SST9 Final Draft – Chris McLoughlin

6 Jul

Apologies for tardiness.
Tech script been emailled to Production.




He was born in a carnival ward,

paraded past surgical masks, vocal chords raw.

Fast-forward to age four, playground crowds

pickpocketing his memories and lunch money.

He smears on a smile and fits into class clown shoes,

too large not to step on bully’s toes. Bloodied nose gifted daily.

But while there, he learns to write, to ignite words like fireworks,

to create worlds to hide in, away from classroom throwing knives.


He was raised on carnival streets,

cracked tarmac tamed by millipede feet,

marching to the inner city beat of steel pan drums.

Sat on stone steps, he scribbles stories about his estate,

contortionists-for-hire and street corner stalls peddling medicine,

‘MIRACLE CURES’ for loneliness or boredom. Cars crawl past,

Chinese Dragons drooling smoke out rolled down windows.

He keeps his head down, out of sight of the coconut shy.

Headphones on, his pen pirouetting on the 59p notepad.


He works down Carnival Way,

where shop windows are art galleries

and art galleries are closed.

There’s no platform for his chosen act, a verbal acrobat,

and rent’s due next week. He dons a costume, sells processed meat,

taught to repeat ‘It’s a McJob at least, and the McPension’s not bad.’

His words moulded into ‘Would you like fries?’ ‘Any other sides?’

‘Supersize?’ Swallowing bile, convincing himself it’s just for a while.

But last night, his mask broke. He glued it, but the cracks still show.

He doesn’t make it to work the next day,

doesn’t leave the flat the next day

doesn’t leave his room the next day

until he’s tortoise-shelled by his duvet of warm grey.


He hides in his carnival flat,

there’s no appointments left for Doctor’s notes or antidotes

but the street magicians are always free to pull habits out of rats.

His truffle trained snout seeks out spirits. A muted TV, displaying modern

freak shows. Phone buzz ignored, yet craving another shadow on the floor.

Notepad lies open, raw, because now

Every. Word. Hurts.

Red lettered envelopes on the coffee table,

dandruffed by yesterday’s white powder remains.

A knock on the door too heavy to be happy.


He died in a carnival country,

where floors move and mirrors distort

and for some, every day is a tightrope walk over hungry jaws.

Nobody remembers his name.  His grave reads

Here lies the broken mask

of somebody who could have been.

Nobody remembers his face. His epitaph reads

Man falls victim to addiction, depression,

but chances of reoccurrence are one in 7 billion.

A sideshow accident, a freak of nature, and what do you expect

from an acrobat without a net? It’s impossible to blame the system

for just one person’s actions.




She was born in a carnival ward,

paraded past surgical masks, vocal chords raw…


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