As soon as I saw him leaning up against the tent’s support wires, his shoulders hunched to keep the rain out of his collar, I knew he’d be the photograph that would make the cover that month. I had ducked out of the tent during the trapeze show because my camera couldn’t catch the Kravitz sisters at the speed they flew across the ring. The day was dissolving and I wanted to try to capture the red and gold striped tent as the fog slinked onto the muddy circus grounds.

When I noticed Jimmy, he was smoking a limp, hand-rolled cigarette. He held it tight up to his lips as he sucked what was left of it into his small chest. His other hand clenched a fistful of tired paper flowers. He wore an old bowler hat and a tuxedo that was a throwback to the vaudeville style, with tattered black tails and a slice of red silk peeking out of his breast pocket. He shifted his weight from side to side, making loud sucking noises as he lifted his feet from the mud. The thick white paint on his face was beginning to run down the lines in his cheeks.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 5. Purchase the book to read the full piece.