Pig threw the sledgehammer down. The drone was getting slowly, slowly louder.

“What’s up your arse?” Kovacs spat out, only half driving his peg into the shaley soil.

Pig didn’t answer, just pulled hard on the rope with all his bulk. The canvas high up at the end tightened ever so slightly and he quickly tied off the slack.

He could hear them more clearly now, mumbling low like chooks in a locked shed.

Kovacs’s peg always seemed to resist his bashing. Pig knew it irritated him no end, especially when his always drove in so cleanly. No fuss. He glanced up sideways at Pig’s work, then across to the shallow scallop he had yet to remove from his allocated panel of the tent. In that twilight, the canvas looked frail and washed out. Huge sheets of decaying green, expanding and contracting in the late breeze. The lungs of a great expiring thing.

 “Big Top, ha! Shit Top more like it,” Kovacs bleated in that irritating pitch.

Pig’s forehead screwed harder as the people moved in. The drone louder now, becoming more focussed.  A giant squeezing his temples, slowly but surely crushing his useless head.  A kid screamed then giggled, cutting effortlessly through the humming static; it shot through Pig like a dentist drill.

 “Get on with it Kovacs. The more you yap, the more we don’t eat.”

“Yeah,” he half laughed, “wouldn’t wanna miss the gourmet grub. Nossir”

Dumarr’s sinussy voice had started up, droning from the tinny PA over behind the concession stalls. It was that time. “If ya think ya’ve seen it all, good people, think again..think again! Come and witness for yerselves.....”

Pig moved on to the next peg, running the prayer through his mind as loudly as possible.

“Forgive us our trespasses,

and give us our daily bread.”

It often jumbled in the panic at this time of day, but he ran it anyway, forcing the Divine through him. That’s how it felt. It never ‘drifted’ through him like Reverend Anders said it would. No. He needed to seize those words he never understood, and swallow them down hard like castor oil.  They had to be held down. Otherwise, what chance did he stand?

A woman’s voice cut through from the other side of the canvas wall, ‘It smells like shit in here!’

‘Got yer nose too close to yer arse, lady!” Kovacs yelled at half volume, just enough to be lost under the cheesy calliope. This time he missed the peg altogether, the hammer pounding the dirt hard and jarring his scrawny shoulder. ‘Fark’n..”

“..and in the Big Top, behold Captain Khan, the keeper of the Bengal Bastards, tigers so big, so ornery ...”

But deliver us evil.

Forever and ever.

No, ‘from’ evil. Deliver us from evil. Pig noticed the drops of sweat on his filthy boots, sinkholes down to the hidden leather, to what they were. He drove the peg down hard. From evil.

He caught sight of the little girl and the mother too late.

“Why is the man angry?” the little one asked, pointing at Pig with her fairy floss.

“Excuse me, sir. Where is the bathroom?”The flustered mother yelled over to Pig , ignoring the child. She and the girl both wore identical polka dot dresses.

Pig felt the bones cracking in his skull.

“He’s angry coz’ he’s a monster, little lady,” Kovacs said matter-of-factly, loping past to address the last of the pegs just beyond the pair.

“Is he mama?” She said softly, never taking her eyes off Pig.

Pig looked to the yellow sodium lamps switching on across the fair, to the last cut of vermillion above the black hills, to his father’s  hands stuck on the ends of his arms, clutching the smooth wood of the sledge hammer. He placed it gently against the half struck peg.  As he did, so the giant let go. The crushing faded, the blood returned.

Forever and ever.

Peace graced him, finally, like a sigh. It was out of his hands, now.

“I’ll show you,” he said walking past them toward the car park, toward the tree line.