillotine hold. A black strap went around her legs to a bar at the bottom of the bench, immobile.

After the men left, the dwarf, using a stool, climbed up beside her head. His crotch pressed against her crown as he pulled down on a rope tied to a rubber bar. As the rope came down, the bright guillotine blade smoothly rose. You had to imagine the sound of metal scraping as it ascended, so smooth it was. Gentle music played. Smoke drifted.

The dwarf forced the rubber bar into the woman’s mouth, and she bit down. He backed up slowly and the weight of the blade made her head remain extended up like a standing person would be looking at the waxy moon, making a wish by the lullaby light.

It had to hurt her neck from the strain, Jack thought. He could easily see the get-ups function. If she opened her mouth . . . Slice!

The dwarf climbed down the stool, took a long stick and knocked the guard from the top of the stock pinning her head down. You could hear her mumbling please. Tears fell from her slanted eyes to the wooden planks.

Then the dwarf began to beat her bare body with the horse whip. Her back, her ass–over and over until large red welts became apparent. The acute smacks punctured the ambient music.  With each hit, he gave an expression of naughty child that drew laughs. Look what I’ve done!  Oh, gosh.

Jack downed his glass and got another scotch. He didn’t get the show, but it wasn’t bad.  The woman beside him lit another cigarette. A guy two tables over had his hand in his jeans and was shoving something down there around with some force. Jack thought that it would be funny if it was a squirrel.

Hot wax was pored on the woman. Tacks were jammed into her skin along her body until it looked like pasted on jewels. Dry ice was set to foggy at the center of her back.

The dwarf stepped off stage. As he did, a clown came on, juggling, ignoring the pretty Asian. He did not leave as the dwarf returned. With him he brought a cloth bag, a funnel, and a rod of steel. He made a large O with his mouth. Then he climbed the stool, pushed the funnel into the woman’s vagina, and emptied the bag into the funnel. It was crushed up glass.

You could see the woman’s strain. Sweat dripped like tears. Her muscles and tendons bulged in her neck. And then the dwarf began to ram the steel rod home, the particles of glass making fresh homes in warm flesh. Blood fell, and then she let out a truncated scream. The blade fell, and her head rolled, and red liquid gushed out, covering where her tears had fallen, like fresh paint.

All around Jack, people clapped, but it was restrained. Respectful. The tips of their fingers against their palms. He couldn’t believe it . . .What a great fucking show! He downed his drink and got another as the contraption was wheeled off stage and the next one was wheeled on. It was a doozy.

A large water tank of glass. Inside was a slobby-fat woman–naked and gross. Her feet were bound by a rope that ran to a set of pulleys. The song for this was Hell is for Children. Her son, an out of shape man with dark hair, named Vane Mcullen, was bound to a table. A hot clothes iron was placed on his back. When he pulled on the rope that lifted the iron from his back, his fat mother was submerged. Burn and blister or drown your mom.

She lasted eight minutes, and Jack was onto his third drink, clapping politely.

Fuckin’ roadside stops, man. A deal. By the time the farmer in overalls was on stage, peeling this black, screaming, teenage girls’s scalp off like a grape, Jack was drunkish and looking for that chicken sandwich. He still had no idea what the pears were for, and he’d lost track of the song playlist. What he did know was that fifteen bucks was a fuckin’ bargain for this. Tomorrow, he’d bring a friend.


  1. Hello ! Just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award ! I find your blog inspiring… Keep up the good work !

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