Funambulism
D. Harlan Wilson

I insisted they replace the tightrope with a two-foot wide plank before walking across it. I also wanted the plank bolstered from the underside by a series of pillars and support beams. In addition, I wanted three nets set up—one near the ground, one halfway between the ground and me, one just a few feet beneath me, all made of spidersteel and reinforced with a Tungsten nanocomposite—and a strongman waiting to catch me beneath the third and lowest net in case I fell through them all. “Secure my path with handrailings, too,” I added, and then I realized that there was no reason to walk across the plank when I could glide across it. I ordered them to construct an airport walkalator instead of a plank. “Make it four—no, five feet wide,” I said, putting on a sumo suit in case I fell down. I put on another sumo suit for good measure. And I decided that, instead of pillars and support beams, they should fill the circus tent with sand, fill it all the way up here to the tightrope platform, and then we can simply lay the walkalator on top, but since we’re on the subject, why use sand when we can use concrete? I barked, “Fill the tent with concrete!” and began to gesticulate as if my hair had caught fire. I quickly checked myself, however, and demanded that they not only fill the tent with concrete, but the whole city. Frenzied, they assembled a mountain of gravel bags and water barrels and loaded up a battalion of cement trucks. As they leapt into the trucks and revved the engines, I took it back. “Forget about the concrete. Forget about the sand, too. Just make sure that walkalator is stablized. Please wrap it in cellophane as well. I don’t want to get any germs on my feet.“ I took off the second sumo suit. I took off the first one. I thought twice and put them both back on. I added a third. I took all three suits off and put all three back on again as they erected pillars and set up nets and hired a strongman and designed and assembled a walkalator, which they summarily laid atop the pillars from one platform to the other, sealing it in place with miniature blowtorches. They even ran a series of copper wires from the walkalator’s handrailings to the ceiling, ensuring that it wouldn’t budge. “A brontosaurus could fall on this walkalator from a tall building,” the foreman said, “and it still wouldn’t budge.” I thanked him. He climbed down the ladder and left me alone. The spotlights came on. The crowd grew quiet and stared up at me. Beneath the nets, the strongman flexed his pectoral muscles. “Don’t worry! I’ll catch you if you fall!” I waved at him. I waved at the crowd. I took a series of deep breaths, waved at the crowd again, smoothed out my eyebrows, cleared my throat, scratched one of my earlobes… Finally I stepped onto the walkalator. It ushered me from one platform to the other without incident. Haflway across, I did a cartwheel. The crowd cheered.




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About the Author
D. Harlan Wilson is the author of three collections of short fiction and a science fiction novel, Dr. Identity (2007), the first installment of the "Scikungfi" trilogy, which will be followed by Codename Prage (2009) and The Kyoto Man (2011). His stories and essays have appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies throughout the world in several languages, and he is the editor-in-chief of The Dream People, a journal of Bizarro texts. For more information on Wilson and his writing, visit his official website at www.dharlanwilson.com.
Email: dharlanwilson@yahoo.com


TJ PRESS
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