Funny Historical Fiction


Writing prompt #57

Write a humorous story about the descendant of someone remembered for an insignificant act.

The Greatest Ever Shit Show      by clcronan 2020

“Listen up, losers, cuz this is gonna be the best story you ever heard. It’s about poop!”

“Frankie, straighten up or sit down,” said Mrs. Foster. It was shorthand for, “You and I both know that I’ll be calling your mother later, don’t make it worse than it already is.”

“But Mrs. F, it’s a real true story about my great-great-great-great granddad! He was Frank Jr. and I am Frank The VIII. He worked in the Greatest Show on Earth! I brought this picture of him from 1895 with other workers from the circus. Look!”

“Very interesting. So, then, stick to the story, please.” She said, knowing she had just set him up for another doozy. She braced herself.

“Well, sure, that’s what I was doin! You can all pass this picture around because it’s a copy. My grandad let my dad make a copy of the one he has framed. So like I was saying, my great-great- great, oh rats, how many greats did I say? I need to say 4, hold on I’m starting over. So, ...”

“Frankie, please just say ancestor or we’ll be here all morning.” Mrs. Foster wished she could just ask him to sit down BEFORE this went bad, but she had to give him a fresh slate everyday, and feign hope.

“Right, sure, my ancestor. OK, so, he gets sick of farm life by the time he’s 13, and he hitches a ride on the circus train as it cut through his town. He says he left a note for his ma tellin’ her she’d have one less mouth to feed, so not to worry. After that he only ever wrote her, but never saw her for three years. The circus manager threatened to throw him off the train because someone so young was no use to him at all. My grea - I mean, my ancestor, tells ‘em, ‘I’m 15 so plenty old enough to work’ and the manager says, ‘And tell me Mr.15 year old, what skills do you have that are any good to me?’ Some guy yells out, ‘He’s a farm hand, he don’t know shit!’ and my ancest . . .well, his name’s Frank, so I’m just gonna call him that. Frank yells back, ‘I do too know shit, I know more about shit that any of you!’”

The class of 4th graders was laughing so hard Frankie had to stop telling his story for a minute. Mrs. Foster took that opportunity to walk over to him and say, “That’s all of that story we are going to hear for today, Frankie. Please take your seat.”

“But Mrs. F., they’re lovin’ it! It’s a great story! I’m only gettin’ warmed up! Wait til you hear the song!”

“Oh, good lord,” said Mrs. Foster as she led Frankie by the arm. “Alright, class, settle down, we are going to do silent reading until recess.


At recess, like moths to a flame, all of Frankies classmates followed him to the monkey bars. He swung himself around the bar like an acrobat, landed squarely on his feet, and said, “I bet you’d all like to hear about Frank, but just in case Mrs. F. comes out, Bethany, you start rattling off one of your recipes you love so much. She’d blow her top if she heard the rest, cuz I was just gettin’ started.” Everybody laughed, and socked each other in the arm, and sat, swung or stood in a comfortable, ‘settle-in’ kind of way. And Frankie, ‘took the stage’ so to speak.

“1888, a wise-ass farm boy jumps aboard a circus train, and takes a ride straight into history. See, a guy Barnum was already a really big name across the whole entire country, but things were just getting started for him, and everybody workin for him made out alright. So where was I, when ol’ Mrs. F decided this story was too rich for her blood?”

His good friend Stevie did his best impression of Frankies presentation-day voice, “‘I do too know shit, I know more about shit that any of you!’” Everyone laughed, at the language, at the spot-on voice impression, and at the danger that they might all catch hell for this gathering.

“You’re a regular riot, Steve-o, but you are exactly right, so I’ll start right there, ‘I do too know shit, I know more about shit that any of you!’ Well just like all you guys laughed, that whole train car laughed, and Frank says that locked in his future right there. Mr. Barnum himself said, “Well, if that don’t beat all! We just so happen to need someone to handle that very thing. I here by hire you AND promote you to the position of Mr. Poopcident of the department of Fecal Control.” And since Mr. Barnum laughed at his own joke, you can bet everybody on that train car got into trying to one-up each other.

“Gee kid, what a great poopertunity to get in on the ground floor!”

“Yeah, an all-American Call-to-Doody!”

“You’re about to find out that the Mr. Barnum’s Menagerie is overpoopulated!”

Great ol’ Frank said his ability to find the humor in every situation was tested that day. But, he smiled and laughed along with them all, and resolved that day to make Mr. Barnum feel very glad to have his new Captain of Keister Cakes onboard that circus train.”

Frankies audience was laughing so hard they drew the attention of all the kids at recess. The gathering grew. Mrs. Foster stood at the window, out of sight, knowing that once Frankie started there was no stopping him. She knew, inappropriate as it was, it was probably a great story, told by a great story teller. Still, she knew her roll in this, so she headed for the office to call his mother. She just walked slowly.

Meanwhile, out on the playground, the story continued. “‘Pardon me, Mr. Barnum sir, I didn’t think anyone was in here.’ Frank knew full well his boss was in the ‘Mens Comfort Tent’ (that’s what they called the outhouse tent,) and he was smart enough to keep himself visible to the man in charge of the whole operation, and to find a way to wrangle a compliment out of him whenever he could. ‘I just don’t like to let this place get ahead of me. Try to keep it as pleasant as possible.’

‘My boy,’ said the old man, ‘you do a fine job, indeed. Never enjoyed dropping my morning missiles quite this much. This comfortable seat is heaven sent. I thank you for that.’

‘Well, ‘takin care of business’ can mean a lot of things, right sir?’

‘You do a great job with the crap hatch kid. See ya round.’

The next time they met, Frank was whistling the tune from the giant calliope that was pulled behind 22 horses to start the parade every night. The old man says, ‘I always wished there were words to that song, because it gets stuck in everyone’s head, so we might as well get our name in there somehow.’

Frank sat up all night humming that tune so much he was bodily tossed from his cot. He did what he set out to do though. He wrote words to the song.

We are an army of 1000 folk   that Work the Barnum Train.

We know the ropes and we have stuff   and keep you entertained

This circus and menagerie       is a marvel and a treat

All the spectacles astound        and the music is upbeat

To all of you, we promise this,   the whole family will have fun

You’ve never seen a show like this   it’s fun for everyone.

“Yep, THAT song - you all sing it every time anybody even mentions a circus! And Frank wrote it.”

When one of the 5th graders told Frankie he was full of crap, because he had to learn to play that stupid song on the piano and the sheet music said “by P.T. Barnum” right on it, well, time was spent on threats and scoffs and scuffles until the school bell put an end to the whole thing. As everyone ran for their place in line they made Frankie promise to finish the story tomorrow.


“Oh, hello, Ellen! I thought you would have called long before now. Frankie and his father were rehearsing that vulgar family story over breakfast this morning. How far did he get?”

“I asked him to sit down right after ancestor Frank gets on the train.”

“I’ll tell you what, come on by the house, say after 8, I’ll see to it that Frankie is in his room for the night. We’ll pour some wine and I’ll have Frankie’s father tell you the rest. It is actually funny, albeit completely inappropriate for school.”

“Thank you, Bethany. I could use a good laugh. See you then.”


Bethany topped Ellen’s wine glass for the third time and then went to open another bottle. Frank VIII had not made an appearance so everyone was convinced he had his head phones on and didn’t suspect his teacher was in his den. Frank VII, who was as much a showman as all the Frank’s in this family lineage must have been, was thoroughly enjoying the chance to tell his favorite story.

“So old man Barnum says, ‘Well, my boy, you’ve written some lyrics for the ages here. A fine, fine addition to a beautiful melody. What say I give you $50 and you turn over what they call the rights to the song, then it becomes part of the legacy that this wonder of a circus is building. What do you think of that?” Well that much money was a real fortune to a kid that was working for pennies, and room and board. He was already daydreaming about a new set of clothes, some new work boots, a hair cut, and sending a few bucks home to impress his mom. They shook on the deal, with gusto. Mr. Barnum’s circus sings that song to this day!

But of course, the workman’s version came along faster than a grifter gets his hands on your money.”

RumpleDUMPskin wrote a song,  while his emptied stalls of shit.

He’d clean up turds, and dooty pies,     he’d pick up anus bricks,

a giraffe can make some toxic turds      and black bananas from the monkeys

the zebras and the camels will          leave large loads of cattle cookies

so wherever you might have a need   to unload all your cargo

he’ll handle it with such a flair   that it’s the greatest ever shit show

the elephants make cannonballs          the petting zoo, ass sneezes

but a fine young man with such big dreams   always knows who’s cut the cheeses

a herd of horses with 80 heads    beget a mighty heap of dung

but nothing can prepare you for    the old man’s runny grunts

this vigorous poopologist    is not just your average joe

he’ll handle it with such a flair   that it’s the greatest ever shit show

but never have we asked ourselves   does he doo or does he doesn’t

know what to doo when we’re overrun   by foods most evil cousin

he is our royal poopness    he is a poopinator

by any poopometers measure  that boy can handle any defacater

where other folk would call it hell, our man’s is known to be dung-ho

he’ll handle it with such a flair   that it’s the greatest ever shit show

Frank, who had been dancing and gesturing for all the vulgarities, dropped down into his chair, panting and laughing like a circus clown. Ellen, who had been laughing so hard she stopped breathing, gasped while wiping tears from her face. Ellen, who was leaning on the door frame wearing a giant smirk on her face, shook her head and said, aloud, but mostly to herself, “My god, how he loves this story.”

When they had recovered themselves sufficiently, Frank held up one finger, opened his eyes wide, and said, “Now, the last laugh belonged to Frank himself. Because, you see, he ended up married to the circus vet. He saw how important poop was for gathering health information, and he educated himself so as to become of value to her. They ran away FROM the circus together, settled down, had a whole brood of kids, and we, their descendants, carry their story on through time. Why? Because of the moral, Mrs. Ellen Foster, because of the moral.”

“When life seems shitty, it could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.”

“I have to hand it to you, Frank VII, you tell a great story.”

And from the top of the stairs, young Frankie yelled, “I TOLD YOU it was a great story!”

September 04, 2020 19:27

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