Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Upright Retirement

Having been a premier acrobat throughout his life, Henri was easily able to afford the best in nearly everything. Of course as they say there are a few things money can’t buy. Happiness he’d embraced in full, love he’d had by the bushel. It was health that stole away in the darkness.

In Cirque du Septième Fils (Circus of the Seventh Son) Henri was known as the strongest man attending. In 36 years he had never missed a day due to sickness, and had never failed in his routine.

It was at age 51 that he noted his memory slipping. At 52 he removed his character from the show, recreating himself as a teacher, a master of the floor. But by 53 he had to be told he was no longer useful, more liability than asset, particularly after he’d walked across the stage one evening during a performance, without his clothing, and on his hands. He was assured that the company would take care of him, but within months as he slipped in and out of lucidity it became obvious he was on his own, in partnership with only the minimum wage employees of the performer’s rest home.

So, being a pragmatic man he began to draw himself routine reminders; a man using a comb, taped near his hairbrush, the mechanics of threading buttons through their holes attached to the bureau mirror, and a note communicating the proper stance one should take when one was in public, showing a figure standing on his hands, circled and slashed, the universal sign for “no”, followed by a drawing of a man standing as normal with a tattoo on his forehead reading “this side up”.

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