Not Quite Alice

by Anita Marie Moscoso

Inspired by the Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt:

Not Quite Alice


There’s a cemetery called Kilgoar out on Dead End Lane- trust me,  that cemetery is really there and those are really the names of those places and  if you want you can go out there and take a picture of yourself standing beside the street sign that says, ” Dead End Lane”.

Lots of people do.

Most important of all, while you’re out there preserving history you’ll probably want a picture of  tree that in it’s own special way started the Kilgoar cemetery over 80 years ago.

That’s the tree where Gaddelin and Watson found the sign announcing that the “Borden’s Circus Of The Curious” would be coming to town for a special engagement.

The boys, who were 12 and 14 at the time, were amazed that anyone let alone an entire Circus would come to a little nowhere town like Manet.

Amazed but not surprised, odd things were always happening in Manet.

Odd things like those signs- they were all handwritten and they started turning up in strange places all over town.

They were turning up inside of library books, underneath canned goods at Brody’s Grocery Store, inside of linen closets and floating down  the old logging roads people stopped using in favor of the new highways that had gone in a couple of years before- that would have been back in 1926.

Watson had collected dozens of them and when he had a nice little stack he took them to school and started to put them in desks and he folded them up and put them inside of jackets and in the the Teacher’s desk

” What are you doing? ” Gaddelin asked- he had walked into the coat room and thought he saw Watson taking something out of Wendy O’Hara’s coat pocket.

Then Gaddelin saw the folded square of paper sticking out of Wendy’s coat pocket and he went over and pushed it in.

He asked his brother again, ” what are you doing Watson? ”

And Watson shrugged and said, ” I don’t know. ”

Curious, Gaddelin thought and then he let the thought go.

For a little while.

The Circus finally came to town.

Both Gaddelin and Watson felt a little foolish that they were part of the “Circus Flier Scheme” because the ” Borden Circus of  The Curious ” was like all of the other Circuses that made their way around and through those small logging towns in the Cascades.

There were rides, and lions and bears. There was a carousel and a Ferris wheel and a tents that you had pay extra to get into.

The Sideshow was exceptional both boys decided because you didn’t have to pay extra to see it.  The Conjoined Twins were walking around eating popcorn and playing ring toss like regular paying customers, there was a man who was over 7 feet tall that took in the Magic Act headlined by a woman called ” The Amazing Benandanti”  with about 40 residents from various towns in the County. Plus the Circus’  Little People were waiting in lines for the rides with everyone else.

Finally Gaddelin asked the woman who told Fortunes ( she was waiting in line for the Carousel ) ” Ma’am, what’s so Curious about this Circus ?”

The Fortune Teller held her hand out and said, ” My name is Saterlee Chapel.”

Watson reached out to take Saterlee’s hand and instead of shaking it Saterlee turned it over and glanced at it and smiled.

” I can see into the future…can’t see into the past.” Saterlee looked up and shook her head ” That has kept me back from being an honest to goodness headliner.”

” Uh-Huh” both boys said.

” Well, when we were down in Seattle I was working with my crystal ball when suddenly I see a burning wheel and a hundred hearses driving into an empty cemetery.

Now, what do you suppose that means? ”

Both boys shrugged and Saterlee Chapel Shrugged too and when the Carousel came to a stop she said, ” Curious isn’t it? ”

And both boys agreed.

They watched Saterlee choose a place for herself on the Carousel and when the music started they both turned and walked away and as they did they both decided while they were here they might as well have some fun.

Watson Kilgoar reached into his pocket for some money and instead of pulling out a handful of change he pulled out a handful of  little squares of tightly folded paper

Watson showed them to his brother.

In his hand were the fliers.

Gaddelin  Kilgoar  reached into his pocket and pulled out a little box of matches.

Then they stood by the Ferris Wheel for a very long time and watched it turn far into the evening.

Finally they got on.

You could see the flames for miles.


Based On A Real Event:

Luna Park Fire– Seattle, Washington

Luna Park Memories: Carroll Mage

History Link Essay

“In 1930, I got a job taking early morning weather observations. One morning, I was on the roof of the Federal Building on 1st and Marion, and I looked across the water and I saw a light in the sky … a flame. I saw big flames shoot up in the sky and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Luna Park is on fire!’ I knew where it was by its location. It was the building that housed the dressing rooms and the diving boards that was on fire. This great big wooden framed building, three stories high, was on fire. ‘Oh my gosh, Luna Park is on fire.'”

6 thoughts on “Not Quite Alice

  1. comments from “Riversleigh Manor ”

    melodysadams (23:46:44) : edit

    Excellent story, I like the way you took the old news item and made it your own!

    Heather Blakey (02:47:21) : edit

    Now this story really chilled me to the bones Anita Marie. Utterly terrifying really. And to think that the so called ‘freaks’ were supposedly a part of the side shows.
    traveller2006 (12:07:09) : edit

    I always thought the word “safety” as in “British safety matches” was a misnomer …


  2. Wonderful story as always, Anita Marie – we have a Luna Park here in Sydney and Melbourne. The Sydney park was the scene of a tragic ghost train fire in 1979 – six children and one adult died.


  3. Pingback: » How Does My Garden Grow? « ANITA’S OWL CREEK BRIDGE-My 1983

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