Side Shows

B.K. Smith


  Karen Smith’s Side Shows is a remarkable first collection. Filled with memorable characters caught up in interesting, even bizarre situations, it is highly readable, consistently engaging, and ultimately quite satisfying.

ISBN 0-942979-16-8, quality paper, $9.95               Sale $5.00

ISBN 0-942979-15-X, hardbound, $19.95                Sale $10.00

135 Pages

 About the Author: 

Until recently B. K. Smith taught at Bevill State Community College. Retired now, she devotes her time to writing and saving for the perfect lighthouse. Her previous story collection, Sideshows, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. This is her first novel.

 Excerpt From the Book:


     It seems as though everything revolves around this wheel, at least for Jimmy.  I found him here at 4 a.m. when I came back to the fairground from the city.  After looking for him in several bars and diners, I found him here, circling all by himself on his double wheel—it, falling and pulling up again—him, staring straight ahead, pretending not to notice me.  I should’ve known.  This is where he always comes to get a new perspective on things.  That’s what he’s doing up there now, since I pulled the bar and stopped him on top.  He’s figuring out a new angle, leaving me here ground level to sit and wonder if tonight was all my fault.  I know he’s mad at me because tonight I took something away from him.  I’m the one who talked him into going into Kansas City, away from fairtown.  It was his first trip out.  I’ve seen a lot of the cities we’ve worked, but never Jimmy.  He’s always felt safe in fairtown, always cocky, confident and on top of things.  I don’t know exactly what happened in that room tonight, but I can guess, and my guess is that bitch hurt Jimmy pretty good—the way she was screaming at him.  Now he’s back here, trying to put his pride together.  And he’ll do it.  He’s never let anything get him down.  He’s always been in control, ever since I’ve known him.
    My name is Jeff Ward, and some people would call me a “carnie,” a trickster, or a shyster.  I call myself a shrewd businessman.  They’d call Jimmy a freak, but he likes to refer to himself as a showman.  I remember the first time I met Jimmy thirteen years ago.  He was eight, the same age as me, when Uncle Demps and I joined the fair.  Even then Jimmy was in control.  He knew he scared my shoes off the first time I saw him, with that giant growth on the left side of his face.  It ran way out from under his black hair and down to his neck, like a second head, only bald.  I thought it was just put-on until I finally touched it.  It looked like a balloon, and I knew it would pop if I mashed too hard.  But it was real skin, pink and firm.  I remember Jimmy staring right into my eyes to see how I’d react.  I was brave about it, but I still remember a sick feeling, and my knees getting weak, just before Jimmy grinned and told me it was bubble gum.  He could blow his own bubbles anytime, he’d said.