Splashing water on my face I look at myself in the mirror. “Come on. You can fucking do this. Fucking do it. It’s all a part of the show. The show most go on.”
Grabbing a single razor blade from the medicine cabinet. I pop the top of my vial and pour a little powder atop my counter. Sift it into a straight line, lean down, close one nostril and snort every microscopic grain straight into my brain. Knocking my head back with a second deep sniff it hits. Shaking my head around for a beat, I lean back into the mirror. Checking my teeth for anything out of place, wipe the drop of blood away from my nose and rub my wired eyes.
“It’s time. You do this all of the time. It’s nothing new. Just the jitters. It’ll fade like it always does.”
Grabbing my mask on the counter. I can’t help but stare at it. Such a simple thing has brought me fame. I used to do work in an office. Just another 9-5 asshole like the rest. Needless to say. I grew restless. I longed for me. That’s when I started moonlighting. It used to be for fun. A hobby. No different from playing an instrument or building models. Like any fledgling I needed guidance. I sought it our from professionals over the internet. They taught me well. In fact, they taught me how to turn my hobby into a career. As the saying goes, if you love what you do. You’ll never work a day in your life. Well…this little mask ensures I’ll never have to work again.
Running my fingers across the rough burlap sack. I open up the bottom and slide it over my head. Then I tuck the edges in under my flannel shirt. Just like this pair of leather gloves. I taped hay onto the top and around the fingers, giving myself a scarecrow like appearance. It’s all part of the show after all. Taking some hay, I stuff it into my neck line, wrists and waistband. The costume has always helped the show succeed. At first, I tried a simple Halloween costume from the store, but people were bored. Or maybe it was the content of the show and not my appearance? Either way. I learned the value of showmanship, how to become a true presenter of the weird and abnormal.
Which brings me too today. “Almost ready.”
Striding from the bathroom and onto the stage. I make my way past a handful of cameras across to a long table with multiple computers. Turning on the power strip to the computers, I take my time. Turning them on one at a time. Logging into each one, it takes a few minutes to get all of my streaming software running. Controlling the lights from one computer and the cameras from another. I shift in my costume and que the music to play in a few seconds.
“It’s all a part of the show. It’s time. Are you ready?” With a bright smile hidden behind my mask. I chuckle saying. “What am I thinking. Of course, you are.”
Switching all of the lights off. I stand in the glow of the computer screens and start my stream. The room titled. Strawman. It doesn’t take long for people to pay the fee and enter. They know what to expect from me anymore. This isn’t my first rodeo and it surely won’t be my last. At five hundred per entry in the form of crypto currency. I’ll make anywhere from ten thousand to fifty thousand just from those who want to watch. It doesn’t stop there though. No. They’ll pay me more. They always pay me more, but that comes later. First, comes the theatrics. The best part of the show.
Slow and steady, the music begins. Queued to start at the right time to build tension. Then I make them wait. Diving right in is boring and something an amateur would do. Which, I am not. It’s all about the anticipation, that’s what they really want. They just don’t know it yet. Once the chat room starts popping. That’s when I start. When they begin to demand it. That’s when I know they’re ready.
Then, with a slight touch. I raise the lights, and the cameras come to action. Focusing on my work in the dim light. This…only builds more tension. It would be too simple to make the reveal with just lights. No, you keep it tarped up and covered. Satisfaction can’t come so quickly. Placing my headset on, I activate my voice changer. Then step out into the lights and cameras. On an automated program, the spotlights follow me step for step to the tarp. Here the music comes to a climax, the slow building of symphonic sounds chosen specifically to build to this very moment. Without words, I wave to the camera. Licking my lips behind my mask. My heartbeat speeds twofold. I can feel the sweat build on the edge of my brow and drip down to my chin.
Almost with a little jaunt. I dance to my work. The tarped object of my obsession. The very thing that makes me, me. Bowing, I wave my hands in practiced magical motions and take one step back. In a swift motion. I rip the tarp and send it flying into the air off into the distance. The lights dim making room for a brilliant blue/white spot light that shines down upon me and my subject; a rather muscular man fastened tightly with ropes to a steel chair bolted in place to a concrete floor. The concrete slants inward toward the center leading to a drain placed directly underneath the man. His eyes blindfolded and mouth bound tight. He struggles in vain against his current predicament.
Shifting lights turn away from the spotlight and fade to darkness with the music as a new track begins. The lights fade back to a warm red tone dimly illuminating most of the room. Slapping the man hard I step forward into a new spotlight intended all for me. With another bow to the camera. I smile behind my mask, and pull the razor blade out from the hay I stuffed into my wrist.
Shining it to the camera. I wave my razor toward the man and back into the spotlight of the camera saying. “Ladies and gentlemen, I am your host. I am strawman, and tonight you will be witness to many wonderous things. For those of you with a weak constitution. I would refrain from watching any further. For what is about to transpire will leave you shocked and amazed. I am not a magician. I am simply a showman. Now…” Turning around toward the man I raise the razor to his flesh, drawing just a drop of blood. I turn to the camera continuing. “Let’s begin.”