By: Patricia K. McCarthy
* * *
In the summer of 1930, Arizona was hardest hit by the drought. Dust was everywhere, covering
buildings with a layer of fine powder, the tiny grains blinding the
inhabitants. Even machinery was clogged with topsoil, blown off by the
grueling North winds. Jacob secured the doors to the barn with a piece of
two by four. It happened the previous night. He was awoken to the sound of
the doors hitting against the barn wall. The noise startled him and he was
determined to avoid being woken up again. As he turned away from the barn,
he caught an image out of the corner of his eye. It looked like a caravan
of wagons making their way across the horizon. He yelled out, "Ma! I'm
going into town. Be back after nightfall." He revved up the pick-up truck
and drove toward the caravan. There were a total of sixteen wagons led by a
truck out front with two drivers. It took him no time at all to catch up.
He squinted to read some of the signs painted on the sides of each wagon - -
Delores the Bearded Lady; The Dog-Faced Boy; The Fire-eating Man; Mother and
Daughter Psychics, The Tiny Man and Magdalene the Masochist. Jacob dug into
his pocket and pulled out the last remaining money to his name - $5.
* * *
He continued to follow the caravan until it came to a full stop, just outside of town limits. The carnival workers immediately disembarked and began to re-assemble their tents. Like clockwork, the carnival was erected within hours before Jacob's curious eyes. He was entranced by their efficiency. A large canopy was hoisted above the area, protecting the wagons and individual tents from the blazing sun. Jacob lit his second-last cigarette, hiding the pack underneath his rolled up sleeve. The smoke filled his lungs as he leaned back against a tree. Young children were quick to flock to the carnival, filing into the tents, haggling over candy prices. The cost was five cents to enter. Jacob paid his fee and stuffed the change into his trousers. He didn't want to spend the last of his money until he scoped out the area. He walked past the signs now posted outside each tent. He glanced by the tent that read The Dog-Faced Boy, but decided to pass on entering. There were plenty of women in town who'd fit that description he thought to himself and chuckled. He slowly walked toward the Fire-Eating Man and stopped. The cost was $1. He hesitated. He looked directly to his right and read Magdalene the Masochist. The cost was steep at $3. Jacob wasn't certain what the word masochist meant. He imagined it must have been exotic. The man who stood outside the tent spoke to him in fast, clipped sentences. 'You've got to see her to believe her. She feeds off of pain. She loves to be hurt again and again. She craves the whip. Don't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. Your eyes will not be deceived'. He spoke rapidly, pulling at Jacob's will to resist. He wore a pink and white striped hat, and a white shirt with suspenders. Jacob was mystified how he remained clean while everyone else seemed to be covered in dust.
* * *
He pulled out three one-dollar coins and paid the man. 'You made a wise choice, young man'. His smile revealed stained teeth. Thank God, Jacob thought to himself. At least he's not perfect. Jacob walked into the tent, passing through another enclosure. Three other men were already waiting in front of the stage. He took position up front. He didn't want to miss any detail, especially after shelling out $3. He knew his mother would scold him if she knew how he'd spent his money. Slowly, the front curtain was raised. The lighting was dark but gradually his eyesight adjusted. Jacob didn't notice her at first until his eyes took in the entire setting. Magdalene was crouched in the corner, completely naked and kneeling with her back to the curtain wall. Her hands were raised above her head and bound by chains. Her long black hair fell loosely on her back. Jacob felt a stirring in his loins by the sight of her. His first instinct was to close his eyes and swallow. His second was to go to her, to untie her arms. A rope prevented anyone from walking into the area, attended by a large, burly man. Jacob turned to the man on his right and spoke. "Can this right? Should she be tied up and all?" 'Boy', said the man. 'You'd best change your underwear. I don't think your mama told you about this'. He cackled an obnoxious laugh, beset by years of heavy smoking. 'Course you'll think it the best $3 spent!' Jacob turned his glance away. A man came out from behind the cloth. He wore a vest with long sleeves. He had the look of determination on his face that Jacob had seen before on his father while working in the field. He walked to the front of the area, facing straight ahead. From behind his back, he pulled out a large bullwhip, holding it up to the light, for all to see. "Gentlemen, what you are about to see is the first of its kind in America. Your senses are going to be jacked up higher than a kite. I ask you to keep in mind you are not permitted to walk past the rope, regardless of what happens. If you do, my friend, Mr. Hyde will break your arm." He did not laugh as he said these words. His tone was serious. It made Jacob question what was about to happen. "Open your eyes, gentlemen. The Twentieth Century is about to blast off! I give you Magdalene the Masochist!" And with his introduction, he raised his arm and cracked the whip. The tip of the leather came down upon Magdalene's back with a sudden crack. Jacob jumped. Magdalene turned her head and smiled. 'Oh God yes. Please. More'. She whispered breathlessly to the torturer. He raised his arm quickly and whipped her with successive force, leaving lashes on her back. Jacob was horrified. The man to his right stared, his jaw agape. 'Boy, I think you're just about ready to pop'. He spoke to Jacob, gesturing with his eyes downward. Jacob didn't understand what the man meant until he looked down at his trousers and realized he was aroused. He turned his head away, embarrassed. He moved around the man and went to the left side. The torturer continued whipping Magdalene. She did not yell out in pain, or attempt to move out of the way from the whip. She only smiled wider.
* * *
It seemed like an eternity as Jacob watched this spectacle. He feared God would punish him for participating in such a ghastly event. Magdalene elevated herself up on her knees, pulling her buttocks off the floor. She protruded her hips outward, revealing the crack of her vagina in full view to the audience. Jacob began to mindlessly touch himself, pushing down his hard cock. He had never seen a naked woman before. The sight of Magdalene and her torn flesh captivated him. His heart raced. Magdalene looked out into the audience as the whip was snapped again. She noticed Jacob. She saw his taught body and ruffled hair. He barely had facial hair. She surmised he couldn't have been more than eighteen years old.
* * *
Magdalene raised her buttocks higher, pleading with the torturer to continue. "Inside my slit. Please. Please. Be my master and lick my slit with mighty force". He followed her command and pulled back his arm again. The ferocity of his whipping ricocheted in Jacob's ears. The man outside the tent was right. Jacob dared not believe what he saw. The whip lashed her buttocks with bright red gashes, the blood dripped in between her cheeks. Inside Magdalene's mind, pistons were firing. She stood up and spread her legs. Her hair had fallen to one side and she turned toward Jacob and winked. He was ashamed, his face ashen with color. The torturer gathered up the leather whip and wrapped it around his arm. He turned it around to its opposite end. The handle was shaped like a horse's phallus. He walked toward Magdalene and began to stroke her. The men in the audience hollered approval. 'More! More!' Jacob slipped his hand inside his trousers and felt again his rock hard manhood. He wanted to disappear, to run away and pretend he did not see what he saw. He couldn't. His eyes were transfixed on the image before him. He grabbed her hair and pulled back her head. She groaned with elation. Her body writhed, the sensations sending shivers through her legs and arms. The men in the audience now followed suit with Jake. He was unaware of their actions because his eyes were glued to Magdalene. They too had slipped their hands inside their trousers.
* * *
Magdalene ordered the torturer to bite the back of her neck as he pulled up her hair. He sunk his teeth into her flesh, her tiny neck bearing the scars of previous exhibitions. To the untrained eye, the performance looked unrehearsed. Her wrists were bleeding from the friction against the chains. As Jacob watched, his brain exploded. He ran past the rope and the attendant, punching the man in the throat. He then crashed into the torturer and pulled him off Magdalene, throwing him to the ground. He began kicking him in the head like a crazed man. The torturer was blind-sighted. Jacob's movements were quick. He untied Magdalene and gathered her up in his arms, running to the opposite side of the tent. He laid her down on the carpet floor, tore off his shirt and covered her body. "You shouldn't have done that, sweetie. Al is my master. I can't reach nirvana without him". Magdalene spoke to him softly as a mother would talk to her son. "You need to leave immediately before Al comes after you". Jacob looked into her wise eyes. Her face up close was slathered with make-up yet he saw underneath she had milky-white skin. 'I could never do that to you as he did'. Jacob wanted only to love her. "I know, sweetie. You shouldn't be shocked by what you saw. Pain feels right for me. And Al knows how to please me. Run now. Leave while you are able'. Magdalene kissed Jacob on the cheek. Her hand moved down to his crotch and she patted him. "I just might come see you some day to show you what that's really for." Jacob stood up. He was taller than Magdalene by one foot. His shirt was still wrapped around her body. The blood had soaked through from her back. She took off the shirt, handing it back to Jacob. He looked again at her naked body. 'You're so beautiful. How could you let him do that to you?' Jacob tried to comprehend. "Pain is pleasure for me, sweetie. Go now! Al is a man to reckon with. Go!" And with her words, Jacob ran out of the tent.
* * *
He was out of breath. He ran to the back of the carnival grounds. He wanted to put as much distance between himself and Al as humanly possible. It was already dark. Jacob looked around and saw the last remaining tent: Mother and Daughter Psychics, $1 for a reading. He ducked into the tent to hide. He was terrified that Al would come after him. He hid behind the flap opening, until the young woman spoke to him. 'Put your $1 on the table and please sit down. Mama is ready to read your fortune.' Jacob was startled by her speech. Her voice was raspy and low, like a man's. He didn't want any trouble, so he sat down obligingly. He pulled out the last remnants of his money and paid the lady. She shuffled the cards, laying out a ten-card spread. She turned over the first card, Death. 'I see a new beginning for you. A woman with light hair will change your life. The Death card is about transformation, the death of one side of your personality. The woman looked up from the cards and into Jacob's eyes. She touched his hand resting on the table and spoke to him. 'She knows you have the makings of a master. And that's what you shall become, her master'. Jacob reeled back, pulling away his hand. He stumbled out of the chair and ran toward the tent opening. "You're crazy!" He blindly ran toward his truck.
* * *
He jumped into the vehicle and searched for his keys. In the back seat sat Magdalene. When she spoke Jacob nearly jumped out of his skin. She was fully dressed. Her hair was ash-blonde. The wig was tossed to the side. "How can you be here?" Jacob tried to collect his thoughts. Magdalene touched his shoulder. 'I think you killed Al, sweetie. He's not breathing. When I saw you stomp on his head, admittedly I was excited by the display of your force of will. You have unwittingly seduced me. I've always believed that still waters run kinky, after all'. Magdalene gave Jacob a warm smile. He said nothing. She unzipped his trousers and slid her hand inside. His breathing quickened. His eyes locked with hers. 'I'll teach you everything you need to now to satisfy me'. Magdalene raised her head and kissed him on the lips. 'Start the truck, sweetie. We need to leave right away. If Al is truly dead, the others will exact their justice and hang you'. "But I wasn't trying to hurt him. I wanted to protect you." Jacob wanted to re-assure her his intentions were honorable. He started the engine and pulled away from the tents. 'Don't turn on your head-lights because we best not draw attention to ourselves'. Magdalene looked at Jacob. He stared straight ahead. She brushed away from his forehead his hair and touched his cheek. 'Life is best lived as an adventure, my darling. I see great potential in you. I know it'. Magdalene rested her hand on Jacob's lap. Both looked straight ahead into the black night as the truck lumbered over the dirt road. "Ma will know just how to heal those wounds. She's a healer, you know.”
THE END an