Taming the Tiger

This was a rather creepy little short story written at an unknown time that I’ve estimated to be either late in high school or early in college.

The night was cold as a Fall rain moved in on the city.  Earlier that day, the circus had come to town and the city was still alive with excitement.  It wasn’t amid this kind of mood that one expected someone to die.

Billy had been interested in the circus for as long as he could remember.  When he heard that it was coming to town, he was one of the first to buy a ticket and he counted down the days until it arrived.  After the show, he went home still excited from what he had seen in the ring.  The tigers danced in his head.  He couldn’t resist the pull of the circus and needed to return.

Later in the evening, Billy snuck onto the circus grounds.  It was well after everyone who worked there had gone to bed.  There was still another show to perform in the morning, so they hadn’t yet packed up the main tent or their equipment.

The tents were all draped shut though,  the wagons all locked up.  To say that Billy was disappointed would be an understatement.  But young Billy didn’t let the situation discourage him.  He quietly pulled back the main tent’s entry flap and looked for the tiger.  It was nowhere to be seen, but it could be heard.  periodically letting out a quiet roar.

Billy followed its voice.  In the dim light he could see the tiger’s Keeper whipping the great beast.  The giant man howled with laughter as he stuck the creature again and again.

Horrified by the sight, Billy yelled for Tiger Keeper to stop.  The man turned to surmise Billy, then merely ignored him.  Undaunted, Billy took a small rock from the ground and threw it at the Tiger Keeper.  The rock struck the man in the head and he yelped in sudden pain.  That action caught his attention and he began to run after Billy, waving his whip in his hand.

Billy ran outside the tent and tried to hide between two large wagons.  But the Tiger Keeper soon cast his whip out nearby the wagons, forcing Billy to run again.

Billy next ran into another tent, but the man easily followed him inside.  He caught up to Billy and grabbed him by the back of his shirt When the Tiger Keep pulled Bill toward him, Bill could smell his grimy, sweat covered body.

Billy thought fast and bit the Tiger Keeper’s forearm as hard as he could.  The shock of the bite caused the man to let Billy go.  Once released the boy ran out from under the tent and back toward the main tent.  He needed to get past the main tent before he could reach a series of streets that would lead him home.

The Tiger Keeper had recovered from shock of the bite and being quicker than Billy, again caught up with him.  Billy was eventually cornered outside of the main tent.  He began climbing up the shallow incline of the huge tent’s canvas sides.  He slipped and slid as the man started after him.  The rope that Billy clutched cut into his hands with each new grip, but he kept on climbing.  The man came within reach of Billy’s foot, and as he grabbed for it, the tent began to sag under the man.  They were both standing on a seam in the stitching and the huge bulk of the man had put unnecessary stress on the worn threads.  Finally, the stitches tore away with a sickening ‘riiiipppp’ sound and the Tiger Keeper fell through the resulting hole.

Billy then heard the scream, the scream that was followed by a loud roar.  The holding pen of the beaten tiger had been the final resting place of the Tiger Keeper.  Billy heard the calls of the man.  Billy heard the screams of the man.  Billy heard the roar of the tiger as it had its revenge. Billy loved tigers and Billy smiled.

D.S. Christensen
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