I've lived in Corpus Christi damn near my whole life, exceptin a spell upcountry, working as a wildcatter round bout 68', just before I joined the corps. Spent 4 tours in Nam, saw some shit, but I was one of the lucky ones. Most of it was in base camp working the supply stores. Came back in 72' and decided that was it for this ol boy. Back to Texas and back to the city of my birth, never to leave again ... exceptin vacations. Went to Spain one time on a cruise, for our 30th anniversary but you don't wanna hear bout that do ya?
Alright then, I'll tell ya what I told that fella back in 1980 when he tracked me down.
It was the summer of 1961, blistering hot. The sidewalks sizzled. Stand still too long and they could burn right through your tennis shoes and proper shoes, well they weren't that much more durable. I remember dropping an ice cream - vanilla it was. Melted away right in front of me, til all that was left was the cone. Hell, I recall every detail - I can still see it bubbling away, losing its shape, turning inta liquid and then evaporating.
You might wonder how it's so clear. Time n place I mean. Well I was 12 years old and about to turn 13. So yeah, I remember it was 1961 and I remember the day my daddy came home and told Mama and me bout the party. Said he'd been walking near the waterfront. We're a coastal city, did ya know? They call ol Corpus, the Sparkling City by the Sea.
Anyhow, that's where he met the circus folk. They was some kinda carnival working the waterfront but just on the verge of moving on. He knew this because he overheard some talk after, between a few that was fed up and not of a mind to move north with the rest. That was when mah Daddy had his idea. See, he'd been looking for something ... he weren't sure what exactly, but something for the party. We weren't short of a buck or two back then and daddy, he was a generous man, always thinkin of me an Mama.
So he proposed that a bunch of em come entertain at the party. Said he'd give em the kinda pay day that would set em up right until they could find other work an stay on in ol Corpus.
Hell, he even offered em temp work after, down at his plant. Like I said, my old man was a generous sort, always thinking of others. Some said he was frivolous with his money, but to daddy, none o that mattered. All he wanted was to see his boy have a good time.
So a bunch of em, ten in all, they agreed. There was a bearded lady, a clown,strongman, jugglers, some acrobats and some kid who acted as a roustabout. Daddy even hired him, got him fetchin an carryin, serving drinks at the party. Said party was held outside in our yard. A big tent was set up, we ate burgers and drank cola, and hell, it was the best day of my life ... til we found out what we found out.
I remember a few days later, there was reports of a girl gone missing a week or so before. Then they said a neighbor of ours was gone too ... fat ol Mr Jarmle. Soon the list was growing and when they found that first girl... or what was left of her. Needless to say it was all anyone could talk about. Corpus Christi had a cannibal serial killer, was what Mama said when she thought I was upstairs and couldn't hear. Daddy said it was just a stupid rumor, on account of the pieces being missing and bite marks in the flesh.
Wasn't a rumor for long. The police found several sites and evidence of butchery clear as day. Course I never read the details til years later, about the plates and human cuts and joints found in refrigerators in at least two sites.
I do remember the night the police came round and questioned daddy about them circus folk. Seems they had a real solid lead but my father hadn't seen em in over a month at that point. Some had taken him up on his job offer at the plant but one day that boy - the teenager, came in on his own and said they'd all quit on account of new circus work. Daddy didn't question it.
It was August by then and a city wide manhunt was on. The papers were calling them the Circus Cannibals and all sorts of theories were pouring out about how they was some kinda death cult or what haveya.
Course the day the police raided that warehouse and found the eight bodies, put paid to all that. They found em all butchered and partially eaten.
That was the end of it. They never did find that clown and boy.
Course years later all them other stories started emerging ... the ice box killers up in Houston back in 65. Never caught, but that reporter, the one who found me back in 80' said he found someone else with a story about a clown. Seems that man was certain he'd been served his teacher in a burger at a kid's party he attended. That's when I remembered those burgers the boy served up back in 61' at my party and how ol Mr Jarmle had gone missing just prior.
Well I can never be sure a hundred percent of course, but let me tell ya two things. Ever since then I haven't touched the flesh of an animal, fowl or fish and every once in a while I still wake up from a nightmare an I see that giggling clown clear as day!