"Is that the original sign on the top there, Biglar?" asked Mandy. It was a fifties-style sign
that had seen better days. The purple of "Big Top" had faded to pale lavender. Several of the
letters were broken. The sign read "Bi Top Suppl."
"I remember when that sign lit up this neighborhood. It could be seen for miles. This was
my mother’s pride and joy. I remember that she insisted on picking out that sign herself. It had
to be just perfect. She was going to make sure the whole world knew what a success she was.
She must be turning over in her grave right now at the sight of this." He began to cry.
"Biglar, please don’t cry. This can all be brought back to its former glory. Have faith. We can
do it."
"Sorry, Mandy, I didn’t want you to see that. You’re right. We have nowhere to go but up.
So let’s get to work!" He quickened his step and they all followed suit.
"Nowhere to go but up!" they repeated after him. They found the front door bolted shut, so
they made their way around the back. They passed by eight bay doors before finding one that
was open. Butane Bob lifted himself up onto the platform.
"Anybody home?"
"No more deliveries today. Come back tomorrow."
"Not making a delivery," he shouted, trying to figure out where the voice was coming from.
"I’m here from the Big Top office."
A big surly-looking man came out of the shadows. "You say you’re from the office?"
"Yes." He pointed to the rest of the group still standing down below.
"We’re planning a sale and wanted to see what we needed to get rid of."
"Well, you can run one hell of a blowout. Look around. All this needs to go. Shelves are
busting out at the seams. Stuff keeps coming in. Nothin’ is going out."
"So I see. My name is Butane Bob. And you are?"
"Curly. Nice to meet ya. Why doesn’t anyone at the office answer the phone?"
"Phone system wasn’t working. It’s fixed now." That was a lie, but it sounded good as he
said it.
Curly gave him a doubting look in response. "Hmmm, hasn’t been working for a few years,
has it?"
"Where should we start, Curly, if we were going to run that blowout circus sale?"
"In the parking lot—whad’ya think? Pick a trailer and get it outta here. I’m surprised you
even found your way in here. I ain’t left the place in about four years, best as I can recall. Too
much trouble."
Biglar looked as if he were going to cry again. Mandy and Violet tried to shore him up as
best as they could by holding his arms.
"Well, do you know what’s in any of these trailers, Curly?"
"Nope, haven’t a clue. One guy calls everyday to see when he can unload his trucks. Start
with those."
"Lead the way, my f riend." Butane Bob waved the others to follow. "Lead the way."
Biglar began to sob uncontrollably on Gary’s shoulder.
"Violet! Mandy! Help me!" Gary began waving his arms about, trying to get someone’s
attention. The girls had gone off to explore the rest of the warehouse and were nowhere in sight
behind all the unopened cartons stacked haphazardly around the place. He half- heartedly patted
Biglar on the back in an effort to console him.
Suddenly Biglar began to wail. "How did I let this happen? I’m such a failure. I’m a
disappointment to my family. My poor mother, may she rest in peace—she’d call me a disgrace."
Curly looked over at Butane Bob. "What’s wrong with him?" Butane Bob put his arm
around Curly’s big shoulders. "Come with us, Curly, for dinner and a couple of drinks. Looks
like we’re going to need them. Plus, it will do you good to get out of here for a little while."
"You payin’?"
"I’m paying, come on."
Gary was still flailing his arms about, trying to figure out what to do with Biglar. Biglar
didn’t appear to want to stop crying anytime soon.
"Come on, Biglar," Butane Bob shouted out. "This will all be over once it’s done. We’re
taking Curly here out for dinner." Biglar’s head slowly came up, and like a lost little puppy he
followed Butane Bob and Curly toward the door. Gary now had a huge wet spot on his shoulder.
He f rantically flapped his shirt to get it to dry faster.
"Mandy,Violet, let’s go. We’re leaving." The two of them popped out from behind a huge
stack of boxes.
"We’re coming."
"I know the shortcut outta here, so follow me," instructed Curly.
"We’re all for a shortcut. Seemed like it took us an hour to get in here," said Gary, still
frantically trying to dry his shirt.
"Should we leave some bread crumbs so we can find our way back in tomorrow?" Mandy
In five minutes, they were all safely inside the yellow limousine cooling off. This time it was
Curly who was fascinated by the tackiness of the limousine. Biglar seemed to have composed
himself, at least for the time being.
"We’re going to my house for dinner. We’ll be more comfortable there. Ronnie is having
something brought in."
"Uh, excuse me, Biglar," Gary interrupted. "Would you mind dropping me back at the
office? My wife is expecting me. It’s our anniversary."
"Happy anniversary!" they said in chorus.
"Not a problem, Gary. Be sure to give your wife our best. Thanks for all your help today.
See you tomorrow."
"Anytime, Biglar," he said as he glanced over at his still-soaking wet shirt.
As soon as the door closed, Biglar began to mumble under his breath, "All I do for him and
he can’t even have dinner with us."
The others were busily chatting amongst themselves about whether Gary’s wife actually had
a name other than "my wife" and didn’t hear what Biglar said.
When they arrived at Biglar’s house, everything was set as if they’d been invited to a formal
dinner party. Fresh flowers in the foyer, candles lit throughout the living room, wine and hors
d’oeuvres waiting on the bar.
"Biglar, your home is lovely. But I thought Ronnie was just bringing something in. I would
have dressed more appropriately if I had known we were dining formally," Mandy said with a
"We would have gone out somewhere nice, but I didn’t think that Curly was dressed right
or had proper manners to eat in a restaurant." He gave a disgusted glance in Curly’s direction.
Now granted, Curly’s T-shirt was worn and faded and had a few too many pizza stains on
the f ront. His pants hadn’t been near an ironing board since the day they’d left the factory,
which by all accounts was many years ago. And he said "ain’t" a few too many times. But
Mandy had never heard Biglar, or Lulu for that matter, criticize anyone like that before. Besides,
Curly hadn’t left the warehouse in several years. What did he expect?
Biglar suddenly had a strange look in his eyes that made her very afraid. Without appearing
too frantic, she tried to get Butane Bob’s attention. He, however, was thoroughly engrossed in
whatever it was Curly had to say.
"I was known as the White Glove Robber. It was all over the papers. I wonder why you
ain’t never heard of me. Never left a print—anywhere."
"Oh great, we’ve been harboring a fugitive," she said under her breath as she made her way
into the conversation. Violet was hanging on every word he said. She was gulping down her
glass of wine, hoping no one would notice.