Episode 3: Mail Call
Daredevil Robbie ‘Bad Decisions’ Kniesions prepared for his greatest stunt ever: jumping his bike over eight burning short buses full of special-needs kids. While the jump itself went off without a hitch, the fire-extinguishing foam in his exhaust pipe failed to go off.
One week later, circus owner Reggie Bunkler was in his office looking over the many lawsuits filed by the kids’ families. Roadie Truck Tarkenton pointed out that Robbie’s stunt was fundamentally flawed, in that motorcycle exhaust pipes are not fire extinguishers. Truck then took the list of the plaintiffs’ names and addresses, telling Reggie that he’s better off not knowing what Truck plans to do.
Animal trainer Gunther Gayfer-Wilhelm was attempting to train Sealman Rushdie to jump through a hoop, despite Sealman’s protests that he’s a musician, not a stunt performer. Gunther cried that he needed a new act to overcome his heartbreak over the loss of his tiger cub Schatzi (whose death Gunther still believed to be an accident). Sealman tried to inspire Gunther with a ballad about life: “You Swim With the Current, Swim Against the Tide.”
Bearded lady Deb Henderson and strongman Viktor Busliftor were working the crowd with their “Guess Your Wallet” game (with Deb using her X-ray vision to scan the contents of a volunteer’s purse). When Deb guessed incorrectly, Viktor called off the act as Deb wondered how her powers could have failed. Just then, Truck brought them some mail. Deb’s letter was from her mother, Delta Burke, demanding that Deb stop using her name and bringing shame to the family. Viktor’s letter was even worse news—his mother is coming to visit.
Stoolts and Robbie were having coffee together. Never having tasted coffee before, Stoolts didn’t know not to down five shots of espresso in one gulp. Hopped-up on caffeine, Stoolts began moving so fast that it was as if Robbie was in slow-motion.
Aerialist Sasha was meditating in her train cart when Truck came in to bring her a letter. She angrily scolded him for interrupting her meditation. (“Don’t you know I could have gotten stuck in another dimension?”) He explained that, even though he’s been screening her fan-mail, he believed this one was personal. Sasha read the letter, which turned out to be from a morbidly obese 12-year-old girl who idolizes Sasha and wants to be like her. Sasha ranted even more furiously over his bringing her a fan letter.
Viktor came into Reggie’s office to warn him about the impending visit from Viktor’s mother. Viktor explains that once she comes, she will never leave until she takes over the circus as its new star attraction. When Reggie asked what makes her such a big deal, Viktor explained “She glows in the dark, to begin with.”
Sealman was practicing his moves when Truck came in with a letter. Since Sealman couldn’t open it with his flippers, Truck read it for him: “Sealman, your days are numbered. I will eat you. Frank.” To explain this threat, Sealman dropped some mysterious hints about his past:
SEALMAN: “There’s a reason they call it the deadliest catch.”
Having taken Sealman’s song to heart, Gunther decided to leave the circus and go off to “swim with the current.” Truck came by with a letter, but Gunther just walked on by.
Deb was baking cookies when Stoolts ran in, still on his caffeine high. Deb told him about the letter from her mother, lamenting “Delta Burke doesn’t want a freak for a daughter.” Stoolts replied “Well, I want a freak for a wife.” They discussed going on the run together, like Bonnie and Clyde (or maybe Clyde and Clyde).
Sasha and Robbie were bickering, though they knew their mutual dislike was based on his sexual frustration. He’d lost his penis in a stunt, jumping over angry crabs, and since then he could only get phantom-limb erections. Just then, Truck brought in a letter for Robbie, reading “Please jump over the ice-cream man. He’s weird.” Comparing the handwriting on their letters, Sasha deduced that the same obese child had written Robbie’s letter, presumably so she could steal the ice cream after Robbie’s stunt scares off the ice-cream man.
Sealman came into Reggie’s office, gripped with fear for the first time in his life. He explained that Frank was after him…then stated that FRANK wasn’t a person, but an acronym.
Viktor went to see Stoolts for advice about his mother’s upcoming visit. Stoolts shared something his father had told him: “If you’re ever in a situation where your life is in danger, you better have lived a good life.” When Viktor explained that it wasn’t their lives so much as their livelihoods that were threatened, Stoolts said that in that case, it’s time to fuck people up.
As he walked away, Gunther realized that he couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to Truck. He turned around and returned to the circus.
Robbie and Sasha asked Truck to help them get into the mail train so they could find out where these crazy letters were coming from. Robbie kept interrupting as Sasha tried to explain the situation, until she got fed up and cut him out of the plan. Robbie replied that he’d been deliberately inept so that she’d leave him out of it.
Sasha then went to Viktor to enlist his help with her mail-train scheme. When Viktor told her about his own letter, she asked to see the handwriting on it. Unfortunately, he didn’t have it on him.
Stoolts was practicing some jokes when Deb came by to tell him that, despite his proposal, she was upset that he’d called her a freak. When he said “Chill out, ZZ Top,” she got even angrier. Stoolts was excited and aroused by the fact that they were having their first fight.
Robbie snuck into Reggie’s office to get back his bike (which Reggie had confiscated after the disastrous stunt). When the noise woke up Reggie, Reggie warned Robbie that he’d have to pay for disfiguring those 300 kids. Reggie then explained that he had made a deal to settle the suit…all the kids’ skin grafts would come from Robbie himself. Faced with the choice of losing his skin or being cut from the show, Robbie agreed to give up his skin.
Gunther came to say goodbye to Truck, but after speaking to him, Gunther decided to stay with the circus after all. Truck started to confess that he had killed Schatzi, but then remembered he still had a letter for Gunther. Gunther read it: “Meow! Help me! Isabelle, the white tiger from the Dunwoody Circus.” Realizing that Isabelle (Schatzi’s grandmother) was in trouble, Gunther swore to rescue her. Truck agreed to help, to make up for killing Schatzi.
Sasha talked Stoolts into helping her break into the mail train, and they began flirting with each other. Just then, Deb walked in and saw them together. Playing innocent, Stoolts turned to Sasha and shouted “Get away from me, you hooker!”
TO BE CONTINUED…