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The Xander Strange Story, part 1

This is my father with his invention. He never told me what this machine was for exactly. Something to do with forgetting nightmares.

This is my mother at work, about to kill a rabid peasant. She always loved that gun. She named it Malachi after my great grandfather, who’s claim to fame was inventing a new strain of highly explosive parsley.

This is me (as a child) with our family dog, Mr. Rainbow Rasputin. He was allergic to human contact, barked in Dutch, and lived on a strict diet of saffron-baked turnips, but damn it, he was my best friend.

this is the house where I was born. my mother and father in their insatiable desire for solitude made the foolish decision to build a home miles from humans, food, or fresh water. our neighbors were a narcoleptic goat and a tornado. i used to play hide the rock with my other rock friends.

This is my twin brother and I riding goats. We had little money for other means of transportation and yet our father sent us to buy supplies from the nearest town, 67 miles away. I’m on the left, my goat’s name was Enoch. I never knew my brother’s name.

This is Dr Archibald P. Zing, traveling magician and the ruin of my family. He arrived at our homestead with a business proposition for my parents. We should have been halted that when questioned on the serendipitous discovery of our humble abode, he was revealed to be on the lam from the french foreign legion. His illusory specialties included eating pocket change, instantly knowing middle names, and ‘the comatose stare’.

This curious princess was part of Dr. Archibald P. Zing’s entourage, her name was Ridwan. She was mute, but spoke through the astral plane to my fevered brain. She told me when I first saw her to not listen to the good doctor, but rather to poison his morning porridge with hemlock and wormwood oil. She also said ‘Criticize their hearts and they will listen’, which at the time I didn’t understand.

This is Marjory the shape-shifter with Gabardine the kleptomaniac clown, and along with Ridwan the gypsy princess, they were to become my closest friends. Dr. Zing’s proposition to my parents was to start a circus on our substantial property, and my father and mother agreed. Marjory and Gabardine are seen on opening night, preparing for their popular act: ‘Stand Down and Weep, For I Will Open Your Eyes to Their Mistakes, Child of Eshcol’

This is the day I foolishly chose to begin my brief career upon the stage. Dr. Zing convinced me I would be a good fit for his daughter, Zephyr, and her act ‘le soupir de votre coeur azur et la grenouille’. She believed she could control any animal with her singing. This of course was false (inane creature that she was), so to make her feel special Zing created this humiliating performance. I was required to dance the polka when she sang ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and it’s best not to talk about what I had to do during ‘Good King Wenceslas’.

this is my father (left) at our lady of the borrowed blanket hospital, he had plunged from the high wire three days before after attempting a triple back flip with me on his shoulders (i managed to cling to the high wire, avoiding a similar fate). my father looks well enough here (his friend galen the mink is helping him smoke) but what can’t be seen beneath the sheets is the billows of cigarette fumes emanating from the bottom of his torso. my father’s adherence to Dr. Zing’s whims made him not long for this world*, saints (in who I don’t believe) preserve him (which I also believe would be impossible)!
* admittedly the smoking and holey mid-carriage probably didn’t help matters regarding the length of his life

These are the Doldersum Sisters of Humptulips, Washington. While my father was convalescing from his accident, Dr. Zing hired these girls to replace him in the Strange Lands Circus line-up. They were supposedly dancers, but would simply stand like this for 3 and 1/2 hours until the audience left the big top, while manic klezmer music played from an unknown source. I still have cold sweats if I hear a violin played too rapidly.

These are the Augenblick Brothers of Monks Hammock, Louisiana. Following the disaster of the Doldersum Sisters, Dr. Zing hired these colourful vagabonds (it should be noted that while it might appear they are dressed in costumes, this is simply their everyday dress). Their performances consisted of a disturbing mixture of inept musical contortionism and screaming in unison. Only one of the brothers spoke, Nip, (pictured top right corner) but only in verbs. The day he announced to the audience “chase, rob, murder, smile”, Dr. Zing finally seemed to come to terms with his mistake.

These are the winners of the 1st annual (and only) Strange Lands Circus beauty contest. With the performances beginning to lack in professional dignity or even artistic sense, Dr. Zing resorted to low class audience pandering. This particular effort was an unqualified success. Dorothy (left) won 1st place, most believe because of her rousing rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’ which she sang backwards. Dominique (right) who many felt was the fairer dame, was the runner-up. Popular opinion feels that her talent portion which consisted of hopping on one foot for half a minute before falling off the stage cost her the coveted prize.



About xanderstrange

orphan and arts critic

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