Category Archives: Carnival Farm

Viva Las Vegas

Seagn found herself knocking on the back of a truck that Moose was staying in. The Sidewinders had not stopped, and were in the process of singing “Viva Las Vegas” for the seventh time.

Moose opened the door. “They’re your friends.”

“They’re not my friends.”

“You brought them here.”

“They came here on their own! Stop blaming me!”

“Webby’s going to blame you if they break out and cause any shit to the rides.”

“What do I do? Call the police?”

Moose sighed.  “Tell them, nicely, that you want them gone.”

“But they’re all drunk. They’re in no condition to drive!”

“Then tell them, nicely, to keep it down. Some people are trying to sleep.”

“Viva! Viva! Las Vegas!”

“You’re no help.”

“I’m not going to put my head in the lion’s den of a bunch of drunken bikers. They may be women, but you don’t fuck with drunken bikers.” Moose looked around. “Come inside here. You can stay with me.”

“No han—“

He kissed her. She was surprised, but not angry. He deepened the kiss slowly, gently like he did beside the water.

Seagn blushed. “Maybe a little.”

The Sidewinders Visit

Someone banging on the truck woke Seagn up. “What?” she yelled, pulling the sheet over her head.

“Someone out here to see you,” called Moose.

She checked her phone. Six thirty, for God’s sake. “It better not be Webby,” she muttered. “Or I’ll be very disappointed.”

She pulled on clothes and opened the door. Moose stood at the base of the truck, and beyond him…

“Gray!” She jumped down and the older woman hugged Seagn, giving her a kiss on the cheek. Most of the group waved with a smile at her. Others looked like they needed a cup of coffee before becoming human.

“Morning, sweetheart.” She thumbed at Moose. “Nice fella you got here. Appreciates good bikes.”

“I have a Fat Boy back at the Ranch,” he said. “2021.”

“Black or green?”

“Black. Couldn’t find the green.”

“They didn’t make enough of them. Anyway!” Gray turned to Seagn. “We’re here to take you for breakfast.”

“Sounds like a great idea. We don’t open until ten.”

Sheila came forward. “Where’s the animals?”

“In the trailer. I have to feed them first.”

“We can help!”

Some of the women groaned. Gray waved a hand. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to. Why don’t you scope out a place that can take us all.”

“Mind if Moose comes?” Seagn asked.

“If he doesn’t mind being the girl.”

Moose shook his head. “I’m all right. There’s a Denny’s twenty minutes down Route 6 heading east.”

“Denny’s it is. The mom and pops won’t be able to take us all at once. Shaun, you can ride with me.”

Seagn stared at the bike. She gulped. “Do I have to?”

“Don’t tell me you’re scared.”

Moose said, “Then I’ll tell you. I’ve been trying to get her on the back of my bike for months.”

Gray laughed. “I’ll put a sissy bar on it. Katie? Can I borrow yours?”

“Sure, boss,” said a young woman with long blond hair and a squat body. She took out an electric screwdriver she had in her saddle bags and unscrewed the metal bar at the rear of her bike.

“So you mean to tell me that the only thing that’s going to be holding me on is a pair of screws?”

“And someone who’s been riding Softails longer than you’ve been alive.”

“What about the animals?”

“I’ll feed them,” Moose said. “We can all talk shop when you get back.”

“Don’t feed them too much. I don’t have a lot left and we’re going to be selling bags of feed. Check the water and bring out the troughs, and—”

Moose gave her a look. She felt that aura come up again.

“Yeah, just feed them.”

“Okay,” he said, and headed to the trailer doors. The animals, hearing the commotion outside, were now awake and demanding. 

“A cow!” cried Sheila, after hearing Bella moo. “You have a cow!”

“Later, girls, later,” said Gray. “Taurus is ready to tear off heads because we left without her coffee.”

Someone provided Seagn with a helmet. She looked confused until someone showed her how to put it on and switched on the microphone for her. They were on CB channel 22. Nobody used CB radio except truckers and enthusiasts, so the channel was clear. Seagn got a jacket and then climbed on the back of Gray’s bike, glad that it had a bar in the back she could lean against. 

The gang of bikers all started up at roughly the same time, creating a roar that would have woken up anyone else in the area. They pulled out onto Route 6, heading east.

“So what’s this festival for?” asked Gray.

Seagn replied, “Different restaurants showcasing their famous scallop dishes.”

“Scallop au gratin,” said someone into her speaker.

“Scallop marinara.”


“It’s just scallops in a red sauce over linguine.”

“Sounds too gross to me.”

“We’re going to stick around,” said Gray. “I love scallops.”

The group started talking scallops, then seafood, then fish. None of it was of any interest to Seagn as holding on for dear life was her only interest for the moment.

They pulled into the Denny’s parking lot, engines roaring, making people look in their direction. Seagn wasn’t sure if she was happy or concerned that she was being stared at. Gray had ridden at the speed limit, but that didn’t make her feel any better.

She got off the bike, shaking, struggling with the helmet, feeling claustrophobic and sealed in tight in the helmet. A woman undid it and she gasped. 

“Takes some getting used to,” said Gray. “Helmets give us blind spots, but there laws in a lot of states, so we wear them by default. Plus you can’t hear anything once these monsters are let loose.”

Seagn nodded after getting her footing and her courage back. She was thinking about the ride back. There would be more traffic. It would be a lot busier. 

Gray put her arm around her shoulder. “It’s not that bad.”

“I’ve been brought up that these are death machines.”

“Not if you know what you’re doing and aren’t cocky. You have to have respect for them. Those rice-burners, I have no respect for people who ride those speed bikes. Your friend, there, I have a lot of respect for him.”

“He’d be happy to hear you say that,” said Seagn, as they walked up to the front doors.

Twenty-two women in leathers, tanks, jeans, and jackboots all stepped into the empty Denny’s restaurant. Seagn was underdressed in a windbreaker and a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Gray stopped at the podium and waited.

“Don’t be giving us a hard time,” she said loud enough for people in the back to hear. “Or you’ll be losing some good tips.”

A brown-colored waitress came out. “How many?”


She looked around the corner in the empty section of the restaurant. “Give me a sec.” She went there, rearranged a couple of tables of eight, and one for seven.

Gray smiled at her as she guided the women to their seats. “Your name, sweetheart?”

“Joy,” the woman responded. 

“A very pretty name.”

Joy smiled. “Thanks. I’ll give you a few minutes.”

Gray took a seat that oversaw all the other women. Seagn sat to her left and another woman sat to her right. “Anything on the menu,” Gray said.

“Coffee,” muttered Taurus.

“Of course, coffee. Carafes even.” Gray turned to Seagn.

“I drink tea,” Seagn said.

“Yo!” A woman held up her hand in a virtual high-five. “Me too!”

Seagn laughed and held up her hand, too. 

Sheila said, “You both like getting the little teapots. Makes y’all feel special.” 

Seagn placed her order and the women chattered about the weather, the ride from P-Town (Seagn wasn’t sure what that was), and eventually assholes of the road. Seagn kept quiet throughout, thinking about getting back on that machine. Would she throw up after getting off the bike?

“Penny for your thoughts, sweetheart?” Gray put her fork down.

“The bike. I’m afraid of the bike.”

“I’ll take it even slower.”

“I want to get back as soon as I can.”

Gray patted her hand. “You need to get over your fear, or it’ll get the best of you. Sheila here, she was worried about getting her own bike, but now that she rides on her own, she’d never go back. Right?”

Sheila looked up from her food. She was called, but she didn’t know the question, Seagn could tell. Sheila smiled and gave them a thumbs-up. 

A dictator does that, Seagn thought. Gray had these women wrapped around her gloved hand. That scared her more than the ride back.

What did I get myself involved with?

Seagn did not close her eyes on the way back, but held onto Gray’s waist with a death grip.  Her stomach settled when she got within sight of the carnival.

Moose had done more than just feed the animals. He groomed them as well. “I would have put them out but I don’t know how you have this set up,” he said when Seagn dismounted. Seagn’s heart swelled suddenly. She blinked at the feeling.

“Mind if we park behind your trailer?” Gray asked.

“Don’t see why not.”

“Parking’s a premium at these things.” Gray motioned everyone to the area behind the trailer. All twenty of them fit there, parked like dominos, so close they looked like a stiff wind would topple them all over. 

Seagn led out the animals, and some of the Sidewinders guided them to their pens. They loved the goats, just like everyone did, and hand-fed some of them while Seagn made up the feed bags for the kids. Some of the other women looked bored while the younger ones played with the animals before the opening.

As soon as the music started for the carousel, it meant the carnival was open. A few minutes after ten, people started streaming in. The Sidewinders headed out into the carnival to check out the rides and wares. 

Seagn watched as men of all types gathered near the bikes to look them over. “Harleys do that,” said Taurus to Seagn.

“You’re not with everyone else?”

“Seen one carnival, seen ‘em all. I don’t like to leave the bikes alone.” She yelled at someone, “Hey, don’t touch.”

The three men gathered around jumped back as if whipped. Taurus only chuckled as the men walked away. “See how easy it is?”

“Easy what is?”

“Train men. All you need is a loud commanding voice and they fall right into line.”

Seagn didn’t think Moose would obey that easily.  Maybe after some time had gone by, she wouldn’t necessarily “train” him, but they would respect each other. In her opinion, that’s what it came down to: respect.

She realized what she was thinking. About Moose. About staying with him.

But what about the animals? And Moose’s attitude when Beau left the company—she knew she wouldn’t be able to get him to leave now. Maybe when the season was done. She’d approach him. Later. Sometime…

“Hey, lady,” a man in an apron called to her. “You own these things?”

“These ‘things’ are farm animals.”

“How much for the goat there?” He pointed at Bob.

“It’s a ram, and he’s not for sale. None of them are.”

“You sure?”

She looked him up and down, assessing that he was a cook from one of the restaurants who had entered the competition. Maybe he was planning on adding Bob to his scallop dish. 

“Definitely sure.” She’d have to lock the animals in the trailer at night. She didn’t trust the guy as he walked away. 

She talked to Taurus during the day. In the conversation, she found out Taurus was called that instead of “Bull” which was too male for her. She didn’t hate men, she just didn’t find a need for them, even as sexual partners. That was all that Taurus would disclose about herself—not where she was from, who she was with, or why she joined the Sidewinders in the first place. She wouldn’t espouse about Gray and her iron control over the group; she said nothing bad about the gang.

It bothered Seagn, that nothing bad was with the gang. She had already made her decision not to join them, to be nomadic all the time. Where did they get the money to drive around? Did they have real jobs during the winter and just did this during the summer?


An hour later, everything closed down except the bars along the the beach. Moose and Joe came over. Maggie was no where to be seen. “Where’s Maggie?”
“She got her period,” said Joe. “She’s back at the Ranch.”
Seagn rolled her eyes. “It’s not like having your period is a sickness.”
“With her it is.” Joe bristled.
Moose said, “I told you she just uses it as an excuse.”
Seagn nodded. “She is.”
“You don’t live with her. Anyway, we’re not talking about Maggie. I got a draw so we can go to the bar.”
Seagn knew that a “draw” meant an advance from his paycheck. “You paying?”
“One round.”
“Okay. I’ll have a Guinness on you.”
Joe slapped her on the back. “On me.”
They walked to the nearest bar, which was two blocks away. The parking lot was full and the place was crowded. They found their way to the bar. Seagn ordered a Guinness on tap, Moose and Joe both ordered Corona without limes. They ambled to an empty table with no chairs.
“What’s this about the SPCA?” asked Joe over the ambient noise.
“Did you tell everyone?” Seagn glared at Moose.
“Only the ones who cared.”
“Does Fatsy know?”
“Probably now, yeah.”
“Great. Like I need him to stick his nose into my business.”
Moose drank half the bottle at once. “He won’t say nothing to you.” Seagn frowned. “I’ll believe it when I see it.” She sipped her beer, enjoying the deep taste of it.
They stayed at the bar until last call. Seagn had nursed that one beer for the three hours they stayed. Moose and Joe drank a few, so were feeling no pain.
“We’re gonna go to the trailers,” said Moose.
“I have to go back to the animals.”
“C’mon,” said Joe, with a wide grin. “Sleep with him.”
Moose punched Joe in the upper arm. “Ow, man.” Joe rubbed the area. “That’s gonna leave a bruise.”
Moose said nothing as he walked up the hill to the parking area where the trailers were set up. Seagn split up from them, heading to the animals.
That’s when she saw Shet standing under a lamp post.
The small pony didn’t move from the area as she approached slowly. She took him by the bridle and stared into his deep brown eyes. “What are you doing out here?”
She turned to the area where the animals were. All the gates were wide open.
“Oh, shit!” She pulled Shet back to his pen. Bella was safely in her pen, asleep. The goats, sheep, and ram were gone. The pigs were found in the pen next to Bella. The feed bags and water jugs had been slit open by a knife, food and water mixing together onto the ground.
She walked around the Midway, finding Bob the ram, Mohauk and Beau the goats. No sign of the sheep or the other three goats.
Seagn stood in the middle of her area, turning around in a panic. Who did this? Where were the animals? Were they stolen? It was after two in the morning. Who could she call for help?
She saw a patrol car drive slowly by the carnival. An idea sparked.
She called 911.


It was dark when Seagn finally got to Maine, so she had to pick her way to the road leading to the Ranch. Landmarks weren’t clear in the headlights of the truck, and she found herself going down a couple of dirt tracks that ended in a house or a decrepit barn.
She went down one of the dirt roads and finally came upon the canopy of forest that preceded the Ranch. She saw the cooking fire in the distance and let out a sigh of relief. The truck bounced its way out of the forest and turned left to park at the trailer.
The goats were beside themselves, running over to the fence and bleating at her to feed them.
They weren’t the only ones. Moose showed up with a flashlight just as she parked the truck. “Where have you been?”
“Salem. With a side stop at Laconia.”
“How’d that happen?”
She smiled. “I’ll tell you later.”
“Need help feeding them?”
“Could you hold the flashlight?” She didn’t want to waste fuel on the generator and string up lights.
After feeding the animals Seagn told Moose what had happened. Moose smoked another cigarette and pondered the adventure. “Lesbian biker gang, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess you could call them that.”
“Sounds like a porno flick in the making.”
Seagn hit him playfully. “They were very respectful. Not what you think.”
Moose rubbed his arm. “I’m just kidding. Though if it were me, I would have stayed.”
“I have responsibilities. Tomorrow they’re all getting their shots.”
“And distemper. And a few others. Shet is the most expensive.” She looked around the trailer. “Have you seen Maisey?”
“Which one’s that?”
“The cat.”
“I haven’t seen it around here.”
“I haven’t seen her since Warwick.”
“Think she ran off?”
“God, I hope not. She’s chipped, though, so whoever brings her to the vet will find out she’s mine.”
“That is, if someone brings her to the vet.”
Seagn frowned deeply. “Yeah. There is that. I’ll look for her tomorrow morning.”
“After shooting up the goats?”
She chuckled. “After that.”
The next morning, she lined up the vials on the trailer’s edge and filled syringes with the required amount as shown on a special veterinarian’s Internet page she had access to. She went down the line, giving each animal a shot behind its neck. No one complained.
It took her about an hour, and then she had breakfast: Pop Tarts and Sunny D. In the back of her mind was Maisey. What if she did run off in Warwick? How was she going to find her?
She started making calls, to the Rhode Island SPCA, to the Warwick animal shelter. Maybe someone would show up with her and give her up to the shelter. Or, God forbid, she went feral and joined a colony.
For funsies, she looked through the trailer. With the exception of animal crap, no Maisey. No traces of mice, either. She’d done her job and moved on, Seagn thought, though that didn’t make her feel any better.


Although it was a highway, it was strange to see old historic farms along the side of the roads on the way to Narragansett. According to Seagn’s GPS, Narragansett was on the water. When they pulled into the spot, which was a field, it was just across the street from a beach. A pair of stone towers that seemed to have no meaning bridged the main road.
Webby pulled out all the stops here, bringing every single ride and all the members of the crew. Everything from the carousel to the ferris wheel was brought in. The trucks had to park down the road, so Seagn found herself loading feed for the weekend into a small section of the tent. She was also far away from the beach and the Midway, the section where the rides were showcased. She’d learned the term from Moose on the way in.
They were packed in tight, with barely enough room to move around. If the SPCA was going to inspect her this weekend, she was going to be in big trouble.
She set up the animals with the maximum space she could fit. She got dirty looks from the guys setting up the Swinger, because her tent barely cleared the arc of the swing. Webby let it stand because it was more unnerving to the people on the swings.
After setting up, Seagn made the decision to go sleep in the trailer. Although the trailers were at least a good long walk away, they weren’t as far as they had been in Warwick. She called the shelters again. No tuxedo cat had been recently found.



Like Salem was a mecca for witches of all sorts, Laconia was the same for bikers. Seagn could tell as they pulled into the city limits. Motorcycle shops, repair shops, gift stores were everywhere.
“A themed tourist trap, like Salem,” said Seagn, as she followed the line of bikers slowly down the street. Gray broke from the pack and waited for Seagn to catch up.
In the middle of the street, she called to her, “Follow me!”
Seagn followed Gray down the street a couple of blocks down from where the women had stopped their bikes. She found herself pulling up in front of a garage door.
Gray parked her bike just outside the main door. She went inside.
“We always come here,” said Sheila. “The only woman-owned repair shop in town.” She bopped her head to “My Sharona” playing in the truck.
The garage door in front of here opened, and a man came out carrying a ramp. Seagn shut off the truck and got out.
“Afternoon,” said the man with a nod. Seagn took down the tailgate and the man set up the ramp. He undid the knots on the ropes, then guided the bike down the ramp.
Gray stepped out with a woman wearing a bike week t-shirt from 2022. “I’ll get working on her right away,” she said. “Put it on your tab?”
“If you could,” said Gray, watching the man roll the bike into the shop. “Thanks a lot.”
“Anytime Gray. Staying for the weekend?”
“Yeah.” Gray turned to Seagn. “Want to give Sheila a ride back to the hotel?”
“Sure thing.”
The few blocks didn’t last long, and as soon as she turned the truck off, Sheila was out of the cab. “Thanks for the ride!”
“Yep!” Seagn waved her away.
Gray came up to Seagn’s driver’s side. “Is there anything I can do to repay you?”
“This might sound crazy, but can I take a shower?”
Gray smirked. “Alone, or with someone?”
“Alone, please.”
“I don’t see why not. I’ll let you use mine.”
The bed and breakfast was taken up by everyone in the group. Gray had the entire top floor, with slanted ceilings and her own bathroom.
“This is the Mistress Suite. Or Master Suite during bike week.”
The decorations were Victorian, daguerreotypes of mysterious men and women in fancy gilded frames. An ancient wardrobe stood in the only section where the ceiling was high enough to fit it. The bed was at the end of the room, set off with Chinese room dividers. The bathroom looked out at the back of the house, with a full-sized frosted window in the shower.
“Take your time. I’ll be downstairs.”
Seagn did take her time. She was happy that these clothes were clean from this morning. She could wear them for a couple of days before she felt uncomfortable. Some of the carnies wore their clothes for an entire week, sleeping in them as well. She tried not to go that far.
She walked downstairs, her hair wet and she felt refreshed and clean. The group of women were smoking or just sitting around the lobby. The TV was on, but too low for her to hear. When she came downstairs, Sheila got up and started to applaud.
The rest of the group applauded, and Seagn felt her face get hot. She bowed her head and smiled. “Thank you.”
“Want to stick around?” asked Gray. “We’re going to have dinner.”
“I’d love to but I have to get back to my animals.”
“Yeah, Sheila said something about a carnival. Where are you going to be this weekend?”
“Narragansett. It’s in Rhode Island.”
“That’s a long ways away. Maybe we’ll catch up with you sometime.”
“I don’t have the schedule with me—”
“Want to exchange digits?” Gray pulled out her phone.
Seagn pulled out hers, and tapped the two together, like toasting someone. A pleasant little “beep” notified them that they had transferred their phone numbers to each other.
Gray looked at her phone. “That’s a weird spelling of your name.”
“It’s Gaelic.” Seagn looked at hers. Gray Miller, Company: Sidewinders, AZ.
“Call and let us know where you’ll be. We’ll be in the area for a couple of months.”
She laughed. “New England. Compared to Arizona, it’s an area.”
“My schedule is ever-changing. I usually don’t know where I’ll be until a couple of days before.”
“That’s okay. This is New England. Anything is an hour away.”
“Heh, true. Well, thanks for the shower. I hope to see you again.”
Gray kissed Seagn on the cheek. “Be careful, huh?”
“I will. Thanks.”

Motel 6 logo

Carnival Farm Chapter 10

The Motel 6 was a testament to its brand. Just a step above flea-bitten, but way below the Hiltons of the world. Located near the Outlets in Kittery, it catered to the touristy crowd or people who were to inebriated to get out of the Outlet restaurant territory and go home.
They played Rock-paper-scissors to find out who was going to get the shower first. Maggie won, so she went into the bathroom and stayed there for a good long time. Seagn watched a baseball game with the guys, mostly looking at her phone and the Internet, avoiding the hotel’s free wi-fi while she looked up her banking information.
Moose was next, and came out after a much shorter time.
“You used all the hot water,” he complained. He didn’t have a shirt, and Seagn tried not to stare at his chest. Not quite six-pack abs, but he did have broad pectorals and strong arms. With his hair wet and no longer greasy, he looked less like a hippie and more like a human.
Seagn and Joe waited a few hours before taking their own showers. In the meantime, they ordered pizza and watched TV. Seagn played Solitaire on the phone.
Seagn went in the shower and luxuriated in the hot water and steamy soak. She washed her hair with the soap as there was no more shampoo left. The towels were still damp, but she dried off the best she could before changing into new clothes.
She came out saying, “We need new towels.”
“I’ll go get them,” said Moose and left the room.
“Did you leave me hot water?” asked Joe.
“I tried.”
It was late before they finally settled down for bed. “I’ll sleep on the chair,” said Moose.
“No, I meant what I said,” Seagn protested, even while she felt her face burn hot.
Moose smiled. “Really. I insist.”
Joe butted in, “He doesn’t want his woody waking you up.”
Now it was Moose’s turn to blush while laughing. “Just give me a blanket.”
Seagn gave him the blanket, while she kept the sheet and coverlet. Joe shut the light off and Seagn settled in. She didn’t fall asleep right away. She heard the sleeping sounds of the other three, and turned to stare at the ceiling.
What the hell was she doing? The bed was too big, and to have Moose next to her would be a comforting thing. She sat up and looked over in the dim light to see Moose, sleeping soundly.
She lay back down, turned over, and closed her eyes.

Shetland Pony

Carnival Farm Excerpt

Seagn pulled into the farm and got out of the truck. Tilly greeted her again. “Hey, puppy, where’s your pa?”
Tilly didn’t seem to care where his owner was, as he was happy enough to roll on the ground in front of Seagn, exposing his belly for her to scratch. Seagn finally stopped, and the dog got up, butting her hand with his head.
Seagn walked around the barn, calling, “Carl? Hey? Anyone?”
“Yeah!” a man yelled back, deep within the barn. “Yeah, who’s there?”
She walked into the barn and looked up toward where the voice was coming from. “Shaun. Is that you, Carl?”
“No.” She looked up again into the loft to see a man standing at the edge of it, as if he was going to leap down the hundred or so feet to land on the ground. He had blond hair and was built solidly, a bull on legs.
“I’m Mack. I work with Carl. What can I do for you?”
“Do you have any animals for sale?”
“Horses. Nothing else much, why?” He approached the ladder and swung around it, climbing down from the loft.
“Geese? Ducks?”
“No, no birds.”
Seagn frowned. “Okay, next question. Where is your blacksmith?”
“You mean for horse shoes?”
“What kind of horse?”
“Shetland pony.”
He jumped the short distance down from the ladder to the ground. “Is he broken in?”
“What kind of work does he do?”
“He stands around in a petting zoo.”
Mack waved a hand. “He don’t need shoes. Just trimming, that’s all.”
“He’s got shoes on him. They’re broken.”
“We can take the shoes off him. You just need to trim him every eight to ten weeks or so.”
“I need to get him trimmed and the shoes off. Do you know where I can go?”
“Bring him here?”
“Thought you’d say that. I need a trailer.” She pointed out of the barn. “All I have is a truck.”
Mack frowned with one side of his mouth. “I’ll meet you at your truck. Give me a few minutes.”
She walked one way, he went the other. After ten minutes or so, she wasn’t surprised to see him come back to the truck, a knapsack over his shoulder.
“If the horse can’t come to me, I’ll go to the horse.”
“How much?”
“A hundred.”
She stuck a hand in her pocket and pulled out five crumpled twenties.
“Much obliged. What did you say your name was?”
Mack nodded. “Right. Well, drive me there?”
They got into the truck. “It’s a Shetland pony?”
“You plan on using it for rides?”
“You have to make sure it’s broken or some toddler will get bucked right off. Boy or a girl?”
“Boy, but he looks neutered.”
Mack laughed. “He does, does he?”
Seagn bristled. “I’m a veterinarian. I know what it looks like.”
“Sorry, I’m sorry.” He turned to her. “What’s a vet doing with a petting zoo? I thought you’d be with the SPCA.”
“I’m trying to make them healthy and to display these animals to people who never saw them.”
“For free?”
“It’s a dollar if they want to feed them. But, yeah, nothing to pet them.”
“That’s a good deal.”
“I hope so. But people, you know, they always want something more.”
“Heh. I know how that goes.”
They pulled off Route 1 and onto the road for the Ranch. “You’re out in the sticks here.”
“Don’t blame me, blame the carnival owner.”
“You’re a petting zoo for a carnival?”
“That’s right. A traveling petting zoo.”
“What kind of animals you got?”
“One horse—” As she spoke, she turned into the meadow. The carnival rides were all set up, and a black Escalade was parked among the rides. “I wonder who that is.”
“Looks like the government.” He pointed at the vehicle. Seagn saw US Government plates on it.
“Uh oh. Taxes.”
“You think?”
“Who else?”
Mack shrugged. “They here for you?”
“I hope not.”
She took the left and pointed the truck away from the rides to her petting zoo. She parked the truck in front of the pen where the animals gathered.
Seagn got out of the truck. “Shet! C’mere Shet!”
The animal didn’t know its name, so she had to go and fetch him from the field. Mack was playing with the goats by the time she came back.
“You have some active goats,” he said. “Mind if we do it in your trailer? I need a clean surface for him to stand on.”
“Sure.” She set up the ramp and led him up it. Immediately, he went to his alloted pen.
“Well trained, too,” Mack said. “Tie him up there.”
“Does shoeing hurt?”
“It’s like putting a pin through the tip of your fingernail. Doesn’t hurt at all.”

Carnival Farm (Excerpt from today’s writing)

Moose seemed to like classic rock, so switched the stations, gaining and losing them as they moved through zones. Seagn missed satellite radio, where she could listen to No Shoes Radio, modern and some classic country.
“Where are you from, anyway?” asked Seagn about ten miles out.
“Manville,” he said. “Rhode Island.”
“Is that where you went to school?”
“Went to school in Lincoln. Special classes.”
“Vocational training. I learned how to fix engines.” He glanced at her. “What about you? Lived in Salem all your life?”
“My parents were from upstate New York. I moved to Salem after getting a job at the clinic.”
“They didn’t need vets in upstate New York?”
“No, not that. I went to school in Boston and they were advertising.”
“Your parents died?”
“Yeah. During the Pandemic.”
“Oh, sorry.”
“It’s okay. Thank you.”
He nodded. “Nasty bug, that. Put us out of business for a year.”
She never had it, and got the vaccine every year to make sure she didn’t. She remembered her mother’s face when they Facetimed goodbye, and she resolved to never put her brother through that situation again.
“Did you get it?”
“Nope. Couldn’t work that year so I was living with my step-sister. Had to do shit around the house. My nieces got it though. They’re okay.”
“That’s good.”
“What’s veterinary school like?”
“You’re very busy. You have to examine and memorize all kinds of animals’ physiology. But they never taught us to deal with pet parents.”
“You mean the owners?”
Seagn chuckled. “Yeah. They should have a class on human psychology and dealing with people.”
“It’s on the job training. Like here. You gotta deal with some crazy people. I was running the motorcycle ride and some father wanted to put their six month old on the bike. They can’t even sit up straight, nevermind hold the handlebars. I had to tell him no, and he got Webby, who told him he had to sign a waiver in case his kid fell off.” Moose shook his head. “Webby never says no. Customer is always right.”
“Did he put the kid on it?”
“Yeah, with the father on the bike, too. Looked fucking stupid. I cut it short. You seen the bike ride? They’re little bikes, for kids. When you hit 16 you shouldn’t ride it. You’re too big. But we get some people who are just fucking stupid.”
“Maybe they never rode a motorcycle.”
“Or they’re too scared. Hey, if I’m on the ride, I’d let you go on it.”
Seagn laughed. “Gee, thanks.”