Herman Fuller Presents: The Penitent Man

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The Penitent Man

Is it


or is it


that gifted

the stigmata?

Does he

seek penance

or does he

seek solace?


7 PM this Sunday at the Oak Park Mall.
One show, One chance! Come one, come all!

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 Penitent Man

As far as freaks go, I’m really quite no’mal. I bleed a lot, and my blood don't coagulate. Simple nuff, right? I'm just a ‘emo-phil-iac. An’ I an’t never run outta blood. I’m guessin’ that's kinda weird too. I'm also not really certain if I age now. So yeah, I guess I'm a freak.

When I was a kid, my ma would always be so protective of me. She'd hide me in the broom closet when pa would come home from ‘is binges. She'd hear the car come a-rollin’ up the gravel, and she just know. My sister and I would get pushed into the closet, and she'd shush us.

Abby cried once. She was upset ‘cause ma fergot her doll or somethin’. Pa found us that night, and Abby din’t cry no more affer that.

I mean, we didn’t have it all that bad. Lots of other Cajun folk had it much worse. We din’t live all that deep in the swamp, jus’ a few miles west of N’ O’leans, as the crow flies. Little place called Des Allemands, in Lafourche Parish. Like most folks in Des Allemands, we was prolly German somewha’, but that was a while back, and ain’t none of us spoke us any German no more. We caught catfish, ate catfish, sold catfish, bred catfish. We was the "Catfish Capital of the Universe", as ol’ man Begue used ta say.

Nah, ‘twernt all that bad, really. We was happy-ish, an’ that’s a damn sight better’n a lot of the other folks. ‘cept when pa got ta drinkin’. Then we wasn’t even happy-ish no more. I’m guessin’ that pa was still kinda happy-ish, but I ain’t thinkin’ I will be talkin’ ‘bout that none.

Anyways, things got bad after the War. I didn’t go on that one, on account of me bein’ so young ‘n all. But pa, ‘e went, though ‘twernt him that came on back after. ‘e was always in the drink after that, an ma, she couldn’t do nothin’ ‘bout that.

Things weren’t even happy-ish after that. Pa couldn’t find no work, so we was livin’ off wha’ ever the feds sent us each month. But that never went far with pa always bein’ in the drink. Ma’d yell ‘bout feedin’ us young’uns, and pa’d yell ‘bout how ‘twas ‘is money fer goin’ out ‘n gettin’ shot at ‘n whatnot. ‘e’d take tha check ‘n go get nackered ‘n sometimes e’d be bringin’ home a bit. Never ‘nuf tho.

Sos Abby’n I, we’d go catch us some catfish ‘n ma’d cook ‘em up ‘n we’d eat that. But that was afore ma realized somethin’ was wrong with me. I’d bleed n’ bleed n’ bleed. She’d be getting’ right afeared fore me, an’ pa’d get ta yellin’ ‘bout how we din’t got no moneys fer med’cation ‘n whatnot. I dunno wha’ woulda happened if’n Abby hadn’t tried ta get atween them when they was fightin’. Wha’ I know is that pa threw a punch as ‘e’d done afore, ‘n Abby took it ‘n the head.

She weren’t right after that.

Pa took me fer a ride in ‘is Studebaker, ‘n I’m guessin’ ‘e fergot me when we were in N’ O’leans. Though, that prolly ain’t how it went. Don’t matter none, ‘cause goin’ back was prolly good fer ma. It’d be nice ta know she was ok, but I’m guessin’ that ain’t likely ta be somethin’ I ever a kin ta, now.

Anyway, there I was, lost lil’ cajun boy wanderin’ the streets oh N’ O’leans. I was in the Quarter when I first ran into Papa Legba. ‘e tol’ me ‘e had a place ta stay, ‘n ‘e’d feed me. So, I was with ‘im for a time in La Rue Macabre.


The Penitent Man

Those were good times, lemme tell ya. Legba ‘n Nancy, ‘n Cotton Eye Joe, ‘n Scratch, an’ those Fonteyns, them’s good folks. We’d laugh ‘n listen ta ole’ Uncle Nancy tell ‘is stories ‘bout the days afore. Joe’d play some mean shit on ‘is gittar then go start a play-fight with Scratch. They’d try and preten’ they was serious, but ever’ or could tell they liked each other. Good times.

I don’ rightly know why I joined up when Fuller came through. ‘e was always around, pickin’ Legba’s brain ‘bout nothin, or chattin’ with the Fonteyns. ‘ell, ‘e even went out ta speak with Manma Natau moren’ once. ‘E’d ne'er paid me no mind, then one day ‘e did.

I can’t rightly tell you why I went with ‘im. Fuller tol’ me ‘e had a ways ta make me not be worryin’ all the time ‘bout my bleedin’ thing. ‘E was always yawin’ ‘bout somethin’ or t’other, an’ I guess ‘is magic got ta workin’ on me in a big way. Nancy pulled me aside ‘n tole me I ain’t gots ta go with Fuller, ‘n I guess I was feelin’ peckish, ‘cause I tole Nancy I was all growed up ‘n I could be makin’ up my own mind ‘bout stuff.

Sos I went, ‘n I reckon ‘twas a good enough call. Fuller took me to ‘is little trailer, ‘n we was in there a long while. ‘E got me bleedin’ all o’r the place, ‘n ‘ventually I realized I wasn’t getting’ all faint or nuthin’. ‘E was mighty proud oh ‘isself for that’n. Crow’d ‘bout it ta Manny somethin’ fierce.

Now, there I was, bleedin’ fer th’ crowds that come ta gawk. T’aint so bad, really. Tho’ there’s times I gets a hankerin’ fer one o’ ole Nancy’s stories. ‘Ventually, says Fuller.

So I wait.

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