- Terelle Jerricks
By Matt Sharar
Driver Ed left Circus Venus the next day, but not for the next tour stop. Instead, he walked down the length of the wharf, in broad daylight, and down to Dave’s rig. He would join Dave on the high seas, for after going through plan after backup plan on how to defeat the beast, Dave fell back on the old adage about finding your enemy’s Achilles’ Heel.
The demon was an earthbound demon. He was propelled only by his feet, his travelling dance, and couldn’t rage through the waters, couldn’t swim out to take Ed to his Final Resting Place.
It was a new idea and a sound one, for Driver Ed didn’t know how you could call it running when you were on a boat (though the priest he had visited said, No matter where you are child, it’s always running).
Their plan was to set off early in the morning, when the demon was fast asleep. Dave promised that Ed would never have to leave the ship again; he’d keep it docked far enough out of the demon’s reach, and he would provide Ed with a lifetime of rations: beer and whiskey, weed and speed, and food and water, so Ed could pretty much survive forever.
After all, Dave said, he’d been looking for a ship’s assistant his whole damn life–for his longest, most Melvilleian journey of all–and (though he didn’t say this to Ed) a spring cleaning of his boat was in high order.
Ed and Dave set on their course, having stayed up all night preparing for their trip. He assured Ed that there would be an entire ration of weapons handy if indeed the demon were to “cross the Rubicon,” one of Dave’s crazy-man lines that Ed had heard all week and would have to learn to get used to.
They were only a few knots from shore when a large wave rippled the surface. In the distance, Ed could hear the horses whinnying, the goats bleating and even the lone lion, roaring. Across the Main Event tent, a football slowly rolled down into a young man’s hands.
But the demon had arrived. Ed and Dave had lost their gamble: It was not just an earthbound demon, but also a demon of water and air, an “omni-elemental,” as Occula called them. If it was indeed a premonition demon, foretelling of the day his dad wanted to fly little Ed away, it also was a demon who had mastered the oceans and the rivers that the plane would have flown over…
It rose out of the water, its skin a tangle of matted wet hair that made Ed flinch.
But its eyes were what terrified Ed. It was as if the demon seeing him was enough, as Ed had never wanted to see the demon. Its eyes were bloodshot, red veins crackling in countless directions, as if the demon was a tired demon: a demon ready to feast ravenously, or be retired.
Ed took out the red-handled, fire-issue axe. On the bow of the ship, he wielded the axe as the monster lunged and grabbed at him. He looked like a Captain Ahab or Allen Quartermain, a modernized version from his childhood adventure books, slicing at the ducking beast.
A limb, Ed thought. If I can chop off a limb, the demon will surely run off…
Dave stood behind Ed–shouting “Swing, Ed!
Swing!”–holding court over the cache of weapons in the hull.
Swinging was not to be the answer. Ed threw the axe at the demon, but the red-bellied beast swerved out of the way, the axe glug-glug-glugging to the bottom of the ocean.
Dave gave a little head flick to Ed and started handing him more sharp weapons to hurl.
Ed flung them and they all impaled the creature–it looked like one of those racks with steak knives poking out at every orifice now–but the demon kept swatting at the boat, as if unfazed by the weapons, and only momentarily held back.
On land, the Carnies stepped out of their tents. All of them–even the perimeter security football boy and his manager, who were angered at their love-in being interrupted–watched in sad awe as Ed tossed the poles and knives into the ocean, piercing the placid water in feeble splashes.
It’s those eyes, Ed kept thinking, staring into the demon’s crimson-crackle orbs. Dave handed Ed a saw, but he needed something sharp, like a javelin, with a oison-pierced tip.
When Enabler Dave handed him the spear, Ed noticed the circus performers, all in half make-up and half-disrobed, watching at the wharf’s edge.
Ed looked into the demon’s red eyes and aimed. With one toss the spear lodged itself into its eye, a rain of blood showering onto Ed, cleansing him.
The demon’s tangled coat slipped and disappeared into the water, wavering like a child’s hair submerged in a bath, under a father’s watchful eye. The Carnies wheeled away as Driver Ed jumped in celebratory leaps and bounds.
They filed back into their trailers and got ready for the day’s show.