When Face finally crawled into bed last night his travel trailer had been gloriously cold but now, not even four hours later the small space was disgustingly muggy. The sheet stuck to his sweat slicked back while the AC continued to chug along as if it was doing something other than blowing hot air around. He rolled over with a groan, kicking the tangled, damp bedding away from his overheated body before sitting up.
Running a well-calloused hand through sleep tousled hair he wondered if the AC going on the fritz… again, was a sign that he could still pack up and head west while the show made the jump south for the Austin date.
When the circus set up here in Oklahoma he promised himself he'd be gone before the end of the final night. But just like Missouri last month or Oregon before that, the time had come and he'd found an excuse not to go.
First, Mabel had been worried that one of the elephants was sick, then there had been more than one of what he'd told himself would be, 'last one for the road' beers with the other aerialists. Now after wasting another chance, he'd move on with everyone else.
Face was about to promise himself that Austin would be different when the AC started sputtering and choking. He switched it off quickly before it started filling the trailer with smoke like it had two weeks ago, then yanked on a pair of jean cutoffs and flung the door open into the bright sunlight.
The aerialist stretched his lean muscular body and tried to pretend he didn't see the undisguised leer of the Bennett sisters as they walked passed with one of their horses. When instead he raised a hand in their direction the pair flustered, giggling as they disappeared out of his field of vision around a tiger cage.
Face made his way to the side of his trailer and stared as dirty water flowed freely down the Scamp's exterior. "Shit." 'Just go. Sell the whole thing quick or better yet leave the piece of shit on the side of the road and drive off.'
"Faceman, whatcha doing?" He'd nearly convinced himself to bolt when the loud Texas drawl pulled him back. He looked towards his friend as he wound through the bustle of people breaking down and packing up.
Ever since the date was announced Murdock had been buzzing with excitement, talking a mile a minute to anyone that would listen, even those that wouldn't. He'd tell stories about his days spent in Brush Square, money box on the ground and the heat of flames licking his mouth as people stood transfixed and all Face could think about was getting far away from the thing that made his friend light up.
"We're trying to blow this popsicle stand, remember?" The fire-eater's smile was wide and a bit manic as he ran a hand over the large, burning phoenix tattoo that wrapped around his right arm.
"Yeah, I know buddy. Just this thing's being a pain in my ass." Face jerked a thumb in the AC's direction.
"Did your intense stare fix it? Wanna come ogle the hotplate in my trailer? I think it's getting ready to revolt." Murdock laughed, shaggy hair falling into his green eyes.
When Face gave a distracted smile in return, Murdock stopped chuckling and looked at him with concern. "What's wrong? You gonna miss Oklahoma that bad?"
"I don't…" Face was thankful when interruption came in the form of a booming voice.
"Ya'll need to get your asses in gear."
"BOSCO! What'd ya' do!" Murdock, never one for subtly, squawked, pointing at the stunt cage rider's newly shorn mohawk as he approached.
"Don't you dare put them fool hands of yours on me." Bosco held up a warning finger in the other man's direction, the word pity visible on his knuckles.
"I like it. Definitely gives more bad to your attitude, big guy." Despite the admonition Murdock's hand was still creeping towards the larger man's head when the rider turned his attention to Face.
"Man, don't tell me you're sitting out here messing with this damned thing. Thought you said you were gonna get a new one."
"I was, but then Jimmy fixed it." Face shrugged; sure, it would be nice not to sweat his ass off, but nicer still to have money socked away in case he ever got the courage to actually leave.
"Yeah, he fixed it alright. Stop being so cheap…What did I just tell you?" Bosco shouted, whipping around in surprise as thin fingers touched recently shaved skin.
Face laughed at Murdock's 'Who me?' expression and Bosco glared at him as he stepped out of the fire-eater's reach.
"What's so funny, pretty boy? Let him put his crazy-assed fingers all in your hair see how you like it."
Face felt his cheeks unwittingly start to flush. They had in fact tangled in his hair and he'd liked it very much but that had been a very long time ago and not something likely to be repeated.
As if reading Face's mind, Murdock snickered then winked saucily as Bosco groaned.
"Seriously? Nope. Don't even need to know… at all. Just get moving, so we can get the hell out of here." Bosco turned to leave and Murdock followed right on his heels.
"Come on, Bosco let me tell you this awesome idea I got to combine our acts."
Face watched his friends walk away, Murdock tossing a wave as Bosco continued to grumble at whatever ridiculous plan the performer was coming up with.
He really needed to find Jimmy for one last repair to get through Austin; after then he was gone, for sure this time. All the planning would have to wait, though; this show wasn't going to move itself, especially with the bunch of First of Mays struggling to tear down the cook shack.
"Hold on guys." Face shook his head and called out as he trotted over to help.
It was time to get the Burress Brothers' Circus Show on the road.
Kicking Sawdust: Being part of the circus.
Jump: The move to the next engagement.
First of Mays: A novice worker in his first season.