The Baby Rhinoceros Circus and the Tale of Time's Rainbow

By Richard Edenfield

Editor’s Note: This piece was written in response to a series of stories published by FewerThan500 editors called Dust Bowl Chemistry, Invisible Nazis. The series was sparked by a 1933 yearbook page a writing prompt. Read the editors’ stories here.

Robert H Silber had started his own frog farm. Instead of cows or sheep one saw endless green vibrating as if a giant lawn were plugged into a high voltage socket. A breeze stroked a visceral horizon of writhing flesh. The deepest chirping as if crickets with laryngitis.

“A frog farm?”

“Yes. Frogs.”

“For the legs?”

“I guess.”

“Is there even such a thing?”

“He has one, so yes.”

Helen Schock rocked in her chair giving her a momentary sensation of freedom. Back and forth as if a caveman’s version of a time machine. She drank fine French wine out of a crystal glass bought in Paris during a love affair in 1935. It rained in space one evening, a billion stars fluttering with feathered razor light as she fell in love. She held his strong shoulders. Their eyes kissed with their mouths shut. This memory played over and over in her mind that moved to and fro.

“She was the sanest one of us all!”

“I know.”

“She just rocks back and forth?”

“40 years of rocking. Seven chairs. One memory.”

Myra J. Stroud got into reverse S&M. She killed people with kindness. Would rope them to a chair and serve them cake with pink sprinkles while reciting Keats. She found the meanest men she could, married, and then tortured them by reading “Love Labors Lost” to them nonstop. She opened a shop in San Francisco on Sutter Street in 1939 and sold homemade perfumes. The shop windows sat like paintings of a breath. There was a fire in 1941 and it made the whole block smell like some strange exotic fragrance — a cross between a protest of  freesias and Old Spice. It was December 7th. Her husband died the same day on his ship in Hawaii. To this day the location of her shop leaks a strong desire to please like a long line of crude oil tickling the surface of the Pacific.

“No one turns out like you think.”

“Yes. It’s all very fantastic.”

Harold Albert Stoll always wore the best ties. He loved ties. He became obsessed with ties. He got jobs where he had to wear a tie. He could tie a tie faster than anyone in the world. He entered a national tie contest and beat the former champion of tie tying named Marshal Schmidt. He won by 7.8 seconds. He owned 27,274 ties. He was buried with all his ties. Several roses were left at his grave every month by an unknown person. Roses that would never bloom. The rosebuds looked like Harold’s perfect tie knots. And their aroma made a formal scent in the air like fine woven French fabric.

“He was so handsome.”

They folded the yearbook and silenced time’s voice. All the faces were now back in their trance of pages. Then they returned to their life running a baby rhinoceros circus wondering what a bizarre life it truly was. And what perfectly peculiar people were in it.

Richard Edenfield dislikes these short bios written after someone’s writing piece. He does not want to talk about his education or how many places he has been published; he can’t think of anything more boring than that. He does not like talking about himself or his writing. He does not want to impress you in any way. But, if you are a pretty girl, you can leave your email or phone number in the comments section and Richard will be more than happy to contact you and talk all about himself all day long.

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