by Danny Croot

   They found me in a field when I I was fourteen. Told me I had runaway from home that I had been abused but I don't remember. Abused can mean many things like when a woman berates her man for ten years and he finally breaks from all the psychological torture and gives her a good one in the chops.

She is abused and he is deranged. I never did get that. I prefer to think I am the man in the equation and that when I lash out it will be at more than a woman.

Barney found me, sweet man really, he loved to get drunk, downing Baileys in a field. Heard his rattling bottles before I saw the poor schmuck. He was surprised to see me, he paused, then he wasn't. He offered me a bottle. I haven't been able to drink Baileys since. He let me out of the cage I was in, only to put me in another one. I had a tail see, and I was billed as the devil, I'd make these real nasty sounds no youngster could, said I projected my voice louder and more meaner than the devil himself. After six weeks of touring the shows, they all called me the devil, affectionately I might add. I could appear taller than I actually was. I knew what people were thinking and about to say. I could kinda float, this one freaked people out so I didn't do it so much as I could have.

Barney only fed me before a big show, he liked to keep me hungry and subservient he said. But I become wise to his tricks and after two years he came stumbling in an told me I was too old to be the devil and now I was like all the others that I'd have to find my own way in life.

It was the only life I had known so I pleaded with him, "Please I'll clean the shit out of the stables. Trim the bearded ladies bearded lady, I'd man the machines. I'd become the worlds strongest man, I'll do anything you need. Don't let me be here all alone you're like a father to me..." he knew I'd have to have the tail removed to fit into city or town life and I had become attached to it so. He could crack open a beer and open the fridge all in a whiplash second.

He pondered on this for a brief moment, "Tell ya what kid. You keep doing what you keep doing and I'll see's I can't pull a bigger crowd. It'll require a bigger advertising budget so I's can't pay ya too much, but let's we can't make this work."

"Oh thank, oh thank you." I kissed his feet through my metal chains and lock as he bumbled away shouting and laughing to himself drunk off his skull on baileys.

How foolish was I? I was only young. I should not be punished for earlier transgressions. Should I?

I started to steal the shows. The circus was billed as the devils goatee, me standing an grinning picture and others, sometimes friends.

"Woah." They screamed.

"He is a handsome devil isn't he" is there any other?

Some of the women or effeminate men(too many of those around these days) would throw their underwear at me.

"He's Elvis incarnate." They roared. I'd free-ball a few songs I'd heard from the radio. I was blessed with an amazing singing ability. Just one of many talents born out of dumb luck I guess.

"Nah honey I just like to rock n' roll." I'd smoothly say back.

Besides I was more of  Jerry Lee fan but he was alive and inimitable.

They started to record my performance on these hand held camera things and before long the shows were sold out and there was hardly any time for my friends, the people I had grew up with to perform. Who wants to see a fire eater when they are in the presence of a rock-god? Barney had me over the dining room table, metaphorically. Got me drunk and made me sign a contract and when you make a deal with the devil promises are kept. Of that I am sure. I did what I was told.

But the crowd they cheered for me and I gave them what they wanted. The same cheap parlour tricks with a couple of ounces of class from je-ne-sais-moi. And when I let rip towards the end, my voice softer than honey, more toxic than a cobra, they tore the seats from the venue. The way I moved my hips, the effortless almost intoxicated delivery of some of my lines, they had me down for the new Bond soundtrack, I didn't even know what Bond was. I had no parents but I was proud for myself.

The more frequent the performance and the bigger the venues became I started to open my self up to them. Their numbers to me were incalculable. And an amazing feat happened, they did not laugh at my childhood like the perennially drunken Barney, no, instead they felt my pain, pain I did not know I had and when I belted out the first few lines of hound dog or anything I had listened to on the radio it meant so much to them. The sadder I told the story, the more tears that formed in my crooked eyes, the bigger the reaction from the crowd. I didn't have to try, it was all so easy. I cannot say the same for my amigos of the circus.

My compadre's started to snigger whenever they called me the devil and they frowned when I tried to perform my old parlour tricks. It appears they had disappeared with age.

All of this left me upset. Barney could see this and he invited me out for a meal. I thought it'd just be me and him. When we got there it was anything but. Greedy, fat, affluent men who ordered too much food more than they could possibly eat. Yet they did. It took them no time at all.

The waitress came and she radioed in their orders. All the drinks on a constant flow. They grinned at her and made advances but she batted them off with real ease,   evidently she was used to the procedure.

And the women, oh the women who sat next to these cruel faced dogs, legs up to their hips, two eyes and a nose and everything. The hair covered and revealed everything. When they moved, they used their legs...I could not move, yet it came easy for me.

One of the fat greasy guys, combover an all leaned over, "You want one? I can get you anything you need. Just hollah."

I was not familiar with a middle aged white guy using the term 'hollah'.

I pointed to the one I craved. I could smell her sex from here.

"No can do."

"You said anything?"

"I could maybe get yer a lookalike but that'd take a few days, y'know recover from the surgery and whatnot."

"Who is she?" I whispered.

Then the food was whisked away and Barney who was quite sober, four or five drinks spread across an hour, began to speak, "Right not-so-gentlemen..." they giggled at this and it sent daggers down my spine. "Let's talk business."

It took me a while but I realised I was not needed. I got up and went to the bathroom. Took a slash, played with myself a little bit, thought of what freedom meant. Money enough to do what you want. But where does one get such an opportunity and that kind if mula? I hummed to myself as I reached climax. The door crashed open and my cubicle lost its hunger.

"HEY GET OUT BUDDY CAN'T YA SEE I'M BUSY HERE?" I projected my best man voice. When not singing, it is hard for me.

"Hey don't get busy without me." It was a feminine voice so I left it unzipped. If it was one of them women-men or she males, I'd plead confusion and hope it never got out.

Her leg, the way it bent, not one hair. Then the other, she announced herself by jumping on me, "I WANT TO BE YOUR FIRST FUCK! YOU'RE GOING TO BE A STAR AND I'M THE START OF THE JOURNEY."

I lasted a good while.


I just sat on the toilet and she did her thing.


I think her venom and her willingness to fuck me was a turn off because I felt she was trying to hurt me, not of the skin, but spiritually.

She used the word orgasmic a lot. As if there could be no confusion as to what we are doing.

"OH BABY. BABY BABY BABY!" she cried in faux jubilant exultation.

She was so loud they burst in on us. I had just finished and zipped up.

Barney started hitting me and crying and kicked a tooth out of my head. I did not fight back. I kind of loved the man.

"That's it, the deals off. Nobody can have him. He has two more years to run and he'll be bottom of the bill if I have anything to say bout it."

Their mouths lowered and stayed vacant, dollar and pound and yen signs flashed behind the lights in their eyeballs.

Most nights I didn't get to see the stage. I was left to rot in a cage. Contract limbo. By the time my contract was up and I was left free, nobody wanted me. Not a soul remembered who I was. I was probably worth millions to the right man and company and my voice had not diminished and I was no less talented. I had no ego. My life had beaten the pretensions out of me.

Turns out the wife was best friends and having a few liaisons with the bearded lady (who was actually a man) and the strongest man (who was surprisingly a hermaphrodite) you couldn't tell, although it would explain the croak in his voice and his high vibrato when acting as my backing singer. It was she-he who let me in on the whole fiasco. They were going through a rough time, saving for the surgery and what not. He was having second thoughts she was fucking whoever. He felt I should know.

In my prime rock stars came to see me and some who were anything but. Ed Sheeran (before he went by that name. Let me see he introduced himself as that annoying ginger bloke...at least that's how I remember him) came to me for advice and a little soul giving.  I told him, "You don't have any. Go away and play yer poxy shit." And he did, years later he doesn't recognise the man at his door.

I don't know if anything I remember is real. But there's this thing called youtube and it's making anybody and nobody and cats famous. People talk about what they brought shopping with daddy's money and people play games. Pornstars have their own accounts where they talk about their experiences of everyday life and the pressures of working the industry. People dress up like video game characters and the comments don't insult them. They are very accommodating I do not understand this. Talent is not a prerequisite for prosperity and recognition, in fact, it seems it damn well nearly guarantees a life of solitude and no money.  

You make a deal with the devil you're alway going to get fucked. And the devil is not one man or a woman. They come in every avenue of life, postmen who want christmas tips and stand at the door for a prolonged amount of time, cold callers, insurance salesmen, Simon Cowell, anything that is a reality television show, anything written in bold and caps lock in newspaper, anybody who describes themselves as genuine and honest is anything but, the list is endless and it is scary.

I no longer go by the devil. If I am asked my name I start to sing and they think I am crazy whizzing themselves away and bug some other simpleton. For a while I performed the club circuit, my back to the audience but they had no appreciation of fine music or the way it is performed.

Ask me what I am doing now, my reply is, "Nothing." I don't think I could be happier.

    Danny Croot: his ambition is only handicapped by his laziness. He likes to add: we're all fucked, let's laugh.