I was sixteen the first time I saw another construct. He was about my age, slim and graceful, his long cat-tail balancing him as he danced. Long black hair poured down his back, like a mane against his tawny skin.
Daddy Frank had sent me off on an errand down the midway of Consolidated Shows, the carnival we were with that year. It was a bad operation, with every joint rigged, paper hangers and dips all over the midway. But they had good, solid rides and a terrific freak-show. Mama had let me join that one this year. They billed me as "The Teddy Bear Boy." I made about six dollars a week, sitting in a chair, dancing a little to some Big Band, and selling pitch cards along with tiny teddy bears in pants.
I saw the construct and stopped there on the midway, not remembering my errand, not caring that we were ten minutes until opening. He danced on that stage like a wisp of golden flame. I wanted to watch him forever. I wanted to talk to him, to get ice cream with him, to watch him dance, to dance with him, although my great clumsy bear paws wouldn't match his grace. I wanted to kiss him.
The thought surprised me, and I dropped the bucket. I'd never wanted to kiss anyone except Mama and Daddy Frank. I sure didn't want to kiss this boy that way. I picked up the bucket and hurried off for the radiator water Daddy Frank had sent me for.
I thought about him all the way to the water pump, wondering how his hand would feel in my paw. Maybe all smooth and velvety like paws of the kitten the Siamese twins had. They were pretty girls and they had a little smoke-gray kitten that was part of the act.
He wasn't on the stage when I walked back. Only Cinnamon, the colored hoochie dancer was out there, her face bored as she went through her rehearsal. I dropped off the water and scooted to the freak tent just as the horn announcing the opening blared over the loudspeakers.