No townsfolk at the carnival were particularly happy to see Bobby. He could feel it walking down the midway, his flesh burning every time a neighbor laid eyes on him. Some tried to hide it, but most didn’t bother, disgust or baleful judgment rising in their eyes. Some even pulled their children away, although most of the kids seemed intrigued by Bobby’s statuesque frame, scarlet make-up, and Garibaldi tall boots.
The sensation of close-minded disapproval was so strong it might have been the July heat, sweat being squeezed out of skin to evaporate on a skillet of shame. But Bobby just twirled the umbrella in hand, keeping the sun off fair shoulders, hiding the blushing that now nearly matched the pink dress. Just kept walking down the thoroughfare, between booths and tents, ignoring those who cleared a path, feeling the burning as a transmutation, a personal auto-da-fé.
After what could have been a lifetime Bobbi reached the big top. She walked right in past the crier who smiled, not even asking Bobbi for a ticket. Inside, she found the strong man, his muscles stretching his singlet tight. Seeing Bobbi, he tossed aside his dumbbell to scoop her up, his handlebar mustache tickling as they kissed.
“I’m ready to go,” Bobbi told him. Noticing the approving, if slightly jealous, gaze from the bearded lady Bobbi felt herself burn bright for entirely different reasons.