I remember fondly the novel, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, by Ray Bradbury.
My uncle, highly adored but somewhat estranged due to a strange family dynamic, sent me a few Bradbury titles during one of the periods of my early high school days when I suffered from something that could have led to a failed convalescence; it was the days before cable, of course, so the pickins were slim on the television after the Today Show went away....so, I fell back on what Peter Falk in THE PRINCESS BRIDE called, "In my day, Television was called Books!"
It was the beginning of a love affair with the imagery of Bradbury that lives on today. I ate his work up with a spoon.
THE ILLUSTRATED MAN.
THE HALLOWEEN TREE.
THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. (I wept when they made an abysmal mini-series based upon this book. Wept.)
But the story of two friends at odds with the owners of Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, the last, late carnival of the year lives on and on. (And yes, they made a movie of this, as well, back in the 80's, and I dragged some poor date to see it with me, and it was good, but not great. Date ended with a whimper and not a bang, as I remember....but I was a notorious failure at such things.)
I've never been able to go to a Carnival or a State Fair since then without needing to see it at nightfall, with the lights and the colors and the sounds.
I even worked at a theme park in the late 90's, and really enjoyed the nights.....the lights and the sounds of the rollercoaster riders, a wave of screaming people, the nearly invisible coaster streaking by above your head.....but also the look of the people as they carried their prizes and their balloons and their funnel cakes and their memories off to their homes.
I never did see a Bearded Lady, or the Rubber Man, or the Strong Man. I dated a clown, once upon a time. And a girl who made a living in a dinosaur suit.
But the clown wasn't really funny after awhile (not that I blame her; it was the late nineties and I was hip deep in sobriety and sorely in need of anti-depressants), and as far as the girl in the dinosaur suit...it would have been easier and quicker just to be consumed by at T-Rex. My luck. Sheesh.
I still like the Carnivals, when I can get them; and I dream of the Carnival that comes into town in the Fall of the year, bringing secrets and dreams and yes, even the occasional nightmare.
Even the sound of the Calliope on the foredeck of the steamboat as it travelled up and down the river would bring me to the shore.
And I dreamed of running away.
Sometimes, I dream of doing BARNUM, too.
Or writing like Bradbury.
But that's juuuuuust crazy talk.