The Spectacle ~ Outside the Margins with Lisa Henry

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Lisa Henry goes Outside the Margins today.


So a few months ago, Brandilyn sent this awesome picture and asked if some of us wanted to write some flash fiction for her birthday. Hell, yes! I mean, LOOK at that guy! I may have totally been inspired into this weird little piece of fiction by J.A. Rock’s wonderful, creepy The Grand Ballast. (If you haven’t checked that out yet, you totally should!) So, happy birthday, Brandilyn, and thanks for the wonderful picture!



Roll up, roll up.

Roll up and be amazed by the spectacle.

Wilder is tired of the noise and the flashing lights of the carnival. He is tired of the gaudy cheapness, of hands with bitten-down fingernails, of stockings with holes inexpertly mended, of dull sequins hanging by threads. His ticket promised him a parade of delights for the senses, but the carnival is noisy and crowded and crass.

He is already leaving when he lets a woman draw him into another tent. He is too tired to listen to her prattle on about whatever supposed attraction the place holds. Tonight he’s seen men and women, in every combination imaginable, fucking for entertainment, and he’s bored with it.

He blinks as he enters the tent and sees the dimly-lit carousel.

There are a few people standing in front of it, watching. One man is eating a toffee apple, more engrossed in slurping at the slick juices running down the sides than he is at whatever spectacle lies before him. His mouth gleams in the faint light.

Wilder moves forward as the people move away.

Moves forward, and sees the young man standing there as still as a statue.

Wilder holds his breath.

The man is wearing a leather pouch covering his groin. It draws Wilder’s eye and centers his gaze immediately. From there he lets his gaze slide over the smooth, flawless planes of his body, the swell of his muscles, the dips of his ribs. Muscle and shadow, a corded throat. Wilder follows the arabesque swirls of ink in paths he suddenly wishes his fingers, his tongue, could trace, imagining his hot, wet breath against that cool skin.

At last he glances up at the young man’s face, half hidden in the shade of the hat’s brim. Half hidden, and half painted, a lurid crimson blush staining his sharp cheekbones.

A thing of beauty, or a grotesquery.

Sin made flesh, or innocence corrupted.


This is what he came to see tonight. Not an endless parade of passionless rutting, each spectacle trying to outdo the next with some new way to slot writhing bodies together, perverted in the end by nothing but tedium, but this. He wanted this. Something that would leave him breathless with want. Something he hasn’t felt in years.

A faded velvet rope separates the man on the carousel from his audience. Wilder steps as close as the rope allows. To be standing right before him, devouring him with his gaze and yet unable to touch is such a piquant torture.

Behind him, Wilder hears shoes shuffling on the flattened grass, following a well-worn path from the entrance of the tent to the exit. He hears a man sigh, and a woman complain that he’s not even doing anything, how boring.

The man on the carousel remains motionless, the light gleaming on his beauty, on his depravity.

He is doing everything, Wilder wants to tell the woman, but he can’t tear his gaze away.

The people move on.

Wilder doesn’t know how long he stands there. Doesn’t care. He’s captivated. It may be minutes, it may be hours.

He’s jolted awake when the woman from the entrance appears beside him and tugs his elbow.

“Private show, sir?” she asks him. “Twenty shillings and you can have him for an hour.”

A shudder of distaste runs though Wilder.

To want is a wonderful thing.

To possess…

Wilder lets himself imagine it for a moment, and the fantasy sours quickly. The young man wiping his makeup off. Rolling his shoulders to release the tension from his aching muscles. Opening his mouth to tell Wilder a name he has no use for, in a coarse lowborn accent.

Here, in this moment, he is perfection, but if Wilder were to step beyond the velvet rope, that illusion would be shattered. The young man would become nothing more than every other crude, imperfect performer he’s seen at the fair tonight.

“No,” he says, and the young man turns his head a fraction and catches his gaze. Wilder cannot read his expression. He’s glad of it. “No,” he says again. “I was promised a parade of delights.”

The woman screws up her face at him as he leaves.

Outside, the night seems colder than before, and Wilder shoves his hands deep into his pockets as he walks toward the exit of the fairground. The lights and the sounds of the tinny music fade slowly. As he steps out of the gates he can still hear the faint sounds of the carnival workers calling to the crowd:

Roll up, roll up.

Roll up and be amazed by the spectacle.

~Lisa Henry


About Lisa Henry

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

My links:



Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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