The Eighth Page

Being A Human Cannonball

The Phillipian: Hi Gerard, how are you this afternoon? Gerard: Frightened. The Phillipian: I’m sure you are, Gerard, I’m sure you are. Now, how long have you been a “human cannonball,” as they call you? Gerard: Since I was a kid. Please help me. I don’t want to go back in that thing and get shot out of it again. I never wanted to do it in the first place—they made me. I was only six years old—I didn’t know what I was doing! I didn’t know right from wrong. The Phillipian: Well, that’s just wonderful that this circus lets kids follow their dreams. Now, have you always enjoyed stuffing yourself into a metallic tube and getting shot through the air with buckets of gun powder? Gerard: I don’t enjoy it! They force me to do it! They’ll take my family away if I don’t do this act. You’re not even listening! The Phillipian: That’s nice—how many buckets of gun powder did you say it takes? Gerard: Five, but I didn’t say anything about that before. I was trying to tell you that— The Phillipian: Wow! Five buckets? That many? Huh, it must get pretty stuffy in that cannon. I’m surprised you do this happily for a living. Gerard: No! You don’t under— The Phillipian: Well, Gerard, I’m afraid we have only so much time for this interview. Let’s move on, shall we? Gerard: Fine. Whatever. The Phillipian: Now, I was told earlier today that you belong to the Circus Workers Union. Is this correct? Gerard: No, of course not. The Phillipian: Now, Gerard, don’t lie to me. I have a piece of paper here that says— Gerard: Okay! Okay. I do belong to the Union. But please, please, please don’t tell management. You don’t want know the things they do to Union members. One of the tightrope walkers was caught on his way to a meeting and he was forced to unicycle in circles until he’d dug a five foot hole in the ring with the tire. He hasn’t been right in the head since. The Phillipian: Well, isn’t that exciting! And what is the Circus Workers Union up to these days? Gerard: I can’t tell you that. We’ve already talked too much. The Phillipian: Gerard, please tell me. Then I won’t have to hurt your family. Gerard: What? The Phillipian: Gerard! Gerard: Okay, fine! We just want better work hours, new Vaseline tubs for wiping down the cannons with, better tightrope facilities and bigger space inside the sedan that the clowns have to all fit into. Like an Audi or something. (The reporter furiously types what he hears into his iPhone. He proceeds to laugh forebodingly) Gerard: Okay… The Phillipian: One final question, Gerard, before I let you go back to work. Gerard: We were off the record for the union thing, right? The Phillipian: My question, Gerard, is this: if you could choose one place to be deported, where would it be? Gerard: Look, I have a show in 20 minutes and I have to go grease up, so if you don’t mind. The Phillipian: Not at all, Gerard. Not at all. —Eli Grober