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The following is a page from a publication entitled To the Circus Born: Herman Fuller's Menagerie of Freaks. The identities of neither publisher nor author have been established, and scattered pages have been found inserted into Circus-themed books in libraries across the world. The person or persons behind this dissemination are unknown.

The Amazing Sluggo

Circus is my home. I do remember my parents though. My father was a worker in one of the cotton mills in town. I suppose he was a good man, but had he his vices, the drink being the worst of them. Can't fault him for that though, not with the way we were treated in our small Southern community. Well, the other black folks treated us well, but the white folks in town just didn't tolerate him, because he always spoke his mind. And his mind held a lot of things white folks didn't feel comfortable hearing. I was just a small boy of course, so I never really got what it was like for him to have to deal with that kind of prejudice.

I was born blind, but I was a happy child. Even though we were poor as piss, pardon my French, we ate well, living mostly off our small collection of livestock and the vegetables from our patch of land. I may not have had many toys, but I was always dancing, singing, performing for my parents and family. I had a talent, even back then. I entertained like others sneeze; it's just something you do.

When I was seven, I think, he came home from work one night and he was drunk and mad and cursing up a storm. I didn't understand why he was so mad, but I understood what it meant when my mother, God rest her soul, clapped her hands over my ears. She shoved me into my tiny bedroom and shut the door. I could hear them arguing and from what I could understand my father'd been fired from the mill for mouthing off to the foreman. My mother was so mad at him. She kept yelling at him that his big mouth had cost us his job, and now we wouldn't be able to get the groceries we needed, even if it wasn't much. There were sounds of a scuffle and then I heard the door slam. Last thing I heard before I fell asleep was my mother crying here eyes out. I remember never having been so sad before in my life.

A few days later, my father returned. I was on my way back from fishing in the creek and there he was. I heard him talking to a strange white man; I could tell from the way he talked. I don't know where my mother was at the time. My father called me over and introduced me to the stranger. Said his name was Mr. Fuller and he'd made my father an offer. If I was to go with him and perform for his circus, he'd pay my parents weekly until the day they died. Mr. Fuller told me he'd seen me perform and he'd be honored to have me in his circus. That made me feel real proud, but I asked him if I'd get to see my parents again if I went with him. Mr. Fuller told me that I could visit them any time we were in the neighborhood. Of course, we never performed in Escambia county again.

My father didn't want to sell me to Mr. Fuller, but I don't think he had a choice. Once you got fired for mouthing off in our neck of the woods, you had a reputation. You have to understand that for a small boy, the circus was an adventure. I didn't even realize what it all meant; I just saw the benefits for my parents, who I loved so much. I felt like I needed to be a man. And besides, I'd get to join the circus! My father patted me on the head and shook hands with Mr. Fuller and that was that. He later told me that my parents lacked for nothing in the years that followed. I can't say if they did or didn't; I never saw them again.

Mr. Fuller helped me pack some things and we left the house about a half an hour later. I wanted to wait for my mother, but my father and Mr. Fuller didn't seem to think that was a good idea. Said my parents would come to my first show. I waved to my father when we were walking away and he waved back. I felt real sad for not being able to say goodbye to my mother, but atrangely enough I started feeling real happy after a few minutes, like I didn't have care in the world. Mr. Fuller didn't seem to think that was odd, so I left it at that. I was glad the tears'd gone away. He took me to his wagon, put me in the back and off we went. Didn't take us long to reach the circus. It was as grand as grand could be. A big tent, all manner of trailers and wagons, some real fancy ones too. He took me aside and explained that in order to work in his circus, I needed something unique. Said he knew someone who could make me special. And he did, oh Lord, did he ever! Didn't hurt either, that's the funniest thing. Not even when the crosses were stitched on. And I could see! Let me tell you, when you can see for the first time after seven years, it's like you're born again. I found out nothing looked


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