Book Reviews Horror Short Story

Wicked Smart Carnie by Mark Matthews

Wicked Smart Carnie
by Mark Matthews


A young man’s visit to the carnival revels secrets of the Carnie culture that leaves him changed forever. Read what happened that compels him to go back to the Carnival, year after year, looking for the prize that eluded him.

A short story of 2500 words. Included is the prologue to the novel, “On the Lips of Children”

I can’t give a a description that’s more witty than the Amazon synopsis. A 30 year old man tells the story of one particular trip to the carnival when he was just 13 years old. He stands at a game on the midway, the one where you throw the dull darts an under-inflated balloons, and he’s admiring the prizes. The rock band t-shirts are off center and obviously bootlegged, but he wants one nonetheless. He knows he would peacock that shirt through the halls at school on Monday!
But, the barker came up with a better way for him to get that coveted shirt – and he could keep that five bucks in his pocket! Just cart a box of shirts from the trailer back to the midway – easy peasy, right?

Mark Mathews is from Detroit, too!
Another fantabulous Michigan author – we’re turning out to be one hell of a state for horror writers!!
Looks like the Michigan Madmen publisher should put out another anthology – I’ll see if I can introduce all the recent madmen to the original three 😉

This story first appeared as part of the Dark Carnival Project by writing blogger Pen and Muse – looks like I need to find the Dark Carnival Project! Sounds like something that should be included in the special post I’ve been working on!!

Anthologies Book Reviews Horror

Bumping Noses & Cherry Pie by Charie D. La Marr

Bumping Noses and Cherry Pie [Kindle Edition]
By – Charie D. La Marr


What is Circuspunk?
Circuspunk is a new sub-genre of punk/bizarro literature scene created by Charie D. La Marr aka Persiphone Hellecat aka Kotton Kandy — a former professional clown. The genre includes stories that take place in circuses, carnivals, midways, sideshows and also includes stories of birthday party clowns, freaks, magicians, circus animals and costumed characters. With some elements taken from her experiences in the world of clowns (she won’t tell which are true and which aren’t) the genre is a blend of truth and fantasy that takes in the usual bizarro mixture of fun, sex, satire and splatter. Also included in the genre are dark stories, Lovecraftian stories, noir stories and other variations and combinations of contemporary literary genre.

COULROPHOBIA: The fear of clowns

BUMPING NOSES AND CHERRY PIE is a book of short stories in a brand new genre-Circuspunk. It contains 26 stories about the circus, carnivals, sideshows, midways and fairs featuring clowns, magicians, freaks, carnies and the crazy cast of characters that go along with them. “This ain’t your mama’s roller coaster ride! That is unless your mama does acid before hitting the amusement park!” says Mimi Williams, author of Beautiful Monster. “Hate clowns or love them, you are going to enjoy reading her zany and sometimes poignant look at a world we both love,” adds Jim Rose of the Jim Rose Circus and author of Freaks Like Me. This is a wild ride of stories that begins with the rape of a circus poodle by one of the show’s rescue mutts and doesn’t let up until an overweight daredevil Elvis impersonator becomes a circus stuntman-diving 35 feet into a flaming kiddie pool of water. In between, the combination of satire, splatter and the wild and wacky will have you laughing, with brief respites of stories that will touch your heart and make you think. A professional clown for 9 years, Ms. La Marr tells it like it is, like it should be and like those of you who with clown phobia would like it to be. Put on your rubber nose, put your big shoes up on the coffee table and enjoy BUMPING NOSES AND CHERRY PIE. The first Circuspunk book ever!

╰☆╮Tʜᴇ sᴛᴏʀɪᴇs ғʀᴏᴍ ᴜɴᴅᴇʀ ᴛʜᴇ Bɪɢ Tᴏᴘ╰☆╮

Dog acts in the circus can be cute and fun – a fluffy poodle dancing in a tutu!? Sweet enough to cause a tooth-ache!
Dog ‘People’, on the other hand… they can be a weird breed. Not just your average dog lover. Have you met anyone who has ‘Show Dogs’? Even better, the people who breed AND show them. That was my sister. And, that’s the Orosco family from this story. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Best In Show’, know that all the absurdity and eccentricities are NOT underplayed!
Pepe Orosco’s troupe of eight perfectly groomed and pedigreed white poodles didn’t mind sharing the spotlight with McGurk’s Mutts, it was their humans that were at war.
A Romeo & Juliet ‘tail’ with a modern MTV – ’16 & Pregnant’ twist – about dogs.

Dalton Stickles Joins the Rodeo:
Dalton is about to make a major life change.
He has a 4.0 at Harvard, majoring in Nano Nuclear Physics & on the road to his PhD. But, he comes home and announces that this is not the life he is meant to live. He’s dropping out of Harvard to realize his dream, he’s going to be a Rodeo Clown. After breaking everyone’s hearts, he was on the road and landed at a Rodeo in Nebraska. Fast Eddie Charles was just taken out by a bad-ass bull, so there is a position to be filled. Bunking with Chuckles, he learned the tricks of the trade and Daring Dalton became one bad-ass rodeo clown.
This is a good story, but I have one complaint. Since I’m not here for posting spoilers, I’ll just say that I feel a little ‘meh’ about the ending – but it’s still a fun story.

El Ratón:
Santiago Espinoza was born a little sudden.. His bones seemed to be made of rubber, and his contortion skills earned him the nick-name El Ratón – “THE RAT”. When he got a little older, he joined the Hondurican circus and soon made a name for himself. It wasn’t long until the American circuses heard of El Ratón, and he was brought to America by Walter Pettibone to perform in his Three Ring Circus and Sideshow. Santiago learned the Urban Legend about the ‘circus wank‘ – of a contortionist being able to perform oral sex on himself – and he became a man obsessed. El Ratón would be the first man to successfully perform the ‘circus wank‘ and be able to prove it.
This is a good story with many aspects that I didn’t even touch on. Stories that his mother told him about America, the woman that Santiago should return home to marry, and parts about growing up that he never learned. Very good.

First of May:
In circus-lingo, a new performer is referred to as a ‘First of May‘, and that performer in The Buttrum Brothers Circus is Pixy Stix. Deedles is used to being the only female performer, so she is not pleased when Pixy Stix joins on. The fact that there is an almost 400lb difference between the two never crosses her mind. All she sees is competition, and she won’t have that! She’s going to get rid of this intruder, and she’ll stop at nothing until Pixy Stix is nothing more than a sugary treat at the concession stand.
I giggled while reading this, picturing the parade of performers coming over a smoky battlefield, like Braveheart or Army of Darkness, make-up and blood like war paint, being led by a clown whose plunger is held high! – (I’m not sick & twisted… right?)
✻ note to author… Charie, I loved that the Boss Clown’s name led to him being referred to as “Cap’n Jack”, and I’m hoping that it has more to do with The Piano Man than anything related to the Caribbean ::winks::

Fredo the Fish:
Bernard is on summer break from MIT, and is looking for work. He sees an ad in the paper for Ocean World, a combination aquarium, theme park, & midway (e.g. Sea World), they’re hiring & it seems like a much better option than flipping burgers all summer. He applies, interviews, and is hired on the spot. He is going to become Fredo The Fish, Ocean World’s mascot. (The previous wearer of the suit died recently of mercury poisoning).
This is the story of Bernard’s Ocean World experience. It’s like the E! True Hollywood Story that focuses on the controversy surrounding Fredo the Fish that summer, or VH1’s Behind the Music: Behind the Mask.
Haha!! It could be either of those, because Bernard’s experience is most definitely cringe-inducing.

‘Paulino the Magnificent’ has been practicing his magic since he was a kid. This is the story about his chance to rise to the big time – and his desire to lower the tent in his pants! (Paul Peterkin isn’t the first virgin we’ve run into in this book.)
I like this story, picking up on little hints but not realizing it until the moment it was essential to remember makes me realize how difficult a story like this is to write. Charie pulled it off while adding humor, horror, AND

*´¯`*.¸¸.*´¯`* Vajazzling! *´¯`*.¸¸.*´¯`*


Houdini, Clown Shoes and The Book of the Dead:
This is a different kind of story, the kind I wouldn’t normally pick up on my own. It’s more fantasy/sci-fi – but it’s good & I’m glad I didn’t miss out. Time travel, a suspicious wife, a slave hidden in the bedroom closet… make sure you don’t miss this one either!

Little Darcy Sings to Children:
The kids in Iowa have gone bat-shit crazy, and nobody knows why it started or how to stop it. Well, one guy in the recording studio knows – but, he’s not talking!
This one has carnage, fun facts (there’s a city in Ohio named Pussy Creek), and a sideways dig at a former SNL alum!

Sealina the Seal:
Sonya Orlov is a star in the Sweetwater Circus & Sideshow, performing with her 400lb seal, Sealina. Tino Rosselli, an acrobat traveling with the circus, has fallen for Sonya and is trying to show her. When Tino finally gets the chance to visit her in her trailer – finding out that she doesn’t live alone is far from his biggest surprise of the evening!
I was cracking up at some of the phrases that Tino blurted out, and almost lost it when Sealina did the seal version of flipping him off!
You guys know that I love finding little references to other stories within a story – and this SS does that, too!

Smoke and Mirrors:
A dare, and a journey into the Funhouse turn into a nightmare for young boy. He’s engaged in a battle & emerges the victor – but is that worth it of no one believes the tale? Or, was it all really just Smoke & Mirrors?

Sur le Cirque:
Inspired by Anais Nin’s ‘The Little Birds’, this one broke my heart. I think any explanation I would give could ruin the story for you.
* see later note

Tarot Cards, Elephant Spunk and Cotton Candy:
A torrid affair, OK – THREE torrid affairs lead to one unforgettable evening for Fabrizio. All is fair in love and the circus!

The Battle of the Showgirls:
Dominique & Chloe both ended up as showgirls in the same third rate traveling circus, but there is no sisterly bond formed in this story! Each little trick one plays, is played back – doubled, until things get really ugly!

The Circus Waffles Go to the Big Top:


‘WCOW is really WOW’, and they supplied Brenda and her litter of kids with tickets to the circus & sideshow, the position of Ringleader for the night, with all rides, food, and drink included. Little did WCOW know that when this loud-mouthed, pregnant woman and her six brats left the trailer park – they were all on the clock. Their shenanigans get Brenda banned from any & all further WCOW contests, but to this family of little grifters… that only leaves more time for contests on other stations!
This is a direct hit at one annoying little trailer park beauty queen, but I seem to think I might rather spend a day with Brenda and the gang than have to sit and listen to farting rednecks play ‘what’s that smell’, while the princess of trash repeatedly screams “Holla fo’ a dolla!”

The Clowns Go Down:
Little Fred Hibbler was never more excited than the day that new neighbors moved in & he found his new BFF. Things go great between Fred and Shawn, until Fred learns of the deep, dark secret that his family is hiding.

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze:
François Le Beau is ecstatic when he finds out that the circus will now be traveling with WiFi. Who wouldn’t be?! Life on the road can get lonely, but who could get bored with such a vast array of porn available on the internet? He soon finds that the sex toy scene isn’t just for women anymore! He has practically ordered one of everything, in every color, but he can’t wait to try this new one… being the best trapeze artist to ever live, imagine the acts that could be performed with a sex swing! ‘A trapeze of love’! Read what happens when he invites Barbie over for dinner, and their own private Cirque du Sex ♡ I can’t say much else, can’t describe how I felt, without giving anything away. So… don’t skip this story – you don’t want to miss it!

The Dunk Tank:
Shelby & Savannah walk into the Bonzini Brothers and Kline Carnival looking for a job. Not just any job, they’re wanting something specific – the Dunk Tank. They make the owner an offer he can’t refuse, they’ll work a night for free to prove that they’re as good as they say.
And, Boy! Are they ever!

The Milk of Human Kindness:

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Mr. Thomas Carrion, the owner of The Circus of Horrors, visits Sauveterre, along with other such places around the world, looking for people to take back to America with him.
Being in the sideshow at the Circus of Horrors sounds like a terrible fate, but for the people housed in the places that Carrion visits… it’s a chance for a better life.

The Pizza Boy Always Knocks Twice:


Mike McBender was born with a unique endowment. Unfortunately, he wasn’t gifted in the brain department, and this left Mikey with very few career choices once he was older. His high-school guidance counselor gave him two choices – philosophy, or the freak show. When those options didn’t pan out, there was only one other avenue to explore. Mike McBender finally found his raison d’être – and you won’t believe where he ends up!

The Pudnick Brothers, Paymore and Gitless Circus Murders:

“May all your days be circus days.”

Rodrigo was born into the Pudnick Brothers, Paymore and Gitless Circus, and was expected to be a performer like both of his parents. After trying every possible position – from acrobat to vendor, it became obvious that the circus life wasn’t going to be Rodrigo’s life. The entirety of the staff came to a decision that Rodrigo had to work or he had to go, they weren’t going to carry his weight any longer. His timing was down to the wire, but Rodrigo finally discovered his niche, and he used his talent to make the Paymore and Gitless Circus a better place for everyone.

The Sad Tale of Silent Sam:

“My heart always timidly hides itself behind my mind. I set out to bring down stars from the sky, then, for fear of ridicule, I stop and pick little flowers of eloquence.”
― Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac

Little Lenny and Silent Sam were the stars in the Butterworth Bigtop, but this wasn’t always the case. The case, in fact, used to hold a ventriloquist dummy, but Sam wasn’t much for throwing his voice. When Sam met Lenny, (met… bought… semantics.), a little person, the act was born. Sam started crushin’ pretty hard on Lindsay The Tattooed Lady, and he was positive that he could make her the happiest woman alive – if he could only find the courage to speak to her. He thinks of the perfect intro… he’ll turn Lenny into his own little Cyrano de Bergerac!
I was cracking up while reading this! The circus needs to hire some new blood, and if the performers & acts weren’t enough to bring a smile to my face… their fate – in Charie’s hands – brought tears to eyes!

The Tale of the Maltese Fall Clown:
Brewster Bristol goes to extreme lengths searching for happiness. This is his journey to find the stuff dreams are made of.

The Tunnel of Love:
Mike and Phil are jizz moppers on the Tunnel of Love, pretty much the lowest employees at the carnival. Customers get down and dirty on the ride all the time, and it pisses them off. They tried shortening the time of the ride, but got in trouble for it. Getting snarky with the riders doesn’t turn out well, either. LIGHTBULB!! While they’re fishing clothes & condoms out of the water, they get a great idea…

Two of a Kind:

“Pregnancy isn’t easy when you’re conjoined fraternal twins joined at the hip with sheepskin asses.”

Conjoined twins Francis and Frances Root were attached at the ass when they’re born. Being joined at the ass meant that neither one of them actually had an ass.
By age 10, after multiple surgeries, F & F each had their own butt – (made by using two sheep butts & four breast implants), and they were only attached by one hip…both facing the same direction.
Francis and Frances’s parents, Sydney & Sidney, were barely getting by. When Sid got ill, Syd knew she couldn’t take care of her sick husband, look after the twins, and search for ways to make money. With a broken-heart – she sent the twins off to live with the Nevada Slim Circus and Sideshow so they would have a chance at a better life. And, they did.
They got older, they fell in love, they got married, and… they got pregnant!

Wet Willie:

“Who bravely dares must sometimes risk a fall.”

Colonel Parker Firkins, of The Firkins Circus, found Willie Schlump in a little bar called McMurphy’s. Willie was a kind of daredevil. He had no fear, no ‘Ick’ tolerance level, loved attention, and was a little light in the brain department – Firkins’ Circus needed a guy like Willie. Willie JUMPED at the chance to be the circuses new diver, the new ‘Jumpin’ Jack’. A twenty five foot high dive into a kiddie pool with twelve inches of water?
What could possibly go wrong?


Amazon Link –

What’s the cutest, non-scary thing you can think of?
If it had sex with a clown – would you still be scared?